Tag Archives: packing list

Behind the Scenes: All this stuff for one night?

Before sharing some of our adventures in California, let me back up.  I promised some friends that I’d write about the nitty-gritty of traveling with our little ones, as they got the impression that it was all easy and fun (definitely fun, but not all easy) or that we only had to deal with one tantrum (not so much).

When I wrote about Pittsburgh, I didn’t include how challenging it was once we pulled up to the hotel.  Our van was packed to full capacity and we hadn’t planned out what we were going to pull out of the van and bring into our hotel room.  (Remember, Day 1 of our road trip started with us moving out of our temporary apartment that morning.  Our van ended up having more stuff in it than we anticipated. To lighten our load, we shipped some boxes to my parent’s house a few days into our trip.)

So, there we were.  Outside of our hotel in Pittsburgh.  Standing in 40 degree weather, dressed as if it were 60 degrees, pulling half the contents of our van into the driveway and a bellhop waiting to help us, probably thinking: “All this stuff for one night?”

Over time, we figured out what we needed to take in and out of the van at each overnight stop:

  1. Baby Bjorn travel crib
  2. inflatable toddler bed (packs a smidge smaller than an Aerobed)
  3. Baby Bjorn toilet trainer + all of our toiletries in one large backpack
  4. two bags (1-2 days worth of clothes + bedding for girls)
  5. small bag of pre-breakfast snacks (milk, cereal, almond bars)
  6. diaper bag
  7. camera
  8. laptop
  9. umbrella stroller

I usually wore Kid A in the Ergo and pushed Kid C in the stroller (with our camera in the stroller’s storage basket and diaper bag hanging from the handles), while M carried everything else or used a hotel cart.

By the time we were in Santa Fe (which was towards the end of our road trip), we found our rhythm.  We had our morning routine down pat.  We knew what we needed to take out of the van each time we checked in to a hotel. We knew the most efficient way to re-pack the van.

We didn’t know what to expect from our kids on this road trip.  Overall, I think that they did great.  Our toddlers are well-traveled for their age.  They’ve been to California several times (before we moved here), Hawaii and even to Stockholm, Sweden.  I think those experiences helped us prepare for our cross-country adventure.

Going on vacations with children in tow aren’t always vacations, but we adjusted our expectations of how long it would take to get everyone ready and out the door, what we were be able to do each day, and when we needed to let go.

Any other Behind-the-Scenes details that you’d like to hear about?  Please feel free to chime in.