Top travel dilemmas for families: What are yours?

Could you fit clothes for five people into the bag -- including a baby?

Could you fit clothes for five people into the bag -- including a baby?

We took the kids on a quickie trip to Disney World over the Memorial Day weekend, and even before we left the house Michael and I had multiple fights. (Not a surprise to regular readers!) I’m not sure if we fight because we have different traveling styles or if it’s just a man/woman thing. Here are the top travel dilemmas we fight about:

1. How many suitcases does a family of five need for a three-day trip to Disney?

My husband insisted we should only take 1! (I’ll wait quietly while you think about that – one suitcase for five people — including a baby. Babies need a lot of extra stuff.)

We had a fight about it of course. I twittered the question later that night and got a reassuring reply that he was wrong.

So how many bags does a family of five need? I would say two bags for clothes, one for shoes, and one for toiletries. As I finally shoved all our clothes into one bag, Michael walks in with a second suitcase from the basement. Too late, my clothes were already smashed in and wrinkled so we only took one suitcase.  We did take a shoe/pool bag and toiletry bag. (Michael is now commenting that I shouldn’t have needed a shoe bag.)

2. Do you pack you own beach towels to use at the hotel pool?

No matter where are going, Michael always insists that we shouldn’t pack our own beach towels. They take up too much space, he argues. Just use the ones they provide in the room. Well first off bath towels are smaller than beach towels. Second off, they don’t necessarily want them taken out of the room. Sometimes the hotels have towels by the pool but not every time and not often with condos. I’d rather just take my own! I didn’t take any this trip mainly because I knew we would spend most our time in Disney, not by the pool.

3. How many different types of medicine do you take just in case?

I like to be prepared so I usually take several medicines along on any trip. You never know what a kid will come down with during the night. I pack a little fever reducer, antihistamine, cough medicine, cough drops, thermometer,  Walsh’s inhaler and chamber, anti-itch medicine, bandages and antibiotic cream. And Rose actually needed late one night some of the anti-itch cream and every day they took the allergy meds. (In my defense I never bring a hair dryer or any type of curling iron.) Michael thinks you can buy anything you need there.

Is this enough diapers (regular, swim and Pull-Ups) for four days on the road?

Is this enough diapers (regular, swim and Pull-Ups) for four days on the road?

4. How many diapers do you need for one baby for four days on the road?

I asked Michael to pull out some swim diapers and put them in with the Pull-Ups for Lilina. He also pulled out about five diapers and decided that was enough diapers for the trip. I didn’t even bother fighting with him about it. I just hid a big bag of diapers in the Stow-and-Go space in the van. I felt safer, and he didn’t have to know.

5. How much food do you take on a car trip for a family of five?

I will admit that I pack way too much snack food in the car. I like to eat the entire time we’re driving.  I like to have something sweet, something salty, some fruit and some protein like cheese sticks. I also bring my own water and sodas. I hate paying for those on the road and in the hotel room. (I will not buy soda from a hotel vending machine.)

6. How do you distribute food to the kids in the car without making a mess?

The patented plastic-container reach way back!

The patented plastic-container reach way back!

I have developed the patented (pending) plastic-container method. I bring each kid a plastic container in which little cookies, chips, fruit or sandwiches can be placed. If I lean way back I can pass them off to the big kids in the back seat. They can also use these little containers for cereal in the room, when Michael lets me bring it.

7. How many miles do you drive before you let the kids run around?

When everyone is happy and no one is asking to go to the bathroom, Michael just keeps driving. I swear he made it more than 250 miles before we took our first break and let the kids out the car. (Maybe we took them to the bathroom one time before that but we didn’t let them walk about – just pee!) When they got to the rest area they went crazy and played freeze tag on the lawn.

My kids went crazy running at the rest area after driving about 250 miles.

My kids went crazy running at the rest area after driving about 250 miles.

8. Do you bring breakfast and eat in your hotel room to save money/time?

We had another huge fight about whether to feed the kids in the room for breakfast. I hate to pay for breakfast, especially when it’s so easy to feed kids cereal and fruit in the room. (I am happy to pay for a little refrigerator and often they are complimentary.) I’ve gotten it down to a science – a few plastic spoons, the plastic travel bowls, cereal, milk and some fruit. Done. You rinse the bowl out in the bathroom sink. Or I am happy to give them yogurt and a bagel. Michael totally freaked out. First he said it was messy. Then he said just give a granola bar. (He doesn’t eat breakfast so he doesn’t think anyone else needs anything substantial, but they do.) But I think I figured out the root of his complaint. I think he is embarrassed to be seen bringing all the food supplies into a nice hotel. We settled for the new Quaker oatmeal bars and the granola bars with yogurt in the middle. I also brought apples and bananas and little apple juice boxes. I put it all in a big black bag so no one would know they were groceries. (Michael is commenting while I’m writing this. He says he’s not embarrassed. He says it’s gross to bring milk into a hotel room and breakfast is easily accomplished outside the room.)

The bottle of hand sanitzer I took with us. I refilled my little bottles nightly.

The bottle of hand sanitzer I took with us. I refilled my little bottles nightly.

Bonus question: How much hand sanitizer do you need to go to Disney World? A very large bottle that I used each night to refill my little bottles that I hook to my diaper bag and keep in my pocket.

Weigh in on these travel dilemmas and tell me about your own! What do you and your spouse fight about before trips and while traveling? Who usually makes the final call? What are your work-arounds or compromises?

Coming next week, top strategies to make the most out of your Disney Trip. Plus the sights and sounds of the Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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60 comments Add your comment


May 29th, 2009
7:39 am

Wait until you travel with teenager girls. They need a bag for clothes, a bag for makeup and a bag for shoes. Try getting 6 people and their bags into a minivan……When we went to Alasaka two years ago, my daughter had 14 pair of shoes in one bag……LOL

We travel SO much, I have it down to a fine art. I can pack for a 10 day vacation with one suitcase. Our motto “Less clothes, more money”.

