What to Pack on a Seven Week Road Trip – Part 2

Today is the day – June 27, 2016! We take off on Stage 2 of our National Park to Park Highway Tour as soon as the Ultimate Adventure Vehicle has all our bags and supplies safely strapped inside.

Anyone who has moved or packed for a long road trip knows how many times you ask yourself “Do we have everything?” That’s been my mantra over the last few days as I’ve made lists, washed clothes, found gear and put everything in its place. I talked about what clothes we’ll have on the trip in a previous post, but now it’s time to talk about the gear we’ll bring. Here are a few of our essentials.


The plan is to sleep inside the Ultimate Adventure Vehicle. We’ve converted the back of our truck into a storage/sleeping haven with a Decked Truck Bed Organizer to hold all of our gear and a Sam T Evans truck cap for protection.

Sleeping pads include a Lightspeed Air Mattress and Foam Topper. The tots each have a Klymit Static V Junior Sleeping Pad that Big E and Little G will use on the bench seats of the truck or in their Lucky Bums Pop-Up Tent. Baby L will sleep with her Klymit Static V Junior Sleeping Pad and KidCo PeaPod on the tailgate, or in bear country inside the truck cap with us.

In addition to the truck for sleeping we brought a Tripod Quick Canopy shade shelter to set up at the campsite.

Food Prep

Since Big E has food allergies, we can’t rely on eating out all the time on this trip. For cooking we’ll be using a BioLite Wood Burning Campstove that has the capacity to charge electronics while you use it. It’s pretty cool. 

We’ll also have an Innobaby Aquaheat Food Warmer for quick, flameless heating. I had never something like this before –  you have to check it out. Just set a heat pack in the bottom, add water and a reaction puts off so much heat through the stainless steel container that you can boil pasta. Seriously, I made macaroni and cheese at a park picnic table. It’s awesome for heating up leftovers and great for Big E since he can’t have the kid’s picnic staple PB&J. If you can’t have sandwiches what do you eat? With the Innobaby Aquaheat Food Warmer we can make him anything.

For dishes we’ll break out the Sea to Summit X-Pot, Pan & Kettle, Mugs and Bowls. These are the cool collapsibles pack down tight to save room in packing. Our pantry is tucked inside our Decked Bed Organizer and the cooler will ride on top.

First Aid

On our Stage 1 Dry Run Campout we got out our LifelineTrail Light 5 First Aid Kit every single day. Between getting medicine for a headache and bandaids for the many scrapes my kids got, I’m glad we had a good kit. I’m glad to have the Lifeline Emergency Truck Kit for emergencies too.


The point of this road trip is not just to visit the National Parks along the National Park to Park Highway route. It’s also to enjoy them. We’re excited to get our kids on their Woom Bikes and ride with Baby L in the Burley D’Lite while we explore the National Parks. The Burley D’Lite Bike Trailer is one tough trailer, doubling as a stroller that was capable of doing some off-roading back in Zion.

Woom Bikes with their lightweight, well designed frame have been perfect for our kids learning to ride. Big E loves his WOOM 4 with the eight gear twist shifter. He’s taken off as a riding pro now. Little G is a little more tentative on her WOOM 3.

We’ll also have our old model Kelty Pathfinder Child Carrier hiking pack to make exploring off the pavement possible. Try walking more than ten minutes while holding an almost toddler and your arm muscles will explain just how essential a good kid pack is on outdoor adventures.

With all of the planning, packing and preparing I really hope we haven’t forgotten anything. I’m ready to get on the road and see the National Parks in this Centennial year. I hope you all have a chance to get out and have an adventure this year too. If you do, tell me about it on instagram, facebook or twitter.

This post includes affiliate links. I receive a small commission if you purchase something by clicking through these links. Thank you to YakimaBurley, Woom Bikes and all of our 2016 National 

Park to Park Highway Tour Sponsors.

Ultimate Adventure Vehicle on the National Park to Park Highway

We are so pumped to take off on Stage 2 of our National Park to Park Highway Tour in just a few days! Today I’m giving you a tour of the Ultimate Adventure Vehicle we’ve created thanks to some help from some of our sponsors. But before we get to that it’s time for a history lesson.

On the 1920 inaugural tour of the National Park to Park Highway, not all of the vehicles were thin wheeled automobiles. One vehicle stood out from the others as bigger and stronger, yet understated.

