How to Pack for a Roadtrip – Part One

About a year and a half ago we traveled to Arizona. The kids were 5, 3 and 1 and it was 4 long days in the car. Long, long days. We had said that if we made it through alive that we would consider going out East to the family cottage. That time is now upon us as I am busy packing for 5 full days in the car all the way to Ontario.

We will be driving for a minimum of 6 hours each day to a maximum of 10…which is a bit ridiculous. We will be driving our Honda Oddessy completely packed to the roof with all we will need for a month. Remembering that this is Canada and the weather can go from stifling hot 34c to a mere 5c in the summer. (depending where you are).

She is so cute!

Did I mention that we will also be bringing our 3 year old German Shepard Rotti (mutt)? She will be seat-belted in next to Special K so that means that I won’t be able to utilize the stow and go. Everything has to be packed correctly.

I learned a couple tips and tricks from travelling to Arizona and I thought, why not share them with the world? I mean, it made my life easier… so maybe it will do the same for you.

Let’s start with the suitcase.

1. Use a separate suitcase for the adults and either give each child a suitcase (like a …..) or just put them all in one. 

I chose to put all the boys together in one suitcase because they are still small people. I also wanted to make sure that we still had the space for snacks and activities as a few of the days will be really long and boring. Once the kids are older I will probably give the oldest his own suitcase and then the littler guys will share one.

2. Buy Ziploc Freezer Bags. 

A diaper, t-shirt and a pair of shorts.

This is the best idea ever. What I do is pack a full outfit in each freezer bag and then label it. So if we have the baby for example; he has a diaper (using disposables on the trip for ease and limited space), shorts, and a t shirt. Then I mark it with his name and write “shorts” on it. If it is a bag with long pants, it will also have a diaper, a long sleeved shirt and socks. It will again have his name on it and the words “pants”. Pretty self explanatory.

Name and what is inside.
3 swimsuits in one bag.

It doesn’t stop there. I also packed 2 pairs of pajamas for each boy, a warm pair and a cold pair, and put them in a ziploc. Each hotel that we are stopping at has a pool (a must have) so I took three ziploc and put 3 swimsuits in each of them. So when we stop at the hotel we can just grab the pajama bag, one swimsuit bag and one of the clothing bags and leave the suitcases in the van. (Don’t forget to bring a backpack or smaller bag for this.)

All 3 rain-pants are in a ziploc, as well as all 3 pairs of water shoes and runners are in separate ones.

3. Think before you pack. 

Left the hoodies out so you can see.

I placed the pajamas in the front so that we can grab them right away and they stay separate from everything else. The swimsuits, swim diapers, and water wings are in the lid (is that what they call that part?).  The two bags each that the boys have containing the long pants etc, are in a separate mesh pocket (probably meant for socks and undies). I changed this from last time as we were always searching through the suitcase trying to find the bag with long pants – so now they will be much easier to find. The last mesh pocket has the bag with the rain pants and rain jackets in it.

Rubber boots at the very bottom. The shoe bags go next. All the rest of the bags are just placed in the suitcase on top. I divided it into 3 so all of Special K’s are on the left, R’s are in the middle and the Baby’s are on the right. (they will inevitably get mixed up by day 3, but that is why separate suitcases would be great too.)

Last but not least I put their hoodies on the very top so that we have access to them right away if the weather is cooler. I also have a bag with the outfit that they will be wearing on Day 1 when we leave. I did this so that it was something that would match the other outfits and so that they wouldn’t wear it the day before or something!

4. What goes in must come out! 

I already mentioned bringing a different smaller bag just to take the pajamas, swimsuits and tomorrows clothes in, but you also need somewhere to put all that dirty laundry. Yes, the clothes can go back into their bags, but you don’t want to put them into the suitcase or the dirty and clean will get mixed up and that isn’t helpful at all! Bring an extra bag (I am using my cloth diaper wet bag), something small and that doesn’t take up much room. It can still be in the suitcase (and I would place it to one side) but it is more of a divider than anything.

Well, that it is it! Stayed tuned for two more posts on how and what to pack for entertainment, and how to pack the van for optimum space and comfort for everyone. 🙂

Happy Travelling! Do you have any tips to share?

Post Author: Alisha

While I spend most of my time homeschooling my 4 kids, I am also on a journey to better myself by exploring all the interesting things that life has to offer. I am passionate about human rights, especially in regards to birth, and am an advocate for families and babies.

2 thoughts on “How to Pack for a Roadtrip – Part One


    (August 6, 2012 - 4:27 pm)

    Great post! I totally agree with using the ziplocs.


    (August 6, 2012 - 4:34 pm)

    we’re heading out on a roadtrip soon and I think I LOVE your ziplock idea!

Comments are closed.