And yes, we always take our own beach towels. They are used a pillows and blankets in the car for road trips.

You really don’t need much for a beach vacation. I pack two swimsuits, and four day time outfits, and four evening outfits. I’m very light in the make up department so not very many toiletries… hotels usually have shampoo, etc. I do however, take my own coffee, creamer and sugar. I cannot stand the coffee they put in the rooms.

Also, when going to the beach, we buy a lot of pool/beach toys. We usually leave them at the hotel when we leave, or we give them to another family…..


May 29th, 2009
7:49 am

Morning all…Theresa, I am so with you on this topic. We go with 1 suitcase per person and 1 group suitcase for extra stuff. We always stay in a hotel with breakfast included such as the Hampton Inn or a condo. I never use the room towels at the pool…we usually bring our own and they double as pillows and blankets in the car. We usually stay somewhere that has a washing machine for guests.

I am not going to comment further on today’s topic ( this is just me being stubborn ) because I am still annoyed that I must be the only mom on this blog ( no one else commented back to me yesterday ) who thinks that being a mother ( of your own children) is exactly the same as taking care of all other kids, loving lot of other kids and knowing lots of other kids. You learn nothing else when you have your own. Being a mother of your own is just like taking care of other kids…what?

To me, there are things you KNOW so much better once you ARE a mother. I know I am opinionated and usually can agree to disagree on most topics. I taught kindergarten for 5 years before children ( 18 kids per year in my class and I “mothered” nearly 100 kids) , I THOUGHT I knew so much about children…being a MOM is an entirely different ball game, to me..does anyone else feel this way or is it just me? Perhaps everyone else will let me know if there is really NO difference to knowing lots of wonderful children and having your own. I will listen.

Finally, to those who are going to say this is a YAWN topic today with Theresa, please wait and see how many comments come up before you weigh in. The first comment proclaimed yesterday’s topic to be a yawner and it was a busy day. With vacations come on…there is potentially a lot to learn with this topic.

TRIVIA for Jesse’s Girl:
Alaska does not have the $1 store and because it is SO expensive to ship things there…they have the $1.50 store. Maybe I should take this as a hint that only ONE other blogger is interested in my blogs and move over to another blog LOL.


May 29th, 2009
8:25 am

Wow – one bag for 5 people – and only 5 diapers for a 3 day trip? Your husband is a control freak, but then again, so am I. You must be really easy going since he has not learned the “golden rule” of households – “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”!

As JJ said, he is in for a huge shock once the kids reach ages 16 – 11, IF they will still travel with you as a family! Wait until he has to fly with them and the airlines charge for checked baggage, especially if you all ever go skiing out west!


May 29th, 2009
8:25 am

My husband always gripes that I take too much, but ends up happy when I end up pulling out the item he invariably forgot. He ALWAYS, ALWAYS forgets something because he usually waits to pack until only hours, sometimes minutes before we leave on a trip. Packing for my little one is a bit of a chore, but it helps me to sit down and make a practical list a few days ahead of time. Like Theresa, I usually have a med bag, with Childrens Motrin, basic thermometer, Benadryl in it. I can typically get my little girl’s stuff into a large duffle bag and I have myself down to one bag as well. Also, what I pack also turns on where we’re staying. If it’s a condo, sometimes a bit more stuff is packed because I bring coffee, basic breakfast fixings that my child will eat. (I HATE staying somewhere where you end up paying for breakfast—-what a waste of money!!!). Since our daughter was an infant, we typically have tried to stick to condos or Residence Inns (because they have a small kitchen) when we travel. Oh yeah, and this year we’re investing in a luggage rack (more storage in our SUV for bags and our 2 dogs). Yes, sometimes we bring our dogs too, as it can be cheaper at times to bring them than to board them. They’re pretty cool travelers by now and they (along with portable DVD and books) keep our 3 year old entertained on the road.

I can’t wait to see Theresa’s Disney tips. We’re doing our 3rd family trip to Disney for Labor Day and it seems like each trip is different depending on your kids’ age(s). We went this past Thanksgiving and my daughter wanted to LIVE in the Magic Kingdom. That’s all she wanted to do, since she LOVES Mickey and is seriously into the princesses. Now that she’s discovered High School Musical and the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, I guess we can venture into Disney Hollywood studios as well. Also, our past 2 Disney trips, we’ve stayed either in a condo (which was awesome) or in a Residence Inn (which was fine as well). This time, we’re going to stay at a Disney resort, which I’m so looking forward to so we don’t have to deal with the parking hassle, and getting from our car into the parks (which can be a trek in and of itself). We’re are looking forward to leaving our car at our hotel and hopefully not seeing it again until it’s time to drive home.

Man…..we’re adults and we love Disney as much as the kids do. So, bring on the tips, Theresa!


May 29th, 2009
8:25 am

MJG – I have been “mothering” children LONG before I had my own. I think I was destined to have many children, but that didn’t work out for me. I mother my friends’ kids, kids in the ‘hood, etc…….Once a Mom, always a Mom.

What I have to remember, is I am NOT their mother, and sometimes I tend to “override” what their Momma says. I do this with my best friend and his kids. They yell at their kids, then I go “coddle” them. My friend commented to me the other day – If you undermind my authority again, I’ll smack you……LOL. But I’m Auntie JJ…..and I represent fun….


May 29th, 2009
8:35 am

Theresa, why do you spend time arguing. I believe that you are right. I used to have the same problem out my house (albeit with only 1 child) but certain items you have stated just make sense.

To get around the arguing, I would pack the beach towels, breakfast items (including the plastic and bowls), medical supplies in the ‘jct’ bag. I was responsible for packing, toting and hauling that bag. This bag has saved me tons of arguments.

JJ is right. Wait to you have teenagers. You will be taking twice amount of stuff than you do now.

I hope you all had a good time. You never mentioned it you all had fun.


