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By:    On: 2011-09-28

I love road trips.  There is no experience better than seeing fog roll over a mountain side from a few feet away or stopping on the side of a road to have a picnic lunch with my kids in some random field under a big willow tree.  Although I do enjoy flying, the kids can’t watch salmon jump from 40,000 feet in the air.

One of my favorite parts of road trips is packing the car.  Something about this act really heightens my anticipation for the trip to begin.  We drive a minivan which should have lots of space but after the van is filled with the kids, the dog, and the necessary luggage, space becomes a premium option.  This is the time I start getting creative.

Road Trip Kids’ Packs

I am one of those people who believes in recycling where I can; kids’ school backpacks are no exception to the rule.  Usually my kids’ packs are too damaged (drawn on, busted zippers, etc.) to donate so they become road trip packs.  

Each pack is filled with healthy snacks, a couple of juice boxes, a refillable bottle of water, little dollar store toys, books and games.  They also have pencils, pens, markers and an empty notepad for car-version games of Pictionary, you-see/I draw, etc.  I try to include a small journal for each kid too, so they can write their own “field journal” of the trip. Each pack also has a small pack of tissues, a zip bag of hand wipes and a plastic shopping bag: the kids are in charge of their own garbage bags.

Coolers and Snack Kits

I keep a small cooler and a beach-sized bag between the two front seats of our van.  The cooler typically holds bottled water and juice plus any condiments or things like cheese sticks – anything that would need to be kept cold.  These drinks are for hubby and me; the kids only get what’s in their packs.  This might seem harsh but it’s useful on a few different fronts: it keeps bathroom stops to a minimum, it keeps trash to a minimum and it teaches the kids a bit of responsibility.  If they know it’s going to be a while before their drink stores are refilled, they tend to space out their own consumption.  (Funny enough, my youngest was the first to figure this out for herself.)

The beach bag holds snacks for us and snack refills for the kids if it’s a long (read 5+ hours) road trip.  If the trip will include a lunch stop, the bag holds fixings for a picnic and we usually stop near a field or rest area for lunch. Snacks generally consist of granola, fruit and cheese bites, mini-muffins and low-sodium crackers.  Taking our own drinks and snacks saved us more than $100 last year alone because of what we didn’t spend money on food and drinks every time we stopped for gas/bathroom breaks.

Overnight Bag

This bag is NOT our luggage.  It is a bag which contains enough clothing and toiletries for one overnight stay (for longer road trips) or a change of dry clothes and shoes plus a towel if there is a beach stop.  I also keep any medications we may be taking inside the overnight bag. Our overnight bag allows us a quick change without having to tear through the luggage in the back of the van or in the carrier up top.  In fact, because of this bag, we don’t have to get out any other luggage until we get to our final destination.  Incidentally, I always put a small emergency stash of cash in the bag too. I haven’t needed to use it yet, but the peace of mind from knowing it’s there is priceless.


I hope these road trip tips have helped you or will help a little when you start packing for your next trip.  Do you have trip tips to share?  Send me a message or leave me a comment!  I really do love hearing from you.

Happy Travelling!


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