Mama Bus Math

August 22, 2011 in North America, Travelogue, United States

This is a post that my friend Lois wrote for The Mama Bus about our upcoming cross-continental drive. We leave in just nine days, she and I and our 11 kids, to take the American road trip of a lifetime. You’ll be able to read about it on both sites.

I thought I’d start by sharing this post on our pack list. Our family gets a lot of questions about what we pack, what we leave home and how we manage to “live without” so many things. With The Mama Bus we’ve more than doubled our family size and the logistical difficulties grow exponentially along side that.

Here’s what it’s like to pack for 13 for a two month trip:

Sometimes people ask me what it’s like having this many kids, honestly most of the time I don’t think about it. It’s just my life and I take it one day at a time, or one load of laundry at a time! But every once in a while, the numbers jump up and smack me upside the head, and the sheer volume of our life can get a bit overwhelming, and funny at the same time.

The other day as my Mom & I were discussing the trip, she said, “I just can’t stop thinking about ALL THOSE SOCKS!!”

So for those of you who like numbers…here are a few that you might find interesting.

On the Mama Bus there will be 2 Mamas and 11 kids.

Those kids still need to do school, and the Mamas need to check email, update the website, etc.

So we’ll have on board:

  • 6 laptops
  • 6 Ipods
  • 1 video camera
  • 6 digital cameras
  • 11 school notebooks


Add one power inverter and an extension cord with power strip to recharge all of that.

All the kids will have a set of colored pencils for journaling and their nature notebook. The 2 little girls will have a set of 8, and the 9 bigger kids have a set of 12. That means (2×8)+(9×12)= 124 colored pencils!

Now that doesn’t include regular pencils or pens, so if you figure each person in the van has just one regular pencil and one pen, that brings the grand total to 150 pens & pencils!

We are limiting everyone to one pair of shoes, because even at that, we’re talking 26 individual shoes.

So if we have that many shoes, how many socks does that make? If you figure 3 pairs per person, that’s 78 individual socks! Anybody want to volunteer to help us with laundry and match up all those socks?!

In other clothing news, we’ll be carrying:

  • 45 pairs of pants
  • 60 T-shirts
  • 30 long sleeve shirts
  • 45 pairs of underwear
  • 15 pairs of pyjamas
  • 15 jackets


We’re taking:

  • 4 tents
  • 2 hammocks
  • 13 sleeping bags
  • 13 sleeping mats
  • 2 pillows (for the Mamas, everyone else will be stuffing tomorrow’s clean clothes for a pillow!)


After hearing about the socks & the pencils, that number doesn’t seem so impressive does it?

In our kitchen boxes, we’ll bring:

  • 2 stoves
  • 2 fuel cans
  • 2 cutting mats
  • 2 sharp knives
  • 2 teacups
  • 11 plastic cups
  • 15 plastic bowls
  • 15 spoons
  • 15 forks
  • 5 knives among other things


We’re only bringing one cooler though so we’ll have to shop every day.

Are you dizzy yet?

So with all that stuff that we ARE bringing…here are a few things we AREN’T bringing.

  • Video Games – That’s right, none of our kids even own a Nintendo DS. The Ipods will be used for music, reading books, as a guitar tuner, etc.
  • Portable DVD Player – Some of the laptops can play dvd’s but their main function is for school and any videos will likely be school related. We want our kids to enjoy the trip, the scenery, actually be wherever we are instead of wrapped up in some virtual life.
  • Strollers – We debated about this one, as we have a 2yo & a 4yo on this trip. Both of them still enjoy riding in a sling though, so we’re bringing 2 slings instead. They take up far less room and are quite versatile. They double as a picnic blanket, towel, etc.
  • Diaper Bag – Jenny is 2 and almost potty trained so although we’ll bring pull-ups, there’s no need for a giant diaper bag. An extra pull-up can be tucked into the pocket of the sling along with a few wipes.


So how about you? When you go on a road trip, what are your ‘must haves’ and what do you choose to NOT bring?