This summer our family took an epic road trip through the mid-Atlantic and Northeast states all the way to Canada. Incase you somehow missed it, you can read the recap here.

A few weeks after our trip another blogger- Crystal Paine, of Money Saving Mom– took her family on a very similar trip. Our route and destinations lined up so similarly that I found myself reliving our trip as she posted about hers. (As a side note: she’s very lucky our paths didn’t actually cross- I would have totally gone all fangirl on her!)

As similar as our trips looked, there was one HUGE difference- the way we packed.

Each of the children’s suitcases had a “cheat sheet” so I’d remember the outfit combinations I pre-planned.

I *thought* I packed very reasonably. Our fast-pace itinerary left us changing hotels almost nightly. I decided to pack 1 suitcase for each member of the family. The idea was for each of us to carry our own into each hotel. In theory, this was very manageable. I anticipated 4 suitcases making their way into the hotel every night.

But I forgot about my purse, camera bag, and our 2 laptop bags. Secondly, our children were asleep as we arrived at a few hotels. Our 9-year old just had to wake up and wheel her suitcase. But our little 5-year old needed to be carried. So our reality looked like me carrying a sleeping boy, and my husband struggling with 7 other bags/purses.

A few times throughout the trip my husband asked if it would have been more practical packing 1 bag per stop. While that did sound do-able, I couldn’t wrap my head around the logistics. For starters, there were certain items that needed to come in everywhere- like toiletry stuff. Secondly, I did not pack 14 full outfits, PJ’s, bathing suits, etc. Many of the items were used sporadically. I cut down on the items on our trip, but not the effort it took to haul them inside every night.

We did a lot of mix and match clothing swaps!

At the end of the day, we decided my method of packing wasn’t terrible. By the second half of the trip we were able to condense down by 2 suitcases. The re-packing half way made a big difference. And that led us to think that on our next big adventure we may pack in 4-5 day segments. I will also share that we did not want for anything on our trip, but we also didn’t come home with any unworn clothes. In other words, the quantity and diversity of clothes I packed fit our needs perfectly.

*Actually, let me amend that. I only had 1 set of shoes for me. My flip flops. This would have been totally fine, except they got wet several times (at the beach stops, and in the rain.) They didn’t dry fast so a few mornings I had to put on wet shoes which was not fun.* Ultimately, I was proud of how light I packed for such a long trip!

So then I saw Crystal’s packing method for her similar trip. Holy cow! I’ll let you read her full post about it (here), but to summarize… they took 5 extra large Ziploc Big Bags. The bags contained a day’s worth of clothes for their whole family. Each night they took a Ziploc Big Bag (plus a toiletry bag) into their hotel. And they stopped at laundromats along the way to do laundry! I.can’t.even.imagine.

Part of me is totally intrigued! And then the other part of me is horrified. I’m not sure I could keep things quite that simple, though I really admire her. I also have no idea when we’d find time for laundry. Our 14-day trip was jam packed!

I should probably consider taking Crystal’s class 4 Weeks To A More Productive Life. I’m pretty sure I’d learn to be WAY more productive in my packing habits (among other things!)

What do you think? Assuming space isn’t an issue, how do you pack for extended trips?

You might also enjoy reading:

Just A Backpack and A Beach- An Inspirational Tale

7 Places To See In Every State

Saving Money, Traveling More

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