Over the years my family and I have traveled a lot. Most are well planned and well packed days in advance, some have started with just a few hours to pack and head out. There are five of us, two of whom are toddlers, so we tend to have a lot of necessities, and all of our road trips involve my tiny compact car, a ford focus. Packing the bags can be tough, but over the years I’ve managed a pretty decent system and I have yet to forget any needed items at home. Forgetting our belongings, namely children’s shoes, in hotel rooms is something we are working on.
- A checklist. I love using checklists to make sure I have everything I need. Right now I’m using this packing list, because it has everything I need, and it is so pretty.
- Dedicated Electronic Bag. In the age of social media everyone has and uses multiple devices. I like to pack them all together, with two sets of chargers one for the hotel room and one for the car so I’m not having to run around trying to figure out where the phone charger is at. I use a padded backpack that has a pocket for a laptop. It stays in the front of the car, so the iPad is easy to grab for whiney children.
- Roll your clothing. Each family member gets one bag, if we are gone for two days or two weeks they have to fit all of their clothing into that bag. Rolling the clothes takes up less room then folded, and you can roll the entire outfit together. Rubber bands and big baggies can keep the clothing rolls together.
- Duffel Bags. Not having a whole lot of space I have found it much easier to use duffel bags or any type of soft sided bags. It’s much easier to pack in a hurry if you can just cram the bag into the trunk rather than playing Tetris with rigid suitcases.
- 3-1-1 Guide for flying and road trips. 3 oz liquids, 1 quart bag, 1 per person. I’m all about packing light with a minimum amount to carry around. Unless you have crazy amounts of hair or traveling for long amounts of time, I’ve found that 3 oz of shampoo will last me two weeks if I’m conservative.
- Emergency Kits. For yourself and your vehicle. We drove from California to Missouri once with a pickup that had major engine problems. We had to buy a battery charger to use nightly and ended up having to replace the battery connectors in the parking lot of a gas station. A first aid kit should be a no brainer.
- Paper Maps. Yeah, its old school, but you’ll be thanking me if your electronics overheat, or you’re out in the middle of nowhere with no signal and no idea where to go. I unfortunately speak from experience.
- Baby Wipes. Even if you don’t have kids, they are fast to remove dirt and sweat, or those emergencies of not finding a bathroom in time. The deserts of Arizona and New Mexico you can drive for a hundred miles between service stations.
- Trash Bags. Keep your car clean, and they make great puke bags if you’re in a pinch. I keep lots of extra grocery bags folded up and in my snack bag.
- Snack Case and Coolers can save you some serious money. We travel with two 12 quart coolers and a snack case. The coolers fit perfectly behind the front seats and hold cold drinks and sandwiches. Years ago I picked up a small craft supply carrier and it has made a great snack holder. The sides are hard and there are divided compartments to keep food from getting squished. I divide up snacks by the day so we don’t eat everything the first day from boredom.
- Travel Journal. I can’t tell you how many times I have photographed something and days or weeks later while editing said photos realize I have no idea where the photo was taken. A dedicated travel journal keeps all of our hotel information, any area research you’ve done, and a place for daily entries so we can remember the little details years from now.
- Spare Change for vending machines, parking meters, and the random street performer.
- Roadside America. One of my favorite websites to find quick unusual things to visit. We often use this website when we are needing a break from driving and need to stretch our legs. The attractions listed are not for everyone, but if you want to visit the worlds largest fire hydrant or a water tower shaped like a catsup bottle, Roadside has everything you could possibly imagine.
Is it bad luck to end a list on the number 13? I can’t think of anything else to add to my list at the moment so I guess it will have to do for now. I love reading about new travel ideas and suggestions, anything to make things easier. What do you do to keep sanity while traveling?