Tomorrow morning, my family will head out for what will likely be an 8-hour road trip to visit my family in Kentucky. I haven’t lived in the Bluegrass State for nearly 20 years, but I’ve got some deep roots there, and crossing three states along I-64 always feels like coming home. What doesn’t feel as amazing is packing for the expected and unexpected on a trip. As I reflect on the many adventures over the years, I believe I can tell you—from experience—what I’ve learned traveling with my people:
We always pack too many. . .
Toiletries – My self-care bag has been known to weigh 15 pounds. Save yourself the back-breaking weight and buy sample sizes. And if you’re skincare routine is off for a few days (I’m a five-step nightly routine kind of girl), you’ll survive and so will your sweet face.
Shoes – This is a common pitfall that also makes a suitcase weigh a ton. Wear a pair of comfy shoes on your travel day, and pack only one other pair if you can help it.
Toys – My kids are so eager to stuff their little backpacks with all manner of crap—er, toys—that we then forget to take home with us. On second thought, bring the toys and leave them all behind. The newest way to purge, mamas.
We never pack enough . . .
Socks – Did you know that you bring the sock monster with you on vacation? He literally leaps out of your dryer and into your suitcase! Seriously, we cannot keep up with socks on our trips, so this year I’m buying a brand new 10-pack and throwing it into the suitcase for backup.
Snacks – There is nothing worse than fueling up at the gas station on a road trip only to have the kids want to go inside for snacks (aka the nastiest, sugariest items that were ever processed in a factory). Do yourself a favor and bring healthy snacks from home—more than you think you need. You’ll thank yourself on hour 7 of the trip.
Baby Wipes – Whether or not you have an actual baby is inconsequential to this step. Baby wipes clean sticky hands, brush off picnic tables at rest stops, and shine up dirty shoes. They also work well to wipe down all the dust you are seeing on the dashboard of your car now that you are in it for half a day.
It never fails that we . . .
Remember what we forgot about 30 minutes down the road. We’re too far to go back, and have hours to lament over what we forgot.
Can’t make a decision where to stop for lunch. I mean, we can’t land on a place to save our blessed lives. Of course, the best restaurant—we discover after we’ve eaten—was just one more exit up the road.
Go crazy with one hour left on the drive. Somehow, even the baby understands this one. Typically everybody has a meltdown OR gets super slap happy, loud, and obnoxious.
It’s always a good rule of thumb to. . .
Clean the house before you go. After a week away you just want to sleep in your own bed, and the more welcoming your home is, the happier you are when you walk in the front door after a long day in the car.
Do laundry before you pack back up. This isn’t always possible if you’re staying in a hotel, but if you’re with family, launder everything the day before you leave. Your unpacking process will be SO much simpler.
Consider shipping some things back. We often accumulate on vacation. A day or two before you leave, box up some things and ship them home. It will be one less thing to pack, and may even arrive at your front door before you do.
What about you? What are some of your best tips and tricks for surviving and thriving on a road trip?