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Cross country in a Prius... what to pack, what NOT to pack

Rochester, New York
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Cross country in a Prius... what to pack, what NOT to pack

Hey there !

I am road trippin' to South Dakota and back this summer, 3 weeks, with a 10 and 9 year old (I am either crazy or fabulous.. LOL)

This is being done in a Prius... We will be staying in a hotel for a bit, but mostly cabins in State Parks, where I need to pack bedding etc.

So before I pack like crazy and can't fit my children, what are some things you think are must haves, and what should I not bother with..

I am struggling with the amounts... we can obviously find laundry.. so how much of what ???

Thanks !

Lewes, United...
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1. Re: Cross country in a Prius... what to pack, what NOT to pack

Well, this is certainly an unusual enquiry for this forum.

Without thinking too hard about it, off the top of my head, here are a few ideas to get you started.

I'd have thought what you packed was rather personal, myself, but in terms of general practical stuff for being on the road for some time, it rather depends on your day to day travel style.

Of course you need the type of clothing for what you plan to do, but rather than take a whole load, take layers which can be added when it gets cold. Also, if you colour coordinate stuff so most things go with each other, you don't need umpteen sets of clothes. Take casual stuff which can be dressed up with just a scarf, say, for an evening somewhere smart.

Sleeping bags with liners take up less space that regular bedding. Some cabins provide linens and towels anyway, but you need to check.

If you are on a tight budget or plan to try and avoid eating too often in restaurants of any kind, then you'll need a cooler and some basics for making your own picnics like plastic or disposable plates, cups, bowls, flatware. A roll of kitchen paper towel and a sharp knife, can opener, a handful of ziplock bags of different sizes, etc. If your kids are fussy, then take their favourite cereals (which work well as snacks at any time of day, anyway) and other favourite items. Don't forget matches or a cigarette lighter if you're camping, and always take a flashlight or two. We always have a pack of moist wipes for mopping up spills in the car or for swabbing down dirty picnic tables at roadside stops - great for sticky fingers at any time, too.

Take your own laundry products, decanted into smaller, non-spill containers if you will use laundromats as you go. Cheaper and means you know the product.

If your kids are going to be active and accident prone, you might want to take a first aid kit with plenty of bandaids. Just collect a few items from your stocks at home, pop them in a ziplock and keep them somewhere handy rather than taking a whole load of packages.

Take stuff that will definitely get used out of it's original packaging or boxes and store all together in trash bags which squash down more easily - but you might want to label stuff if you can't see inside. Clothes travel more compactly when rolled and packed in soft sided luggage or sports equipment bags than hard sided suitcases. And share bags rather than one kid having a bag to him/herself with only a few items.

Again, share toiletries - just one bottle of shampoo for the whole family, one tube of toothpaste - you get the idea.

That should get you thinking,

SWT

Atlanta, Georgia
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2. Re: Cross country in a Prius... what to pack, what NOT to pack

Great ideas from SWT. When doing a road trip a cooler is a must!!! I also agree that sleeping bags are better than taking all the linens, etc.

western WA
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3. Re: Cross country in a Prius... what to pack, what NOT to pack

Very fun trip! I vote for Fabulous.

I agree with the above suggestions, though as a native of the mountain west with forbears throughout SD, MN and WI, I believe you could probably leave the scarf at home (though it certainly won't take up much space). You probably won't have much call to smarten up, though it is a great idea for other parts of the world! Layering is the way to go.

I have never used a sleeping bag liner, myself, but definitely bring bags instead of blankets. If you're really short on space, which you will likely be, bring pillowcases and just put your polarfleece jacket inside it for a pillow.

Bring a Frisbee or softball to play with and some small craft supplies for when you have a day in camp. Rexlace for making keychains is a classic. Klutz press has a lot of ideas on this. Painting rocks is another one.

Get some great audio books. I highly recommend anything read by Jim Weiss, any of the Hank the Cowdog series, the original Brian Regan comedy CD, Greek Mythology read by Paul Newman et al, Odds Bodkin if you like old tales, the Hobbit or Watership Down. These are great for all ages and the miles will fly by. (Remember to check your gas gauge!). I don't let the kids plug into the headphones all day because then they don't even look out the window. One of the points of going on a road trip is those great discussions about the nature of things, after all. Don't plan on downloading these as you go, because you likely won't have internet after Sioux Falls while on the road.

