Planning For The Easter Holiday Car Trip

This time next week, I will be finalising the packing for our Easter holiday. Easter this year in Victoria, also combines with school holidays, so we will are going to spend a week in the my old home town. I am still lucky enough to have lots of family, including my mum and dad and my sister and her family there, so there is plenty of places to stay. Two of these nights will be away from the town, camping with friends who also have children.

With camping on the agenda it means the volume of stuff that we have to pack to take with us, is quite considerable; tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment. Luckily packing cars is a speciality of Mr Infrastructures, so I just pile the stuff at the front door at let him work his magic!

But before I get the stuff to the front door though, I try to make sure I have packed only what is necessary. This does require some thought and prior planning, to make sure that I will have everything on hand that we will need. Naturally, I produce for myself a couple of lists by categories. Click on the category name to head directly to that section or simply scroll through the entire post!

Camping Requirements
General Packing
For In The Car


We are not regular campers, so I struggle in this area to make sure I have all the right stuff. Earlier this year in my blogging travels, I came across these concise lists from felinegroovy at Reading Circles and bookmarked them, knowing that we would be camping at Easter.

Clothes – The Basics
What does one wear when camping? The only thing I would change on this list would be to transpose some of the colder climate gear for shorts, hats and bathers. But I will definitely still pack the jumper. I have been caught out before, because even though it can be very warm in the day, it can get quite cool at night this time of year.

Medicine Box
As we are going to be in a warm climate and with little children, I would just add these items to this list:

    – Sunscreen
    – Insect Repellent
    – Clarantyne (antihistamine medicine – one of my children reacts badly to any insect bite, and this does the trick to stop the swelling and irritation.
    – Children’s Panadol – you just never know when a fever can set in.

Fun Kit
To complete this section I would also add:

    – Buckets and spades
    – Cricket Set
    – Spare balls

Thanks to felinegroovy for these lists which set me on the right track!

I did ask Mr Infrastructure if he could supply me with his list of what camping infrastructure we were taking, but he said has it all under control – it was all in his head! I’ll trust him on that one.

General Packing

Children to pack for themselves
I will once again make the older children responsible for packing their own clothes. This time though they will all put their clothes into one large suitcase.
I will write the list complete with illustrations (see linked post for examples of my very poorly drawn illustrations) for the children to use as a reference as what they must pack.

I have spent most of my life being a considerable over packer, but when you have so much stuff to fit in the family vehicle already, I no longer have this luxury and have to give a lot more thought to what I take. I have come up with this basic formula which seems to be working for me:

    – complete outfits for half the number of days we are away. In this instance we will be away 7 so I will take 4 complete outfits eg shorts and t-shirt. One outfit to be appropriate for going out at night.
    – additional 3 tops to match bottoms of complete outfits. One of these to be of the dressy variety.
    – underwear for number of days away + 1.
    – gym gear (incl runners) x 1.
    – 3 pairs of shoes – thongs, casual pair and dressy pair, that will match with clothes
    – toiletries

In this case I will also pack the additional items from the basic camping list.

Mr Infrastructure
He always packs for himself, always packs lightly, but seems to always have everything he needs!

For In The Car

This has been something that I have done since we have had the Tarago. The Tarago is a 8 seater car and on long trips (it is a 550km drive) we have the two youngest children immediately behind mum and dad, then the two eldest boys right at the back.

The distance from the front to the back makes passing things around difficult, so I prepare four back packs for the journey. The rule for the journey is that they can eat and use these things when ever they like, but this is their rations for the journey, so the should use them wisely!

The pack has two functions, to feed and water and to entertain:

Food and Drink
We do stop along the way and stretch our legs etc, but I prefer not to buy food on the way. It is also difficult to predict when the younger two will sleep, so if the children (or the adults) are hungry they can eat lunch at a time that suits them, and is not dependant upon me waiting for the little ones to wake up. I try not to stop whilst they are sleeping as they usually wake when the car stops.

This is the type of food that I pack for each child, using a combination of zip lock bags and Tupperware containers:

    – Apples x 2
    – Carrots x 2
    – Crackers x 2
    – Air popped pop corn
    – Dried fruit and nut mix – make up my own using cashews, almonds, dried apricots and dried strawberries.
    – Salad rolls – combinations of the children’s preferred fillings.
    – Juice pop top x 1
    – Large bottle of water

I also have the same sort of food, for mum and dad. I also have a special treat stashed away for those emergency moments that can happen on a long trip.

Each back pack contains the following items:

    – 3 books of choice
    – 1 travel game of choice
    icklekids have great travel games and activities for kids. I will disclose here that I do not make any money from promoting these products, but my friend Laine, does the run the business. I bought a number of products from ickle kids for the children that are perfect for car trips.
    My 9 year will have his iPod, although he is only allowed to use it in the car for playing games and that is limited to a couple of sessions through out the trip. The reason for limiting the iPod is that I do like the family trip to be that – a family experience and it is hard for that to happen if someone has there headphones on for the entire time. (Thinker has pointed out to me that the battery would survive the whole trip anyway.)
    – A clipboard with a pencil tied to it and paper for writing, and an activity pack.
    The activity pack is a home made set of print outs set to suit each child. Each child has a print of the Spot the sign/animal/vehicle game. I have attached the word document below.

Spot The Sign Game

    The children simply put a stroke near all the things that they see during a defined time period. Initially when I did this I just let it run, but found it runs out of steam if there is no purpose. So now, we agree on a time frame for observing items. We will choose one sheet at a time. Each child nominates what they think will be the most and least popular items that we spot.
    By setting up the game in this way, we can have a couple of sessions through out the trip and maintain the children’s interest.
    I then make use of a number of online children’s sites, to print out activities for them;



    Spot the difference activities – as she can’t read, but can recognise numbers, I write a large number of the top of the sheets, so she knows how many differences to find.

    The world bookday site has a number of spot the differences and many other great activities for preschoolers.

School Age:

    Word Searches – I make up my own using this site. I add into the search towns that we will be going through, the children’s names and for this trip words describing Easter.
    Harry Potter Quizzes – Thinker has read all the Harry Potter series and I have just finished reading the first Harry Potter book to Little Rascal, sot hey will enjoy testing their knowledge.

I pack most of the items for the kids back packs the night before, and add the final items in the morning. My children love visiting our family in the country and are always so excited to get there. Planning a few things ahead means that we can enjoy the car trip and have all the essentials on board to make for a happy family holiday.

What are car trip essentials for your family?