Adventure Van! How I Organize it for Life on the Go

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We recently made the decision to get a minivan. I love the extra space, the independence it gives the kids to get in and out on their own, and the mileage (it’s a plug-in hybrid). Unfortunately, while the back row does fold down for extra storage space, the regular trunk space is actually narrower than in my old Prius, so I have to be more intentional about organization. So without further ado, here’s what I keep in there so we’re always prepared for an unplanned adventure.

Adventure Supplies

  • Our Nature Exploration Bag, which you can read about in more detail here. We’ve used this when we decide to go straight from classes to the beach or on a hike. It’s also great for a break on longer drives- we’ve been known to pull over to check out a cool stream, or, once, surprise snow we encountered driving home from Los Angeles. It also makes planned nature activities easier, because I know I already have most things I need in the car.
  • An old diaper bag. My kids are potty trained, but this bag is great because, like the Nature Exploration Bag, I can hang it to make use of the van’s vertical storage capacity. Here’s what’s inside:
    • My youngest still wears a pull up at night. Sometimes we’re out later than expected, so I carry a couple pull-ups, plus pajamas, in case she passes out on the way home.
    • A fold up travel potty, because sometimes you’re too far from a bathroom for little bladders!
    • Extra clothes for everyone (myself included). We wade into lakes. We hike through the mud. We’ve been known to take an unplanned dip in the ocean. I could say no to this stuff and be zero fun, or I could just keep a quick change for everyone. I keep each person’s extra clothes in a zip lock bag that the wet/dirty clothes can go in to keep the mess contained.
    • Compostable wipes, for the aforementioned muddy adventures.
  • Waterproof bag of park toys, and a waterproof fold up picnic blanket, for park trips.
  • A box of non-perishable snacks and water. I liked to use boxed water so I don’t have to worry about plastic bottles leaching chemicals into water my family is going to drink.
  • Cooler bag, in case I swing by the store and need to keep things cold.
  • And…

The Hippo Tote

The stuff in here rotates seasonally- heavy coats in winter, swimsuits in summer. But there are a few things I always keep in here:

  • Art supplies in a travel case. Great for when you have to wait around, or for when my 6 year old sees something she wants to draw.
  • A couple beach towels. Great for cleaning up messy kids, sitting on, or drying dew off slides and swings during morning trips to the park.
  • Hats- sun hats or beanies, depending on the weather.
  • An umbrella and fold up rain jackets, for me and the kids.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Sea-bands, in case someone feels car sick.

Honestly, a lot of random crap ends up in here too. But better contained in a bag than all over the car’s floor- that’s where I keep my Craisins…

I was going to get my car cleaned before taking pictures for the post, but come on, you know what a mom’s car looks like

Safety Supplies

I watch too much a lot of “Doomsday Preppers.” I also live in California. That combo means I’m expecting a giant earthquake any minute now, at which point my family will have to traverse the apocalyptic wasteland in our Chrysler Pacifica. So I keep an earthquake kit in my car. I’m too lazy to make my own, so I bought this one.

I also have a roadside kit, tire patch/inflation kit, and a first aid kit.

Looking Good

I keep a brush, hand lotion, and like 9 lipstick colors in the center console in the front. Because if I’m jumping in a lake to get an algae sample for my kid’s microscope slide, you better believe I’m doing it with a bold lip.

I get sample palettes for free instead of buying lipsticks I’ll never use up

A Note on Screens

Originally we didn’t want screens in our van, but they were included with the package we wanted. It turns out we love them! We made it clear to the kids that we only use them when the drive will be more than an hour long. We only use them for DVDs, not streaming, so I have full control over what the kids watch on them. So far we have used car screen time to work on our Spanish.

For more guidance on screens, check out my other blog, Conscious Screen Time.

What are your must-haves in your car?

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