ROAD TRIP 2010: Preparation

{ disclosure : VW Routan was provided for editorial use by Volkswagen North America, Sola stroller, available for pre-sale in July at and debuting August 12th, 2010 at Babies ‘R’ Us stores nationwide, was provided by Mamas & Papas, all images used in coverage were taken by a Nikon D5000 – on loan from Nikon USA }

The excitement is definitely building around our household and we have never needed or wanted a vacation so badly in our entire lives.  This will be our first road trip as a family of four and with the recent medical drama with the babe, we weren’t even sure we would be able to go.  Luckily the doctor gave us clearance as long as we weren’t going somewhere without medical access.  I’ll have to admit, it’s a little nerve racking on so many levels.  Preparing for a family road trip can be the most daunting of tasks.  As a mom, it’s practically written in stone that we be the one that organizes it all. Not to mention the fact that darling husband is no where in sight to turn to for help anyway.  It’s hard enough planning and getting packed to go on a business trip myself, but to ready an entire family — that is a mission!  And precisely how I approached getting ready for this trip.

Call me neurotic but I’m the girl with the Excel-made itinerary with every little detail down to pit stops, confirmation numbers, hotel addresses and phone numbers.  This time around involved a multi-sheet spreadsheet with tabs for the itinerary and one for each family member – vital especially when it comes to the kids.  If you or the husband are not exactly fully prepared for a trip, its really not that big of a deal.  There aren’t many locations in the world that I would travel to anyway and not be able to make do or adjust along the way.  That consideration does NOT go for children though.  Being SUPER prepared is key.  Some of the worries and challenges I’d have to solve include feeding an infant rice cereal and oatmeal on the road, breastfeeding and pumping, as well as providing enough entertainment for a toddler for the 12+ hour drive.

Some of the things I’ve learned from experience and on this particular road trip are:

  • Start packing a week or two in advance.  You can never be too prepared and with the curves life throws you, you need to be flexible in case you need to replenish an item and can’t run to the store for days because the little one has the stomach flu — just an example of course.
  • Do a walk-thru for each family members needs.  If the kids are old enough, make them tell you or list what their MUST haves are.  Keep their luxury items to a minimal – a favorite blanket and toy.  There’s nothing worse than a screaming child who has lost one of their favorite toys on holiday.
  • Pack items as you can.  For those that are used on a daily basis, set aside in an area for use and final collection prior to the trip.
  • Keep a running list of things needing replenishment.  If possible use the remaining on the trip and leave the replenished/new item at home.  I like this rule for half used tubes of toothpaste and bar soaps especially.  Not easy to take a wet bar home, not to mention the germs that will manifest en-route back home.
  • Think of comforts that will be needed at the hotel and call ahead.  Consider requesting a mini-fridge which is perfect for keeping kid’s juices, waters, etc., cold and saves the overpriced alternatives in the hotel.
  • Pack luggage according to stops, a bag for every stop and a smaller bag with everyday essentials.  You’ll save the back-breaking emptying of the car every single time, not to mention the headache of having to pack it all up again.

BREASTFEEDING/PUMPING MOMS: Ask about microwave access for sterilizing equipment and restrictions.

Items often not considered or forgotten to pack:

  • Face clothes if you have a preference for your own
  • Soaps, shampoos – especially if you have special haircare needs
  • Bad weather clothing – 1 or 2 outfits per week stay
  • Comb
  • Chargers for equipment
  • Batteries for things like games, camera flash, things that don’t charge
  • mini cooler with ice packs and drinks


  • Navigation system displays in 2D and 3D.  I preferred 3D for their turn by turn, but it’s purely preference.
  • UConnect – phone access.  This is by far the most sophisticated system.  Not only can you sync your blue-tooth phone, it also uploads your phone book into its computer.  No more need to manually enter in all your favorite contacts.
  • Even cooler – the navigation system works in sync with the phone book feature.  You can pull up an address in your “iPhone” which has now uploaded to their system and map to it.  Pretty Neato!