RoadTripTips005My family is on the road right now, taking a 3-week long trip through various states in the southeastern US.  Although we’ve taken much shorter trips fairly often (overnight or weekends), this is our first road trip of such a long length and distance.

What I’ve learned during the first few days is that although a lot of my packing techniques for those smaller trips carry over for a big one like this, there are definitely some things to consider when you’re packing a family of five for 24 total days away from home. Here are 3 quick things I’ve learned along the way so far:

1) You don’t have to pack enough clothes for the entire trip. In fact, you really don’t want to, or you’ll be drowning in luggage when you leave and in laundry when you get home. I packed enough clothes for 12 days for everyone, figuring that we’ll do laundry at least (but hopefully only) once. Many hotels have laundry facilities, but even if not – to my thinking at worst case scenario it’s worth a couple of hours in a Laundromat to not have to lug all those extra clothes around the whole time.

2) If you’re making one-night stops along the way, it’s a good idea to pack a small suitcase or overnight bag for every member of the family with only a few days worth of clothes, then pack the excess together in an ‘overflow’ bag that you can use to replenish the smaller ones or unpack altogether when you get to your final stop. This way you’re not lugging days and days worth of clothing into every hotel along your way. Rolling bags or suitcases are a great way for kids to be able to bring their luggage in and out of hotels on their own.

RoadTripTips0023) Rather than packing all of our toiletry items together and having to keep track of what’s whose, I’m using a small bag for each of my daughters with their own toothbrush, toothpaste, brush, hair accessories and such. Each bag is labeled with their name and I spent 99 cents each for a small toothbrush in a carry case with a traveling size kids toothpaste, each in a different color.  During our hotel stops, they keep everything together in their own bag so nothing gets lost or mixed up. Everything we’re using is either color-coded or labeled so we all know what’s whose.

So far we’ve managed to keep everything well-organized and we’re into Day 4 of our road trip, and our third hotel stop. The true test will be whether I’m still as organized at the end of the trip, but at least we’ve got a good system in place to start with. Happy travels!

Deb is Traveling Mom’s Director of Operations and writes as Technology TravelingMom, as well as at Just a mom’s take on things…. You can also find her on Twitter – she’s @DebMomOf3