Road Trip Packing :: Lessons in Space


Traveling from South Carolina to Texas with an 8-month-old and a 3-year-old is daunting enough, but when you’re a Prius driver, things get trickier. I made the upgrade to the Prius V last year, but compared to popular mommy-mobiles, there is one thing I am still missing – SPACE. Looking at our mountain of stuff compared to our efficient car, it was clear we needed more room.

While cramming and packing, and unpacking and repacking, a more surprising thing became apparent, space is the very thing we need to create in our lives. While getting everything we need in the Prius wasn’t easy, the experience taught me three valuable lessons about making space in life.

Road Trip Car
Car and threenager all packed in for our trip to Texas.

Start Big

The things that take up the most space must be handled first. This involves suitcases, pack n’ plays, etc. Tackling the big stuff first maximizes space, although arranging everything reminds me of playing Tetris. No matter how good I am at configuring shapes, some things just won’t fit.

Handling the big things means deciding what is truly needed and what can be left behind. Do I really need to pack the portable walker? My family will be visiting new places that may not be baby-proof, but we have our Tula. More than likely the walker will sit unused taking up valuable space. While the walker got left behind, not everything can be given up so completely. Many things can be condensed rather than discarded.

All too often we carry the baggage of past hurt. This takes up space in our heads, hearts, and lives.

Maybe swap the suitcase for a duffel, or a duffel for a tote, or a tote for a handbag. As we meet our big stuff head-on, we find we can allow it become smaller, and smaller. And, perhaps, like the walker, we find it is something we don’t need at all.

Prioritize the Essentials

When traveling with kids, it’s important to keep certain things within reach. For me these things are: diaper bag, toys, pacis, cooler with snacks and drinks, blankets and my purse. Some of these are small, and some are big, but I prioritize the space I give each of them. When my son cries, I can instantly put my hands on a toy or paci. I can grasp a solution, rather than feeling stressed or helpless.

This got me thinking, what things need to be prioritized in me? What truths, feelings, memories should I give purposeful space so I have them at hand in stressful times?

Whether it’s a personal motto, mantra, affirmation, memory, lesson, or a goal, we should be able to default to a guiding priority. Anger, frustration, jealousy, mistrust – too often we give these emotions and feelings prioritized space. They are within reach, and become the first things we grab. Don’t prioritize the things that aren’t helping you grow. Leave them on the driveway, and fill your cup holder with love instead.

Stuff it Full

This the fun part of packing; where I take the little stuff and find all the small crevices and hidey holes.

Spare tire holder … yep, there is space there.

Floorboards under the car seats … tons of space!

Move Hadley’s car seat to the middle seat … bam, I can fold the seat down!

Center consoles, glove boxes, unused cup holders … there is always more space if you look for it.

Any parent already knows this to be true. Even when our hearts feel so full of love, we have another child and magically there is MORE SPACE. Life can feel overwhelming at times, as if we can’t possibly take on another thing, as if we don’t have anymore space. But there is always room in the heart.

Opening the heart, like a 20 hour road trip, can be scary. Allowing people, experiences and life in is always a gamble. Maybe it won’t all fit after all – but it will, it does, there is space for what matters. Leave the baggage, embrace the love, and stuff your life full like a Prius on family vacation. 

The experience of packing my Prius for a family of four’s week long road trip reminded of the rock, gravel, sand demonstration. If we leave the big stuff for last (rocks), then we have less room in our lives for little joys and new experiences (sand and gravel). If we handle the big stuff first, we will find we always have space for the new, and our happiest moments, our most positive thoughts, will be the ones easiest for us to reach.

Rock, Gravel, SandSo as you move through your day-to-day life, or pack for an upcoming trip, I encourage you to find more space. I promise it is there, and your life will be much more fulfilled after finding it.

How do you find more space in your life?


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