I have so much to share about our recent road trip west. It was awesome and long and horrible and wonderful. Basically, just like life. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Preparing for a trip in a camper that will last multiple weeks is hard work. Food, clothes, entertainment, books, maps, plans, bedding, bikes, movies, and a million other things have to be packed. I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t a little stressful.
I started getting ready for our trip weeks before we actually left. Here are the major things we prepared for and how we made sure we had enough crap with us for such a long haul:
We were gone sixteen days total. I packed enough food for six breakfasts, six lunches, and six dinners. But that lasted us a lot longer than six days because we ate some meals out while traveling, and also because of how much I packed. Meaning if I planned ham sandwiches one day, I had a whole loaf of bread and a package of ham packed–so one planned meal actually lasted more than one meal because our family doesn’t go through a package of ham and a whole loaf of bread in one sitting. Next week I’ll share exactly what we packed, what worked, what didn’t, and what I’d do differently with food on our next trip.
I packed seven outfits for each person in our family with the exception of Chris because he packs his own stuff. Seven outfits and five pairs of pajamas. I told the girls they might have to wear PJs two nights in a row which they thought was weird, but I do all the time so I’m just teaching them helpful life skills. Seven outfits because space is limited in the camper, and because I planned to do laundry at least twice while we were out. (This amount of clothes worked out perfect; I was able to do laundry three times and we never ran out of clothes or had to make an emergency laundromat stop.)
I don’t know how other people with campers do it, but when we first started camping, I filled the camper with everything we’d need for hygiene. So when we were heading out for a weekend or a longer trip, I didn’t have to empty my bathrooms at home, the toothbrushes, shampoo, lotion, Q-tips, etc. were already in the camper. So besides my makeup bag and Chris’ contact stuff, we didn’t have to pack our bathroom stuff. It takes a little more up-front cost to buy stuff you already have, but the time saver in the long run for me was worth it. (We also have bath towels, hand towels, etc. that stay in the camper so I don’t have to use all our house stuff for that either.)
Our camper has games and cards stocked in it already. We also have toys and books that are kept in there so we didn’t have to pack much extra stuff for the girls. They were each allowed to take one small bag in the car with them to play with and we let them bring four movies for watching while we traveled. We also hit up Redbox every few days for a new movie. This helped us not have to pack a million movies, plus the girls got to see lots of videos they had never seen before. (Parent tip: do NOT rent The Bandit Hound for your daughter who loves all animals to an unhealthy level. Apparently one of the dogs dies and Ellie lost her mind at the end when it happened; she cried for over 50 minutes about the death and then cried every time it came up for days after. Bad movie choice, for real.)
We packed bikes and scooters for the girls. Eventually, we would like to get a bike carrier so we can all bring our bikes, but that didn’t happen before this trip. Most of the campgrounds we stayed at had gravel drives so they didn’t ride their scooters much, but they did like riding around on their bikes. I think they would have used them more if we all could have gone out together. You know what the girls played with the most while we were gone? Dirt and sticks and water. No joke. I bought a bunch of play kitchen stuff (bowls, spoons, spatulas, plates, etc.) at the Dollar Store before we left and then when we got there, they just played with those toys and a little water plus dirt. For hours and hours. I also packed Play-doh which I normally hate, but sitting outside at a picnic table makes the mess completely fine.
Bills + home stuff
I understand for many people, taking 2+ weeks off from work is not possible. Since I teach, I always have summers off, but for Chris, summer is his busy season and his boss was not too enthused when he asked for two weeks off. Chris asked for one of the weeks unpaid to lessen the blow, but originally his boss said no. Then he eventually said okay, but we had to change our time frame. So we redid our plan and took off. I had planned ahead so Chris missing a paycheck wouldn’t hurt us financially and scheduled all our bills to be paid while we were gone–nothing is worse than coming home from vacation to a stack of bills . We mailed some bills early, sent our tithe checks to church with my parents, and did online bill scheduling for the rest.
I had to register the girls for school, return all our library books, find someone to mow the grass, make sure none of my plants died, stop the mail, let the bank know we were traveling so they didn’t turn our card off, set up a way for our renters to pay rent while we were gone, and a million other little things you don’t realize you do until you’re not home and no one is there to do them.
If I was working full time the week prior to our trip, I’m not sure how I would have gotten everything done in time. There are so many things you have to shop for or pack. I’m lucky I’m home anyway or I would have had to take days off work to prepare for our trip. What about you? Do you take longer road trips–how do you prepare without losing your mind? Share your tips, I need all the help I can get!