Adventures in Packing

As I discussed last Monday, we’re getting ready to head out on our first family vacation — which involves a long road trip — tomorrow morning! We were supposed to leave today, but Dr. K needed one more test, which happened to be the time-sensitive HSG (hysterosalpingogram, try pronouncing that one), so we had to push back the trip by a day. We’re actually at the hospital having the HSG performed as this post goes live; I’ll send out a tweet or Facebook status letting you all know how it went when we’re on our way home…if I don’t fall back asleep from being up at 4am.

But back to the trip! Tomorrow, simply said, can’t come quickly enough. We’re really excited for quite a few reasons, which you can learn about by reading Monday’s post.

Today, though, it’s a whole different ball game. Today, we’re talking about packing for the trip. I spent a good part of yesterday trying to figure it all out…lists and piles and bags, oh my! Chris and I were easy — clothes for the days and nights, toiletries, phones, wallets, chargers, all that kind of stuff. But we’ve never traveled with a little one before, so this was new territory for us. I made a list of things that I knew Joshua will definitely need, and then of stuff I knew for sure that he’ll want. There was also an “I don’t know” list, but I was willing to bet that most of that stuff would find its way into the car, too…because it’s better to be overprepared, right?

You don’t realize how much stuff toddlers might need or want on an out-of-town sleepover until you actually go on one! We always thought it was funny that parents would overstuff their cars for the sake of being prepared for their kids’ wants or needs.

Not anymore!

So because Joshua has shown an intense interest in all things on wheels lately, I decided to buy him his very first suitcase! It’s from Skip Hop’s beyond-adorable Zoo Luggage line; we have the Dog suitcase, which we found on clearance in our local Target, and we later bought the matching Zoo Pack backpack from Buy Buy Baby! I figured that giving Joshua his own luggage would serve two very important purposes: first, that he would begin to assume a sense of responsibility by pulling around his own bags, and second, that he’d get to be just like The Hubby and I by imitating us with his very own set of luggage! He’s been practicing, too, by learning how to put his backpack on without help and then pulling the suitcase around by its handle. I think he’s ready to travel!

Images via Skip Hop

So we’re leaving tomorrow and staying until Saturday. This means we have to pack 5 days’ and 5 nights’ worth of clothing just to make sure we have clean clothes for each day. Let’s not forget, though, that Joshua is a toddler (otherwise known as a professional mess-maker), so it’s imperative that we pack some extra pieces of clothing just in case. Then there’s diapers, wipes, toiletries, sun protection (sunblock, sunglasses, a hat)…

I had to stuff it all in there:

But somehow I made it all fit! Joshua’s very first suitcase is all packed!

…And that’s just the stuff he absolutely needs. That’ll fill Joshua’s suitcase and then some, but then I need to remember to pack the things that will give him comfort. The last time Joshua had a sleepover somewhere, it was in the hospital following his birth. It’s been 2 1/2 years of sleeping at home every night, and I have no idea how well he will or won’t adjust to sleeping in a strange place. We booked a hotel room with two double beds (with the intention that we’d sleep in one and Joshua would get the other to himself), so I want to bring something from home to make him more comfortable. I’m going to pack his pillow and both of his Duckies, along with our lavender Febreze that we’ve been spraying his pillow and blanket with every night to help him rest. The sound machine, however, is staying at home. I think we can make do without it if we leave the curtain open a little so the room isn’t pitch black.

Then comes the issue of filling Joshua’s backpack. We bought a bunch of snacks and drinks at our local BJ’s a few weeks ago, so that stuff will be in the backseat with him, but that won’t keep him busy on the split drive we’re making. The plan is to drive from our home in New Jersey to Washington, D.C., to check out the cherry blossoms (because they’re my favorite flower and I’ve wanted to see them in person for years), and then we’ll get back in the car and drive the rest of the way to Williamsburg, Virginia, where we’ll be staying for the week. It’s a little more than 3 hours from our house to D.C., depending on traffic, and then another 2 1/2 hours from D.C. to Williamsburg. The stop in D.C. will definitely be good for all of us, as we’ll get to escape the car and stretch our legs for a while, but even two or three hours is a long time to ask a little one to sit in a vehicle.

That’s where the Zoo Pack comes in.

I’m planning to stuff the backpack tonight with a few of Joshua’s favorite books and toys, as well as a coloring book or blank paper and some crayons. I found this great travel tray in Babies R Us that straps to the car seat, and Joshua will be able to eat and play on it (and I’ll be sharing my review of it, as well as tips we picked up and things we learned about traveling with a little one, when we return home). At least that’ll save him a little trouble. I hope he likes it, and that it works well for us.

As for the trip itself, we picked up this cheap Babies R Us folding stroller to push around D.C. and Busch Gardens in case Joshua gets tired (and he chose the design himself!). Because the stroller doesn’t come with cup holders or any real storage, we’ll hang our diaper bag across the handlebars and use its side pockets as cup holders…and hope the weight of the bag doesn’t knock down the stroller. Thank goodness the bag has a shoulder pad on the strap, and that it can be worn crossbody! (And thank you to Hubs for letting me get a new bag!)

So this is all we’ve packed for Joshua! Am I leaving anything out? What do you recommend we bring for Joshua (or for ourselves) to make sure we’ve covered all our bases, or are we good to go?

  • I love how you mentioned that you wanted him to have a sense of responsibility and independence with his own set of luggage. I think that’s so awesome. Did you let him pack anything in his backpack? I think that might be another great way to get him involved and feel like a “big boy”. I hope you have a fun trip! Can’t wait to see the cherry blossom photos!

  • readathomemama

    Thanks, Ashley! He’s constantly pulling around the wheeled suitcases and toy shopping carts he sees in Target, so I thought we could try it. He’s been practicing with his Skip Hop suitcase at home so I knew he could handle it. I’m planning to pack his backpack this afternoon and he’ll definitely get to help! Thanks for sharing your idea!