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Stacey from Texas Panhandle


You would have saved me much misery if you would have shared this with me twenty years ago!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE these ideas! Especially the quarters!!!

I will pass this along! Great ideas from you!!




When my three guys were little. They each had a duffle and a toiletries bag. One had green, one red and one navy. Their names were stitched on and so there was no confusion as to what bag was their bag. The bags stacked nicely in the van or on a luggage cart at the airport.
We saved our change in a big jug and before big vacations they rolled the money and divided it up. Each of them had a snack size ziploc bag (with their name written using a sharpie pen) filled with their money. I kept the money until they were old enough to have a wallet. Anytime they asked for something they needed to use their own money. This works great at Disneyland where every ride ends in a gift shop. When we camped they each got a dollar a day or a roll of quarters for the trip.

Now my guys are all grown up and the change jug is used for mama's hawaiian mai tai money. Works for me ;)
Have a fun trip!

Lyndsey Gelhaus

One thing that we always do for long road trips is pack a "surprise bag". Every hour on the hour they get to pick a surprise out of their bag. We usually do little things they can use on the trip or in the car, like if we are going to the beach we might put in the bag a new pool toy, we have also done temporary tattoos, cheap card games, dollar store items, a map so they can track where we are, car road trip games we print out off before we leave, candy. It is something that they can look forward to in the car, and gives them little things they can use on our vacation as well! My kids are 7 and 9 and still love it!


Um, this is all kinds of genius. I rely most heavily on an iPad/laptop stocked with movies and an earphone splitter, so they can both hear the movie, and I don't have to. My daughter gets carsick reading/writing, but thankfully, movies work. I will be incorporating all of these ideas in my next trip. The quarter rolls are genius. And now I know how your kids clothes always look camera ready. ;) Thanks!! Enjoy spring break!!


We have been lucky enough to go to Florida for the last 6 years and for us thats a 9 hour flight and around 3 hours of driving plus all the airport time, so I tend to pack up their carry on cases with little surprises much like you have already done. Books, magazines, new colouring pads, pens and a couple of little toys to amuse them on the plane. I love the idea of the every day snack bags and I think my three would love them too. I always put a spare outfit in each carry on bag for two reasons, one in case the main cases get lost and two, in case someone is ill or has a spillage or its freezing! I also use "Mummy money" which I print out pictures of their favourite characters on paper with the value of $1 and laminate them. I usually have a $2/$3 maximum a day and if a child is particularly good they get "Mummy money" which I will turn into real money at the end of a day. If a child is particularly bad they will lose their Mummy money. It works really well and mine always ask if they are having Mummy money on holiday each time we go.


You are a total genius girl!!! I had to pin these - hope you don't mind! We did the quarter tip on the drove home from AK to WA. Works so awesome! I love EVERY SINGLE tip on this post! Wish we were going on a trip for spring break so I could use em;) But we have two weddings next week here at home - so we're staying put. Thanks again I am LOVING this series! Enjoy your vaca!!!


If only you'd posted this yesterday! Gabe and I just had a hellish morning packing his stuff to go on a trip over spring break...You have some great ideas and I will be using them in the future! Thanks! Hope you're spring break is wonderful!


I love, love, love this!!! Will be using all your tricks on our next road trip! =)


A few favorite packing tips/processes:

I'm all for self-sufficiency!


I'm loving these posts! The pocket money/chores system that you wrote about is really working well in our house; and I'm definitely going to try out these ideas on our next trip - especially the snack bags and entertainment bags!


I'm going on a big road trip in June. Do you think you can pack for me?

Stephanie @ La Dolce Vita

Great ideas Karen! wish I thought of some of these when the kiddos were smaller!


HA! Don't have kids but thinking this would work really well on the husband type person! Love the clothes in bag idea--the dirty ones can go right back in there and be done with it. Thanks!

Sara Mangan

Oh my goodness, Karen. I LOVE all of these ideas!! Can't wait to go on our summer vacation so I can use all of these strategies.

Have a wonderful vacation.


BRILLIANT! Love the packing clothes idea. I'm going to "steal" it from you because I am always digging through bags trying to find my daughter's socks or shirt, which usually result in making a big mess!!!

casquette new era

Quod ideae vos dummodo ibi i disseram valde pretiosum. Probatur a vere delectabile necopi ad eam consequendam exspectatissimi me post i Evigilans hodie. Semper ad verum, facile intelliguntur tempus. Gratias copia, valuable ideas youve 'got participatur infra.


I just love this! We are leaving on a four day trip in the morning for the first time in almost 10 years!! So I'm wondering how I was going to remember everything. I've heard of the quarter thing before but never actually used it. Thanks for the reminder. Hopefully it will work on the teenagers too who still pull the "she's touching/looking/breathing at me!" routine while they are all cozily buckled up in the back seat. Have a great trip!! :)


Great ideas. My #1 before-a-trip ritual is to download new music for M to listen to. has free music and a great variety. Happy singing!


