I'll add my two cents on the kids' bags.
I have two sons aged 7 and 5. They each have their own Synapse 19, which is a good size for them (even the five year old - he's big for his age). The rule in our house for any holiday is that they get to decide which amusements, books, toys etc they want to bring but (a) it MUST all fit in their own Synapse and (b) they are always responsible for carrying their own bag. We just got back from four weeks in Europe with them and this system worked really well - they had to plan carefully, and they have learned to be responsible for their belongings. On car trips each Synapse fits easily at their feet.
We have a two day trip coming up with them in October and I am going to experiment with using their Synapses as their only bags for clothes, toiletries etc. If they are ready for this, it will be a monumental step forward in our family travel organisation!
I decided to go with Synapses for them rather than a PCBP because of the better organisation and carrying performance.
I love road tripping! When we drive, I sit in the front with my LCB and Swift at my feet (the Swift kind of goes between the front seats); to knit, I pull out a yarn stuff sack and hang it on the door handle, but the rest of my tools (scissors, stitch markers, etc) are at hand. My iPad, phone and all chargers are in my LCB along with my wallet. My husband drives most of the time, and his phone usually stays plugged into the car charger and auxiliary port to the stereo. We have become big fans of audiobooks in the car (we can download audiobooks from our library onto our phones - limited selection, but free) though we also listen to podcasts and sometimes music.
The kids are in the back seat in car seats; because they don't need the foot room, we tend to put stuff we want at hand on the floor in front of them - mostly food and water bottles. If the dog is with us, he is leashed on the floor in the middle. There is a Rubbermaid tub of toys and books in between the car seats that they can both reach. The kids also each pack a small backpack of toys and whatever else they want.
We have a minivan, which means we generally don't have issues with space for gear. We usually have a double stroller and a cooler for breakfasts and lunches in the back, and we tend to travel with duffle bags for the bulk of our clothes. While we're on the road, we leave the duffles in the car and pack one change of clothes for each of us, plus my and my husband's toiletry kits, into one bag for nights in a hotel. We generally try to stop for a good hour or so at playgrounds a couple of times per day, and we usually have picnics there too. We often try to get some of the drive at night when the kids can sleep through it.
I have 8 children that stairstep in age from 14 to 2. Needless to say, we don't fly much.
But we have LOTS of car tripping experience
My best advice: packing cubes.
I bought several sizes of generic packing cubes in 8 different colors- they're not TB packing cubes because I needed the color coding. Each kid has a certain color. The cubes are then stacked in duffel bags or backpacks. This way several of the littlest ones can share one piece of luggage. And all of them except the baby know their color so instead of disrupting an entire suitcase to find a particular article of clothing, the kid who has purple knows that the small purple packing cube has all socks, undies, and swim stuff and the large purple packing cube has all of the shorts and t-shirts, etc.
I bring a generic nylon or cotton laundry bag for corraling dirties. I wash dirty clothes every couple of days as I usually only pack 3 outfits per person (so 4 including what they're wearing) (the exception is when we go to cool locations like northern MN where I bring 3 short outfits and 1 long outfit per person).
As for toiletries: well, diapers and wipes and pull-ups and that sort of stuff gets its own packing cube so for actual toothpaste and shampoo, etc. I use the PACKING CUBE SHOULDER BAG. Greatest invention ever. Wipeable. Light. Fits bigger bottles, etc. Fits waaay more than you'd expect. Depending on our location, it either sits in the bathroom the whole trip or we put the strap on it and it's brought to and from the bathroom as needed. Really, really recommend this.
As for the actual car trip, I usually let the kids pack what they want into their school backpacks- that's the limit. I vet it, of course, but generally if it fits, it's allowed. For lucky ones this is a Brain bag or Smart Alec or Synapse 19 or Medium Cafe bag. Some just have generic bags.
I usually have separate tote bags for snacks and drinks-- hey, there are 10 of us! BUT: I frequently put the snacks into little baggies and put the baggies in their various personal items. I can then refill, change stuff, whatever, from the big tote bag of snacks. This works well for my large group as obviously everyone can't reach the snack tote otherwise.
