family in car

Here in Florida, we have summer year-round and beautiful beach destinations all over the State. Unlike people up North, we don’t have to board a plane for a nice beach vacation. I have done several road trips in Florida this summer. We have a lot of beautiful towns and islands on both coasts.  As a new mom, packing always took me forever especially considering all the extra stuff I had to take for the baby, I would take Fridays off from work only to spend half day packing and not arrive at my destination before dinner time. I was starting to get frustrated. How is this possible? I only have one baby boy. How do I see other families with more than 4 kids being packed and ready to go at the crack of dawn? I did my research on how to pack when going on a family road trip and have become more efficient. Since I can’t be the only one with that issue, I decided to share my tips. While summer may be over, I am sure a lot of you will be hitting the road for Thanksgiving or winter break.

  1. Pack lightly

Don’t overpack! When packing for vacations, people tend to worry about not packing enough. So they take too many things they don’t even need. To avoid doing this, I would plan out your outfits by day and maybe take two extra outfits in case of an emergency. If you have a washing machine at your destination, take some travel laundry detergent. That will allow you to take fewer clothes. If you do not have access to a washer, take Tide to go to fix any small stains. When it comes to shoes, don’t bring 5 different pairs of sneakers. Shoes take up a lot of space. See what kind of activities you’ll be doing and carry a maximum of one pair for each different activity.

2. Pack efficiently

Call your hotel or place of stay ahead of time to confirm what accommodations they provide. They may already have a baby crib, a microwave, etc so there will not be a need for you to bring any of these.

mom and son in car

Also, one of the best investments we’ve made for traveling is to get these Hanging Packing Cubes. It makes it easy to pack clothes and keep them organized in the suitcase as well as at your destination. You can just hang it up and put many used clothes in the included hamper.

3. Take packing as an opportunity to toss out things

Maybe if you are that overwhelmed with what to pack, you could possibly have too many things. Each time when I try to roam through my clothes before a trip and do not see the light at the end of the tunnel, I take this as an opportunity to do a complete overhaul, donate clothes, and organize my clothes. Having organized drawers at home will make it a lot easier to pack for trips and creates a good habit to stay organized in general. Also, I use a bit of an unconventional method to get rid of things. I may take a piece of clothing that is already damaged, wear it one last time at my vacation destination and leave it there/toss it out there.

4. Don’t pack on the day of

Have everything (or at least as much as possible) ready the night before. I can’t stress this enough. I don’t even know how many times I have thought: ” I can do this real quick in the morning.” The morning of is usually super hectic – never fails! You will have a lot of things to do. So pack as much as you can and then just add last-minute things such as your toothbrush to the suitcases. If you know you won’t have to add anything to certain bags on the day of, put it in the car already. Like this, you’re almost good to go when you wake up.

5. Bring Snacks and entertainment

Kids get bored and hungry during long road trips. To avoid too many stops, make sure you pack snacks and entertainment for them. Tablets are great to keep them entertained; however, if you do strictly limit screen time, you could alternatively take some of their favorite toys. Try to take snacks that cannot spill or create huge messes in the car. Either way, make sure to bring baby wipes just in case!

boy in car with headphones

6. Be flexible if things don’t go as planned

Last but not least, there is one thing I learned with kids! You can plan as much as you want but things never go quite as planned. It is important to try to relax and enjoy the ride. Try to come up with solutions to problems instead of getting frustrated. I know it’s easier said and done especially if you are already stressed. After all, this is supposed to be an adventure where your family creates memories. Don’t focus on making it perfect, focus on making it a great time and enjoy your vacation!

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