I can tell it’s summertime by the sheer volume of kid stuff residing in my minivan. This week my husband had off from work so we had a busy week filled with day trips. There was a visit to Jellystone Campground in Woodridge on Monday, a visit to Circleville park on Wednesday, Thursday we visited our town pool at Morningside Park followed by a visit to the newly re-opened Fair Oaks drive in. Yesterday we headed down to Keansburg beach in New Jersey. It’s been an action packed, on the go week which means packing, packing and more packing.

Keansburg beach in New Jersey was a great day trip with the kids. Of course we each had to have a change of clothes, swim suits, towels and of course beach toys. Did we unpack half of it? No, but there's nothing like being caught unprepared with small kids.

Keansburg beach in New Jersey was a great day trip with the kids. Of course we each had to have a change of clothes, swim suits, towels and of course beach toys. Did we unpack half of it? No, but there’s nothing like being caught unprepared with small kids.

On the drive through Jersey my husband said to me, “Do you remember the last trip we took before kids? Remember how easy it was. Practically just get in the car and go.” It was our trip down to Cape May for a babymoon when I was about six months pregnant with Hannah. Since having kids, no trip is as care-free, but it’s also way more fun. Here are four of the biggest changes about taking trips with kids. If you’re pregnant and trying to decide what vehicle is going to best accommodate your family keep this list in mind.

1. Holy Clothes Batman – You have to pack clothes for warm weather, cold weather, sandals and sneakers, socks, underwear, t-shirts, and if you’re like us pajamas in case you’re going to be out late. For some reason my daughter simply can’t go to sleep in her clothes no matter how dead tired she is. There’s also outer wear like snow pants, jackets, boots, hats and gloves in the winter or bathing suits, towels, hats/sunglasses and of course sun block in the summer. Packing up for a day trip means packing half of your kids’ closets.

The kids loved the jumping pillow and water park at Jellystone Camp Ground. We were able to purchase a day pass because my husband's co-worker Davi was camping there and invited us for the day. Many thanks to Davi, Chris, Sadie and Mira for the awesome day.

The kids loved the jumping pillow at Jellystone Camp Ground. We were able to purchase a day pass because my husband’s co-worker Davi was camping there and invited us for the day. Many thanks to Davi, Chris, Sadie and Mira for the awesome time.

2. Baby Gear Galore – Packing for small children is one thing, but add a baby to the mix and I hope you have a mini-van, SUV or a mini bus. To go to the drive in we brought a pack n play, a mosquito net, extra baby blankets, and there is the ever present decision when you have to go somewhere – which stroller do we bring? There’s the snap n go which holds the car seat, the lightweight umbrella stroller or whichever stroller has the best wheels for the destination’s terrain. It also means always having the baby carrier in the car for when we go on hikes or to the beach where strollers were not meant to go. Now I’ve never had to bring bottles, formula or breast pumps on trips, but of course there is always diapers, wipes and sometimes swim diapers to pack. I imagine some moms might even want to bring the swing or jumperoo for young babies. Hope you have a LARGE trunk

3. Entertainment – I remember as a teenager wondering why my future sister-in-law would pack a small TV, VCR and VHS tapes on our trip down to North Carolina. This was pre-iPad days folks. Now I understand this fundamental truth – an entertained kid is a happy kid. Depending on the destination, you may want to bring toys for the beach, campground, etc. Then there’s the car ride. No entertainment in the car means a long ride filled with questions and complaining from your kids. They usually find tons to do once you arrive at your destination but packing toys, books and various electronic devices saves your sanity if not your space. I know some parents can’t go anywhere without packing their child’s security toy or blanket as well.

The water park at Jellystone was a big hit with the kids. It didn't matter that it wasn't actually hot out and the water was cold.

The water park at Jellystone was a big hit with the kids. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t actually hot out and the water was cold.

4. Can I have ANOTHER Snack? – If there is one thing I know for certain, it’s that my kids will ask for snacks constantly and being on the road with limited access and sometimes limited funds is not going to change that. I can’t even head off to church without packing sandwiches, snacks and water bottles and we’re talking about a 30 minute drive one way. Longer trips require more food. If you don’t pack it, chances are you’ll end up stopping along the way.

There may never be a way to simply get up and get out the door quickly again, but I don’t think trips were nearly as fun before kids. They bring an energy, joy and wonder to nearly every place you take them. I watched my son and daughter happily digging a hole in the sand for hours yesterday. I’ve also noticed that my husband and I are more likely to get up and play with them then taking a lounge by the pool approach to vacations. Kids make you want to explore the world and see things with the same fresh perspective they do. So pack up, my friend, from here on out it’s going to be a long, cramped and absolutely wonderful ride. If anyone out there can tell me when the packing gets lighter, do tell. Oh and don’t forget to pack the camera because childhood flies by way too quickly.

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