Travel Tips Bonus Material

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As you saw on Tuesday, we just got back from a big vacation out West. So Travel is very fresh on my mind and I got a fresh update on how all of my tips were still working for me. Let’s review some of my tips on travel:

Probably my favorite is the Kids Packing List – This was truly awesome when we were packing! Our girls felt independent and actually were truly helpful. I think kids can feel the difference and when they get to really help, they get a real confidence boost.

I used my pre-travel checklist and had the peace of mind that things were in control on the home front when we were thousands of miles away!

As for the Travel Bucket, it was super useful. We’ve used this for a long time and it has always served us well. I did think of a few tweaks I am going to make, try out on our next trip, then tell you all about it. The best part of the travel bucket is that it is already put together when you go to pack. It helps to already have one of your most annoying bags to pack always ready to go!

The crazy thing?

I have more tips to share!!

Some of these things honestly deserve their own posts, but I’m going to give you one value-packed post instead. Some of these are road-trip specific and some are just travel specific. Pick and choose which tips will help you! And please tell me if any of these help you out!

– Don’t forget a good first aid kit! We brought one with us, but ended up depleting our first aid kit of band aids and learned our Neosporin was expired while we were on vacation. That was annoying to make a trip to a drug store just for these things. Next time I’m packing an entire box of band aids with a current Neosporin.

– Instead of packing a cooler full of individual water bottles, bring one water bottle per person and jugs of water (keep in the cooler) to refill each individual bottle. Those big jugs are so much cheaper than a whole bunch of water bottles, and better for the environment. Plus, you could fill your own water jugs at home with good water.

– Individual mesh-bag hampers for each traveller. Since all of our mesh bags were white, I tied different color ribbons to differentiate. We had to do laundry while we were on vacation, and you better believe I wanted to use the same system I use at home that is dependent on everyone’s laundry being separate. There is no easier way to do kids laundry! Plus, it helped keep our travel guest rooms cleaner, because we had a place for our dirty clothes. And the laundry was already separated when we got home from vacation, so everything left in the suitcase goes right back in the drawers or closets and the laundry gets immediately run through the wash or dumped into the hampers at home.

– Large envelope kept in-car to stuff receipts. We were trying to stick to a travel budget and it helped to keep all the receipts in one place, so we could do budget checks! We are a debit-card using family (no credit cards) and keep track of all of our purchases on a spread sheet at home. But, we aren’t doing the spreadsheet on vacation, so it is nice to have the receipts for a quick tally.

– Pack an overnight bag! This tip is most important to my husband Matt, because he does the unloading and unloading from the car. So, instead of everyone bringing in their suitcases during our hotel-stop midway on our drive, we have an overnight bag we bring in that has pajamas, change of clothes, and toiletries. So, when we stay at a hotel, our family of 5 walks in with ONE bag loaded on top of other bags in the trunk. This is just so helpful and really simplifies things. Because less coming into the hotel room gives you a greater chance that you won’t forget anything from the hotel room!

– Pre-Individualized snacks. What I mean by this is if your kids want to bring crackers on the trip, don’t pack a box of crackers. Open up a box of crackers and put individual serving sizes into Ziploc bags and put all the snacks together in one snack-bag (I like to use a re-usable grocery bag). The snacks take up a lot less room this way, and it really simplifies kids grabbing their next snacks and storing the snacks in the car. This can be done with refrigerated snacks in the cooler as well.

– Something I wish I had thought of is to keep a pack of Thank You’s in the car, to fill out as we go. I didn’t bring any Thank Yous and now I am having trouble remembering everyone that should get thanked. And so now I probably won’t send any, which I regret … I’ll do better next time!

– This might be obvious from my other tips, but I really think everyone should have their own suitcase, including children. This makes packing and then unpacking so much more organized.

– We bring along a stash of plastic grocery bags (there is a pocket in the passenger door perfect for this stash) and do a trash pickup at each stop. Plus, we hang a bag from an armrest to serve as a travelling trash can.

– We use our iPhone GPS to get us everywhere and we learned much to our disappointment, that we didn’t get any signal for most of our drive through middle of nowhere in Missouri, Nebraska, and Wyoming! We can’t take GPS for granted. We were okay, because we only had to stay on the same interstate for most of it, but we couldn’t check our progress or anything. Next time I will print out a paper map to reference!

– When packing in the first place, we have a certain order to it. I use a clear wall in our home, and as bags are packed, we line it up on the wall. I start lining things up a few days before a huge trip, so everything doesn’t have to wait until the last-minute. After everything is ready to go and all lined up on a wall, we load the car, usually while everyone is taking their last potty break! This allows us to be strategic and efficient about where baggage goes in a car, which can be extremely helpful when our vehicle is stuffed! “Pack it up, line it up, and then load it up!”

– When we were out of signal most of the way, it also meant I was out of signal of Pandora, my favorite way of listening to music. That is when I realized I didn’t have many music options ready. CDs, mp3s, whatever it may be – good music is a must on a long road trip!


That was quite a brain-dump, but I am going to be so happy I wrote this all down. On my next trip, I’m just going to come read this post. I’m probably my blog’s biggest fan.

What do you think? Do you have any big trips planned?


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9 thoughts on “Travel Tips Bonus Material

  1. Great tips! Mary, can I say that I think you’re my favorite organizer of all bloggers out there! Your tips are applicable, easy to follow, and very practical. And your laundry tips are the best…! You save my life… haha.. I’m glad I’ve found your blog :)

    1. This comment seriously made my day! Thank you so much!! It is so rewarding to know that all this info I throw out into the great internet is helping someone! :)

  2. Hi Mary! I subscribe to your blog through e-mail, so I followed your links to this post. I am leaving tomorrow for Thanksgiving week so your timing is perfect. We have an 18 hour drive, and will have to stop somewhere. I had completely forgotten about packing an overnight bag. My husband calls it a dinghy. Such a great idea. It does make life so much easier. Thanks for the reminder.

    One thing I have done that makes our trip fun is create a “Road Trip Binder” for my son (age 6). I print out all sorts of free age appropriate activities; mazes, word search, tic-tac-toe, color pages, road-trip/license plate Bingo, etc… (tons of printables on Pinterest!) and put them in clear “page protector” sleeves. He uses dry-erase markers to work the puzzles, color, whatever and then it wipes right off so he can do it again. You don’t need a huge amount of sleeves, use both sides, and hide additional activities in the middle that can be rotated out to keep things fresh. I get the kind of binder with the clear cover on the front and slip a map in there so he can track our progress. We love our binder. It would fit right into your bucket. :)

  3. Mary, where did you get those cute suitcases for the kids? I think I’d like to get a bag for each kid before our next trip. My oldest loves picking out her own outfits now and they are both really into doing their own laundry so packing for themselves is a natural next step.

Leave a comment! I love to hear what you think!