Packing for a week long family trip is kind of like packing for the end of the world. Every item has to be considered with the utmost care. Clothing has to be carefully chosen to be comfortable, presentable, and weather appropriate. Space is limited. And when there are two adults and two kids this is a painfully agonizing fact to work with.
In addition to what must be taken to ensure that everyone is clothed with hygiene gear, there is the entertainment while the drive takes place, what must be taken as gifts (if you are visiting family) and still keeping in mind that there will be things coming back with you that you didn’t take because of gifts you receive and souvenirs.
If packing for a road trip and week stay with family is like packing for the end of the world, then hosting family is like stockpiling the bunker. There must be enough food for everyone. Don’t forget the towels and bedding. And again with the entertainment.
OK, so that is mostly just my family, but everyone goes through some version of this. Whether you are the host or the guest there are things that would make it easier on everyone. I tend to take the approach of courtesy and preparation. Basically it goes like this, I don’t assume anything will be provided for me as a guest so I take what I think I will need and anything I want. This takes the burden off of my host, and makes me more appreciative of what they do provide. When I’m the host I hope my guests bring what they want and need, but I try to prepare for the fact that they may not.
There are four key items to consider for guests and hosts. (Keep in mind that this is only my perspective. Manners and upbringing may dictate something different to you.)
- Food: Hosts should only be expected to provide the basics, such as meals. Snacks I tend to think of as more of a guest responsibility, especially if you want more than popcorn.
- Bedding: It is wise to bring a blanket per person and to provide one per guest. This ensures that there are enough for everyone, and that the cold natured individuals are covered.
- Hygiene: Towels should be treated like the blankets. Bring one per person and provide one per guest. If you forget your shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, and soap be prepared to share or buy new ones. (Every household has a bottle of shampoo and tube of toothpaste large enough to pass around. Individual bottles are a luxury, not necessity.)
- Entertainment: This is the area of most contention. Now the idea that your family has lots to talk about is great, but children get restless. With the advent of personal music devices and travel DVD players many people are taken care of in their own way. It is still a good idea to have a deck of cards and boardgames. Some boardgames are even magnetic for those road trips. It is also a good idea to make sure there is a safe place for the kids to free range (backyard, park, etc.).
If I sat down to really think about it, I’m sure I could write a book on this. Probably wouldn’t be a bad idea, but mostly I only have my perspective. Feel free to share any ideas you have. I’m always looking for ways to make things better for everyone.