May 29th, 2009
8:43 am

We are headed to the beach in July with the family. We are going in one car, 6 of us……THREE teenaged girls……Holy Crap. I hope there’s room for my little suitcase……..But we always have a blast. I love going to the beach. We usually get a condo. This year we are getting a nice three bedroom down in PCB……we usually stay at this condo complex. It’s very family oriented. My brother and I will probably end up as “pool” counsellors, as we are always in the pool with the kids, and other kids join us.

One year, we had kids knocking on the door to our condo, looking for my brother and I, not the kids, to come to the pool and play…….My mom laughed so hard. She couldn’t believe they wanted us to come out and play……needless to say, I sleep very well at the beach.

Oh and I LOVE early morning strolls down the beach…….a big ole cup of coffee(sometimes laced with Bailey’s) and I’m off…….


May 29th, 2009
8:58 am

I know I’m not a mom, so you’re not interested, MJG, but I commented on your post. I agreed with you that being a caretaker is not the same as being a mom. I just disagreed with your implication that becoming mom makes one an expert on what is best for all other moms and that non-moms can’t know an awful lot about many topics posted here — as much as some moms! This one’s a good example. I have been on many, many trips with many families with kids of all ages over the years. Now that doesn’t mean that I know all the worries and concerns that moms have, but when it comes to packing, I probably have more practical suggestions to offer than a mom who has not yet had the opportunity to go on a big vacation with her kids.

And JJ, you are so right about being sure not to undermine the parents! And parents need to be careful to support caretakers too as long as they are doing what the parents asked. I’ve actually worked with families where Mom and Dad wanted the babysitter to enforce specific rules, but then when jr ran whining about the babysitter enforcing the parents’ rule of not being allowed to watch TV until homework was finished, they would cave, completely undermining the authority of the sitter. Those tended to be the kids who were the worst behaved and did the worst in school, likely because they knew mom and dad would never support the teacher’s classroom discipline either. But happily, in my experience, those families were few and far between.


May 29th, 2009
9:31 am

i say one bag for each person….one bag for meds and toiletries…one bag for shoes..always take your towels for the beach/pool….and yes bring as many snacks as you possibly can need cuz a hungry kid = a whiny kid which = a terrible time!! a whiney kid in a car?? no way. any time a pee stop is made it should be a run around stop also. and i say you can never have enough diapers…breakfast is the most over priced meal you can eat bring breakfsat stuff if possible. i always said packing is MY domain..the husband is not the one who has to deal with things not there when you need them (notusually anyway) my ex used to start packing the car way before i had everything ready and it would piss me off so bad..i invaribly would forget stuff–he finally learned to just let the stuff stay where i had it until i said load up honey!! i try not to have to buy anything at the vacation site because it is usually way over priced.

mjg i agree that being a ‘neighborhood mom’ is no where the same as being a ‘real mom’..i am alwways the neighborhood mom..but i always tried to not override the real moms stuff. i dont want that done to me. it does give insight tho…and good ideas..and i do not always agree with you but i love reading your posts so dont leave lol


May 29th, 2009
9:32 am

This is actually a joke around our household. I tend to under pack, and that’s not a great thing.

I have a friend that insists on taking everything and kitchen sink. On girl’s trips, we all make fun of her for her overpacking. However, she shut us up real good one time that she said: “yeah, you all laugh at me but all I hear on trips is: Gina can I borrow (inster whatever item you didn’t pack because you didn’t think it was necessary but ended up needing here)”

So bottom line: *I* like to pack light, but I am greatful when someone ELSE overpacks! LOL


May 29th, 2009
9:44 am

Thank goodness that we don’t have this problem..My husband packs his suitcase, I pack mine and the kids (they have their own)..I have traveled with teens and none of them ever took as much as y’all say they do..Guess I’v been lucky..

We don’t take food, just a few snacks..Never take a hair dryer, though I have taken an iron before..I do take pillows, towels and baby wipes..I have also let the kids take their blankets..I take one pair of sandals, one pair of sneakers and one pair of water shoes (that’s each person)..

If we forget something, we go buy it if needed..We eat out every meal when we go on vacation, unless the hotel offers breakfast..Sometimes if there’s a kitchen, we do have sandwiches for lunch, but not often..We are going to a cabin in N. GA. and the kids are thrilled because they are going to get to catch fish for our dinner..Can’t wait for that..


May 29th, 2009
9:45 am

1 suitcase for a family of 5?!!! OK…Michael must be crazy! LOL! We typically pack 1 BIG suitcase for me and the hubby and each kid gets a small of their own. Then we have a bag for shoes and miscellaneous stuff! I WAY overpack when we go somewhere! I always like to take an outfit for “just in case”!

When my little guy was a bay, I would typically take enough diapers for the drive, then go to Wal-Mart and buy a bag! Then, if there was any left, take them back home! This usually saved LOTS of space! As for medications, I usually just pack mine. I know that almost anywhere we go, there is a Wal-Mart, Target or something similar. I will say though, we typically plan vacations or time away somewhere that we have family or friends!

If we are going to be near water for swimming, we ALWAYS take our towels! The ones the hotel provides are usually too small and you end up tracking water everywhere. It’s just not worth it to me!

MJG, I don’t think mothering and being a mom are the same at all. There are many similarities. I think “mothering” lacks a certain connection that being a “mom” has.

When I was young, I had a lot of friends and family with small children that I would “mother”. Now, having my own child, it would be a lot different. There are just things that you do differently after being a mom.

All of that being said, I do think sometimes we get into a “mom” rut and think we know a lot. Sometimes it just takes a different perspective and someone to say, “why do you do it that way?”

As my daddy used to say...

May 29th, 2009
9:47 am

…and, evidently Michael, too – I bet Sears,Roebuck, Wal-Mart, and JC Penny ain’t quit selling whatever it is you may forget to pack!