And yes, we try to do at least half of the journey at night. Soooo many fewer stops!
I'd encourage you to go as light as possible, even with car trips. For example, unless your kids have a lot of medical stuff that needs toting, each kid probably doesn't need a CQPC or 3d bag. Of course, there's a fine balance when traveling with kids: yes, blankies are "needed," etc. but as we've added each kid to the mix I've pared down the "stuff" more and more. It makes life that much simpler. Less to lose. Less to cart. It sounds like you're well on your way!
OMG! You have 8 kids?! that is amazing.....hats off to you for keeping it all color coded and cubed....really! It sounds like the joint family I grew up in....
@Shiva-- Yep, my poor lil belly has housed 8 of em (or should I say, I'm working hard to get it back to being a "lil belly"! Lol)! Probably the strangest thing in this here 21st century is that they all have the same Mom and Dad And I haven't always done the packing cube thing...but since I have, it has made traveling that much better!
Good to know this worked for you on a long trip!! I have the same rule about everyone carrying their own stuff whenever we go out (museums, parks, etc.) , as I really don't fancy carrying 3 people's gear. ;P
Originally Posted by JLE
The kids each take a small backpack (8 liters/490 cu. inches and 12L/730 cu.in.) with entertainment of their own choosing, on all trips and outings. These "excursion" packs are smaller than their school packs, because I find with the bigger bags they tend to try and offload them on me once they get hot, busy, or cranky.
At their current sizes, they could certainly manage to fit all their clothes for a week in one of their school backpacks (18L/1100 cu.in. kids' hiking packs from REI/Osprey, I didn't know about TB at the start of the school year ), and I think as they get older I will start encouraging them to use those as their primary luggage for weeklong trips.
For the international trip next year I might have them bring their school packs as their primary suitcases, and the PCBP would be overflow bags (for souvenirs on the way home) or maybe smaller daypacks when we are doing all-day sightseeing. I like the hiking packs for a similar reason as your choice of the Synapse - more comfortable to carry, designed to fit small people. But for car trips I think I want the PCBP because then I can color-code each person's gear, similar to Tlactlme's organizational system she mentions above. (Not prescribing my way, just articulating my thought process here - for monkeylady, or for anyone else who's mulling this stuff over. )
The color coding system tlacltme has worked out is stellar. I think we'll do this! The bag choice then becomes secondary...whatever works....for each family. Monkeylady
I will totally update you on what works - our upcoming trip is to the beach, also staying in a house with laundry facilities. I may try the suggestion of packing only 3-4 outfits... I usually aim for one outfit per day, with one extra for "oops" moments, but then we often come home with unused outfits. Perhaps better to plan to wash stuff as we go, since I prefer to pack clean clothes anyway, even on the return trip. That way we can try to put the linens and perhaps a cooler in the trunk.
Originally Posted by monkeylady
(also, what a great idea to bring the laundry basket! Maybe I'll keep an eye out for a crunch-can style tote to do just that. Easier for the kids to put stuff in, vs. a hanging laundry bag.)
I was about to say, Packing Cubes Backpacks, Packing Cube Shoulder Bags inside Brain Bags for clothes, Swift for needlework, reservations, electronics and Small Cafe Bag for rest stops.
They have been lifesavers on many trips.
However, when you mentioned Europe, I just had to say Travel Dyneema!
An Aeronaute for your husband, sharing your five year old clothes and things, a Western Flyer for you, and a Synapse 19 for your daughter.
Pay careful attention to all the European based airlines luggage requirements, including weight and dimensions.
A Copilot is a great cabin bag, it holds what the Swift holds on car trips and it zips!
A Shop Bag can easily be deployed and your son must have entertainment, clothes and small favorite must haves dropped from the Aeronaute to there. It helps if you have a Packing Cube Shoulder Bag for the bigger items and a Clear Quarter Paking Cube for small toys to make sure everything is coralled.
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