We traveled often when we lived in Italy. Whether it was a quick trip to Rome, a three week visit to the States, or a 5 day trip to Greece, I realized quickly that I needed to come up with an efficient way of packing for our trips. So, in true Jeanne fashion, I came up with a system.
Now, I LOVE packing for trips. I can't wait for it. I love that feeling of being on top of things and knowing exactly where things are. I love getting in the car and not worrying about leaving items behind or toting too much. With three little ones, I have enough to worry about.
So, today I will go over the preparations. The days leading up to the trip and how I get it all together. I will cover the differences in air travel, car travel, age of children, diaper bags, etc, in other posts.
So, let's begin!
The trip that I was preparing for was a 12 hour drive to my in-laws house. One of the biggest parts of planning a drive is planning your departure time. For us, we have determined that all of us do better when we leave in the middle of the night. By leaving at 3AM, the kids will continue to sleep/doze for the first 3-4 hours of the trip. Once they do wake up, it's pretty easy to stretch them for another hour or so with bananas, morning conversations, etc. About 5 hours in, we generally stop for breakfast/stretch legs/change into day clothes/gas. After this, we are ready to finish the drive. It's at this time that they will watch a movie/look at books/etc and will usually doze back off because they are tired from their sleep being disturbed. After they wake up, its the job of the passenger adult to keep them entertained with a movie, snacks, books, singing, conversation, etc. until we arrive at our destination. In order for this departure time to work, we have to be in bed by 9pm the night before.
So that is where my planning begins. Once I know my 'end time' (9PM) I can start planning the days leading up to it. The first thing I do is write out my 'plan of action'.
I fold a paper (as shown above) so I have 6 sections. Everybody has different categories but mine are generally Errands, Grocery List, Schedule, Food to bring, Snacks for the Car, and Things to Remember. It's easy to fold this list up and keep it in my back pocket to add to throughout the days.
So, my system is a two day system. Day 1 is used to for laundry, grocery shopping, errands, and the non-clothes stuff and Day 2 is for clothes and packing the car.
I head to the grocery store first thing in the morning. This is my chance to get any items that we will be bringing with us.
At home, I am focused on getting ALL of the laundry washed, folded, and put away. In between this, I start with the food.
I gather it all on the table and then separate it from there.
After boxing up the food that I am bringing, I make my snack bag for the car. Knowing that this bag stays in the front with us, it has to be skinny enough to fit in between the front console and the middle dash.
Once the food is done, I get my 'Diaper Box' together. The diaper box serves the same purpose as a diaper bag but it doesn't leave the car. When I had three in diapers, it was full of diapers, wipes, medicine, pacifiers, etc. Now, it sits pretty empty but its still really nice to have a place for all those little things. I still prepare a diaper bag but this way, I can just grab and go when we get out of the car instead of chasing down everything I needed throughout the car.
The first part of my diaper box is the medicine. I take Advil and Tylenol every time we travel. With three kids, everybody has a different dosage. What I have discovered to be the most effective is to write out every body's dosage on a piece of cardboard (won't bed or get lost) that fits in the same sandwich bag. This way, WHOEVER gives them medicine will know the proper dosage.
After I do this, I pack the rest of the diaper box.
Once the food and the diaper box are packed up, I start on the non-clothes part of the first day bag. I started packing a first day bag when we would travel back to the States. I found that every time we'd FINALLY get to our final destination, it was a mad hunt to find the pajamas and toiletries it required to get dressed. Instead of messing up my entire suitcase, I just started packing a first day bag. This bag, usually my pink Vera Bradley bag, contains anything I could need during the first 24 hours. So, on Day 1, I pack the toiletries and on Day 2, any clothes that I will need.
And lastly, I pack any toys that we will take in the car with us. I used to pack a lot of toys but have since realized that they really don't play with them. So, now I just pack them for urgent times of distractions...haha.
Other than this, I just gather any of the other stuff that I will need (hook on high chair, Christmas presents, pack n play, etc).
Once all of my laundry is washed, folded, and put away, all of my non-clothes items are packed up, and errands are run, I can be confident in the fact that Day 2 will go well.
I hope some of these ideas have helped you with your own packing. Stay tuned for Day 2.