Pack Your Car the Night Before! (Tips for Traveling with Kids)

“Pack your car the night before!” I said.

I told this to my brother before his 7 hour drive to meet us at the
beach for Thanksgiving, but of course, being my “little” brother, he did not listen. He thought he could pack his wife, two young children and all their cribs, strollers, snacks, toys, car seats and suitcases in the morning before they left. As a result, they didn’t get on the road until noon!

Seriously, packing the car the night before a big trip accomplishes several things. First, it allows you to pack at a leisurely pace so you are not rushed and panicked, leaving you stressed out just before you get behind the wheel. You will be able to hop in the car cheerfully rested and relaxed in the morning with your coffee in hand, more able to enjoy the journey, and with more patience to keep the kids happy.

Second, it gives you more time to think about what you have packed so you don’t forget anything, and so you can decide whether you really need to bring certain things. This really helps alleviate that “I  wonder if I forgot something” feeling that everyone gets when they are about 30 miles into a 300 mile drive.

Next, it allows you to plan better for games and travel activities you want to bring, and what snacks to bring. This will save you money and time on the road if you can bring lunch with you, and save you sanity if you have planned well to keep the kids busy.


Insulated, reusable lunch tote.

Fun lunch tote for kids; reusable, wipes clean!

Heys USA Disney Carry On for Kids

Heys USA Disney Carry On for Kids

One final bonus is that it might buy you a couple of hours of quiet time at the beginning of your drive. This is well worth it! Many times when we have left for long trips early in the morning, we literally picked the kids up out of their beds, took them to the potty and put them in the car — pajamas and all. If we were lucky they often slept a couple more hours before we had an easy breakfast break in the car (usually cereal mix or granola bars) and a clothing change at our first gas stop.

With safety in mind, think about where you keep your car before you pack it. Since we keep our minivan in the garage, we feel safe having our stuff in the car overnight. If your car is outside, you might feel better piling it all up inside near the door the night before. It will still only take a moment to toss it all in if you’ve got it all ready to go ahead of time.

Packing the night before will help you get on the road sooner which means you’ll arrive at your destination sooner!

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