Before hitting the road with your crew, consider these big family road trip packing tips to get you on the road – organized and happy.
Road Trip Packing Tips
Sometimes words and emotions find a good harmony and string together into pretty melodies… and other times? Other times I’m cleaning up from the day, remembering the messy and the beautiful, laughing at the fiascos, and smiling at the sweet moments… and it all just kind of stays right there. The memories etched into my own memory banks and the words held in place.
That’s a bit how some of our recent cabin travels have felt. We added miles to our odometer this past fall and made our way to a mountain cabin in one of our favorite places, surrounded by colors, the leaves dancing from branches to the ground. It was beautiful, magical, more chaotic than ever with one-year-old-twins and excited little bodies that haven’t traveled in much too long, and so worth it.
The memories etched. The words and posts were on hold. I didn’t plan to take a social media/email break, but I’m so glad I did.
One thing about road-trippin’ with a big family? The game of Tetris that is packing up the vehicle! Where to put it all?
We’ve been taking long big family road trips for quite a few years now (with our family growing just about every time!), and today I’m here to share a few of our road trip packing tips with you!
Now, some of these tips are similar for flight travel, but there are a couple of big differences in how I pack for flying VS how I pack our big family for a road trip.
Road Trip Packing Tip 1: Ditch the bags.
I know this tip sounds strange, but hear me out. When we travel via vehicle for a road trip, I’m not about to pack a whole bunch of suitcases for our family. It’s just gets to be overwhelming and takes up extra space. For one of our SUV’s we have a trailer hitch and use a cargo carrier on the back for our goods. For some trips, we’ve rented a larger SUV and still pack the same way.
We use totes!
Now, we still use bags or suitcases at times, but it is really helpful to pack for a road trip by using a large tote or two. It keeps the back of the vehicle organized. We are able to hold clothing for ALL SIX of the kids in one. It allows for us to take along other needed items for the trip easily (you can’t pack a slow cooker in a suitcase as easily!). If you have room on a cargo carrier or in your cargo area for a tote or two, give this method a try.
Road Trip Packing Tip 2: Lay it all out.
When we start to pack for our family, I lay it ALL out on the dining room table first. This way I’m not having to pack in each of the kids’ rooms or tote our tote around the house.
I’ll ask the kids to all go to their rooms and get X amount of underwear, socks, pajamas etc. As they bring the items out to me, I’ll lay them in a separate pile for each kiddo so I can easily see what we have for everyone. Many times, I’ll even take it as far as putting their socks and underwear in a ziplock bag to keep it separate and organized.
It may sound like a lot, but it really doesn’t take very long, and for a big family (aka lots of people) this method actually saves us time!
Road Trip Packing Tip 3: Think in color palettes.
Okay, this isn’t necessarily for EVERYONE, but ya’ll know I like to take photos… and a lot of them. To keep our family travel photos feeling cohesive, I like to pack a color palette or two for the whole family. This way, the kids can dress themselves, but all of our pictures while we’re out an about still feel cohesive.
What this means while I’m asking kids to bring clothes out the the table? Well, they’re pretty used to my requests by now, but it means that I’ll ask for them to bring a pair of jeans and brown pants, or two long sleeve shirts that are gray or black, or other specific requests. As the clothing piles are made on the table, I can see how the outfits can mix and match and flow together.
Again, it really doesn’t take much time to pack this way!
Another way to make this really helpful? Shop at the same place! Recently we updated our kids’ winter wardrobe from The Children’s Place and it’s been perfect for all of our fall and winter travel (and even as the temps continue to drop in Florida as well).
Road Trip Packing Tip 4: Always be prepared.
I’m not talking about all the prep that has already gone into packing up clothes and making sleeping arrangements, I’m talking about the need to always be prepared for emergencies… especially in winter travel.
We like to keep a case of water bottles in the car, but it’s essential to have a stocked first-aid kit (and you know I ALWAYS have my oils with me!), extra diapers and wipes, a blanket or two (this one is easy since we usually plan our drive around the night-time and the kids bring one — another family road trip tip even if it doesn’t have to do with packing), extra food (I don’t like to overpack food, but filling and easy bars are good options), and ziplock bags are all things that come in handy in emergencies and get used on just about every trip — even when there’s not an emergency.
Road Trip Packing Tip 5: Don’t be afraid to spoil the kids a bit.
No, I don’t mean to overload on sugar before being a small, confined space for long periods of time… but I DO mean finding special ways to make the trip memorable. Sometimes, it can be a new craft that is just for use in the car, a small toy for the drive or even getting to splurge on their favorite drive-through meal on the trip.
Do you have any extra road trip packing tips? Let me know in a comment below!