Packing for a trip with kids for a week away should not cause a logistical nightmare. We dream for the day where we can just throw a few clothes into a pack and go. With three kids in tow it feels like we pack half the house into the van. Before we had kids we could leave on a whim as we could have our bags packed and be on the road in minutes. We even spent 14 months travelling with only what we could fit into a backpack. After those carefree days we slowly started to travel with more stuff each trip.
We bought a great camping station wagon and adopted a dog to join us but with every trip the dog’s living space in the back of the wagon began to shrink. By the time Annika came along our poor dog was squished into a corner between a bag of dog food and a baby stroller. Once we found out that we were having twins the wagon was replaced for a minivan and we placed a large carrier on top of the roof racks. We needed the extra space for strollers, playpens, stuffed animals, favourite blankets, toys, and potties. A lot of the time we would get back without using half the stuff we packed. We are now much more critical of what we take with us. We have just returned from a week away visiting the grandparents and I think we did rather well compared to past trips. This time I was able to close the roof rack box without jumping on it, I could open the back of the van without creating a mess on the driveway, and the kids did not have to climb over a mountain of bags to get to their car seats. We even had enough space to have a picnic lunch inside the van on the way home today.
There are a few things we have realized we can do without. Kids do not need to bring their toy box on the road as there are so many new things to explore that most will not be played with. It usually is not too hard to throw on a load of laundry to save on clothes packed, and replacing your stroller with a travel sized one, borrowing one at your destination, or not using one at all often works out fine. As the kids get older we should be able to eliminate more and more stuff from our trips. Maybe one day we’ll be able to return to just filling a pack and hitting the road.