May 29th, 2009
10:05 am

MomtoAlex – When I go on girlfriend weekend, I can pack everything into an overnight bag. There will be plenty of blow dryers, curling irons, straighteners, etc. Like you, I know someone else is an over packer….

But like I said, I have travelled SO much, I have it down to a fine art. One of the things I do, is make a list about a week before we go, of all I need to buy, pack, and take care of before we leave. I usually have a neighbor kid come and take care of my animals, so I have to make sure there’s plenty of food for them, etc……

Then, when the car is all loaded up, I back into the house and make sure everything is turned off. I crank the air up to 80, close all the bedroom doors, turn off all the fans, etc. All the flood lights are on, they are on motion detectors, and one light is on in the house, and I usually either leave the TV or the stereo on. I do this for the animals…..they are used to some “noise” so I like to leave something on for them. Plus, if anyone tries to break in, they hear sound……


May 29th, 2009
10:14 am

My wife and I also have the same disagreements.
Bags. One thing that we have figured out together though, is that we do not need to pack all of that food, take enough to get you through the trip (plus a little extra in case of emergencies) the rest, (breakfast, diapers, toiletries, etc.) can usually be bought at your destination. this is doubly true since you now often have to pay for bags when flying. Prices usually aren’t that different as long as you are buying at a local publix or Kroger, wal-mart or whatever. just don’t do your shopping at the resorts. I always found that traveling a little bit off the beaten path to stock up on things has led to a great restaurant or local attraction that would have otherwise have remained un-found. My Daughters always pack one suitcase together and my wife and I pack one suitcase together. If anyone wants to bring anything else, they are responsible for carrying, stowing and looking after.
As far as the drive goes, and this comes down to what my family did when I was growing up (Albany NY to Myrtle Beach in one go). We travel at night. Less traffic and the kids can usually sleep the majority of the trip. We tend to leave after the local evening rush hour, load up a movie for the girls and off we go. stops are made for gas and coffee. we get to where we are going in the morning, and everybody but me is rested. I can fall asleep at the pool / ocean while the girls are swimming and my wife is reading. That is our personal idea of a great trip.
I have found that it is much less stressful and therefor much more enjoyable during a vacation to just roll with the punches. If you need to go to a store to pick something up make an adventure out of it. don’t try to schedule the life out of a vacation. allow for life to just happen.


May 29th, 2009
10:24 am

Yup, I don’t stress about stuff I may forget. There’s always a Walmart nearby……


May 29th, 2009
10:25 am

Umm it’s just me and my daughter, but we usually have a bag each for clothes, a 3rd bag for things to keep her busy (DVD’s, Ipod, coloring books, drawing paper, reading books, etc), a bag of snacks and a cooler of drinks.


May 29th, 2009
10:32 am

Fortunately, my hubby trusts me to do all the packing when we go on trips(which is only once or twice a year). He knows that I will bring all that we need. I am so uber organized and anal that I bring everything that I think we will possibly need depending on where we are going. I start making lists of things to bring a couple of months before we go. To the beach we take EVERYTHING. I hate being without essentials and I am too cheap to just buy it when we get there when I can just pack it! We have a Suburban so we take the third row seat out and pack it to the gills on beach trips. We are going to Disney in January (I am running my very 1st marathon there!!) so I won’t pack quite as much, but I will be bringing breakfast to eat in our room and our own beach towels (the pools there are heated). And yes, Theresa, I bring ALL the basic meds…Benadryl, Motrin, itch cream, etc.


May 29th, 2009
10:37 am

My husband travels 85-90% of the time so he can pack at the drop of a hat. I travel quite a bit also, and both my kids play travel soccer, so we have it down to a fine art. One suitcase per person and that needs to be a carry-on when flying as we only want to pay the luggage fee for the golf clubs. Amazing what else will fit in the golf bag—extra shoes, jackets and books. The other carry-on for all four of us is our computer/briefcases, or if it is a soccer trip, the soccer bag. If we are in the car, it is the same although we will bring water and some snacks. We always stay at a hotel with breakfast and eat out for lunch and dinner. Many times dinner is take-out from a mid-cost restaurant. It is far less expensive, no tip, etc. and we get drinks–soda, wine, beer or whatever at a store nearby.

When the kids were small, I only took enough diapers, etc to get through the travel part. Target, Wal-Mart whatever plus grocery stores are always where we were traveling to and it makes sense not to haul all that with you, especially when you are on a plane.

Dwight and Eva

May 29th, 2009
10:42 am

Look, I just bought a mini-van and I have 1(one) 10 month old child. Let’s just say 1 suitcase would NEVER cut it. I definitely take my own beach towels…they end up being used for so many things.


May 29th, 2009
10:43 am

We never take any food with us. We make a pit stop or two for breakfast or lunch, depending on the time of our travel.

When we rent the condo, we hit the grocery store when we get in, for breakfast and lunch items. We do take booze (First thing I pack, LOL)…….so we can have a cocktail when we arrive at the Condo.


May 29th, 2009
10:43 am

1 & 2. How many suitcases? We (family of five) took one huge suitcase for me and the kids. Husband takes a small one. We take a bag for shoes. I also think we did bring our own towels, just in case, to Disney World. This is typical for any trip we take, though.

3. We take antibiotic cream, bandaids, and ibuprofen or Tylenol. Anything else, we can buy.

4. Diapers? Billions. Just in case. We always had an extra stash in the van, too, though, so we could use those.

5 & 6. I take a paper bag from the grocery store and fill it with snacks. We only bring water to drink. I use little plastic containers to pass the food to the kids. While driving an 8 hour trip on my own, I perfected the “Put a snack in a baggie and fling it back to waiting children” method.

7. I play it by ear. I have driven 8 hours, alone with the children, and never let them out to run around. It just depends on how they are acting. Sometimes, the eight hour drive turns into 10 hours, but I like to keep it at 8 hours. We just stop at a fast food place with a play area and eat and run around there.

