Traveling with kids can be stressful for moms. The kids are out of their normal routines. Everyone is cooped up in the car. You’re living out of suitcases. But, the good news is that even though road trips can be hard, it is possible to stay organized without a lot of extra effort. In this article, I will give you some tips to help you stay organized while on a road trip.
Think Through Your Journey While Packing
When it’s time to start packing for a road trip, we all tend to think about what we will need while at our destination. However, in order to stay organized along the way, it’s important to also think through the journey as well. What will you need to get from here to there? How long should your journey take? Will you be spending the night somewhere in the middle or driving straight through? What time will you be arriving? How many meals will you be eating while in transit? Will the weather at your destination be drastically different than it is at home?
The answers to all of these questions will help you to know what to pack and where so that you will have what you need when you need it. One of the biggest keys to staying organized while traveling in the car is to know where everything is and to be able to get to it easily when needed. If the weather will be much different when you arrive than when you leave, pack appropriate clothes for arrival in a separate bag that is easily accessible so everyone in the family can change as soon as you hit a change in weather. Will you be traveling after your children’s bedtimes? If so, throw their pajamas in the front of the car so you can get them ready for bed during a stop. Pack some snacks to fend off the crankiness that comes when kids get hungry.
Simply thinking through your journey and packing your bags and the car accordingly will go a long ways to helping you stay organized while on a road trip. It will also help the entire trip to be more pleasant for the entire family because you will be ready at a moment’s notice for anything.
Keep a Travel Binder
To keep all of your travel documents, contact information, and itineraries organized, consider creating a travel binder. You can use a three ring binder, an accordion file, or even a manila envelope for this. By keeping all of your important travel documents and information together, you will always be able to find them when you need them. Plus, if your reservation is lost, you will have a confirmation number at your fingertips. Also consider putting a paper map in your binder. You never know when the GPS will stop working.
Use a Packing List
You can’t stay organized while on a road trip unless you start your trip organized. So, in order to prevent forgetting something, use a packing list. Ideally, you should make a packing list well in advance of your trip. When you start packing, print out your list and mark things off as you put them in your suitcase. This is the first step to staying organized while traveling.
Pack an Overnight Bag
Whenever my family drives to Florida on vacation, we usually break it up into two days of driving. I pack a small suitcase that only contains clothes and toiletries for that second day of driving. When we get to the hotel at the end of day one, I simply have to unload this one small suitcase instead of two or three large ones. It makes it much easier on us because we don’t have to unload the car completely until we arrive at our destination. Before we leave to head home, I repack this small suitcase with clothes for day two of the return trip.
Packing an overnight bag not only saves you some work with loading and unloading the car, but it also prevents your family members from rummaging through all the suitcases to find an outfit for day two in the car. It will minimize the number of things that can be left or forgotten at a hotel that you will only be at for a few hours too.
Pack an Activity Bag
You should pack an activity bag for your kids to keep with them in the backseat. If they tend to fight or have very different interests, consider packing a bag for each of them. In this bag, include a variety of books, games, and toys for your children to play with while on the way to your destination. I would recommend packing activities that are quiet, not messy, and portable. Mix some of your children’s favorites with some new activities bought specifically for the trip. A well-stocked activity bag will keep your kids entertained for the entire trip. Quiet kids can help the miles go much smoother. And by putting all of their things in one bag, you prevent digging through multiple bags to find something for them to play with.
Give Your Children Food Trays
It is difficult for little kids to juggle food in the car without making a huge mess. My son uses a plastic desk organizer as a food tray to hold his entire meal at the same time while we are on the road. It is a small square container with multiple compartments. He can put his fries in one compartment, his chicken nuggets in another, and his apple slices in a third. This allows him to hold everything at once while eating in his car seat. It helps to keep my car nice and neat throughout a road trip.
Bring More Than You Think You Will Need
Being organized includes being prepared for anything. With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to bring more than you think you will need. This includes clothes, snacks, and toiletries. You never know when one of your kids will spill something all over you and themselves or when you will get stuck in a traffic jam. By bringing a little more than you think you will need, you will always be prepared when the unexpected happens. Being prepared when something doesn’t go according to plan will help you to have a more relaxed and organized trip.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Managing your time is an important part of being organized. Always give yourself plenty of time at every stage of travel. If you think the trip will take 12 hours, plan on 14 hours. This will give you time to stop when you need to without putting you behind schedule. Building in this extra time is a must when traveling with children. Giving yourself enough time to allow for unexpected delays is just another part of being prepared for everything.
Road trips can be difficult and stressful, especially when you have kids. It is easy when things go wrong to get flustered and lose your entire sense of organization. By being prepared, giving yourself plenty of time, thinking through each aspect of your journey, and packing in an organized manner, you can stay calm and organized regardless of how many unexpected delays and detours you have along the way. I hope these ideas help you to stay organized while on a road trip.