This is great! I really love the roll of quarters idea! Will definitely be trying that one on our next trip. Some things that have worked for us on our long drives back to Oregon:

I do what Lyndsey talked about - have little surprises for the kids to unwrap along the way. And always remember to save some for the trip back home, too.

When my kids were a little bit younger, I would try to designate certain "times" in the car. Now it's movie time, then it's reading time, then it's snack time, then nap/quiet time, etc. The structure itself helped pass the time.

One thing I do with the kids clothes particularly for their summer camps, but could work for road trips, too, is separate each child's clothing items for the day in a ziploc bag. They grab a bag with their name on it, and it's all contained. You could even do this as further dividing of the clothes in the shopping bags, like you showed. So in each shopping bag would be three individual ziploc bags, labeled with the child's name. I also pack an extra days clothes, just in case there's an accident and we need an extra pair of pants, socks, or whatever.

I like to print out a map of the United States and highlight our driving route. I number certain cities along the way, and then the kids mark off the numbers as we drive through. It helps them "see" how far we have come, and how much farther we have to go. In the past, I have also printed out information and activity pages about each state we'll pass through. When we drive into a new state, we take out the appropriate papers and color them, and learn more about that state. And again, remember to have something similar for the trip back home.

When the kids were younger, I got them each a small metal cookie sheet - the kind with edges. I used a roll of magnetic tape and made magnets out of all kinds of things (buttons, etc). We played car Bingo, they did Tic-Tac-Toe, and other paper activities using the magnets on the cookie sheet. And then the cookie sheet was their activity station -they could color and keep their crayons and markers on the sheet without them rolling off. They could even eat snacks on it, and more.


My kids really like to pick out their own outfits each day, so I have them put together outfits (or do it for the littler ones), then rubber band the outfit together with one color rubber band for each kid. Then we put all of the outfits in one huge duffel. When it is time to get dressed, they go get an outfit with their rubber band color and it has shirt, pants, socks, undies, and a sweater if cold. Makes them feel like they are in control, but keeps the clothes under control.


Now I'm feeling like a total amateur! Ha ha ha Seems like a great system for you - and I love that quarter tip and I'll be using that one in the future :)


I love the separate bags idea! One thing I like to do for long car trips is use large plastic totes instead of suitcases. They stack much nicer in our van and I can fit lots more stuff in them. The next trip I take I'm going to do your bag method and use plastic totes. Hopefully it will make for some smooth sailing. Oh and the other thing, we have 3 seperate DVD players for each of my kids. We only pull them out on the looooong trips- like going from here(TN) to Utah. That way there's no fighting about what movie to watch.


We use 2-gallon Ziploc bags to hold our clothes. I label each using a permanent marker with the childs name and what they need to put into each bag. (I draw pictures for my non reading children) Then I squish all the air out and zip them up.(This also gives me a chance to make sure all the necessaries made it into each bag. Makes mornings on vacation a breeze.


You are so cute! I just got internet again, and I have MISSED keeping up on your lil fam bam! AND, I swear, every time I come to GP, you are off on some adventure. It's ok, but I miss you guys a ton! Hopefully soon! xoxo, your cuz Roshelle


Your new post sparked my mind about this post and that I wanted to comment, but had totally spaced it! We went to California for spring break just when you posted this. We used the quarter idea and it worked! What a great idea. We go for weekend trips to see my husband at the races a lot, so I am used to packing light and quickly. Normally I pack everything for times sake.
This was the first trip we took that they each had their own bag, and they were responsible for picking out clothes. They picked 6 of everything (socks, undies, shirts - long sleeved and short sleeved, and pants), and then one spare pair of shoes/sandals and their toothbrush and toothpaste. I always use the motel shampoo and conditioner so its less for them to take, and no chance of leaking all over their bags! They packed a small roller back themselves with all of that. They were responsible for rolling their own bag through the airport. They carried a sweater with them, and each a backpack. They could pack whatever they wanted in their backpack, as long as it wasn't too heavy to carry. 'Mum isn't carrying your backpack for ANY reason'!
If we go on a day trip or a long trip, they always have their own backpack. This seems to work well. The deal is always 'mum won't carry your backpack'!
I never pick out outfits - they put things together however they want. Sometimes it's really bad!! But they thing it's great and I'm all for that.
When we travel in the car they take books and pencils (Crayola twisters because they don't need sharpening, and they are nice to write and draw with) and paper in addition to the backpacks. I keep clipboards in the back seat pocket so they have a hard surface to write on. I normally grab a ziplock bag with a variety of snacks, but often I space it and forget! There are always stores to stop at!
We have never used DVD players, because we drive many weekends and I didn't want driving to be always associated with a movie, and then have to have it all the time. Thankfully both can read and not get carsick! I could never do that.
I really enjoyed reading what others have done too :)

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