The White Truck.

The name may not be that original, and compared to modern day pickups it might be better described as a covered wagon on wheels, but the 15-45 model truck was essential to the success of the group.

Here’s what some of the tour members said about it.

“The duties imposed upon the one, model 15-45 White truck on this tour, have been numerous, varied and strange. It has at once been baggage wagon, music hall, rescue car, fruit truck and passenger train. Through the trip it has accommodated the wardrobe of the entire party. At intervals of merriment the electric-bell piano, with which it is equipped, has been worked overtime.” San Francisco Chronicle, October 10, 1920

“No other truck, perhaps, could as well have served as big brother or guardian as the White, for its mates by the hundreds are being used in these selfsame parks.” The Morning Oregonian (Portland), October 24, 1920

“The White, model 15-45, used by us on the National Park-to-Park Highway Association’s official journey has been a jack of all trades. Whenever any one of the dozen or more touring cars in our caravan gets stuck in the mud, or caught on a snag of the Sierra, we S.O.S. to our White truck to come and pull us out or off. This it has always done Obediently.” Milton Lusk, San Francisco Chronicle, October 10, 1920

We think it’s fitting that our National Park to Park Highway vehicle is also a White Truck. In fact, it may be the perfect vehicle for any adventure. Check out this video for a tour:

Features we love:

  • Yakima SwingDaddy bike rack allows access to the back of the truck without having to unload our Woom bikes.
  • Decked drawer system keeps our camping supplies organized and provides a sturdy sleeping platform
  • Leer DCC Commercial Truck Top from Sam T Evans allows for ventilation, storage, headroom and more. 
  • Yakima LoadWarrior basket will allow us to store our Burley D’lite Bike Trailer.

This post includes affiliate links. I receive a small commission if you purchase something by clicking through these links. Thank you to our 2016 National Park to Park Highway Tour sponsors, several of whom are listed here. Check out our Sponsors page for more info about them.

The Best Waterside Campgrounds in North America

My tots aren’t as excited about hiking and biking as I am, so when we go camping we make sure to spend some time at the campsite just hanging out. While s’mores and ghost stories are great for nighttime entertainment, the one thing we love to do during the day is play in water.

That’s where choosing the best campsite is key. Whenever we go camping (or hiking) we try to find a river, lake or stream to entertain the kids. It’s great to play in, can cool off a hot day, and is a source for drinking water when filtered. It’s even better when that water is right by your campsite!

That’s why we’ve teamed up with some great outdoor family bloggers to share the best waterside campgrounds in North America. I listed some of my favorite camping spots near water, including some Oceanside jewels that have been some of the best family vacations we’ve ever had.

Leo Carrillo State Beach, California – The campsite is a short walk to the beach.

Carpinteria State Beach, California – The tide pools are absolutely amazing!

Payson Lakes, Utah – This spot is popular with campers and fishermen. Up in the mountains, surrounded by pine trees, it’s a lovely place and fun to swim in.

Tony Grove, Logan Canyon, Utah – This alpine campground has amazing wildflowers in June.

Primrose Campground, Kenai Preninsula, Alaska – This campground is on the border of Kenai Lake, with a stream running beside it. Best of both.

Black Ridge Reservoir, Utah – This isn’t a campground, but still a great place to play in the water.

Green River, Dinosaur National Monument, Utah – This campground has a great view of a canyon wall. Even if you don’t camp there it’s worth going to play in the river.

Preston Valley and Guinavah-Malibu Campgrounds, Logan Canyon, Utah – There are several campgrounds along the Logan River on this National Scenic Byway.

Exit Glacier Campground, Glacier National Park, Alaska – This was one of the coolest campsites I’ve been to since it was a hike in tent site with a glacier fed river nearby.

One dream vacation I have is to rent a house boat and live on the water for a week at Lake Powell or Lake Tahoe. I’m waiting until my kids can all swim for that one.

These campgrounds are our family faves, but there are so many other great ones to explore. Whether you’re by an ocean, lake, river or stream there’s lots of fun to be had camping by water. Check out these reviews and please comment below – where are your favorite places to stay near water?

