“Mom, you’re bringing too much stuff.”
That’s what my 17-year old said to me when he saw the two large tote bags filled with snacks, first aid supplies, medications, and cleaning supplies sitting by the door to be packed for our three-day trip to a cabin in Arkansas.
If I wasn’t already an overpacker and overplanner, taking a family trip in the age of COVID-19 totally would have made me one. But I admit it. I’ve always been this way. It comes with the territory when you battle anxiety and your mind is constantly filled with “what ifs.” And…over these many years as a wife and mother, and from experience gained traveling with girlfriends, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected and always be prepared.
When we had to stop at a hotel at the midpoint of our journey, it was great having disinfectant wipes and disinfectant spray to wipe down and sanitize our hotel room as best I could. The multiple bottles of hand sanitizer and extra masks came in handy at the multiple pit stops required along the way. Of course, I anticipated those needs. It was the random stuff I packed for the unexpected events that really came in handy.
Two bags of snacks that included Smartfood popcorn, Cheez-Its, fruit, crackers, plantain chips, beef jerky, Diet Cokes, and bottled water came in handy when we arrived at our AirBnB after eight hours of driving only to discover the closest grocery store was 30 minutes away. It bought me some time for everyone to rest and let me discover the fact that I had not packed too much stuff, but had, in fact, not packed enough. As it turns out, my instinct to bring olive oil, paper towels, and a few basic spices had been a good one. Unfortunately, I ignored it because I didn’t think we’d have enough room for one more bag. When I started looking through the cabinets of our rental and found only salt and the half-roll of paper towels on the counter, I knew I had failed in my role as the Boy Scout of trip planners.
Thankfully, though, I listened to my gut when she told me to bring half of Walgreen’s with me. Band-Aids and Neosporin are staples of the mom travel first aid kit. And most of moms don’t go anywhere this time of year without sunscreen and insect repellent, so I was prepared with at least two different kinds of each. This time, I enhanced my first aid trip supplies with allergy medicine (mostly for me since the Saharan Dust Storm of 2020 has done a number on me); eucalyptus nasal spray; two albuterol inhalers (in case one runs out); Tylenol and Advil; Meclizine for motion sickness and vertigo which I recently began to experience; and Zofran, a prescription drug prescribed to reduce nausea and vomiting. This supply was left from last winter’s bout of stomach bugs. When I packed it, I even asked myself why, but something said, “you never know,” so in my overstuffed Mary Poppins bag it went.
The bandages and antiseptic ointment came into play not long into our trip when I cut my finger on a restroom door. And the first night itchy eyes and a sinus headache made the allergy meds the star player. But honestly, I might have been as surprised as anyone that the nausea medicine I packed on a whim came into play today when my 13-year old began throwing up after eating a chocolate bar and getting overheated on a hike, and then continued throwing up after we got home and put him in a cold shower to cool down. Even after being in the AC and having some water and the cool shower, my sweet boy threw up again, so out came the Zofran and a cold compress and finally he started to feel better.
The big takeaway from this for me is that it may seem like I’m overpacking and bringing too much stuff to someone who doesn’t have to handle the challenges – both anticipated and out of the blue – that life can throw at you. Experience has taught me better and this trip reaffirmed my belief that you can never be over prepared when it comes to taking care of your family. My kids and husband can tease and moan that I’m bringing too much, but when they need it, I’ll have that kitchen sink at the ready.