8. Theresa, I do exactly as you do for breakfast in hotels. I really prefer to stay somewhere with free breakfast, though.


May 29th, 2009
11:29 am

Too funny
One bag for 5 people and one of those a baby. OMG I’d have smacked him a long time ago.

As so my way of packing. I used to play with a group called the SCA a group which recreates the middle ages. I would go every weekend to an event and would have to take not only my daily clothes and toiletries, but my garb (clothing appropriate for middle ages),accoutriments, if you fought you’d take armour, or did a hobby like weaving you would take whatever necessary, you would also need to take feast gear. I could pack in as little as 15 minutes. I met my husband in this group and he, like me, packs quickly and efficiently.

Even when traveling with the horses I don’t need much time to get everything ready. For the horses and trailer I keep everything in tubs in the storage building so what ever I need I can see at a glance what tub to pack. I keep extras of everything for the horse trailer and then keep in broken down by if it is day trip or overnight.

I pretty much keep a bag of bathroom stuff always packed. I have my travel bags which I can have packed and ready in as little as 5 minutes.

This summer I, like JJ, will be traveling with teenage girls and pray my small bag will fit in the car with all the beach & girls stuff. I will make it a rule that if the girls bring it they are responsible for packing it and transporting it from the condo to the car and beach.

I also don’t like eating out every meal so will pack food & drinks for the road trip and condo. And the extra I am spending on the Condo I will more than make up by what I save for not eating out.

My daughter is not like me, she leaves for Boy Scout Camp this weekend and has been packed for a week, checking her list at least twice a day.


May 29th, 2009
11:36 am

I will admit that getting ready for trips tends to be stressful so there is always more potential for arguments. This is especially true if the trip is heading to see the in-laws.

My kids enjoy having their own suitcase, so we pack one for the adults and let them have one each (sometimes the boys share one.) We’re driving a minivan, so an extra suitcase doesn’t really take up that much more space. We each only have one or two pairs of shoes so we don’t take an extra bag for that. Swim shoes can just go in the front pocket of the suitcase if needed.

We take beach towels when we remember them. Always take our own pillows. If I want to have food in the hotel room, I’ll buy it at a grocery store at the destination whenever possible. Most of the time we try to stay in a hotel with free breakfast so that is not an issue.

We drive until we need to stop for some other reason (filling up, bathroom, eating). I don’t feel the need to have the kids run around every hour on a trip. We do travel at night when possible so that the kids sleep.

As far as diapers, we took at least 3 per day with one or two extra for good measure. Don’t use hand sanitizer very often so one small bottle would probably do for us for the trip. I am not really a germaphobic.


May 29th, 2009
11:44 am

Hate to break the news to you Theresa but believe it or not they DO have Publix, Target etc in Florida too for you to buy diapers, medications, etc without having to lug it all around. Prices much the same. Now clothes & shoes is a different story. :)

Now A Grammaw

May 29th, 2009
11:52 am

I have travelled with my kids at every age, from infancy to young adult, and the packing changes every “season” of their life. A child still in diapers needs at LEAST 6-8 a day (to be safe), plus nighttime (more absorbent) and swim diapers. Let hubby pack his 5 diapers for 4 days, and make him do the changing, and when the diapers run out before the first day is over, make HIM go shopping for more. My husband learned to let me do the packing (except for his) whenever we went on vacation because he knew that I took care of the kids everyday and knew what was needed by each one on a daily basis. Sometimes, even I miscalculated, and took too little of something. We also packed things for entertainment in the van, snacks, drinks, wet-wipes for messy hands/faces and the all-important hand sanitizer. I even use that at home with all the germs going around these days. I pack pillows not only to use in the van, but also at the hotel. I hate the thought of putting my face on a pillow that God-know-who has used and for what! (Use your imagination! It’s sickening!) Back before seatbelts were required, we took out the back seat in the van, and put down quilts/pillows for the kids to stretch out on, or to lay down to color, play games, etc. But we found out they’d much rather sit up and watch out the window, and it’s safer! We carried “busy boxes” (Rubbermaid box with lid) for them, and put it between them on the seat so they could easily dig through it and find something to keep them occupied. It was also easy to carry into the room for them to play with. And with the lid on, it made a little “table” for them to set their snacks, etc., on. There are many more ideas, but you get the picture.


May 29th, 2009
12:11 pm

1. For our family of 3 to drive to Michigan for Christmas, we take two suitcases: one for us and one small one for my son. He also brings along a backpack-type bag with books, toys, and coloring supplies for the drive and while we’re there. 2. I usually like to pack our own in a large plastic bag that can be stuffed into any available spot in the van. On the last day of a beach trip we usually check out of the hotel in the morning, head to the beach for a “last hurrah” and hit the road from there after lunch. 3. Meds-I try to keep small bottles of the basics for us, like ibuprofen and antacids. I always have a small first-aid kit in the car, so if we need that kind of stuff, it’s available. 4. Diapers-OMG 5 diapers for 4 days????? When my son was smaller, my guesstimate always was 4/day plus 2-3 extras just in case. That’s just regular diapers. For swim diapers, I’d probably plan on 2-3 per day of swimming. Sure, they take up room, but what does Michael plan on doing after they run out? I guarantee the prices on these in a resort area are going to be sky-high. Anyway, why buy something if you have some already? 5. For snacks, we usually bring some sweets, some salty stuff and some fruit. We usually pack some water and sodas in a small cooler that’s easily accessible while we’re in the car. 6. Just one kid, so I haven’t had to think about distribution. I just hand it back on a piece of paper towel or napkin. I like the container idea though, especially doubling as a ceral bowl! 7. I like to play the kid-breaks by ear. Generally, if we stop for the restroom, we walk around a little or bring along a ball to kick around. Something my parents used to do on our odysseys from Michigan to Kansas was to pull off the expressway in a small town and get directions to a city park. We(my 3 siblings and I)would have a picnic lunch of sandwiches with Mom and Dad and then play on the playground for a while before getting back on the road. Someone else mentioned traveling at night, and that’s what we try to do now. 8. On a trip like this, I’d vote for bringing along cereal or something else easy. I’ve gotten the small fun-size boxes, or whatever they’re called, and bought a small container of milk once we got there. We all really like breakfast, so we go out for one at least once on a hotel-type trip. There are lots of places with breakfast included, though, so that might be another option.

