Alternatively titled: How to live in your car for two weeks with three children
We made our first trip to Oklahoma with the boys when they were about a year old.
I would have gone sooner but I wanted to wait until they were old enough to turn the car seats to face forward because there was no way I was going to subject them to riding twenty-two hours staring at the back of that beige seat not being able to experience all the glories of Interstate 40.
Oh, it was glorious all right, especially the part where we sat with the engines shut off for three hours on the interstate just outside of Little Rock at dinnertime with nothing but a two pound box of Fig Newtons to keep us company.
Ranger Rick Safety Math Tip: 2 lbs of Fig Newtons X 3 immature digestive systems = Disaster.
I learned a lot on that first and subsequent trips about what we needed/didn’t need to have in the car and we’ve reached the point where packing for these journeys is down to a science.
That’s not to say that I pack us with military precision. It takes me two days to get organized and ready to hit the road and most of those two days are spent wandering back and forth from the front of the house to the back of the house muttering “Where did I put the Pringles?”
Oh, yes, there are snacks.
The packing of the snacks is what we do first.
We make a ceremonial trip to the grocery store for the sole specific reason to buy said snacks and the boys get to each pick something to munch on that fits the “can’t smear, melt, stain, or get stuck in your hair” guidelines.
I also let them pick out an assortment of flavoring packets to put in our water bottles which not only saves me a boatload of cash by not buying cokes at gas stations/drive-thrus but also gives them a physical activity to do in the car as they shake the mess out of their TIGHTLY LIDDED BOTTLES to get their drinks mixed.
Which is not to be confused with mixed drinks.
Because that’s a whole ‘nother subject that may or may not be revisited at the end of my travels.
Above the driver’s seat I have a zipper compartment that contains lip balm, eye drops, aspirin, and those roll-up sunglasses they give you at the optometrist’s office after they dilate your eyes because chances are I’ve walked off and left my pair in the hotel room. Next to the driver’s seat I keep a car caddy that I picked up at Target three or four years ago that holds snacks, pens, my laptop, a deck of cards, power cords for cell phones and Nintendos, and contact information for our hotels along the way; if we’re making good time and everyone’s happy, I will often cancel our hotel reservation and re-book at a town further down the road. The caddy has convenient side handles for carrying and it goes into the hotel with us at night.
The center console is packed with a first aid kit, a packet of wet wipes, a small tool kit (thanks, ImNotNed), and a jelly jar of change for Starbucks toll booths.
It takes two or three days to get home so to minimize what we have to haul into the hotel each night, the boys have their own backpack that has exactly what they need to get them to our destination and it is small and light enough for them to handle. It also cuts down on the amount of stuff that gets lost and/or strewn around the hotel room.
Not that it has ever happened to us.
The rest of our clothes go in two small suitcases – one for the adults and one for the kids. I never pack more than a week’s worth of clothes because there’s always a machine somewhere.
And this is more than a week’s worth of clothes because I’ve spent the last three days getting caught up on laundry and am packing straight from the dryer to the suitcase.
I didn’t have enough room to pack Mr. CPQ for this first leg of the trip so he’ll join us later on. I’m a little sad that he’ll miss the giant disco ball in Knoxville and the Memphis Pyramid and the 875,385th rendition of “Are we there yet” , but there is a silver lining.
More Pringles for me.
Have a nice day.