Things we have found helpful in packing for a road trip.
We know that we will not be able to afford air travel for the immediate and indefinite future, so we invested with the help of grandparents, in items for our car to make road trips fun and doable for our family. The expense of our one time purchases that we use over and over again is still less than it would be for our family to take one plane trip.
I was recently at our local meeting for parents of twins and triplets. I realized that we are not the only ones that struggle with how in the world to fit anything into our car besides our family.
We have only found one car seat configuration that provides a nice amount of cargo space within the car for a trip. For this configuration we place two of our kids in the third row; one in the middle seat and one by a window. This opens up one of the window seats for cargo in the third row. We are able to lay one seat down flat in the third row to extend the back cargo area of the car.
Then in the middle seats of the car we place one car seat in the middle and the other by a window, this provides a seat by the window in the middle of the car for me to be within arm’s reach of all of our kids and at the same time it opens up the front passenger seat for cargo. We pack separately for any overnight stays and place all of those items in the front passenger seat so that we can access them easily without having to unpack anything on the hitch or car top carrier until we arrive at our destination.
If we don't need to fit everything in all of the other areas, we prefer to have our kids each seated by a window so that they cannot touch each other. (If you are wondering why this is, you can read this post.) However, it is unlikely if we are going somewhere for longer than a weekend to not need some space within the car for cargo. The only other place we have found inside our car to put anything for trips is around and on top of our stroller that we store in the back cargo area of our car.
One of our purchases that make road trips possible for us is a large, waterproof car-top carrier. The other item that makes road trips doable for us is a swing-away hitch carrier that we attach to the hitch on the back of our car. Thankfully we received this as a gift from grandparents to ensure that we would have a way to come and visit them. A less expensive option is a hitch cargo basket pictured in the photo below. We don't have our hitch cargo carrier attached to our car in the photo below because at the time of this trip my parents were borrowing it for a road trip they were taking with my brother and his family. Normally we would have put our large waterproof cargo bag on top of the basket, but my parents are borrowing it as well so we used tarps.
We ordered the available roof rack accessory designed to be attached to the cargo box (that is not shown in photo below). This allows us to tie down a waterproof bag filled with luggage on top of the cargo box. All of these items allow for plenty of room for family road trips. My parents are going to do this configuration on their trip and I will add a photo from their trip as soon as I get it. This configuration also is the only way we can travel when my parents are traveling with us and we are using all eight seats within our car.
We also keep a big bag on the floor in front of one of the car seats by the window, in the middle of the car. We always have this bag filled with diapers, underwear, travel car potty, potty bags, changes of clothes in case of accidents or who knows what in our car. We just add a lot more diapers for road trips.
There is a strategy to the madness of packing our car for road trips. On top of our stroller in the back of the car, we place items that we want to be sure are stored in a temperature controlled area of the car. For us, this means medicine, asthma related items, snacks, drinks and pea pod travel beds (we either place pea pods behind the glass window of the back of the car or in the cargo carrier if we have it). We are able to easily access these items by opening the glass part of our back hatch on our way to our destination so as not to disturb everything we crammed in and around our stroller. We also utilize the space made by laying one of the third row seats flat to place the same kind of items.
We determine ahead of time if we can make do without our double stroller with attached gliding board in route to our destination. If we decide we at least need a single stroller, we place a compact single stroller on top of our large stroller so that we can easily pull it out of the glass window section of the car as needed.
In the waterproof bag that we place on top of the back swing away carrier box we put lighter items so that we will still be able to lift the actual cargo box as needed on our trip. We store items we will need on our way to our destination, like pea pod travel beds, portable booster seats, bedding and lovies in this bag. Inside our cargo box we place the heavier items and luggage pieces that we will need access to if we are stopping for a night or two on our way to our final destination. This is where we place everything we will need on our way to wherever we are going, including enough items for everyone’s needs for two nights. This is the only way to do it when there are eight of us traveling. When it is just the six of us, we can also use the front passenger seat for this purpose.
For the trip that corresponds to the photo below, when we did not have our cargo box, we placed the items needed for our hotel stop on our way to our destination in the front passenger seat. We pack separately for our one night stay on our way to our destination and put all of those items in our front passenger seat.
This way, we did not have to touch the car top carrier, cargo on the hitch basket, or items in the back cargo area of the car. We only needed to access one peapod and a fan for white noise in the hotel which we stored in such a way to easily access by opening the glass part of the back cargo area. Then inside the car top carrier we place everything else that we want to have with us for the duration of our trip once we arrive.
We only pack in our car as many diapers, wipes, formula, et cetera needed for our actual road trip to our destination. It is easier to place an order on Amazon for the items needed for the duration of our trip and have them shipped to our destination. This way we don’t need to try and fit those types of items in our car.
Another really helpful thing we have learned from our road trips is to make it easier once we arrive at our destinations we pack in duffle bags (LL Bean) and extra-large tote bags. We try to pack everything in bags that they can remain in while we are at our destination. This way we don't have to unpack when we arrive at our destination. It is very nice when it is time to leave and we just zip everything up and carry it out to the car.
It has worked out really well on this trip now that our triplets are almost four and a little bit more independent. Our kids all have their own large duffle bag with their initials on it and the bag is in "their color." They also have their own medium duffle bag which at this point I use to pack other things we need for our trip, not necessarily their things. Now all we have to do is ask them to please go get their pajamas out of their bag or can you please go put on a pair of shorts and shirt and they can do this by themselves. Very Nice!
Also by packing in soft luggage, everything fits together more easily into the car top carrier or hitch carrier in the back of the car.
Keep Amazon in mind for lovies left behind. We made a terrible mistake one time. We were on our way to my parents’ house and realized we left the most treasured lovie at home, puppy. We called ahead and my mom ordered another one on Amazon. We only had to get by one night without puppy thanks to Amazon’s fast and free shipping.
I wish everyone safe travels over the upcoming holiday season!
Triplet Mom Plus One