What We’re Packing and How

When I mention our plans to random strangers (which has happened a lot in the past few weeks), the most common question is a variation of “Are you taking an RV?” or “Are you hauling a trailer of some sort?”

Natural question. So I thought I’d explain a bit about how we’re transporting ourselves and our stuff around the country.

We’re not taking an RV or a trailer. We’ll be staying in furnished rentals, friends/family’s homes, or tent camping everywhere we’re going. So we won’t need kitchen stuff other than a cooler and a few basics. When we camp (which won’t be often – it’s not exactly my favorite thing), we’ll eat very simple finger foods and hotdogs. If we decide we need anything other than metal skewers and paper towels when we’re camping, we’ll figure that out at the time.

We’re taking everything in our car (Honda Pilot) with a soft-sided cartop carrier. The back of the Pilot has quite a bit of room. We’re packing most of our stuff in stackable storage crates, like this:

See how they stack so neatly? Nifty!

This bin holds our school books/curriculum, for the most part. Our little bin of printer paper fits right on top of those books, with just enough room to close the lid. Super nifty!

We can fit ten of these bins in the back of the car, with room on top and beside them for other stuff, like the violin and electric piano.

One benefit of the storage crates is that after we unpack at a rental, they can all be stacked together and be shoved in a closet somewhere (and can be used for laundry bins, too). And the soft-sided cartop carrier can fold up inside one of them.

Here’s how it all breaks down:

– Tent
– 5 self-inflating sleep mats
– 5 sleeping bags
– Beach umbrella
– 2 lawn chairs
– A couple of pillows
– Towels

– Crate 1: My clothes
– Crate 2: Havarti’s clothes
– Crate 3: The Muse’s clothes
– Crate 4: Dolittle’s clothes
– Crate 5: BoyWonder’s clothes (plus extra shoes)
– Crate 6: School stuff: curriculum, books, paper
– Crate 7: School stuff: games, legos, plastic animals, modeling clay, etc.
– Crate 8: Bathroom stuff
– Crate 9: Miscellaneous: Coffee grinder, French press (gotta have my coffee), Brita pitcher and filters, various spice cabinet basics, Wii (we debated this one, but it doesn’t take up much space and BoyWonder loves it so so much), and a few other random things
– Crate 10: Cooler (not really a crate, but the same size) for transporting leftover food place to place

Also in the back:
– Violin
– Piano
– Havarti’s work bin (larger than a shoebox, but smaller than the crates)
– Havarti’s work monitor
– Printer (in box)
– Small game suitcase (holds checkers, chess, mancala, cribbage, backgammon, Yahtzee, and a deck of cards)
– Kids’ backpacks with books and activities for trip (set right behind their headrests for easy reach)
– Computer of whoever is driving at the moment
– Havarti’s and my small overnight bag (the kids will use their backpacks to hold their overnight clothes and toiletries during long drives where we have to stay someplace overnight)
– Camera (or maybe up front with me, we’ll see)

– Dolittle’s enormous stuffed horse (after much debate, I caved – she promised she’d hold it the whole way)
– Pillows
– LeapPad
– DVD player (screens on backs of front headrests)
– iPad
– Cooler bag for car snacks (below BoyWonder’s feet)

– Computer of whoever is not driving
– Purse
– Bag with my home management notebook, road atlas, extra clipboard/paper, pens/pencils, etc.
– iPhones with Pandora, Spotify, Audible, and various other audio gems for our listening enjoyment

That’s pretty much it. I’ll take pictures of it all packed on Sunday. There’s a possibility that we will have to put the lawn chairs and umbrella in the back instead of in the cartop carrier. We’ll fanagle it on Sunday morning.

Do you think we’re missing anything important? I feel like we’ve pretty much got everything covered. It’ll be crammed, for sure. But well-organized. 🙂

You might be thinking, What about room for souvenirs you buy on the road? 

No worries.

A few family vacations ago, we started doing those penny-smasher things. You know, the machines where you put in a penny and two quarters and it imprints an image on the penny of whatever place you’re visiting? I used to think those were really stupid. Now I think they’re genius.

I’ll explain why in another post. It’s time for bed. If you see any glaring holes in our packing list, let me know. 🙂

Three more days!

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Annie writes about life, motherhood, world issues, beautiful places, and anything else that tickles her brain. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and homeschooling her children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

Comments 4

  1. Just a question came to my mind when I saw “extra shoes” for BoyWonder. Since they are growing so quickly and I am sure you had the grow into sizes already at home and with only one crate per child, how are you going to handle it if they have growth spurt and grow out of what you’ve packed? Donate and get new wardrobe from a local thrift shop or store on the way? Or?

  2. There is precious little in this world that’s more satisfying than a mama and her packing list! I can’t even imagine the hours of thought and planning that led to this final product (list)! Safe travels to you and your family, I look forward to your posts.

    PS…We too are BIG fans of the pressed penny machines. They ARE genius! Less than a buck and can fit in their pockets? YES, please!

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