Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Packing for a Six-Week Road Trip with our Grandson

I have vague memories of a time when packing for a vacation could be accomplished by opening a couple of drawers and the closet and picking out a number of outfits equal to the number of days we would be away. Add in a few toiletries and a good book, done. The entire process could be completed in under 40 minutes.

Then our daughters came along. Anyone who has packed with an infant can attest to the number of items required to keep said infant happy, well-fed, and amused...not to mention neat and tidy. Multiply this by two or three and you begin to understand the popularity of mini-vans. I'm not sure how our parents managed it but I do remember sitting amongst the suitcases in the back of our Town and Country wagon on trips to New York with our cousins. Aside from the usual sibling bickering, we all seemed to get along and passed the time by playing games as we bumped along the highway.

State of the art booster seats for bigger kids...the head rest is nice for long drives.
This one even comes with its own reading lamps.
Today, we begin by adding somewhat cumbersome car seats (safety first) and adding in any number of stuffed animals. I remember my husband sadly realizing he would have to sell his Celica when we found out baby number three was arriving. There was no way we were going to get a third car seat in the back of that one! Gone was the last remnant of his single life...onto many years of 'family' vehicles for him.

We didn't actually move up to a mini-van until our grandson was about to arrive. Prior to that, a full-size sedan did us quite nicely. The mini-van was purchased for family outings and that first one made many. Something about summer road trips seems to wear them out after a while.

So here I am, packing for our upcoming six-week road trip. Just hubby, grandson and I. Off for a drive across the U.S. for a month at Walt Disney World. The last time the girls and I drove there, the little man was younger and still in a stroller (those things take a lot of space.) Also, with four females there was quite a bit of shopping going on. I hope I've learned from our mistakes. We packed way too many clothes and didn't consider we would likely buy T-shirts and things while we were there.

As my daughter says, this is what happens when five people spend 12 days at Disney World

For this trip, I'm being much more organized. We are taking eight outfits each since I plan to do laundry once a week. Considering that a nine-year-old boy will likely change more than once a day, I am counting on buying him some souvenir T-shirts along the way. (Hubby says our first stop will be the Disney Outlet on International Drive!) To keep things organized, the little man's outfits are being packed in x-large zip lock bags to keep everything together and make it easier to tell clean from dirty. It will also make it easy for him to get dressed in the morning.

Hubby has a standard 'uniform' of plaid shirts and jeans (for fans of the Property Brothers, think Jonathan), but I'm going to change it up a bit and include a few golf and Tee Shirts. He's easy. It's usually me who packs too much. I never know what I might want to wear but this time, I'm sticking to tanks and casual pants, mostly black, with an assortment of scarves to change them up. A girl has to have some variety.

Now, on to toiletries. I've learned to leave the favorite shampoo and conditioner at home if possible (too many leaking incidents.) I just use the hotel products along the road. Once we arrive at our destination, I simply purchase what we need for the month and leave any leftovers. This makes for less space and cleaner bags. I have two vintage train cases that I use for things like toiletries, medications, and emergency sewing kits. They sit up nicely on the counter and keep everything contained. I always make sure to bring along extras of prescription medication that I keep in a separate safe spot in case of any accidents. I also bring along our own over the counter items in case of a middle of the night earache, cough or tummy upset. Much easier than driving around looking for the closest Walgreens.

Two of my favorite vintage suitcases. They travel with me everywhere.
I think that covers most of the basics. For nice to haves, we bring along a small K-cup machine if there is space. These are nice to have and you can make coffee, tea, or hot chocolate in your room. If we are staying at an extended stay with a kitchen (think Marriot Residence or TownPlace) we pack a small non-stick pan. It saves us a ton of clean-up time and can keep the young man happy with endless grilled cheese sandwiches (his current favorite). Hmmm...my list is looking long, thank goodness for the extended mini-van!

In my first draft of this post, I forgot to mention electronics. I always have my laptop and Chromebook (handy to have if I'm writing and the little man wants to watch something on Netflix) plus tablets, smartphones, cameras and let's not forget the chargers and memory cards that keep them going. I found a little USB power bar in Tucson that I love. I can get most of this in one computer bag plus my camera backpack so not too bad.

One extra area of packing we have this year is our homeschooling curriculum. I've read a number of blogs on how to create calm out of the chaos of papers, pencils, and books but I haven't managed to get it down to a science yet. I still worry that I'm going to leave something at home that we'll need for an upcoming lesson. I have sorted modules into duotangs, that's helped a bunch, and have much of our information downloaded on a tablet to reduce the number of textbooks and instruction manuals but there are still two totes to bring along. I'm sure I'll get better at this as time goes on.

EJ doing his school work in an olden days school house during a recent
 road trip. He had fun seeing how boys and girls learned back then.
I'd love to hear from other homeschooling/road schooling/on the go families about how they handle learning materials and any tips or tricks they've learned along the way. For now, though, I'll just enjoy the anticipation of seeing our grandson's smiling face as he rides the Test Track at Epcot with his papa (hmmm, did I remember to pack the Gravol Ginger?)