Okay, so you've mapped out your destination, done your research, and now you're ready to roll. You just gotta start packing. I suppose there are different methods to packing; mine is to make a list.
And then lose it.
So I make another list, probably losing that one too.
Seriously, I finally put the list on the computer so I could just print it out. What you choose to take really is entirely up to you; some people (like Hubs) can go for weeks with so much as a small tote with a change of clothes and a toothbrush. I'm not one of them. Neither is Jake. We are more of the "be prepared for anything" variety, to which Hubs always says, "Why the hell do you need so much STUFF?!"
But see, at least when it rains we have jackets to wear, unlike a certain unnamed person who didn't think he needed one in the rainforest of Australia and ended up buying one when he was soaked. Just sayin'.
In no particular order of importance, here's the Cookie Jar's top 21 list of things that come in handy on a road trip, besides the whole obvious clothes and toothbrushes and stuff:
21. Bottled water: we always take a flat for a 3 week trip. It keeps us away from less healthy beverages, it doesn't stain if it's spilled, and we stay hydrated. For a trip to the desert I usually freeze a bunch of it and then throw it all in a cooler. It's good to make sure your hotel rooms have a fridge, too. If you want some variety, Lipton Green Tea to Go is very yummy and has no calories! One summer we bought all flavored water, thinking it would give us some variety. Not only did we discover that the flavored stuff tastes nasty when it's warm, but it made us more thirsty. Which isn't a good thing when it's 110 C and you're in Arizona.
20. The snack box: I've waffled back and forth on this one, usually wondering if I was packing too much in it, but I can't deny that it has saved our butts every trip. When you're hauling ass through the remoteness of Utah and the kids are hungry, it's great to be able to just pull out a snack to tide them over. We steer clear of the junk food and pack cereal, v-8 juice, string cheese, rice cakes, granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, beef jerky, crackers, and ready to eat tuna. Fresh fruit and veggies must be purchased en route, as we Canadians aren't allowed to take them across the border. You could take this a little further and pack instant soups/pastas for your hotel room as well, especially when junior won't eat restaurant food. I use a plastic recyling box to pack it all in for easy access.
19. A towel: This has come in handy to cover the seats to keep them slightly cool, or to protect them from spills. It doubles as a great item to clean feet with (along with a bottle of the water), is great for impromtu swims, etc.
18. a portable picnic set of dishes: I found this great set that comes in it's own plastic zip up bag and includes cutlery. It is great for containing the mess from snacks that are eaten en route and I pack it in the food box.
17. Palmolive dish wipes: I cut them in 1/2 to stretch their use, put them in a small ziplock, and pack them right in the bag of dishes for easy clean up. I have heard that these are hard to find now, but keep an eye out.
16. garbage bags: some big black ones for dirty laundry, and smaller grocery ones to put dirty dishes in when you can't stop to wash them. They can double as a dry surface when you have to sit on a wet picnic bench, or in a pinch, become rain gear even.
15. eyeglass repair kit: easily found at the dollar store, and a handy thing to take along should one of the screws from your frame decide to escape.
14. a medication kit: Meds are expensive in the States, and just as a precaution we always bring a small amount of cold and allergy medication, pain killers, and stomach remedies, each packed in small ziplocks and labelled. We store them in the first aid kit.
13. a small bucket: I actually don't pack a bucket. My Dad used to though, and if you have any little people that are prone to car sickness, then I'd pack one and keep it in the back. We don't ever get car sick, thank GOD.
12. Ziplocks: these things are fantastic. I pack all our potentially spillable things in large ones, such as shampoo, lotions, etc. I also pack a bunch of smallish ones so that during the trip if we're going on a hike and Jake needs a snack, we don't have to take the whole food box.
11. A pillow and small blanket: for naptime in the car. If you're like me and prone to neck problems, travel pillows are a good investment. Jake often takes his pillow from home and this summer, we plan to bring a small polar fleece blanket. We didn't take a blanket last year and as we went through the mountains in eastern Washington, wished we had-not just for a comfort thing for Jake, but it was chilly too.
10. card games: cards are portable, and easily played in the car. Mattel has come up with a great line of self contained car games! I especially like the Uno one, since our Uno cards are always slipping around the back seat.
9. a pocket knife or multi-tool thingy: good for opening packages, slicing up fruit, and other handy stuff. We throw it in the glove compartment.
8. a small collection of coins from your home country: sound strange? A few years ago Jake made friends with a little boy from France while we visited Utah. The boy and Jake exchanged a few coins from their home countries, and thought it was the coolest thing in the world. We take a tiny stash of a few coins, and pins of the Canadian flag just in case Jake meets a friend. It always is a fun thing to do in our travels.
7. The BOOK: stuffed with maps, hotel reservation numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and all our research. Probably the most used and most important item that we pack besides our travel medical insurance.
6. Kid stuff: When Jake was little, we did a "busy box". In it was a bunch of toys that I knew he'd like to have in the car; lego, plastic animals, that sort of thing. I also made up a scrapbook for him of our trip. In it were maps of where we were going, with the route lined in red with stars for our planned stops. I left pages for him to draw things or paste in souveniers. I also gave him a disposeable camera so that he could add photos to it when we got home. You can find the maps and things over here. We chose a shallow "box" format so it could double as a sturdy lap desk thing.
Now he is allowed one back pack of stuff to take, which he is allowed to pack and is responsible for.
5. A notebook and pen: For the blogger with a bad memory. Write down notes that you can later look back on to help you write those blog posts about your trip.
4. Stuff to clean up messes: I admit I haven't tried these yet, but they look great, have good reviews, and I love the idea. I plan to try some on this year's road trip.
3. First Aid Kit: make sure to stock before you go and include tweezers and nail clippers. We have a small auto one that works great for us.
2. Travel Mugs: we have one for every member of the family. It's much nicer to drink coffee from a mug rather then juggling a hot paper cup in the car, not to mention that they are also evironmentally friendly.
This summer I have purchased some self decorating ones from Starbucks for Jake and Hubs. I plan to decorate them with pics from previous road trips.
1. Your sense of humour: because you will inevitably need it.