Fall break is already closing in on the calendar, and little do my kids know it, but we’re preparing to take all six of us on an epic 17 hour road trip to Walt Disney World. My two oldest girls (ages eight and five) are madly in love with all things princess, so we decided now is the time to strike while the magic is hot, hoping to get the biggest bang for our magical buck.
We’re trying to stay as frugal as possible when it comes to our expenditures, so naturally we’re going to hit the road in the minivan instead of buying six plane seats.
I’m doing my best to pack smart and efficiently. Carefully considering all our needs, so we don’t overpack or forget any essentials.
Packing six people (one of which is a baby) for a week’s vacation is no small task. Over the past couple years, I’ve learned that in order to pack successfully, you simply cannot do it the night before. Organization and preplanning is key.
When it comes to packing for a large family, here are a few tips and tricks that have worked well for me:
Make lists. I try to break my trip up into categories, and then make corresponding to-do lists. A list for what we’ll need in the car. A list for each person. A miscellaneous lists, such as what electronics and other supplies I don’t want to forget.
Piles, piles, and more piles! After I have my lists started, I get to work and making piles based off the lists. Each of my children have a different colored polka-dot duffle bag, and I start about a week ahead of time piling their clothes on top of the bag.
I figure out what’s included and what’s not at our destination. For instance, does the hotel/resort provide beach towels? Do I need to bring my own pack n’ play or booster seat? All these things make a huge difference in trunk space if I don’t have to lug it along!
Borrow what I can from friends and family. We have a DVD player in our car, but own very few DVD’s. Instead of investing in expensive movies for the trip, we borrow! Same goes with beach chairs, camping supplies, ect. Keep the itinerary as flexible as possible. Especially when it comes to traveling with small children, I start the trip out assuming my schedule won’t go as planned.
I’ll admit, we’ve been plotting and planning this trip now for the better half of a year, and I know I’m just as excited as the kids are (or will be when they find out). Packing up a big family for a week is no small task, and it’s almost made my head spin!
But at the end of the day, I know all my hard work will pay off, and we’ll make some fantastic memories.
What’s your best advice for packing up the family for a road trip?
i always over pack. we take plenty of games and things for ds to do and lots of snacks. if i was going for that long id be investing into a dvd player though. i also take things for me to do because i wouldnt want to be the bored one. take some books or something.
call the hotel and see what they offer, pretty sure most places, (especially Disney) have baby beds, booster seats, toiletries, that type thing. I definitely would pack snacks and games in the car, as well as bags for trash, pillows for naps, and put some type of covering on the carseats to protect them. (we do't usually allow food or drink in the car, but 17 hours....) Also Cracker Barrel restaurants rent audio books. Not sure about kids books, but might be worth checking into.
Plan plenty of buffer time to stop- don't push yourself or your kids too hard, and bring some books, new ones that they have not seen yet! Make some pit stops to see some sights along the way. Have fun and enjoy each moment for what it is.
I don't think I'd ever be lucky enough to take a long road trip but I'd say keep the kids content would be my advice. I'd make sure they were comfortable with blankets, a toy, hat, or whatever they like and definitely have snacks available.
My husband refuses to drive any further than 8 hours from home. So thankfully we don't have to be in the car for 2 days with kids. I would work out all the details well in advance of the trip. MOst hotels and condos have pack and plays for the babies. Usually if they have a pool they have pool towels too. Take lots of snacks and drinks and make lots of stops so everyone can stretch their legs.