Taking it All On the Road

Fourth of July is approaching, school is out, and the season of family travel is in full swing.  It’s time to pack up Glop, Sun, Ab, and our beta and hit the road.

It once was so easy to jump in the car for a vacation. I had only myself to consider, and I had practically the whole car to fill with my stuff.  (Glop is the only person I know who repeatedly packs too little clothing for a trip.)  We had no kids, no pets, and no house.  Now it requires a lot of planning, shopping, and paper for all those “to do” and “must pack” lists.  As a modern mom with many fears (see a great post on this topic by a fellow blogger),  I plan for every contingency.  Here’s a look at a fraction of the items on my list for an upcoming trip:

day diapers
night diapers
swim diapers
bug spray
cell phones
ibuprofen (for all ages)
rain boots
swim suits
flip flops
noise machine (in hopes of helping the kids sleep)

And on and on.  I truly add to this list at all hours of the day and night.  It’s not like we’re traveling to Antarctica or will be cut off from the rest of civilization.  We’re just going to visit my in-laws at the Jersey shore, who probably have many of the things we’ll need right there.  But I get caught up in a “leaving home” mode that compels me to bring everything I need to recreate home wherever we go.  I’m like a mamma bird trying to take the nest along with us.

In my defense, I do try to travel a little lighter every year, now that we don’t need a pack-and-play or bottles.   But I seem to fill whatever space opens with a few more of my things – an extra pair or two of shoes, a blow dryer, books, dresses.  Now all this is really useless to me, even at home (when do I have time to blow dry my hair?  where would I wear a dress?)  But part of me forgets that these trips are not really vacations anymore.  My in-laws do an awesome job of helping us with the kids and giving us date nights, but as anyone with kids knows, you never really get a vacation – they’re just always on your mind even when they’re not in your presence.  You more or less get a “change of scenery,”  which may or may not involve a better time than you may have had at home.

Beyond packing for a trip, there’s shopping for special car food, like mini-boxes of Froot Loops, fruit snacks, Cheezits, Chex Mix and other assorted snackies that are normally not in stock.  Then there’s cleaning and vacuuming out the car,  which guarantees that someone will not only scatter the above-listed snacks all over the cabin, but also grind them into the upholstery and pee/poop/puke in her car seat; round-the-clock laundry to ensure everyone has enough socks/underwear/t-shirts; strategic organization of car-appropriate activities, like coloring books, crayons, and puzzles (even though no one will do anything but watch DVDs); mowing the lawn one more time; stopping the mail; putting out the trash; cleaning out the fish bowl (yes – he always comes with us).  On top of it all, I always get it into my head that we must leave the house clean from top to bottom, which is impossible even during a normal week.

As you can see, I whip myself into a frenzy before even getting into the car to face a six-to-eight hour drive with the littles.  It’s a wonder I agree to go anywhere at all.  In the end, I go to all this effort to create the allusion that I have some control over how the trip will go.  Taking your kids (even yourself) out of their element can create an unprecedented level of chaos.  I fool myself into believing I can counter it by providing that special lovey or the scent of familiar sunscreen or a beloved bedtime story.  Maybe it helps, maybe it doesn’t.  But it seems the natural thing for me to do as a mom.

How do you simplify packing for road trips?  I’d love to read your tips!

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2 Responses to Taking it All On the Road

  1. Domestiç Reclusë says:

    OMG, this is crazy to have so many people to pack for! So much stuff to pack, and I’m sure that had Glop done the packing, you would’ve been running to the nearest gas station/store to buy whatever was missing. At least, that’s how it is with my Hubby. I do all the packing, even when it’s just him going on a short biz trip. The last time he packed, he forgot so much stuff and stressed out about it, so I’ve been the designated packer ever since.

    I usually pack a cooler to stash sandwiches & drinks, mostly for the kids’ sake. I take neatly folded clothes and roll them into burritos if I need more room, with undies or socks in the center of the burrito. This keeps them from getting wrinkled and lets me stack em up & squeeze them even into the teeniest crevices of a bag/suitcase. If going by plane, definitely wear a few layers rather than pack them, and if you’re gonna be at your vacay for awhile, you also have the option to cheaply mail stuff to you rather than pack it. Lately it seems the mail has been more reliable than the airlines at getting stuff to your destination in 1 piece. 😉

    If you’re headed to family/relatives, then I’d say you shouldn’t need some of this stuff, as they should have it already — like ibuprofen, and maybe even sunscreen & bug spray. They do have travel sized packets of meds instead of lugging huge bottles of the stuff. We keep a packet in the car at all times, for emergencies. We also keep a charger in the car and have another one in the house, so that we don’t find cellphones dying in the middle of nowhere. 😉 I do the same with glasses; I have a pair in the car (plus RX sunglasses) and an extra pair at home, so I can leave a pair in the car for when I’m driving and not wanting to run anyone over. LOL

    Well, I was just stopping in via the SAHbbatical blog hop & wanted to wish you luck on your trip! Have fun & get some sun for me, cuz I’m not going anywhere this summer… 😦

    • glip says:

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting – I definitely should stock up on some travel size meds and toiletries. Obviously, we don’t travel much or I’d be a lot less insane about packing!

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