Concepts for Kids: Road Trip Vacation + Free Printable Packing List for Kids
The following is a guest post from regular contributor, Rachel at Useful Beautiful Home.
I want to share a quick side-note from my last post to all you incredible I’m an Organizing Junkie readers. Your lovely comments and feedback made my heart swell with gratitude! Consider this my genuine extension of thankfulness to you!
Moving on to my Organizing Concepts for Kids series… Summer is around the corner and I know countless vacation blogger tips await you. Although I have thoughts on that matter too, today I narrow my focus to share about travel organization for children.
I implemented the following for our recent road trip, but you can certainly apply it to most types of traveling. The overall concept was to teach the value of list making & following. Additionally, I’ll share how I organized our time in the car. My goal was to eliminate the dreaded “are we there yet?” question. :)
I decided that teaching my daughter about the packing process was a good idea from the standpoint of parenting. I’m NOT telling you she packed like a pro, but she did manage to learn the basics of organizing for a trip.
I’m a list maker and love the accomplishments of crossing off the items (anyone with me here?). Whether your list is paper & pen or on your favorite digital device, list making seems to be a basic entity of getting thoughts organized. So, I took the concept down to preschool level and made a picture list.
Here is a free printable version for you (click on the link below):
I tried to make it as basic and gender neutral as possible and only included sets of 5 because I had access to a washer/dryer on vacation. However, if you’re interested in designing your own more specifically, I used a combo of clip-art from Word and Photoshop.
The process is simple; set up your child(ren) with a designated packing station, a crayon or marker, and the picture packing list. I arranged a small suitcase and the picture list next to my daughter’s closet. I then instructed her to cross off each item on the list as she packed it in her suitcase.
*If you want to control the process a little bit, you could put out more clothing sets than necessary on the bed and let your kiddo pick his/her packing choices from that designated pile.
She took her task seriously skipping around the house retrieving items and tucking them inside her bag. As a bonus, the packing took her a good portion of time, allowing me to get my own packing finished. :)
I will confess I did remove her shoes and toothbrush. Even though I put them on her list to pack, I don’t want those items together in one place due to potential germ swapping. I separated those things out like I normally do for trips.
I also reviewed her clothing choices and made appropriate changes where necessary. Yes, I want her to gain independence with organizing, but I also have to incorporate proper guidance where necessary. Overall, she did a good job following directions and she was proud to accomplish her own packing.
I found some toys tucked inside too. She took a few liberties in adding them to her suitcase. :)
For the car ride, I created a “busy bag”. I found this compartmentalized bag (made for containing craft items) in the fabric section at Walmart. I’m sure there is a clever bag designed specifically for the car, but this price met my budget allotment. With all the pockets and dividers, it’s sure to fit a variety of car traveling needs.
Any loose items (like crayons and stickers) were placed in individual baggies or containers first. I used the idea of keeping smaller items in travel soap dishes (I got this idea from here). I continued the concept by adding one for small markers and one for ring stamps.
All three of them fit nicely inside a pocket of the divided bag.
I appreciated how the busy bag promoted independence for my daughter during the trip. Since everything had its own spot, retrieving and then returning the items was easy for a child. Even while traveling, I do my best to incorporate the same guidelines (responsibility, stewardship, etc.) we teach at home.
The thin innermost divided area was the perfect size for coloring and activity books.
I had other mom tricks up my sleeve to keep our car ride running smoothly and organized. However, I want to be careful and not veer away from the subject of organizing. So, if you’re interested in a tutorial of the following DIY project LEAVE A COMMENT and I’ll post it on my blog this week!
For now, I’ll touch on the following things briefly since they pertained to organizing road trip time.
I found that what happens in preparation before a vacation is a large part of what makes it so enjoyable. So, I made a kid version of a “AAA TripTik Map” for the car ride. I took a long piece of ribbon, sewed Velcro strips on it, and made move-able pieces to coincide with our voyage timeline.
I set my cell phone to alarm every hour we were in the car. When the alarm would sound, my daughter would move the princess dress one step closer to the castle piece (which marked the end of our journey).
I safety pinned the ribbon to the outside of her car seat so the ribbon was reachable but not the pin. The dress started at the topped and moved down the line as our trip progressed.
This is the angle from inside the car. You can see how it reached around the seat. (Ideally, I would rather attach it to the other side and have the princess dress move from left to right, but for our car packing purposes, that wasn’t possible.) The ribbon served as a visual to explain the distance of our car travel and provide a guideline for handing her treasure filled goodie bags that I had prepared.
Prior to the trip, I had her decorate some treasure bags ~ this ended up being a huge success because it built anticipation for the car! I filled them with snacks and simple surprises. Then throughout the duration of the trip, I would hand her a bag to occupy the time.
Again, I don’t want to stray too far from the topic of organizing. So, I’m not going to venture into the details. I just want to point out that before the trip began, I made sure all the items I used to fill the treasure bags would fit inside the black activity bag. For me, to keep a car trip efficient, I try to maintain “a place for everything and everything in its place”. :)
This is the half empty activity bag & the grab bags. Each red bag had a riddle attached to the front. She had to solve it before opening the contents.
Lastly, here is how I organized snacks to be user-friendly for children. Let me mention how I LOVE the idea of using a tackle or bead box to individually contain an open variety of snacks (yet another beautiful tip I found on Pinterest). However, when I showed my hubby, he wisely pointed out that would be a spill hazard in our vehicle. He was right, so I had to come up with something else.
I needed a hinged lid container, so parts weren’t falling on the floor. (I get carsick easily and can’t turn around frequently to retrieve fallen items.) I started with a Charmin wipes case with an easy push-to-open lid for small hands. It is similar to a baby wipes container, but this smaller size fits better inside the divided pockets of our busy bag.
Next, I removed the package of wipes inside and filled the box with snack size zip top baggies. I pre-filled the baggies with a variety of snack foods.
The Charmin container was the only one that had an easy push-button opener and a wide mouth to pull the baggies through. The other brands weren’t as ideal for this homemade system. You could also use a pencil box (hinged-lid style) but you run a small risk of all the baggies falling onto the floor if it’s tipped while open.
Of course, the tub was never used for restroom purposes and I washed it thoroughly before using it to contain food. :) Once the baggies were loaded up, I wiggled them through the small opening.
I hid the snack box inside a grab bag. When she opened it, I made sure to explain the basics of rationing her treats. :) I did have back-up snacks if she ate through this container, but that didn’t end up being a problem.
I noticed it was a little more difficult for my daughter to remove the first plastic baggie from the box. I think part of the problem was how full I had stuffed it, which made retrieving the first one harder, but all the following baggies were easier to pull out.
We had a cooler in the car for keeping perishables and drinks. All the extra snack baggies I packed went into a large zip top bag. This was mostly used for the return trip home. I also packed un-stuffed goodie bags and a few treasure items for the return ride. Don’t forget about the trip home. :)
I have so many more things to share about traveling with little ones, but I better call it quits for now. :) I hope this gets your gears turning about including the car ride as part of your family fun this summer! For children especially, getting there is half the fun with the right amount of preparation!
In the professional world, I’m a nurse by trade. But, around our house, I’m known as Mommy to our young daughter. My two worlds collided and began shaping into a blog. Useful Beautiful Home represents the hours I’ve dedicated to managing my household as efficiently as possible. I offer you motivation to keep your home healthy, organized, and welcoming. My goal is to share what I’ve implemented in my home to inspire you with fresh ideas and to encourage you to keep up the good work in yours! Learn more about me HERE or visit me at UsefulBeautifulHome.com.