How much stuff does a family of six need to pack in order to drive across the country?
A lot of stuff, it turns out. A LOT.
We prepared for this vacation of ours with a little too much confidence, I’m afraid. It’s our first major driving trip without a young preschooler. We don’t need pacifiers, sippy cups, diapers, diaper rash ointment, baby shampoo and playpens. And as much as I loved all the baby sweetness that came along with all that gear, I’ve been a little giddy at the thought of traveling with just my people and their clothes. I might’ve even bragged to a friend with little ones how easy it was going to be to hop in the car and just GO.
I am a foolish, foolish woman.
I guess it had been long enough since our last major car trip that I had forgotten about the 429 chargers for our vast quantities of electrical equipment (if we get struck by lightning, we’re toast). I forgot about all the medicine. (Rule #1 of traveling with children: the only ailments they’ll come down with are the ones for which you forgot to pack the drugs.) I forgot that the younger ones still will want to travel with their very important stuffed toys -- toys which (please-oh-please) will hopefully not end up left behind in a Albuquerque motel. I forgot that when you like to travel on a budget (and we do), it’s a good idea to pack enough portable snacks for the duration of the trip. But do you know what twelve days’ worth of portable snacks looks like for a family of six (three of whom are growing boys)? It looks like this:
(It suddenly occurs to me that whatever money we might be saving by toting all this food with us may be canceled out by the decreased gas mileage. What a depressing thought. Thankfully, I have a few Little Debbies with which to console myself.)
If you’re driving somewhere along I-40 this week, and you see a weighted-down mini-van trailing Ritz crackers, honk and wave. It might be me.