Packing 101

Preparing to travel with our family is always a challenge.  Actually I think that just preparing to travel no matter what is a challenge, but when you try to make sure that nine people have everything they will need for 4 days and nights 600 miles from home, the challenge is monumental. I've learned over the last several years that I must start about three days in advance of our departure.  The challenge has escalated a little due to our lack of cargo space in the Suburban.  Now everything must go on top.  I make lists.  A list that has individual pieces of clothing per child.  One that lists all of the ancillary items needed such as camera, battery charger, cell phone charger, extra batteries, breast pump.  Another that contains diaper bag contents.  Depending on the nature of the trip, I will pack all of our clothes together or all of the kids together and mine and Tim's together.  Usually there is one suitcase designated to carry shoes because no matter where we're going, it is likely that we'll need more than the pair on our feet.  I even make a list that indicates what we'll be wearing each day:  Sunday--dress clothes, travel clothes.  Monday--play clothes, pjs.  Tuesday--casual dressy and play.  Wednesday--get dirty clothes, swim, and travel.  Something like that anyway.

Of course, never is there a time when all clothes and items needed are all clean, folded and put away.  Usually there is also a laundry process.  Sometimes this is easy, especially considering I don't like folding laundry.  This time, there were six baskets of clean clothes, so that is where I started.  I can typically give each of the kids an assignment to bring me 5 pair of underwear, 8 pair of socks, good jeans, nice shirt, t-shirt, dress shirt, pjs, etc...If I rely on them though and don't double check, we will 100% of the time arrive at our destination without something a pair of shoes instead of just the one. 

When it is all said and done, clothes are laid out in piles before making it into the suitcase, and then checked off the list.  If I'm lucky enough to get the suitcase zipped shut and to the top of the car before someone thinks they need something from it, I'm virtually done.  This is rare!  There is also the task of packing the necessary "in-car" items.  Portable DVD players and the cords and movies, books, pencils, crayons, snacks, drinks, kleenex, blankets, sunglasses, etc...I know it sounds a bit overboard, but it isn't.  The challenge here is where to position them so they are accessible, but so they don't just get dumped.  Actually, it doesn't really matter where they're positioned, they are likely going to get dumped. 

There is also ALWAYS a point in this process that I stand up and announce, "We are not going.  We're staying home!!!!!"  At this point I know this is a phase that must be passed, so I'm not alarmed and just keep perservering. 

By the end of the eve of our trip, suitcases are lined up at the door if they're not already strapped to the top of the suburban.  Ninety percent of the time, I have more than we need and probably 8 percent of the time I'm close, but something is still sitting at home.  The other 2 % are those times when eveything fits and all is good.  Once everything is put on and in the car and we're out the door (after I've taken the final minutes to quickly tidy up the house so I won't have to come home to a pig sty), all is good.  Once we've arrived at our destination, all is even better.  Until the return trip!  :)