How we roll...

3 Weekends in a row of packing for 8 and hitting the road... and I think I've got it down pretty well! 

Lots of you have inquired as to how exactly the 8 of us travel with ease -- actually -- did I imply that it was easy?!? {grin}

No, really it's not that bad... the worst part about getting out the door is ME wanting the house all picked up and ready for our return. How many of you can relate to that!? Yeah, thought so!

I'm in the mood for bullet style... so here it goes!

  • I am all about minimal packing. Only going for 2 days - one pair of pants and 2 shirts, 1 pair of pj's, boys boxers and socks, plus the outfit they're wearing and that should be enough.
  • The boys pack for themselves -- either in their own backpack or they share a large duffel
  • I just list off the amount of each piece of clothing and send them off to retrieve and bring back to the bag. They've done this enough times {I start having them help when they are young} that I usually don't even have to double check their bag.
  • I give each boy a packing job -- Toothbrushes, pillows, books, water and have them bring everything to the 'loading area' aka the backdoor.
  • Once everything is ready to be loaded I have the boys help load -- giving them each specific tasks.
  • I also include them in the 'little' jobs that are required to get out the door such as; turn the heat off, make sure lights are off, dishes unloaded, trash out, doors locked, ect.
  • We try to make packing a family event... and usually everyone is more than willing because we're all excited to take a Road Trip! {grin}
  • As you might have read in my serious life magazine article, I usually have the van packed with books, snacks and water. We also like to play story games, I spy, counting or alphabet games and play with the camera.

I love capturing shots as we drive by... you never know if they're going to turn out but you only have a few shots. And you might be disappointed when you realize you were playing with your cameras White Balance earlier and never set it back!

and then you can pass the camera on...

and ask for it back when the sunset is just right!

If we're going to hotel this is how it goes down...
  • STROLLER! Before twins we could have done without but now... it's a GOTTA HAVE! Plus we can load it down with bags!
  • The boys each carry their bag {unless it's a large shared one} and their pillow. Dad usually gets Ozzie and I push the stroller -- that is unless it's REALLY loaded down and then I defer to dad!
  • Again I'm minimal... I don't bring along a pack n play. Most hotels have a crib you can borrow. They are usually a smaller rolling crib or pack n play. I do bring blankets along to use in it. Less to pack is less to load, and less to unload. {grin}
  • Along with requesting a crib we also request a pull away bed and extra blankets and pillows.
  • We like to make it fun, it's just one big sleepover isn't it!
  • Since we don't watch TV at home we like to watch a family movie after everyone has wrestled the giggles out and is settled in their comfy spot.
or stand directly in front of the TV mesmerized by the extra large animals on the screen as if he's never seen them before! Poor child doesn't have cable at home. {grin}
Which makes the movie of the night... Madagascar 2 {i think}... that much more exciting!

We typically eat dinner out and then do breakfast in the hotel in the morning. So many of them have free breakfast now days anyway.

{and if you forget the toys in the car... you can let your toothless babies play with cups!}

  • This last time we went {here & here} we had 2 double beds and they were OUT of cribs and only had ONE pull away. Gulp!
  • It actually worked well despite that... We put the pull away wedged {there were no cracks to fall down} inbetween the 2 doubles and put pillows on either end and let the girls sleep there. Paul and I had one double and Vance and Ozzie had the other. Then we made 2 beds on the floor for Grayson and Gavin.
  • It may not be the perfect bed, perfect dinner, perfect drive, but just go with the flow, play up the fun, exciting, experience that it is and your kids are bound to enjoy the adventure!
  • Another thing to add is that we LOVE rest stops! If it's a path we've traveled before we remember the ones that have playgrounds and if not we let the boys run in the grassy area before getting back in the van. It's amazing what 10-15 minutes of stretching your legs can do... it is totally worth the time and really helps keep the kids from getting too stir crazy.
So there you have it! I didn't really think I had that much info to share... I guess that's just what we do and it's fresh in my mind from our 3 latest trips. Although... I still doubt I remembered it all! {grin}

Do YOU have any travel tips to share! I'm sure you all have some great ones and I'd love to hear -- especially before we travel 2200 miles this summer! 


  1. Traveling with so many can be fun! We spent two weeks in a hotel last year when we moved ... it was fun!

  2. I love traveling with my kids (4 and 18 months) and we've got a trip planned from IA to NJ to visit the grandparents in a month. I usually have done some garage sale shopping and have a bin of toys (this year the kids will probably share most of it) that they've never seen before. That keeps them entertained for quite a while. It's also amazing what one ball can do for rest stops. Bubbles are another great emergency entertainment idea as they can be blown for the younger ones to stop tears of boredom.

    We like to travel on a very small budget, so we pack all of our own food. Sandwiches, tons of veggies, and a carton of milk goes a long way!


