Packing & traveling with a large family…

Every morning and afternoon my kids see the school bus drive by and want a ride. Not to school…just a ride in the bus. I often joke with them that our minivan is our school bus. Well, this weekend it is!
Since I also work from home on top of homeschool, we don’t usually get to do to many field trips. But when we do, they usually are longer multi-day trips. This weekend happens to be one of them! We will be traveling to St. Louis Mo for the Pro-amateur fireworks festival. While Daddy is playing with explosives, we will be hitting the road in the green minivan/school bus to go exploring. I know that a science center and planetarium are on the bus stop list!
In honor of our upcoming trip I thought I would share some packing and travel tips that we use in our family. (We don’t have a super large family but in today’s society 5 is pretty big.)
– ALWAYS pack extra… We have had to many dashes to the nearest convenient mart for spare clothes, diapers, etc… It takes away from fun time and also adds cost to trips. You never know who is going to have and accident of some sort, even the adults. I remember one time Hubby dropped a bottle of Oj right into his shoe. haha
– Pack by day not by person. Hubby usually is on his own, but I pack myself and the girls. I find it helpful to sort things into the day planned to wear not the person planning to wear it. For example, I lay out every ones complete outfits…shirt, pants, underoos, socks, etc… Then group them by day of travel.
– Keep each days clothes separate by packing them in 2 gal zip top bags. Label the bags to which day they belong. This helps you keep track while packing to make sure you have enough to make it through the trip. They also make handy dirty clothes bags after you wear them. 
– Pack in order. Put the last day of travel in the bottom of the bag and work your way up. Then you just have to take off the top instead of rummaging around trying to find a certain item.
– Have plenty of snacks. Gas station stops are expensive enough when you have to fill up your tank. There is no need to pay $2 a bag for chips when you can pre-stock them from the grocery before you go.
– Invest in travel trays. I found our at Hobby Lobby for like $2. They are plastic trays that have a lip to keep things from sliding off. They also have a cubby hole and cup holder on the side. I have found that the fit right over car seat arms and laps. Kids can then color, eat and play without such a mess.
– Plan activities for the ride. We once took a trip long trip and I had wrapped packages for the older girls to open at certain points along the trip. I included coloring books, sticker books, special crayons, magnetic games, paper dolls, etc… car friendly activities. This kept them occupied and gave them something immediate to look forward to.
– Don’t be afraid to call a quiet time. Noise and stress levels can run high when your all pinned up in tight quarters. Make a rule that in town time is quiet time so that you can concentrate on traffic and turns. It may be necessary to implement is at other times also according to your sanity level haha!
What tips do you have to share about your family traveling experiences? How do you get organized and out the door?
Happy Travels!

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