Traveling with children can either be the wonderful family experience Walt Disney had in mind when he designed Disneyland; or the dark apocalypse Dante had in mind when he wrote the Inferno. As with all things in life, disaster is best averted by careful planning. In particular, packing for the children, with the assumption being a week-long family car vacation.
The first step – and this may seem screamingly obvious until one takes a hard look at how one usually does things – is to have a dedicated bag or suitcase for the children’s essentials. Changes of clothes, sleepwear, toiletries, and if there is a favorite nighttime teddy bear, this is where teddy goes too. And why? If the children are in a separate tent or hotel room, one does not want to be racing back and forth bearing a toothbrush like an Olympic torch.
Related to the above, make a checklist. Know what is in each bag. The purpose is for the re-packing when changing hotels or heading home? No one needs the sinking feeling after driving an hour and a half down the Interstate of, ‘Did I remember to repack teddy?’
Next and related to clothing: What activities are being planned or what activities might be planned? The hotel has a pool. Are there bathing suits? Will one be treating the family to a dinner at a ‘nice’ restaurant where there may be a dress code? As for shoes, three pairs should do it: a pair f flip-flops or sandals for beaches and the like; runners for long walks through streets or amusement parks, and a good yet comfortable pair. When packing, put small items such as socks or underwear in the shoes. That will help the shoes from losing shape and maximize packing space.
Once clothing and essentials are ready for the end destination, the actual travel must be considered. Tablet devices have been a god-send to family travel. Load up the tablet with games, videos, books and also suggested entertainment guides for wherever it is the family is going to visit. This will both build anticipation and break monotony.
Lastly, assume the worst possible environmental conditions for the particular time of year one is traveling. If it might snow, it will. Similarly, pack something rain-resistant, have bug spray and a first aid kit. And do check that first aid kit to be sure it hasn’t been ransacked of all bandages.
Best of luck! It will work out fine if one is prepared.