It’s not just about the money. Yes, having a set budget in place and doing your best to fit into that frame can set your mind at ease, but it will be pretty much worthless when it comes to having a good family road trip experience if other matters are not taken care of properly. Let me help you, because packing for four can get the best out of you.
Since you are planning a road trip, you are most probably travelling by car. While it might not be the most budget-friendly option, the fact that you don’t actually need to think much about the amount of stuff you take with you is a true relief!
This is a very common mistake many of those who choose to spend their time with family road tripping make. Not taking packing seriously can make your life a lot more chaotic than you can imagine. Just think about it – you are travelling for, let’s say, a week with a group of people, and one or two members are probably a little too young to be hold accountable for the whereabouts of all their belongings (you can try, but it does not mean you will succeed). Sunscreen needed urgently along the way? Two suitcases get taken apart because no one knows where it is. Everyone thought that someone else packed the flashlight and now the overnight hike to the beach is ruined? If that sounds familiar, here are some tips:
- Dedicate suitcases. Ideally, you’d have one suitcase for personal belongings, one for everything else (or a couple of smaller ones, that depends), and a bag for food and drinks. That way, if you need your eyedrops, you know they are in your cosmetics bag which is in the green suitcase, as opposed to the sunscreen everyone uses, which is with all the things meant for common use, in the brown suitcase.
- Make lists. Start planning what needs to go into your suitcase some time in advance, that way you’ll eliminate the risks of forgetting things. Put up sheets of paper on the wall or the fridge for each suitcase and have everyone continuously add to them. Sit down together some time before the trip, go through them, discuss what’s missing and what’s truly necessary, and that way you’ll ensure that you don’t need to think about your and your kids’ needs for a week-long trip two hours prior to your departure. Don’t throw those lists away! Take them with you, and they will make it very easy for you to locate things as well as understand that once again you probably forgot something as simple as wet wipes. But now that you know, you can just stop at the nearest store and grab some instead of looking for hours! Lists will also be extremely helpful in keeping the kids’ stuff organized. Allow them to plan their belongings before you end up intervening – it is important to know what they want to bring, and it will help you avoid annoyed faces too!
- Distribute responsibilities. Once the lists are finalized, distribute who packs what. Again, allow the kids to take care of their things first, while you take on the food, the outdoor gear and so on. After you think you have everything, go through the lists and mark all items – it might seem a little time consuming, but trust me, it will save you a tone of your precious road trip time and some nerves too!