We don’t fight about packing before a trip. My husband lays out what he wants to take, I do the same and also get my son’s stuff. Now that he’s older, I’m letting him (my son, not my husband! LOL) pack his own bag, with a final check by me or my husband.

Get over it

May 29th, 2009
12:17 pm

You don’t have a baby, you have a toddler. As for how many diapers to bring, by the age of 2 a developmentally normal child should be out of diapers during the day, so bring 1 for each night you will be staying, plus maybe 1 or 2 extra.


May 29th, 2009
12:46 pm

The only thing I personally must have is Daddy’s “medicine”….a bottle of Vodka after being cooked up in a car all day with my wife who like so many women just can’t be quiet in addition to our Homo Sapien offshoot. Daddy must have his meds at the Holiday Inn….


May 29th, 2009
12:53 pm

When we were little, traveling back and forth to the relatives, my mom would make sandwiches and pack a cooler. About 1/2 through the trip, we would pull over and have a picnic on the side of the road. We loved that……

Now, we ususally hit a convenience store on the way out, and everyone gets a drink and something to munch on. I cannot go on a road trip without Twizzlers (the hefty “family” size bag, just for me) and water…..the kids like beef jerkey…..but they are older, so we don’t worry about spills, etc. If something spills, oh well, we hit the car wash when we get home…….

My other motto – “No Stress, No Drama”……makes for a VERY relaxing vacation.


May 29th, 2009
1:11 pm

I’m with “Now a Grammaw”; when I was married I would have to make all of the travel arrangements, planning everything and inevitably he would whine and carry on about something. So, I let him plan EVERYTHING once; it was his friend, his event, all I did was pack my bag and get in the car. He forgot to buy the wedding present, lost the directions, didn’t know where they were registered, miscalculated the travel time, got reservations at a hotel for the wrong night, etc., etc. He apologized on the way home and FINALLY admitted I did it better.

Let your husband do it once; let him plan and pack everything and then don’t say anything when it blows up in his face or costs an arm and a leg; he’ll learn.


May 29th, 2009
1:14 pm

My two cents:

This topic has provided me my Friday Funny. I generally take one bag per child. The kids get the medium pullman type bag. Each bag has a matching toiletry bag that fits into the medium bag. I use what I call the “Delta” approach – each kid gets the one aforementioned suitcase and one “carry on”. That means they get one back pack type bag that they can keep their “time passers” in (i.e. books, hand held game, etc.).

In keeping with my anal persona, I always know exactly where we are going and when we will be arriving, so I always ship one box ahead of time that contains the other stuff we need (full size toiletries, snacks, beverages, etc.). It is similar to the care packages you would get from home when you were in college.

The car isn’t overloaded and I don’t have to worry about tons of bags.


May 29th, 2009
1:24 pm

Wow..Becoming more thankful for my husbands travel expertise more and more..He always finds the hotel..Not only does he find it, but he will always get us a lower room rate..If they don’t lower the rate, he’ll leave..He’s great about taking things that I don’t like a razor..Yes, he lets me use his razor if I don’t take one..

He doesn’t grumble about anything that I take for me or the kids..He doesn’t grumble when we want to stop for silly stuff..He lets the kids pick where we eat..He carries all of the suitcases into where ever we’re staying..Oh yeah, very thankful..


May 29th, 2009
1:26 pm

Yes it takes up room to pack things like food (assuming that they’re non-perishable), drinks, film for the camera, health & beauty products, etc … that you could just buy there, but you’re going to pay about 10 times more for it down there. If you tell your husband that and then remind him that its his money that is paying for it then I am sure he’ll quiet down. At least that always works with my husband. Also with regards for packing the clothes, tell him if he doesn’t like the way I pack the clothes then suggest that he do it. That’ll also shut him up real quick.


May 29th, 2009
1:29 pm

Oh and yes, I too take my own beach towels.


May 29th, 2009
1:34 pm

Huge difference in how to pack depending on flying or driving. Yes, there are Target, Publix and such in Florida, but I don’t want to spend my vacation time at Target. So I say if driving, bring along what you might need – no harm done. Things like towels and diapers can even stay in the car unless needed. We pack one suitcae for each adult, and a shared one for the two kids. Then misc bags for food, towels, beach toys and such. Snacks for the car and breakfast in the room – mostly to cut costs – those things are expensive and easy to do on our own. We use a snack bowl system in the car, much cleaner. I’m with you Theresa on most of those things. One suitcase – that’s crazy!!!


May 29th, 2009
2:02 pm

That’s another great suggestion, shipping your stuff.

We went on a 10 day Alaskan cruise, and bought, bought, bougth all kinds of stuff. When we got off the ship, we headed to the nearest FedEx/Kinkos place. Boxed all our stuff and shipped it ground service. I had mine shipped to my office, so I knew it would be safe.

It was like Christmas when those boxes finally arrived……


May 29th, 2009
2:10 pm

For me, how much I’d pack instead of wait to buy later for Disney would probably depend on where I was staying. If staying at one of the big Disney hotels, I’d probably want to have everything on hand when I got there, park the car, and not get in it again until time to drive home since the park transportation system is so convenient (I’ve heard that the econo-Disney hotels aren’t quite as convenient, though). I wouldn’t want to waste time and energy shopping. If staying off-campus, like on the main highway through Kissimmee (192?), I might not worry as much about remembering every little thing as there is an abundance of stores on the way to and from the parks that are easy to get in and out of and often have fairly low prices.


May 29th, 2009
2:38 pm

Becky – I believe your husband IS Husband of the Year!!!! He sounds like a wonderful person. You are a very lucky woman!


