I packed the whole family in one suitcase. The parents' clothes were folded in the bag, but the kids' clothes were rolled. I packed 2 outfits per adult and 3 per kid, plus one pair of footie pjs per kid. For the first time, I used my custom "scrunchies" to hold the outfits together. I made the scrunchies to match each kid's assigned color, which worked really well. I loved that I could grab one of each color, throw them on the bed, and start dressing kids. My other packing secret is that I rolled either a diaper or a pair of underwear into each clothing bundle to make dressing the kids even easier. I was pleased with how the packing system worked; although, I'm thinking about packing our things in a plastic tote next time.
For the road trip, and any additional diaper changes, we packed the "red backpack," which is just a school bag. I always try to have it loaded with a full bag of diapers, at least half a pack of wipes, diaper rash cream, a baggie of disposable gloves for applying the cream, an extra outfit for Dragonfly (potty training), and so on. The bag sat in the back of the car near the door for the road trip, but stayed in the hotel for the day trip.
On the day that we were out touristing, we tried to keep our belongings light. Dragonfly (age 3) walked the whole day and wore a cute, little backpack with an extra outfit, some wipes, and her cup. She felt so grown-up carrying her own things and looked grown-up too (mommy tears). Skimmer (age 2) wore a backpack leash with a few diapers, wipes, and his cup in it. He walked most of the day but he also traded off with Tadpole in the stroller. It would have been nice to have had a double stroller, but our double is really clumsy and wouldn't have been very helpful in the tight places we visited (especially the Museum of Flight- not stoller/wheelchair friendly at all!). We took our umbrella stroller instead, which was very helpful. Like I said, Tadpole (1) rode in it the most (and napped in it!), but Skimmer also took a turn when he needed a "time-out." The whole set up would have been better if everyone had been better rested; however, I wouldn't change anything if we were to do it again.
We purposefully chose a hotel with an excellent continental breakfast and a fridge/microwave in the room. I also packed two plastic totes with food, one for the "road trip" snacks and one for the hotel. Because the room had a microwave, I was able to make "Easy Mac" for the kids. It was the highlight of their stay. I made them eat on a big sheet, which I had placed on the floor. Next time, I will bring something smaller and more kid-appealing, like place mats. It was also very important that I packed dish soap, a wash cloth, towel, plastic wear, paper cups, plates, etc, to help make hotel cooking a bit easier.
For the road trip, I packed us homemade "lunchables" in a new cooler bag, which I placed on the bench seat between my husband and I. One thing that I loved about the new bag is that it has a compartment on the top to hold non-cooler foods. I was able to place a small bin inside of it, which a made it ridged and kept our crackers from getting squished. In the front pocket of the cooler, I slipped in a few lollipop treats and just-for-mom snacks to keep *me* happy on the road. I absolutely loved the whole cooler set up. I can't wait for our next road trip so I can use it again.
The one food thing I would change for next time is to get a narrower snack bin. I stuck our "old one" one the passenger side, under Skimmer's feet, but it was too wide to fit well between the seats. I did get it shoved in the car but it was unnecessarily difficult. For the next trip, I'd like to find something that is less than 13" wide.
*Note to Self: your kids don't like lunch meat. Pack them PBJs in fun shapes instead*
Dad brought his MP3 player and headphones, and Mom packed the family MP3 player and radio transmitter. Dad brought the laptop, and Mom brought her Kindle. Dad watched the hotel TV (mythbusters!), and Mom streamed movies. That's what you wanted to know, right? How mom and dad kept entertained?
Like I said earlier, it was fortunate that I had spent a lot of time working on road trip stuff these past few months because I was ready with lots of fun things for this trip. On the driver's side, I packed another bin, which rested under Tadpole's seat (rear facing). I packed Dollar Tree magnetic boards, a couple discovery bottles, several toy cars (baby and matchbox), a color-matching busy bag, two homemade flip books (which I'll blog about later), a mini car in a race track tin (later), and some mini animals in an altoid tin (also later). Honestly, I was surprised at how well our kids did in the car. We hardly needed any of these activities. The kids entertained themselves (not by sleeping!) and made up their own games. They did really enjoy the little car (Skimmer) and the little animals (Dragonfly) and the other toy car (Tadpole). We never did get out the busy bag or the bottles or the store-bought toys (although I should have used the busy bag in the hotel). They also really liked the pictures books I made, a zoo animals one for Dragonfly and a "20 trucks" one for Skimmer. The books are still in the car, and they love to look at them while we drive to town. The one thing that I would do differently for the next road trip would be to pack some games and activities for the kids to do at the hotel. I didn't structure their time well, and it made it frustrating for everyone.
Wow! This is getting to be a long post. Just a few more things. Tethers are your friends. I made my own with ribbon and book rings, which I attached to the car with carabiners. Some of the ribbons had elastic on them for holding sippy cups, while others had another ring on the end for toys. Every toy that entered the car (except for the ones in tins) was clipped to the ribbon for easy retrieval. Amazing! The book rings (Dollar Tree) made it really easy to switch out activities too.
Thanks for sticking with me until the end!