Having a family as large as ours means that the logistics of preparing for an outdoor travel adventure can become quite daunting. Fortunately for us, mainly through trial and error, it has become second nature. Our number one tip is the well-worn adage that “traveling light” is way better than becoming stressed about having it all packed.

Here is a list of what I believe to be essential for road trips with kids

Will & Testament

Ensure that your last will & testament is up to date. I know this isn’t something we want to think about when embarking on a road trip, but it is most definitely an essential. Any type of travel comes with inherent risks and to pretend that it doesn’t is simply foolish.

Medical Insurance

There have been a few times that we have had to stop in the middle of nowhere whilst enjoying our road trips and seek medical attention. Sadly we know the state of our public hospitals here in South Africa, and I would not want to put my family in that position.

First Aid Kit 

Nothing is worse than not having a plaster handy when a knee is scraped. We tend to keep our first aid kit underneath the passenger seat for easy access if needed.

– Plasters
– Anti-septic lotion
– Alcohol wipes
– Bandages
– Burn Shield – Trust me, I never thought I would need one, until the day I did
– Thermal blanket
– CPR mouth piece
– Anti Diarrhea / Nausea medication
– Fever Syrup
– Pain Killers
– Allergy tablets
– Thermometer
– Ear Drops
– Eye Drops
– Cotton swabs

Perfect Packing

5 Kids, 1 suitcase. When we first started traveling with kids, I would pack everything including the kitchen sink – just in case, right? Wrong! Over packing often only lead to more stressful trips, bickering between my husband and I, and the kids picking up on our frustration led to MANY a tantrum.

So, now we have a rule – 1 Suitcase. Whatever clothes the kids need have to fit into this. Saying that, my packing technique has improved drastically in order to fit everything in. The rule of thumb is, pack for 7 days. (Shoes in a separate bag.)

For a Summer outdoor trip the bags would include: custom mylar bags

7 outfits
Summer PJ’s
Warm outfit and a Jacket (just in case)
7 pairs of underwear
3 pairs of socks
1 pair of Summer shoes
A pair of Winter shoes
And a pair of slippers

Since we started doing this, travels as we know it have become a lot more peaceful. FYI – Don’t make the same mistake I did one year… I forgot to check if the kids’ winter clothes fit… They didn’t, and it was a chilly couple of days. If you’re able to pop into a laundromat, wash by hand, or book accommodation with a washing machine, then that obviously makes packing lighter so much easier.

Entertainment for the kids

We all know what children are like when stuck in a car for a few hours each day, in order to avoid tantrums, outbursts and fighting (although, those do still happen), we make sure we have the following at hand.

1. Snacks

Snacks, and more snacks – not the sugary kind (we do keep a few – but as treats not meals) – Healthy, filling food that keeps the hunger pangs at bay. We hand these out sporadically. I’ve found that if you wait 30/40 minutes between snacks, it snaps them out of the place they are in and gives them something different to focus on for a few minutes.

Cheese / Yoghurt drinks
Fruit Sticks
Biltong
Pretzels / Chips / Nuts and Raisins
Crackers
Sandwiches / Hotdogs / Chicken Nuggets

And – WATER .. Lots of water in their refillable bottles

I’ve found that if I give them too many sugary treats, they end up frustrated – and so do we.

2. Car games

READ: Tech Free Road Trip Hacks for some great ideas.

3. Movies / Music

Our kids LOVE singing and I usually spend some time making up a few playlists that can keep us going for a couple of hours. We also usually download a few of their favourite movies before we leave, just because I hate using up all my data on streaming.

4. Activity Books

Of every kind. Each child gets their own baggie with colouring-in pens and these are whipped out when Mom needs a little peace and quiet 🙂

I hope these tips help you enjoy your road trip, if you have any other tips please add them in the comment section! I would love a some fresh ideas.

What do you think?

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