May 29th, 2009
2:44 pm

I think the problem with this travel expedition was the destination. I was just there with my 5 year old the Thursday before Memorial Day (visiting a friend in the area). Walt Disney was Satan….and Disneyworld is Hell. I told my kid to live it up because the next trip was someplace beachside minus the kamikaze furbies.


May 29th, 2009
2:56 pm

oh…and why would you be concerned about paying for medicine on the road that you’re not sure you’ll even need when you probably dropped $700 just to get a family of 5 through the gates? oh wait…maybe that’s why you don’t want to pay for anything else that you don’t have to. Disney is printing money.

And before I catch heat, I got my tickets for free, and the experience of the park was worth every cent…and not a penny more.


May 29th, 2009
3:07 pm

JJ, thanks, but I could name jsut about as much stuff that he does that drives me crazy…

jack5656, I’ve been to Disney once and that was plenty enough for me..Overpriced, overhyped, no ride is worth standing in line for as long as we did..Will we ever take our grandkids? Maybe..If we don’t, they will for sure see plenty of other things that will mean just as much to them…


May 29th, 2009
3:20 pm

We leave for long trips around dinnertime, so the kids (7, 3 and 3) are up for a little bit and then naturally fall asleep. Makes the drive (and books on CD) much more agreeable. Also, we packed one of those large totes with clothes for the kids on our last van trip. The large, square shape allowed much more room to put all their clothes and extras in. Then, we only had to take in the one big tote to the room. The shape makes it fit better in the car, and things stack so much easier. We had a backpack for the frequent stops (Pull-ups if needed, wipes, meds, and so on), and everything else belonged to the adults. TWO DVD Players (one for girls and one for the boy) helped a lot! We borrowed both for our trip. I like the local park/picnic idea suggested. We like to stay at the “breakfast included” places too because the kids think it’s a lot of fun (I like the convenience.) But I don’t think for one second that “included” means “free.”


May 29th, 2009
3:46 pm

I think Michael would have either divorced me or strangled me before we returned from our honeymoon because I am the world’s WORST when it comes to over packing! :-D This past weekend we went camping with my son’s Cub Scout troop less than 30 minutes from home and I packed like we were taking JJ’s 10 day Alaskan cruise (it was one night). (That’s my fantasy trip, JJ). I had every type of medication & first aid supply that Walgreen’s carries, food for a week (we had to supply our own food), and probably five changes of clothes for each of us. My husband told me to pack a first aid kit, insect replellant, sunscreen and my son’s asthma inhaler and if he needed any other medication we would just come home. As it turns out, it was cloudy and or raining the entire weekend and the mosquitos didn’t bother us. The inhaler is the only medicine we needed. By the way, with all of that packing, I forgot to pack his Cub Scout uniform! LOL

Last year we went to visit my brother (in Mississippi) for the 4th. As usual, I packed for a month and my brother joked that he invited us to stay the weekend, not to move in. I had a blanket in the trunk (it is always in there) and he said “Good thinking on bringing a blanket, Sis. I heard they were predicting a brutal summer snowstorm in Alabama and y’all might have gotten stranded.” He and my husband teased me so bad that weekend that my sister-in-law (brother’s wife) got mad at them. I thanked her for taking up for me but told her I had been putting up with his teasing all of his life and wouldn’t have it any other way.


May 29th, 2009
3:56 pm

By the way, when we take long car trips with a lot of kids (such as with the in-laws) we like to travel at night for the reasons mentioned above. That cuts out the million bathroom breaks and the constant “are we there yet” inquiries. My son usually falls asleep within minutes of starting any car trip so he is not a problem to travel with.


May 29th, 2009
6:36 pm

Theresa, If you are driving, I say pack everything that will fit in the car. I always take the basic medications and snacks and light breakfast foods and towels and pool shoes and etc, etc. We always stay on Disney property and venturing “off property” to find a store is not my favorite thing to do. These things also cost much more at the resort than they do at the Walmart here. When we (also a family of 5) go anywhere each person takes his or her own suitcase. I pack separate bags with pool towels, medicines, snacks, power cords for games and ipods, a few games. If we don’t use the things I take, no harm done – we bring them back home, but if we do need them, I look (for about 10 seconds anyway) like a genius.


May 29th, 2009
6:51 pm

MJG, Interesting Alaska trivia.
Also, at the risk of being attacked, I agree that there are some things you only learn once you become a mother. I know I became a better teacher after my first child was born.
“Don’t try to describe the ocean if you’ve never seen it. Don’t ever forget that you just may wind up being wrong.” Jimmy Buffett “Manana”


May 29th, 2009
8:18 pm

“Also, at the risk of being attacked, I agree that there are some things you only learn once you become a mother.”

Of course there are, and I don’t think you need to be worried about being attacked for saying so. I haven’t read any posts here or on yesterday’s thread that disagree with that. My disagreement is with the ideas that non-mom’s opinion’s categorically will always be less valid on the Momania blog (MJG seems to think we should called out as second-class blog citizens) and that moms, just because they are moms, are experts who are qualified to judge and condemn other parents’ practices, even if they don’t really know anything about the people or situation. I am grateful that most people here seem to value different perspectives and want to know how different things, from bedtimes to packing, have worked for different people.

And I have to say, nothing bothers me more than people who constantly try to find fault and sit around criticizing others. I have friends who have children and friends who don’t who get angry at babies screaming on the Metro, toddlers who won’t sit still, babies who aren’t home by 9pm, etc and complain about how terrible that child’s parents are. The greatest lesson I’ve learned from my years of experience in child care is how much I don’t know. I don’t know the best way to do everything, and in fact, I believe there rarely is a best way. I’ve seen things one family would never do work just dandy for another. I’ve seen how tired moms get from sleepless nights with newborns, long evenings of homework, and toddler tantrums. I’ve seen how stressed they are when their children are sick. I seen them struggle over decisions like whether to keep their 5-y-o in kindergarten one more year. I am grateful to have had the chance to practice some skills and see what families have to deal with. My friends who haven’t been around children much tell me how wonderful I’ll be as a parent because I already know what to do. Little do they know what I really know is how unprepared we all are and how much we won’t know what being a parent really is until all the burdens and responsibilities are on our shoulders — not just the knowledge and practice of how to handle the little things. I’ve seen what we’re in for!

