Friday, May 11, 2012

Large family traveling

In the last few years we've started traveling more.  Most of our travels have included at least 5 children, and on up to 7 now.  Some would think that with so many kids we would stick closer to home, but we've found the opposite to be true.  As our kids get older there are things we want to see and do with them before they head out on their own, this is the time to do those things and we enjoy doing them with all of our kids (no matter the age!).  There are some things that we do to make these travels go smoother.  Just a little thought and planning goes a long way.

We drive everywhere we go as a family these days.  Flying just costs too much and then we generally need to rent a van on the other end which is also very expensive.  Driving also gives us some flexibility. Here are some of the things we do to make it work for us.

Eating on the road- We often bring our own food to eat on the road instead of stopping for fast food and other junk.  Some shallow storage baskets can make nice trays. We bring foods that don't make big messes.

    Breakfast- would tend to be things like sausage balls, bagels, and fruit (like bananas or grapes).

   Lunch- would be things like sandwiches or cheese and crackers and some sort of fruit or veggies (apples and carrots are good).

  Dinner- We do tend to have dinner out on the road, but we've also had a crockpot going while driving at times.  It has been nice to have a simple, healthy, homemade meal when we stop.  Just make sure you are prepared with dishes, and serving utensils and a way to clean out your crockpot (I've used a hotel bathtub before, it worked out just fine).

Overnight stays along they way-  Our trips tend to have a destination that we pack for, but there are also overnight stops along they way getting there.  Who wants to pull all of that luggage in for one night?  We generally only need PJ's, clean socks and undies as well as our toiletries (I have everyone wear the same clothes while on the road, they really don't get dirty just sitting).  I'm able to get all of that into two small suitcases (one for boys, one for girls) as well as our toiletry bag.  That greatly reduces the amount of things we bring in and the potential for mess and disorganizing all of my hard work in packing for the trip.  That also means less time unloading and loading up again.


Packing for the large family- Packing for our crew is fairly easy.  I like to have my family coordinate while traveling so that we are easily recognized as a group and I can spot my kids.  This is a safety thing more than anything else, though it is nice to know everyone will also look good as we are out and about drawing attention for being such a large group.  I pack according to those outfits.  All clothes intended to be worn at the same time are in the same one (or two) piles in the suitcase, I just have to pull them out and I know I've got all I need.  Socks and underwear are put in plastic zipper bags, one per person, and their names are on them.  Everything I need is easily at my finger tips, I know all I need really did get packed, and it reduces the amount of luggage we are bringing (right now our family of nine needs 2 large suitcases and a separate one for Daddy for a one week stay).


These are just some of the things I do to make traveling easier for us.  Maybe I'll post more after we've done some more summer traveling?  In the mean time.... Do you have any great travel tips?  Any thoughts or questions about large family traveling?


  1. Great post! I am always curious as to what other large families eat on the road!

  2. How are you plugging in the crockpot as you drive? Do you need a special thingie?

  3. Packing lightly for hotels stays is a great idea, as both my husband and then my in-laws on separate occasions had a fire in the hotel they were staying in and were not allowed back in to the hotel to get their stuff. So whatever they took in was lost, thankfully both times they were on their way home.
    While traveling cross country I packed clothes needed for overnight stays in ziplock bags labeled by days. So all I needed to do when we got to the hotel was grab the ziplock bag from the top big suitcase and put it in the toiletries bag. All dirty clothes went back into the ziplock bag and in to the large suitcase.
    I also pack cloth book bags for each day with new and different items to help pass the time in the van. They cannot get a new bag in the morning unless they turn in the bag from the day before with everything back in it.
    I love the crockpot idea. I have an outlet plug for the cigarette lighter and this would be a great idea for our trip this Fall. I was planning on taking our hot pot and Ramen noodles for a quick meal on the road. I also cut up fruit ahead of time and have that in a bowl in the cooler. I put frozen snacks and food in the cooler and use them as ice packs and when they thaw or are still chilled we can then eat them. This would be perfect for the crockpot meal. So excited about our Fall trip and reading other suggestions for more great ideas. :)

  4. Are you sure that's ok to rinse out serious food stuff in bathtub/sink? I've always wondered if I was causing issues to their plumbing w/no disposal. I guess if all your "chunks" are put in garbage as best you can, then it's just really dirty water which is the same as children after they play in mud!

    We've even grown sprouts on the road in a bag with holes poked in the bottom! Bought lentils at a whole foods or something and just rinsed them morning and night so as to have fresh grown sprouts in 2 days. We like the taste of those so much more than ones you can find in store plus they're LOTS cheaper.

    I watch for sales on healthy packaged foods and stock up for future trips. Turkey jerky is on sale at Azure these next 2 months--that's a great protein for the road so I plan on getting a case or 2! I don't travel much anymore due to my chronic pain, so I have to plan even more carefully, labeling and writing out instructions for my teens to be able to dole everything out accordingly. I've also tried to teach them to shop at stores on the road for high nutrient, high enzyme foods like kefir/yogurt, fresh produce (that's easy to wash/serve), crackers, cheese, etc...

    We make play boxes out of cardboard boxes that have a top that lifts up--I even bought some organic turkey burgers at Costco once solely b/c they had the PERFECT BOX! We decorate the outside with pictures and maps of our destination so they can follow along the route and mark where we are with a sharpie (I cover the decorated box with contact paper to keep it nice). Box is filled w/art supplies, activity books fashioned just for each child by siblings or myself, special snack of dried fruit or nuts, handheld toy, etc.

  5. You can install a Power Inverter in your car to power A/C appliances. They're sold according to their power output by wattage. For reference, our large crockpot uses 140 watts on low. I'd recommend at least a 200 watt inverter, since they're a little sketchy on their advertised output. -Rob