Posted by: randommisfires | January 19, 2010


Spent a lot of last night thinking.

Thinking about the chaos I still have to tame with the house and the packing.

Thinking about stuff for work that I need to get organized and under control.

But mostly, thinking about the trip.  THE TRIP. It deserves all caps.

I’m going to load 5 kids into my van and drive around the US.  While trying to work full time.  With a chronic painful illness.  I’m wondering why no one has institutionalized me yet.

My kids will probably have to learn to change flat tires. They’re certainly going to figure out how to set up and tear down camp in a hurry.  I’m guessing they’ll get good at lighting camp fires and cooking eggs and maybe even scrubbing dishes.  Maybe.  I’m sure I have no idea what they’ll learn as we wander the US.  They’ll probably figure out really fast that Mom should not drink diet Mtn Dew unless everyone wants to stop every hour for pee breaks.

The two oldest will learn to drive.  Not long highway stretches, but certainly around the smaller towns.

And then my thinking turned to logistics.  What do we need?

  • A roof carrier that’s easy to get in and out of and fairly large.
  • Sleeping bags.
  • Tents
  • Good sleeping mats.
  • Camping cookware.  Not necessarily of the hard to clean cast iron variety.
  • Camp stove
  • A small cooler for when we’re staying in an area a while.
  • Towels and dish cloths.
  • Clothes line and clothes pins

If it were you, aside from personal items and toiletries, what things would you want to have a long on a journey such as this?



  1. Entertainment! But you may want it to be educational also. There’s a series of books titled “Roadside Geology of “. Combine with a geology text and a couple of rock hammers, and collect samples. Similarly have bird, plant, and other identification books, and keep lists of what you see. (What they see – you may not care 🙂 Plants can be pressed and preserved – a simple flower press and scrap books plus scrap-booking supplies.

    Creature comforts. For me that would be a supply of novels, plenty of music, and a good pillow.

    A video camera and a tape or memory card for each of you. Everyone maintains their own video diary.

    I’ve never done more than three weeks of this kind of trip. Frankly, I don’t remember ever missing any “thing” that much.

  2. We love books on tape. If you are going to have an internet connection, then perhaps a subscription to something like might work. They also have Check with your library to see if they have mp3 downloads for free through your library system. Ours uses WILBOR. We listen to a LOT of books on tape when we’re doing lots of driving and camping. Last year we spent about 2 weeks in SD camping. It rained *every* day so being able to listen saved all our sanity. We also brought board games and decks of cards with a card rule book (perfect time to learn a new game or referee a current one).

    Outdoor games such as bocce ball, frisbee, soccer ball, etc.

    Something else we’ve now started taking on our camping trips is bikes. It is so nice to even just have a bike in camp so a trip to the bathroom doesn’t seem to onerous. Plus there are some great trails out there.

    Handheld GPS unit for geocaching. Go to and search for caches in your area. We have done a LOT of geocaching when we camp and it’s one of the kids favorite things to do. We get some hiking in, see sights we likely wouldn’t have seen otherwise and it adds some excitement into the day. Lots of educational value as well. There are virtual and geological caches throughout the country.

    We had a bunch of MRE (military meals ready to eat) and while I didn’t appreciate the taste much, it was wonderful to have something warm when I just couldn’t bring myself to go through the production of cooking. The kids loved opening them up to see what surprises lay inside. They have the *cutest* little bottles of Tabasco sauce, by the way and in case you’re interested.

    Have a GREAT time and take a deep breath. Be flexible. Learn lots and love each other. Adele

  3. a nanny.

  4. Some great ideas already. I would say an iPhone. I don’t have one, but my sister-in-law does. When we travel with her it is GREAT to be able to automatically look things up as SOON as you come up with a question!

    I would also, of course, want my camera and laptop so I could take photos and post on my blog. 🙂

  5. Good luck, fair weather and satellite radio.

    If the kids are restless, gin should sort em.

  6. Someone also just suggested a good swiss army knife, which reminded me I should probably have some other multi-purpose tools as well.

    I’m starting to get excited!

  7. e-readers – so you can have as many books as you want without having them take up space and weigh down the van. Or, the kindle app on the iPhone/iPod touch would work.

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