In the meantime, even though I don’t have plans for children of my own in the immediate future, I will continue to comment on what I’ve seen, share little tricks I’ve learned along the way that over the years I’ve shared with moms I worked for too (moms don’t know everything! they can learn from babysitters who learned from other moms and kids!), and encourage people to have open minds and not be so critical of people who don’t do things just like they do.


May 29th, 2009
10:50 pm

Theresa – Michael is NUTS! One suitcase for a family of 5? Good grief! My husband and I share one large-ish suitcase, have another suitcase for shoes (both husband and son wear size 14s – nothing else goes in the suitcase otherwise!) and each child has their own. When they were small and I still had majority vote over what they wore each day (!), I would organize a complete change of clothes in a gallon plastic bag — outfit, underwear, socks, matching bow, belt, etc. That way, the kids could choose an outfit to wear and dress themselves quickly, they looked presentable and I didn’t have to fuss,and we had plastic bags for dirty/damp clothes. (I tend to pack light for myself — my husband and I went to Europe for two weeks with one suitcase and one carryon.)

Re: Medicines. If Michael wants to care for a fussy/hurting child AND haul up to Walgreens at 1:30 in the morning, then he should be in charge of the medicine chest. If not . . .

Re: Food. I like your idea of the plastic containers to organize food. We tend not to carry too much food, and my husband is really good about stopping every couple of hours for a drink, stretch, etc., unless everyone else is asleep! We never bothered with breakfast in the room, because we tended to stay at free-breakfast hotels — the extra $10 or $20 was worth it just for the convenience of breakfast. But with your crew of little ones, I sure wouldn’t be ashamed of bringing along healthy snacks — and anyone who looked down their nose at me for doing so could kiss my grits!

Re: Hand sanitizer. Don’t use the stuff — it wreaks havoc with my skin and my daughter’s skin. You probably used more in one weekend than I’ve used in my entire life! We just try to wash our hands before eating. If not, it’s not one of my top-10 obsessions. *shrug*

Re: Diapers. If you’re in a car, take the freakin’ diapers, already! If you’re flying to a reasonably civilized place, save room and buy a supply there, but take enough for 24 hours.

My husband is our travel agent — he’s very good at organizing plane fares, etc.. He tells me where we are going to be, and I get busy on Priceline or Hotwire, I’ve gotten pretty good at that. I put everything in a small 1/2 inch notebook, along with plastic sleeves for maps, etc., and print out coupons for attractions we might be interested in. It also has all our confirmations, etc., and I bring stamps and pre-printed mailing labels for postcards, so the kids can send postcards to their grandparents and friends. We keep a battery charger in the car and have it plugged into the power outlet, so we always have fresh batteries. The only tiny thing we disagree on while on vacation is wake-up times. My husband is up with the birds, and the rest of the family are night owls. At home, we work around it, but on vacation, it is sometimes a source of stress. Generally, he goes out for a run or swim before we wake up, but sometimes, he just wants to get on the road, which makes for a cranky carload!

I hope you and your family had a wonderful time at Disney! You’re braver than I am — I would never have taken the little one at that age. My minimum age for Disney is summer after their 4th birthday. Why spend all that money on something they won’t remember?! The first time we took our son, we left the 18 month old home with Grandma, and everyone was delighted. :-)


May 30th, 2009
7:30 am

Theresa I am cracking up here…..the first blog I ever commented on was you and Michael fighting about how many suitcases your (then) family of 4 needed to go to the beach and who was a control freak. ROFL I guess the more things change the more they stay the same! LOL

Now to answer the questions:

1. 2 suitcases the size in the photo–one for the kids clothes (this includes the shoes and toiletries) and one for the parents (this includes shoes and toiletries). The baby gets enough pullups for the road trip then buy a pack at destination.

2. Beach towels can go if they fit in the bags mentioned above. Caveat: If your vaca at the beach (not Disney) and traveling by car then take 2 per person in a box with the kids toys.

3. Any Rx meds, ibuprofen (adult & children), allergy medicine, neosporin and bandaids (one small box multi sized). That should still fit in the suitcase. Make sure sunscreen is in the case too. I just buy one spray bottle of 50SPF or whatever.

4. Been a long time since I had to do pullups but Michael probably thought like I do. 5 would more than get you to Orlando and then buy a small pack when you get there–or medium if you think that is better.

5. I take very little. A cooler with water & grapes–no sodas or juice who needs hyper in a car??? A bag of Sun chips or box of crackers, and a bag of hard candies. I buy coffee along the way. (I have done the trip to Orlando more times than I care to recall).

6. Hand the bag back and let them snack except for the candy. Candy gets doled out slowly.

7. Your mission in the car is to get to the destination not stop and run around. Let them walk for 5 min on a bathroom break. Let them play 15 min on a food break. Otherwise its in the car you go—you can run at Disney.

8. Again a quick stop a the store once at destination (there is a nice one right outside Disney) to get fruit and snack bars. If you want substantial (at a hotel/resort) then you budget that into the trip cost and eat out. If in a condo go ahead and shop (at destination—it is gross to travel with that much food in a car) for eggs, milk, bread, etc.

I have never understood people who pack half the house to go on a trip.

HB — you could ignore MJG many bloggers claim they do. MJG — you claim to value all opinions and want to generate ideas…then let all people (parents or not) have a voice. I do not have to be able to paint the Sistine Chapel to know or appreciate good art…..HB does not need children to have had positive parenting role models in her life.