Traveling with four little ones under age 5 required a bit of creative thinking to make it (as much as possible) FUN and something great memories were made of! Here's a few ideas of how to stay organized while doing it.
This is my 4-year-old's backpack: coloring books, games, water paint book, potato head and pieces, color-magic markers, toys, snacks, juice box, card games, books & more.
1. Individual FUN bags/backpacks for each kid. I purchased 4 little backpacks (I got them on sale for $5/each) and filled them with special toys and activities that child enjoys. I store these in the van at all times (see below) and they come in handy if we make a spontaneous visit to someone's home (like Great Grandma) that doesn't have much kid-friendly stuff (she doesn't enjoy them playing with her good china I guess!). When we travel, it's perfect once we get to the hotel and also comes in handy if the trip gets long for in the car!
Fun backpacks on the move!
2. The "snack dilemna" required some fresh ideas. When I packed snacks for everyone for a trip, it seemed we ran out of the things certain kids liked and usually didn't have enough to last us through the trip. I found these insulated cooler/lunch bags at Target (on clearance for $3/each!) and the problem is solved!
Each kid fills their own thermos and selects their fave snacks to fill their lunch bags with for the trip (with some mom-approved, healthy snacks thrown in too!). They keep the coolers with them (no more, "Moooommm, I'm hungry...again!" from the backseat every hour while I toss food to them). They can snack along the way and have their favorite snacks leftover for our entire trip.
3. A friend shared this idea with me and I'm a believer! When it's time to pack clothes for the trip, the kids help me select the outfits they'll need then we make "travel rolls"...a pair of pants, a shirt, underwear and socks all rolled up and kept together with a rubberband. I toss all these "travel rolls" in their bag and every day we're away, they just pull out a bundle and get themselves dressed. No more searching for the needed underwear or missing tops in a suitcase anymore!
All the clothes are ready to roll, literally...!
One travel roll ready to pack (made by the kids!)
*Sometimes I add a pair of pajamas for the day in their rolls too.