Our family just experienced our first Disney vacation.  It really was magical, and we’re already planning our next trip.  However, before we could hang with Mickey and pals, we had to get our little cherubs to the Sunshine State.

It’s roughly a 16-hour drive from our house (plus, of course, the requisite number of stops for food/potties/drinks/gas/temper tantrums).  We’ve never done any type of road trip with our kiddos, but after crunching the numbers of driving vs. flying, we decided to give it a go.  Our kids are 6, 3, and 18 months, so quite a bit of prep work went into the travel portion of this trip. Here are a few things that I found helpful.

1. Food.  As any mom of young kids knows, food can take you from zero to hero in no time.  About a week before the trip, I went to Costco and loaded up on snacks for the trip.  I thought long and hard about what snacks would be easy to store in the car (no refrigeration, small chance of crushing, minimal crumbs) and came up with animal crackers, dried apple slices, granola bars, fruit snacks, and veggie straws.  Fruit snacks and veggie straws are things that I never buy, so I knew those would be a hit.  During naptime one day, I separated everything into individual baggies.  Then I packed some of each snack into a picnic basket for the car, and put the rest of the food into a large plastic tub.  The tub was in the back of our van for the whole trip, and we replenished the picnic basket as needed.  It worked so well, and probably saved us loads of money along the way.  It was so easy to toss a snack back when the kids were getting restless.

2. Clothes.  I tried something new this trip, and packed my kids’ clothes in a large plastic tote, rather than a suitcase.  It was certainly not my original idea (thanks Pinterest!), but probably one of the best tips I would offer to a family traveling.  I started by pre-planning outfits for each child.  I laid them out in piles, complete with clothes, underwear, socks, hairbows, and any other accessories.  I then put each outfit in a freezer bag, and wrote the child’s name on the bag. This was particularly helpful with my two boys’ clothes, whom I often dress alike.

 I then put all of the labeled bags into a large plastic tote.  This tote went with the food tote in the back of the van.  It was great to be able to see what I was looking for, and the labeled bags were perfect for style-challenged husbands (not that I have one).  I made sure to also pack a bag of ‘extras’ for each child with extra socks and underwear, just in case.

3. Car Zones.  I’m 100% type-A, and it really shines when I can organize for something like this.  When I packed and loaded the car, I designated certain ‘zones’ for the car.  In the back of the van, we had our two totes with food and kids’ clothes.  Next to those, we put our stroller.  On top of those things, we had 5 bags: our bag with toiletries and bathroom needs, our overnight bag for the first night on the road (we packed this with one outfit for each person plus pajamas so that we could grab it when we got to our hotel late that first night…totally recommend this), our suitcase with adult clothes, our beach bag for the pool at Disney, and our beach bag for the actual beach later in the week. While this photo doesn't look super organized, I knew exactly where everything was located in the car, and it made each stop very quick and stress-free.  As much as my husband likes to tease me about my tendency to take things too far, I know he liked how organized the car stayed the whole trip.

4. Road Trip Games.  I was kind of nervous about how I was going to entertain such young children in the car for so many hours (all of the hours!).  I borrowed lots of Disney movies from friends, and each kid had their own set of headphones.  Honestly, that kept them calm and happy for most of the trip.  It was so helpful to have movies that they’d never seen.  When we weren’t watching movies, we played a very simple road trip bingo game (found at http://todayscreativelife.com/road-trip-games-for-kids-free-printables/).  I also printed out a super basic map of the east coast so that the kids could track our route.  I laminated it all, and my daughter especially loved it.  My husband and I played the license plate game, which I printed from the same site.

Weeks before the trip, I kept a running list in my planner of my ‘to-dos’ before the trip.  It was so handy to have my list at the ready if I was at the store, and kept me organized as I prepped for the trip.  We had a great time, and I know we’ll make the drive again!

This blog post was written by Abbey Niebel for the Limelife Planners Media & Creative Team. Please share and repost this blog entry with your friends! All we ask is that you give credit to Limelife Planners and the post author.