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Simple ways I travel with lots of kids ~

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For approximately a year, my husband and I traveled full-time w/ our then only three children ages 6, 3 and 1.  We lived in Marriott suites and used Olive Garden as our dinner table-it was like living on vacation. We picked up the term “roadschooling” during that season as we homeschooled while we traveled with my husbands job.

Now when we travel it’s no longer for work related reasons. In addition our family has been blessed with two more little boys since that time.  In any case we still hit the road for learning adventures.  Inspired by our current roadschooling journey, here are some of the ways that I’ve learned to simplify traveling, while homeschooling, with lots of kids in tote.


  • Pack Light –  Don’t start laughing at me already-I see your smirk.  Honestly, I pack the least amount as possible. I’ve just come to terms with the fact that we don’t really need everything I’d like to pack.  If we end up missing an item, more likely than not, we’ll be just fine without it.

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For a family of seven this is packing light!

In the above picture of our current trip I’ve packed; one suitcase and one large bag of clothes, swim suits, and undergarments. Then one small duffle bag of bathroom items, laptop bag {can’t live without that}, bouncing seat and Bumbo for the baby {I only needed one of those, but had a hard time choosing}, cardboard box of disposable diaper supplies, cardboard box of school supplies, and two wal-mart bags with snacks.  That’s it.

  • Wear the same outfit again – For the most part, unless we’ve been doing major hiking or mud wrestling, we can get away with wearing the same clothes again. This cuts down on laundry and the amount of clothing we need to take.  For a week-long trip for example I’ll pack each person 3 outfits, plus the one they’re wearing.  The baby gets twice that much, plus extra onesies…spit happens.
  • Re-use everyday items as packing supplies – When we traveled full-time I packed our school items, diapers, and other “kid-stuff” in a large rubber-made tote.  That tote now has a new life storing our collection of Little People.  Now I use regular cardboard boxes to pack diapers, school supplies or odds-and-ends.

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I pack only the basic school supplies for most trips.  Bibles, current read alouds and math books.  I always feel, for the most part, that even while traveling the older kids can read their Bibles and complete a math assignment in the mornings.  Some trips we’re able to still do read alouds at bedtime.  Other trips we’re drooling before we hit our pillows and the idea of extra reading goes out the window.  I know though that if I didn’t pack our reading stack I’d be thinking “I should have brought our books!”

  • No cloth diapers when traveling – Even though I’m a big cloth diapering fan, I find that when we’re on the road it’s so much easier to just slap a disposable diaper on my diaper wearing babes. It’s also less that I have to store and wash if I’m not hauling my cloth diaper collection around with us.

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Who said I wasn’t classy?

  • The Dollar Menu is our Friend –  We bring snacks for along the way.  I usually stop off at a fast food restaurant with a dollar menu too.  Our standard order is everyone gets an ice-cream cone, sandwich and cup of water.  Totally-cool-mom-points, I let the kids eat their ice-cream first.  Ha!
  • This isn’t a toy store –  Everyone can bring one toy.  That’s it.  Usually wherever our destination will be, there is a pool, toys or some other entertainment provided. I’ve also found, from times when we have brought more toys, that the children end up creating games and using their imaginations.  Extra toys on trips just produce clutter.  Momma doesn’t *do clutter well.
  • Don’t make mom do it all – I delegate jobs and areas of responsibility when we are preparing to leave for a trip. I try to do this in most aspects of our family life. Every family member has a role and a needed part of responsibility.  For example: I have the children clean our van while I pack.  Then while I feed the baby I have the older children load the van.  It’s all about team work!

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Jadin is very good at packing.

  • One family activity bag – We keep one activity bag in our van with additional reading books, drawing notebooks, crayons, pencils, pens and card games.  Any child can pull something from that bag at anytime.  This bag may get lots of love on long trips.
  • Conversation Station –  I have found that when we travel the children and I have wonderful deep conversations.  I’ll purposely leave the radio off, although we’ll listen to worship, audio Bible and preaching too.  If no one talks and we just enjoy a quiet time, that’s ok with me too.  Traveling with a van full of kiddies also provides a continued training ground for training in manners and putting others before ourselves.

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Some of the back-seat-crew!

  • One large trash bag {and a few small grocery bags while you’re at it} –  I always take a trash bag for laundry and any other items that end up needing a home at some point during our trip.  We also keep an additional grocery bag available for trash. Then when we stop for gas or a bathroom break it’s easy to throw all trash away quickly.
  • {BONUS} Little things make it special – Every moment is a gift to work on capturing or maintaining our children’s hearts.  When we travel I make it a point to have whatever child seems to need some extra “mom time,” sit upfront by me.  Whoever sits upfront also is able to pick the music or audio book when that time comes. I may let this child pick a restaurant, activity and conversation topic as well.

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Liam just knows that the entire world is wonderful.

What are your travel tips for traveling with kids

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