  3. the best travel tips I can think of straight up are
    *no sugary foods...children in tight places and sugar do not mix

    *long car trips a portable dvd player is awesome....more than one if you have vastly differing age groups {+headphones}

    *pack an extra t-shirt for littlies

    *extra wipes

    *sticker books

    I can't think of any more...I guess good attitude {for everyone} is a good idea ~~~

    Susan xx

  4. Girl I don't know how you do it...I have a hard time with 4 kids so I can't imagine living your life right now. Of course I'm the only person in my house that packs so that probably adds to my problem.

    Hope you guys have a wonderful time and safe travels!!!!

  5. Goodness me! You do sound organised!

  6. I don't have any tips...sounds like you've got it pretty well covered. But I do have a question.

    Have you come across hotels that won't let you share a room with that many bodies? We are about to return to the States on furlough and have 3 more kiddos than we left with...5 total. We thought we might do hotels while traveling but when we called about rooms we were told we would need the family suite, which of course is nearly double the price...or two rooms. Our children are 5 and under so that won't work for obvious reasons. What is your experience with this...

  7. The picture of Ozzie reminds me of my Ian. He stands directly in front of the t.v. too! We, like you, do not have cable so when my kids get a t.v. with cable it is the highlight of a trip!

  8. We travel to MN (from IA) pretty often as most of our family still lives there, so we have a "special" treat for Brenna when we hit the border. Usually some fruit or crackers and cheese. Or if we didn't happen to pack a cooler - fruit snacks always win her over. I also made some 8x10 laminated cards that have pictures of different items on them (bird, car, tree, stop sign, etc) so she can look for things and point them out on her cards. Her favorite is dancing/signing to the Disney cd's when we're in the last hour of our drive - it helps her move around, laugh and giggle - that last 45 min to an hour on a trip usually seems the hardest for kids so this works great.

    Happy Travels!!

  9. i agree it sounds like you have a system, but really, you are not inventing the wheel! big families travel all the time, and love it!! glad to hear you enjoy yourselves, which is hopefully the point of this post. learning something new, not so much.

  10. You've got a great system!

    I'm such a control freak and totally paranoid about travel with my 2 (yes, only 2!) girls. We usually drive at night (we take a hour trip regularly)and a few days before I try to get a few cheap new toys they haven't seen before as entertainment.

    The girls usually sleep the whole time, but if they wake up I give a little snack and they're out before they finish it. They have a Praise Baby cd they sleep with in their room, and I usually bring it in the car with us.

    We have yet to do the hotel thing...I'm scared they won't sleep!

  11. WOW thats all i can say! I have one little girl and I feel like I pack her entire closet when we go visit grandma and grandpa!!

  12. Anonymous - Really?! Was that comment necessary? She didn't say she knew it all...she was simply sharing how HER family travels. Get a life.

  13. Well "anonymous" may not have learned anything new, but I did. How do you get hotels to let you all stay in the same room? Most larger families that I know get frustrated because there is a 4 person limit per room and they are required to get two rooms.
    ~T :)

  14. Quite a few of you have asked about hotels and how we can say in one room with so many. Honestly we've never had a problem. We usually stay at holiday Inn Express or another hotel within the same 'family'.

    On our last trip we stayed in a Marriott and on the door was the room rates -- it said that children stay free. So... they only count the adults. {which is how it should be, I think!}

    Now once the boys are bigger we might need a double room with a connecting door. :)

    Hope that helps!


  15. How much fun! You are your husband are making WONDERFUL memories for your little ones. I have so many fond memories of family vacations when I was younger.

  16. This post was so much fun!

    I always love seeing how much of a laid back mom you are... so cool!

    Where are you traveling for 2200 miles this summer?! Crazy exciting! :)

  17. Because Daniel is in the Air Force, we can stay in the hotel on each base. And it is WONDERFUL. The most we've ever paid was 52 dollars and that was for a 3 bedroom with full kitchen, washer and dryer, livingroom etc. It makes traveling with the kids so much easier and enjoyable.

    Daniel and I LOVE traveling and so do the kids. There is always adventure to be found! As long as there is good planning and room for surprise there will always be fun.

    You all sound like you make the most of every moment together! And I love how you take the scary out of traveling with 6 kids :)



  18. It sounds like you have it down to a science! Awesome.

    What type of van do you have that all of the car seats fit in?

  19. I have four kids of my own. You say you use a van, and I was curious as to what kind you found that will fit all your family.

  20. Van questions...

    we drive a honda odyssey -- it's the newer style so it has 8 seats instead of 7. And we fill EVERY seat! :) It's a load full!

