When I told family and friends that I was heading out of town, and driving 10.5 hours to visit a dear friends from our tour in Korea... MANY thought I was crazy. "You're doing what, with your 3 little ones, in just your truck?" Yup... crazy... that's me. But the kids were awesome, and the time spent with friends... away from the house...was time well spent.
I've decided to break down this post into 3 segments... so that I don't bombard you with too many fun tips/tricks for roadtrippin' with littles, or with a crazy amount of photos. Also, writing things down, so that I can remember things that I want to remember that "worked" this time, for our next adventure... and things that I thought of, "after the fact"... lessons learned in a way. I'm so used to traveling via plane with littles, it's amazing how different driving is with them.
Rule #1... NO EXPECTATIONS. Throw any expectation that you have about the road ahead of you, out the window. It might be worse than what you expected (which could leave for a crazy huge disappointment) or it might even surprise you in an even better way (which it did for me, because I had NO expectations). I had no solid plans for along the way. I didn't have a place booked to sleep, because I wasn't sure where we'd be stopping, based on how the kids were doing. I didn't know where we'd tank up, or where we'd have our meals... all I knew was that I had 10.5 hours to get there... and if it took a week to get there, well then it would... thankfully, it didn't.
When it comes to the kids, I usually tend to overpack, and when it comes to me, I tend to underpack. I'm not sure why... it just is what it is. Since we were driving in the truck (I know I know, a larger vehicle is in my near future) I knew I couldn't overpack, but rather needed to be spot on with what we were bringing. We were only going to be gone for 6 days (7 nights), so I made sure to pack for that... each child had 1 extra shirt and 1 extra pair of pants... and that was that... nothing more, nothing less. We fit all of our stuff into 1 big duffle bag.
I knew we'd be staying the night along the way... to split up the 10.5 hour drive. So I packed jammies and 1 outfit for each of us, in an overnight bag, along with basic toiletries, and some extra diapers. That way, when we stopped, all we needed to take out and grab, was that bag, along with our snack basket, and my camera bag (of course.)
Don't pack up the kids, until the car is already loaded... Kids should be the last thing in... in my opinion. That way, they can run around while you're getting things done and everything loaded, burning off all that extra energy (because, lets face it... they always have the MOST energy, when they're about to sit forever for a trip). Since I packed so minimally, it didn't take long to load up the truck. I had most of my bags ready to go the night before... the main thing I had to remember to pack, was all of the babies' nighttime routine materials (their blankets, sound machine, and 2 stuffed animals that sing lullabies)... and the toiletries that needed to be used that morning.
Once everyone was loaded (after last potty use and diaper changes), I filled all those little extra spaces up with toys that the kids haven't seen in awhile. I purposefully hid some smaller toys and didn't let my kids watch any shows/movies for a few days leading up to the trip... it made the viewing of the iPad in the truck, so much more sweeter. Marley even played with her baby doll for over an hour...
I ended up packing the snack bag near Charlotte's feet, so she could reach down and grab snacks whenever they were needed. A friend recommended (and I'm taking note for next time)... to pack some new snacks... snacks that you wouldn't usually give your kids, or that would be considered more "treat" like. Although we had a plentiful amount of snacks and the kids loved them (apples, yogurt melts, Annie's organic cheese crackers and honey crackers, trail mix and kale puffs), it would be fun to add a snack that they haven't had before... something to surprise them with. Extra diapers were put near Finn's side (since no one would be going in and out of his side). Some extra toys were stuffed in the pockets behind the front seats. Water bottles were stored in the side doors (2 on each door, so that we would have plenty for the trip there, and back). In the truck bed was my stroller and pack n play. So thankful for clear weather all the way out. I also had a tarp, just in case it rained... and we ended up using that on the way back, since I don't have a cover for the truck bed. Once the kids were all packed in... we were off... and surprisingly, when I looked at the clock... it was 9:00 am... the exact time that I "wished" to be on the road by!
Stay tuned for Part 2...