USA
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4. Re: Cross country in a Prius... what to pack, what NOT to pack

All of the state park and USFS cabins in which we have stayed have been very rustic with wooden bunks, rustic table with benches and woodstove only.

Will the ones you are reserving have mattresses & cooking stoves? Dishes? Pots?

I have always stayed in ones where I have to bring all of that.

I have needed a backpacking thermarest, although a foam backpacking pad will do in lieu of a mattress.

We often just bring a cooler & do sandwiches, cold cereals & fruits, although we need our tiny backpacking stove, canister & pot for morning coffee!

I'd love to hear about the state park cabins across the mid-west!

US
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5. Re: Cross country in a Prius... what to pack, what NOT to pack

For cabins or camping, I bring a small inexpensive lightweight vinyl tablecloth to cover a picnic table. It can double as a ground cloth for a roadside picnic.

If you think you may be cooking on the outdoor grills, think about what you will need for that--aluminum foil, oven mitt and spatula. You can buy charcoal briquettes when you get there. Charcoal briquettes are also very handy in starting a campfire--not everyone is born a boy scout!

IMHO, I would give each child his own lightweight sports bag for his clothing. Kids will need their own little bit of space on a three week trip. I would also give each child his own flashlight to be responsible for.

Rochester, New York
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6. Re: Cross country in a Prius... what to pack, what NOT to pack

Thank you so much for the suggestions ! I am really excited about this trip. I have heard amazing things about the scenery and camping in the middle of the country... so it will be a great experience for us.

The cabins DO have mattresses but no cooking utensils, so sleeping bags and some cookware will def be added. I am getting conflicting stuff about campfires being allowed, so I am not that clear on if we will be grilling or not. But better to be safe than sorry.

Luckily we will be traveling across the US, so if I forget something, I am sure I can hit the neighborhood walmart that seems to be a stones throw from anywhere. :)

US
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7. Re: Cross country in a Prius... what to pack, what NOT to pack

Make sure and bring some kind of waterproof footwear--even if it is inexpensive galoshes. That way, you can ensure that it will never rain the whole three weeks. :)

Do bring one good non-stick skillet, one medium sized sauce pan and one good knife. I assume you will drink instant coffee but if you are a coffee lover, bring a small French press. Great coffee!

Usually, a campfire is allowed only if there is a fire ring. Many of the state park cabins have outdoor grills. Each park is different.

Bring a loud whistle(s).

Edited: 05 March 2013, 20:59
western WA
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8. Re: Cross country in a Prius... what to pack, what NOT to pack

Well, it is VERY unlikely to rain in South Dakota. But it could rain on the way there in Minnesota or Iowa!

I travel with a small electric cooler because it makes life a lot easier. I have an inverter in the car to plug it in. Mine is made by Igloo. I also use a deep electric kettle made by rival I think. They sell it on Amazon. I can use it to boil water, heat soup, make spaghetti or grill sandwiches. Bring an extension cord, too. If you're staying in cabins, you'll probably have electricity.

Cooking on an open fire is good for fun, but not for every day. It is kind of a fun project thing to do when you have a day in camp. Roasting potatoes in foil, chicken cacciatore in foil, biscuits in foil (do you see a theme?) are all good but results can be erratic, especially when kids cook them. If you want to get serious about it borrow a three legged dutch oven from somebody. That is a particularly reliable way to cook with coals from an open fire.

US
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9. Re: Cross country in a Prius... what to pack, what NOT to pack

Travelin, I am going to ask an obvious question, but I would be remiss not to ask.

Have you already made reservations for the state park cabins? Some of them book months and months ahead of time--no exaggeration.

Cleveland
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10. Re: Cross country in a Prius... what to pack, what NOT to pack

You often need reservations for state parks well in advance. They are popular destinations, especially on weekends.

Have you decided whether you are taking the northern route through Ontario and upper Michigan? If so, you'll need passports. Will you be traveling the southern route through Ohio?

There's a reportedly good hostel in downtown Cleveland. Check budget hotels. Cleveland has some good attractions for children. If interested, check the Ohio forum. There are some recent threads on the topic

You might want to check out The Henry Ford in Dearborn, MI.

Here's a travel article describing many other attractions in northern Ohio.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g50207-s407/Cleveland…

ohiodnr.com/parks-blog/…

Edited: 05 March 2013, 23:31