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Adventures/Travel, North Carolina Adventures, Out West

Using eBags on our Cross Country Trip

In just a few days, we set to drive to the Grand Canyon.  Thirty-one hours in a car if you don’t stop at all.  Clearly it will take this family of six a bit longer.

While in the western United States, we will also visit a host of other destinations including Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Arches National Park.

We will spend a total of 17 days on the road sleeping in different locations almost every night.  It is going to be a grand adventure for sure, but it has created a packing nightmare for this mom.

There are six of us in our family.  The thought of dragging six suitcases up and down every night to the various hotels is not a fun one, so I knew there had to be a better solution.  And I think I may have found it!

Enter: eBags Packing Cubes.

Quite possibly the most brilliant, simple idea when it comes to cross country travel.

Out of curiosity, I ordered the 3 piece set which includes three total packing cubes: one large (17.5 x 12.75 x 3.25), one medium (13.75 x 9.75 x 3), and one small (11 x 6.75 x 3).  I wanted to play around with them before ordering more.

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I began playing around with some thoughts based on the idea that I only want to take ONE small rolling suitcase into the hotel each night. This small suitcase would contain one pair of PJ’s for each person and toiletries.

Each member of our family would grab an outfit and put it in their backpack to bring to the hotel. Their hiking backpack could also transport iPods and such into the hotel.

What I needed was an easy way for each person in the family to grab their outfit for the day without digging through duffle bags in the parking lot of the hotel. This is where the eBags come in handy.

In the largest size eBag, I rolled up my”outfits for each day. Each roll consists of a T-shirt and undies. Every other day the outfit “roll” includes shorts because I plan to wear my shorts for two days in a row.

Beginning on the right, I have a shirt roll and then the next roll includes denim shorts. Then it is a roll without shorts and then one with.

Isn’t it lovely?

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Of course, if you are Type A like myself then this possibly looks heavenly and brilliant.

If you are Type B, then you might be hyperventilating or laughing. Either way. You can stop here if this just isn’t going to be your thing. It is OK. We can still be friends.  But you might want to pausing and consider the idea.  Maybe.

If you are my brother, then you are laughing and thinking, “This is SO Mary.”  You would be right.  It is.  And I do love it.

But if you are drooling over the time we will save when we don’t have to dig for clothing, then by all means stay with me while we continue through the rest of the bags.

The medium size bag will house two pairs of pants (wind pants and sweat pants) a hoodie or jacket, a second set of PJ’s, and any extra clothing (athletic shorts, sports bra, 2 tanks).  I don’t suspect we will need to wear pants whole lot in the west in June as the temperatures are showing in the 90’s.

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We each have a pair of wind pants that fit easily over our shorts so that we can layer.  While they don’t need to be in our daily outfit eBag, I do want them to be easily accessible.

Finally, the small ebag will contain socks for the week because there is no reason to have socks included in our daily outfit rolls.

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For the first few days of driving, we will wear flip flops or crocs everyday.  But even on days we wear our tennis/hiking shoes, I prefer everyone to leave them in the van each night and wear flip flops into the hotel.  Socks can be pulled out in the morning when we change into our shoes for the day.

All three eBags of clothing are ready to go. So neat and tidy.

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The eBags fit easily into my large duffle bag, keeping it organized so don’t spend time digging through clothing and messing up piles.

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Because I ordered the girls different color eBags, one of them can easily share this duffle with me because there is plenty of room!

The big test of the eBags was showing my plan to my husband last night.  I was sure  he would laugh at his crazy wife.

 Instead, he asked me to order him a set and a set for each child.

While I ordered a set for my girls (13 and 11) and my husband, the boys (6 and 9) will make do with a previously ordered set of three large eBags.

I  ordered these earlier this month because the larger size seemed very handy.

I plan to use two of them for the boys daily outfit rolls.  Then I will put their extra clothing on the bottom of their small duffle bags, and their socks will be in gallon size ziploc bag.

The additional large eBag will contain all of our bathing suits, goggles, and sunscreen.  When we are ready to swim in the hotel pool, one of us can simply go grab this bag and know that everything we need is in there.

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The next morning, assuming they dried overnight, the swim suits can be packed up OR hung up to dry in the van.

Of course, now it is time to pack up the kids and attempt to use this system successfully.  I think it is going to be great, but there is only one way to find out…try it.

Which we will do…in exactly THREE DAYS!

In the end, I have a feeling these eBags are going to be quite handy for all of our family travels and camping trips.

(NotBefore7 is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com)

Adventures/Travel, Homelife

Surprise!

(written on March 2, 2016)

I love surprises!

Surprising someone delights my heart.  I love the anticipation of the surprise as much as the big moment itself.  And as I write this, I am engaged in a full out “shocker” well under its way to fruition.

UntitledThe story:  I am headed to visit my parents in Florida.  They are well aware that I am coming for a few days with my kids.  They are under the impression that I will arrive on Friday and leave on Tuesday.

The Twist:  What my parents don’t know is that my sister is flying to visit me in Raleigh today (Wednesday).  We will have a whirlwind visit here in my home state before driving to Florida with the kids on THURSDAY, a day before my parents are expecting me and the kids.

They are not expecting us on Thursday.  They are not expecting my sister (from Michigan) at all!

I love this part.  I love plotting ways to throw them off the trail.  We are discussing all sorts of ways that we could greet them on Thursday evening.  We laugh about how mom will freak out that the house isn’t ready and the beds aren’t set up.  But we know that means we can help her do all that.  She won’t care, truly, but she’ll definitely have her moment of panic.

I’ve already messed up.  It is getting harder as the time draws near and I was drugged up on Benadryl when I mentioned something to my mom about Virginia, my sister, helping me make a salad for a family dinner in Florida.

“Virginia?” my mom asked.

Ugh.  I didn’t even recover from it well, but I tried my best in spite of my medicinal fog.

Thankfully my sister has taken to complaining about the finals she has all week as well as the excitement of a friend visiting her this weekend.  Our hope is that she threw my mom off the scent of uncovering her surprise.

Then there is the whole issue of social media.  We have to be SO CAREFUL for two more days.  No posting pictures for the world to see my sister hanging out with me in Raleigh.  I can not share my excitement of her being here with my family.  It’ll just be our secret.

But we can also use modern social media and technology to our advantage.  My sister has already taken a few shots of herself at home in Michigan to text my mom in the next two days.  She took typical ones of the dogs, chickens and her morning coffee time.  These are ones that haven’t been sent, so it will look like “business as usual” up north.

IMG_2903I will make sure to update my status on Facebook with some complaints about packing on Thursday, while in reality I will be on my way to Florida.  I will post a picture of the kids and I at Duck Donuts from today in a post tomorrow.  All of these tricks have worked well in the past when we have surprised my parents.

Deciding how to break the news:  Then there is the excitement of “how to shock them”.  Do we just knock on the door?

Do we text photos to them of us in their front yard?  And this year, I am considering doing a live periscope from their yard to see if my dad tunes in and gets a bit confused.

And then, once we have surprised them, there is the whole second surprise of Virginia being with us.

The planning, plotting and preparing involved in the prep work is definitely a big part of the excitement for me.  I love it.

But not all surprises go as planned….

(to be continued)