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Ready to hit the road with the kids for summer vacation?   First, here’s the PDF version of my Cooler Packing List.

First you need a good cooler.  The one I linked here is great because it is soft sided, has several pockets, plus two bigger openings.   I have an older version and  like it especially because I can fit a gallon of milk in the large opening . . .  and Luis drinks a lot of milk.

 But that large opening fits so much more!  

Here’s the essentials I add to keep my kids eating on the road:

  1.  Gallon plastic bag of ice on one end.
  2. Reusable ice packs for the other sides (like the ones you get in the hospital after delivering babies) + many coolers include them.  
  3. Any left-overs from previous days’ dinners.
  4. Any left over fruit so it won’t spoil in the house, like mandarin oranges, raspberries, strawberries, grapes.
  5. Yogurts for the kids. 

    The large opening before adding 6 chicken breasts for dinner. I had to reorganize a bit.

On the smaller side of the cooler, I don’t pack ice . . . I pack non-perishables:

  1.  A few more Kids Z Bars other than the ones in my purse.
  2. Fruit snacks
  3. Cereal in reusable container.
  4. The  Munchkin Cool Wrap Bottle Bag  I bought years ago that holds three bottles or two sippy cups and is much easier to carry around during day trips.  It’s like a small lunch bag.  This newer version also states that it carries up to 4 bottles.
  5. Paper plates
  6. Napkins
  7. Plastic utensils
  8. Plastic cups

You can use the paper plates, etc. for leftovers from restaurants too.  This way you  save money by NOT eating out for every meal.  This is also comforting to kids who after many days of vacation begin to boycott eating in restaurants because they miss home (making my husband and I realize when we were a little overzealous in our vacation planning). They are much happier to sit down in a hotel room eating left over pizza or macaroni and cheese in addition to all the fruit from home.  

So before booking a hotel, a  refrigerator in the room is a must in order to refreeze the ice packs and clean out the cooler each night.  

It’s also nice when the  hotel include a hot breakfast.   The hotel staff is usually happy to let us take some extra plastic cups, knives, forks, spoons, and straws to pack with us too.  

In a future post, I will highlight hotel selection, but needless to say, this cooler and its contents (which we needed to refill at times) make our vacation much easier.  

When I was talking with a co-worker about the boys refusing to eat in restaurants, she asked me if it bothered me that they were only snacking, to which I said no.  Their snacking was mostly healthy and kids will eat if they are hungry, eventually.  So no amount of pressure or worry or prodding will help, but a cooler will.

 

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