How To Load Your Car and What To Pack When Taking a Family Trip Vacation

Armen Hareyan's picture
Ford Translit Loaded for Family Trip

This is how big families, that include, 5 kids and two adults, prepare for a family trip to Yellowstone. Andrea Goeldner from Wisconsin tells the story about their family's big vacation and how to pack and load your car before you start your family trip.

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How many family belongings can you pack in a Ford Transit? You may indeed need a car like this when you are taking a family trip with give children and two adults.

This is the trunk of our Ford Transit - 12 passenger ready for 2 week road trip to Yellowstone. One double stroller, two backpack carriers, two tubs of food and a cooler, one suitcase for my hubby, small box of toys, two tubs with clothes and shoes, one suitcase with pillows blankets and toiletries, one pack and play, two twelve packs of soda, one box of diapers and books, bag with swim clothes and towels, one baby potty and a body pillow for myself. Each kid has a backpack of their notebooks, books, etc that they keep by their seat. Also we have a case of water and a soft sided cooler. No kitchen sink.

First Pack The Snacks When Going on a Family Vacation

So the first thing we usually end up doing when we go on a family vacation is pack the snacks. Everyone has to eat and on a road trip you have to stop for gas and bathroom breaks. To save money, we pack a tub full of healthy, snack size portions or containers so tat during a gas stop everyone goes in while my husband gasses up. We use the bathroom and come back outside while he uses the bathroom. Before the kids load up they get to pick a snack or two to keep us on the road. Examples of snacks are granola bars, applesauce or individual fruit cups, jerky sticks, breakfast bars, almonds, craisins or other snack size items. Either bought in snack servings or bulk and then portioned to snack size. This is by far the kids' favorite part of packing. We also bring water bottles to refill, juice boxes, and water flavoring.

Then Pack Clothes

Next we pack the clothes. We have five kids and I have them each bring up enough clothes for half the trip plus one. We will wear each outfit twice on our trip and the extra outfit is for laundry day. Depending on where we are going and the weather there ill pack outfits accordingly.

Last year we went to the Rocky Mountains and Utah. Half of our trip was hot the other half was cold. So I divided our clothes into two sections. Half the clothes were for cold weather and half were for hot. For each day I have each kid bring me a full change of clothes. Once I have a complete outfit for each child I use a disposable shopping bag and I put all the clothes for all the kids into one shopping bag.

Then each of those bags goes into a storage tub (not too large, they get heavy) if we are packing for warm and cold, I have a red and blue tub. Red I use for warm weather clothes and blue for colds weather clothes. When I close up the bag with each set of outfits I secure a piece of paper around the handles and write a note about the outfits inside (warm weather, church clothes, Flag Day, etc).

Each night when we go into the hotel room, we only take a few things in. But one of those things is a shopping bag from the tubs. That night, the outfits for the following day are laid out and the dirty clothes go into the shopping bag. Because the tag for that bag is taken off, we know which clothes are dirty.

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Then The Suitcase You Need In Hotel

Next is the one suitcase we take into the hotel each night. One. Yes one. For all seven of us.

What to Pack In Hotel Suitcase For a Family

In that (standard size) suitcase I pack: medications, toiletries (shared and in a cinch bag), a collapsible footstool (folds flat, for Littles to brush teeth sand use the potty), a change of pjs for everyone, stuffed animals for the kids who require them, blankets for the pack and play, a nightlight for the bathroom, two large clamps to hold the hotel curtains closed, and a bag of device chargers. We carry in the pack and play, the diaper bag (stocked with supplies for overnight), water or milk we need for bottles, my body pillow, and that bag of clothes from the storage tub (check the weather in advance for the following day), and if there's a pool, we take a swim bag with swim diapers, suits, towels, sunscreen, and a wet bag for suits that still need to dry in the morning. If we are going to have lots of hotel downtime, I'll bring in the small box of toys.

Other things we bring along that never actually make it into the hotel: baby potty (for emergency roadside stops and to avoid the gas station), a large cooler (filled with frozen and not frozen items (lunch meat, cheeses, butter, breakfast items). Sometimes we stay in places that have a kitchen and we will cook meals in to save money. If I can, I always book a hotel with a breakfast so that we have one less stop and we can save the money and time. We also bring a box of diapers/ pull-ups/ books but only grab what we need. We have a storage bin full of other items as well: peanut butter, bread, more snacks, ketchup and other unopened condiments (until they are opened and gave to go in the cooler). We hike and go to parks on our vacations and so we take along two hiking backpacks as well.

I haven't addressed packing for mom and dad. We have a shared suitcase or I pack in with the kids' bags. And we just grab what we need-- not the whole suitcase.

What To Pack in Car Cargo Area for a Family Trip

So, in our cargo area this is what we have packed: one small suitcase for my husband (I'm in with the kids this time), one large suitcase to bring into the hotel, an emergency car kit, one case of water, one swim bag, two twelve packs of soda, a baby potty, box of diapers and books, a double stroller, two hiking backpack carriers, two tubs of clothes (including shoes - wear one take one and no flip flops allowed, rain coats, extra set of sweatshirts, and all those bags of clothes to bring into the hotel), one large cooler, one tote of snacks (nothing that will melt), one tote of shelf stable food items, and the pack and play.

Up in front, we have a diaper bag for the Littles, a soft sided cooler for milk bottles, each kid has a backpack with things like books, colored pencils, sketchbooks, and other precious items that only kids bring on vacation. We once brought Lego sets and when the bigger kids woke up early they would close the drain on the bathtub and play in the bath without water but with their Legos until the rest of us woke up.

We travel every year a few times a year. We start the kids Iong road trips from very early. This year is Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, seeing a college friend in Idaho, and a few other National Parks. Last year we went to Colorado and Utah and did 14 National Parks in 15 days.

Our goal is to take each of the kids to each of the 50 states before they are 18. Our oldest kids have been to over 30 states. Our kids are 11, 10, 7 (in June), 2 and 1. Taken tonight almost to North Dakota.

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Comments

I forgot to add two life jackets.