Mommy Hiker: Find Your Inner Glamper at Santa Barbara’s El Capitan Canyon

Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockes: The 5 Best Waterside Campgrounds Near Calgary, Alberta

Chasqui Mom: Family Approved: Best Waterside Campgrounds

Play Outside Guide: Vanvouver Island’s Best Seaside Campgrounds for Families

Kid Project: Camping and Swimming at Sand Hollow State Park UT

Baby Safety On and Off the Campsite

Camping with a baby is tough. When they’re little lumps who sit happily on a picnic blanket it’s easy. Now that Baby L has opinions on where she sits, what she eats, what she plays with, who picks her up, and everything else it’s hard.

She’s at an awkward stage. At 15 months old, but not quite walking, she is literally in the dirt on every camping trip. What’s more, she’s a great climber and crawler which means I have to constantly make sure she hasn’t gotten into the fire pit. Babies in the outdoors take work and some extra gear. That gear can make a huge difference.

Portable Highchair
The coolest new baby gear item we’ve tried is the Kidco DinePod. This highchair folds up like a regular camping chair so it’s easy to travel with. When set up, the legs are as sturdy as any restaurant highchair with a buckle for baby. Baby L can eat at any campsite we visit without sitting on my lap and sharing her food with my clothes. 

Holding a wiggly almost-toddler while they grab at your plate requires patiently wrestling, readjusting and moving things out of reach. I hate it. It’s so much better to have a KidCo DinePod so both Baby L and I can enjoy meal time. My one complaint is that the push button to fold up the seat gets stuck easily. I’ve had to wrestle the chair closed a few times. It wasn’t pretty.

Hiking Carrier
If you want to get out of camp and on the trail you’ll need a quality baby carrier. Different carriers work better depending on the age of your baby. Tales of a Mountain Mama has extensively tested almost every baby carrier on the market including soft sided options like LILLEbaby and Onya as well as framed carriers from Deuter, Osprey and Kelty.

We use an older version of Kelty’s Pathfinder framed pack mostly, but on quick trips or when we are packing light I’ll wrap Baby L in a Moby Wrap and call it good. We reviewed these more extensively here.

Baby Tent
One item we’re excited to try out on our National Park to Park Highway tour is the Kidco PeaPod Plus. The infant travel bed works like a pop up tent. It collapses into a convenient case and comes with a built in sleeping pad. We’ll be attaching the KidCo PeaPod Plus to the tailgate on our trip so Baby L can sleep close to us in the back of the truck, but not on top of us while we’re trying to sleep.

I have a friend who used a KidCo PeaPod nightly to keep her climbing toddler boys from escaping their crib. They zipped them up at night and didn’t have to worry about broken arms or legs from their adventurous boys climbing out. Nice.

Stair Gates
The number one baby safety item that has changed my life recently is not one we’ll be taking on our National Park to Park Highway Tour. It’s attached to my house.

One of super climber Baby L’s favorite activities is to climb up and down our stairs at home. With a spiral staircase to our basement and openings between the steps to the upstairs, I am constantly worried she will slip through and fall.

When we asked Kidco to be a sponsor for our National Park to Park Highway Tour, I mentioned that our stair gates at the time consisted of a guitar case and a plastic gate bungeed to the banister. It wasn’t pretty and only 50% effective at keeping Baby L from sneaking up the stairs. Luckily Kidco sent me two Angle Mount Safeway Gates to protect my littlest tot from danger.

The KidCo Angle Mount Safeway Gate is great for non parallel attachment points. The gate hardware allows you to choose the direction the gate will swing and it’s easy to control once installed. The dark wood looks great with our balustrades and the gate itself can handle openings ranging from 27 to 42 inches.

The installation was tricky however, and I’m pretty handy with a drill. The toughest part was making sure I positioned the hinges at the same height on both sides of the stair opening. Kidco sent templates to help with that, but their directions weren’t very clear. Also the top latch comes off easily, especially when older siblings are opening and closing the gates.

With that said, having these KidCo Angle Mount Safeway Gates has changed my life. I’m no longer dropping what I’m doing every second to follow Baby L up the stairs for the twelfth time that day. Now I can control if and when we go up and down stairs. The worry that Baby L will tumble down has been erased from my mind. Plus the gates look great.

Baby safety indoors and out is something all parents have to worry about. Thankfully the right gear can take some of that worry away. Do you go camping with a baby or toddler? What gear has helped in your outdoor adventures? Let me know by leaving a comment!

This post includes affiliate links. I receive a very small commission if you purchase something by clicking through these links. Thank you to our 2016 National Park to Park Highway Tour Sponsors.