We weren’t actually planning to take a road trip this summer. We’d booked a house in coastal Oregon for a week of rest and relaxation, planning to fly our family of six to Portland and rent a car. But the cost of airfare and the lure of the road, as well as the chance to break in our new Honda Odyssey Minivan, led to a change of plans. Here is our adventure, including the places we went, the gear that saved us and the planning tips that helped us avoid common travel pitfalls!

Our journey began at 4am. "Captain Daddy" got a new Road Trip Hat (as is our family tradition). The car was well packed the day before. Packing for a family of six is no small endeavor. Fortunately we had some sound advice (pack for four to five days and do laundry!) and some specialized gear and equipment that made our jobs easier and our loads lighter:

ModularHauler3SystemDeluxeXL.jpgMountain Smith’s ModularHauler 3 System Deluxe took on our three oldest kids’ gear and came out the winner. In the past we would have packed each child’s clothing in a separate bag, and stuffed the randomly shaped containers into the back of the car. Silly us. We had no idea such a clever modular system existed. Using the system we assigned each child a differently colored cube. They hold much more than you’d think. We packed multiple outfits, sweaters and swim gear for five days, plus three pairs of shoes for each child. Once packed the cubes line up in the larger container. This container is rubber bottomed (fear not rain or rugged campsite terrain) and did double duty at our destination as an impromptu laundry hamper. I don’t know why it makes me so happy to see all our stuff packed into such a neat, compact little cube, it just does.

Mountainsmith also makes a fabulous Cooler (with a fold out drink holder) that fits into the same container, interchanging with one of the bags. We used this in the main compartment of the car to keep our drinks and snacks cool. It fit perfectly between the front seats of our Oddysey minivan. Check out the Mountainsmith site for more modular systems perfect for organizing any travelers.


 Kelty’s Binto Bar took on all of our baby supplies, toys, and beach gear. Picking up where the Mountainsmith left off, the Binto bar offers slightly more compact/soft sided modular storage. The Kelty system dazzles outdoorsy types with the added bonus of the ability to set up as a “base camp”. Unfold the top flap and the wings and you have a food safe surface perfect for an impromptu picnic, campsite or day at the beach. It also works great (with a changing pad and blanket) as an impromtu, emergency mobile changing station. Don’t ask how I know…
Thumbnail image for 2784571442_c384b44731_m (2).jpg

Inside the car we packed a weeks worth of games, puzzles, books and activities into Linda Hecht’s “One Hecht of an Organizer”. This amazing and multipocketed blue bin had a space for everything from hand sanitizer and mini flashlights to crayons and more. Pockets galore! The long carrying straps made it easy to belt into place in the center seat (no shifting) and amazingly the kids kept everything in the case all week long, even when we stopped at the beach house. I’ll be using this bin for organizing my carpooling self when school starts. It comes with a handy file sorter (permission slips, grocery lists, work papers…) and suggestions on how to make it the perfect in car organizer for moms. More much needed suggestions for making your life less hectic and more organized can be found on the HechtofanOrganizer website.

yhst-13078596569049_2016_14840986.jpgAlso inside the car we saved space by packing Zoobie pets from Little D. Baby. These great pets served quad duty as a comfort item, travel blankie, travel pillow, and loveable stuffed pal. All in one perfect package as opposed to the ten stuffies, special woobie and bed pillow that we might otherwise load ourselves down with. Little D. graciously provided us with a parent version as well – the Travelers Blanket. This small packable blanket and pillow stuffed easily into the minivan’s side door pocket and provided instant cozy comfort to the “shotgun” rider.

Finally Little D helped to lighten our load with their Coverplay Portable Crib Covers. Normally I would pack a portable crib as I am squeamish about borrowing germs along with a hotel crib. But these ingenious covers are the perfect solution for the ick factor of borrowed portacribs on the road. When you use one of these easy to pack washable slipcovers you can always be sure that your baby is surrounded by clean bedding. And you can leave the bulky crib at home.

Hitting the road at 4 am turned out to be a great idea. Our kids snoozed peacefully and we had some nice quiet adult time as we cruised through a traffic-less downtown LA. When does that ever happen? We watched the sun rise over the San Joaquin valley as we came down from the mountain passes. By breakfast time we made it to the Harris Ranch, one of our favorite places to stop when driving up the long stretch of 1-5 that makes up the central valley. Fortunately we also packed our kid’s Pepto Bismol, as the rich and huge meal did not agree with everyone in the party! Little did we know how handy our Pepto was to become, later in the trip. By early afternoon we were in San Francisco and it was time to start testing some of the tech gear we brought along…


  1. We just came back from a similar roadtrip and do the LA jaunt at least five times a year. We also travel east so before you soar to new heights — check out our Get Ready to Fly package at http://www.getreadytofly.com. Kids will earn their wings before you even pack a bag.

Speak Your Mind