  21. You make it look so easy!!! I haven't dared to try it with my 3.

  22. Hi there,

    Just trying to figure out the "rules" here. I made a comment (not even to you, it was directed at another poster) a few days ago, in which I wrote the phrase "get a life." You wrote that it was a rude comment and deleted it. Now, when someone else (mrs. toro) posts the same phrase in response to something someone said about you, you don't seem to have a problem with it. The road needs to go both ways, lady.

  23. Just wondering what time your kids go to bed.

  24. "britt"

    No rules -- we all just need to be respectful!

    I do not want to moderate comments... it's one thing to moderate what is being said directly to me but then to include what is being said to everyone else. OY!

    Can we ALL just try to be respectful!?!

    And the "get a life" comment that was deleted... I read it as it was directed at me. With all the "anonymous" it's hard to know who is talking to who.

    If you are going to comment to another commenter can we please make it clear that is who you are talking to?

    and let's all remember to be nice! I feel like a school teacher. {grin}

    Are you asking what time my kids go to bed at the hotel or on regular nights?


  25. I posted the bed time comment:

    I didn't realize it was two different times that your kids go to bed. So, I guess, what time do they go to bed at the hotel?

  26. I stumbled on to your blog through somewhere else a few weeks ago. I just have to tell you that I love your pictures, and your blog. I am a mom of 4, and I also was an art major in college(a million years ago). :) You really have a fantastic "eye" for catching the greatest shots. I love how you use the light.
    Anyways, I am sorry you have to monitor your posts, after all this is a blog and people do not have to read it if it bothers them so much.
    Please continue to post you wonderul tips, ideaa, or whatever. They are often a bright spot in my day.

  27. We love to travel with our three- I think the key is just like you do- chill, relax and don't worry!

    We do boats and all sorts, we even stayed with my aunt for two weeks in her tiny one bed flat - the girls in the bed with her, baby in our travel cot (she was too little) and us on the floor of the kitchen/ sitting room. The girls loved it! 6 is probably just twice the fun!

  28. We tend to stay up late when we are staying at a hotel. Since we all are in the same room we all go to sleep at the same time. Which -- according to the last few weekends out of town -- was around 10:30pm.

    We're late night people and we tend to let our kids stay up late as a 'treat' {like at the hotel}. BUT none of our kids are early morning people. The earliest they get up is 7:30ish.

    On school nights our normal bedtime is 8:30pm - which some people think is late. That's just what works for our family! :)


  29. Once we rigged up a bed out of 2 luggage racks!
    Kids can sleep anywhere - and love it!

    Roads trips are lots of fun!
    Where in the world are you going that's 2200 miles away?!

  30. We use a Flip Video camera on trips because it is so small and shoots great video. Im actually giving one away right now on my blog as part of a contest to help us name our new dog. The persons name we pick for our dog wins! That simple.

    Have a great weekend! Loved the trip suggestions!

    Love and Prayers,


  31. I am a new blogger and first time commenter. I just love your blog. Your family is so goregous and your pictures are amazing. I am excited to be an official blogger and not a lurker anymore! :)

  32. We have only made two trips with all 8 of us, but are planning a few for the summer. I learned from the first one that it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be :-), you are right about the kids all being excited! I think the kids follow the mood of the parents so being laid back (but organized) is great! we have also LOVED getting kids books on CD's from the library and listening to them in the car, its amazing how much they will really listen and imagine the pictures....

  33. WE love the Candlewood Suites. They have a large one bedroom suite. We put the kids in the bedroom with the door shut and then hubby and I sleep on the fold out and can watch tv (with out waking the kids). Plus there is free washers and dryers (love it) and a full kitchen in every room (good for snacks and cooking). They run awesome weekend rates, check them out!

  34. I totally get what you said about leaving the house neat! I add it to my to do list whenever we are taking a trip....I must come home to a clean house, clean dishes, and clean cloth diapers waiting for me in the dryer!

  35. I think I've become a pro at the traveling thing too. We've logged over 8,000 miles in the last 6 months. Mostly driving from GA to VA and back again. And most of the time just me and the kids. But I also like to have the house spotless when we leave, which makes for some late nights getting ready. We do a lot of movies on the DVD player and I pack travel totes for each kid, along with a cooler full of food. We put all of our luggage and gear into a 5x8 trailer that we tow behind our van. It's the only way we can fit the quad stroller. Can you say freak show? LOL

  36. We love road trips and try to take them often. Looks like you have it down pat and you are a pro! Thanks for sharing your pointers with us!

  37. WOW, you are SO organized, but, I guess you HAVE to be! : ) Great tips! I need to start having my oldest pack his own things, he can do it!

  38. We have five kids and have sometimes had trouble being allowed to sleep in one room. Usually now we like to get a suite. We have three teenagers now, so this no longer works, but when they were younger (and shorter), we would sometimes retuck the blankets on the bed and sleep three of them crosswise instead of two lengthwise. We've done that with cousins overnight, etc. too.


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