9 Road Trip Essentials When Traveling With A Baby or Toddler

By Camille Walker

9 Road Trip Essentials When Traveling With A Baby or Toddler

Road trips are what memories are made of! But as a parent of four kids including a baby and a toddler, it seems those memories can take on a cloudy perspective if you’re not prepared.

Our family just recently took a road trip to Yellowstone, Wyoming. While the atmosphere and scenery were calm and serene, sometimes things in our car were not. Luckily, it’s not our first road-trip rodeo. From one mom to another, these tips will help you keep your cool while you travel.

Frequent Stops

Research rest stops prior to the trip. This way you can pick stops that are more entertaining and suited to your family. If you need a place you can play with the dog, find a stop with a grass field. If you just want clean bathrooms for the kids (and yourself) use the SitorSquat app.

A Full Cooler

Bring foods that are nutrient-dense, delicious and not packed full of sugar. I love Beech-Nut organic pouches. These pouches come in a variety of flavors and are packed with real fruits and vegetables that would even make your grandma happy. It is also a much easier way to get your child to eat such a great variety of foods that are healthy and wholesome!

Some other snacks you might consider are:

  • whole wheat crackers
  • hard boiled eggs
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • granola bars (without chocolate so they don’t make a big mess)
  • protein bars
  • string cheese

Bring washable bibs along if your little ones still make a mess when they eat.

A Fully Stocked Car

Can I confess something? I generally never pack all my baby gear. I like to keep enough items in my bag that I could change a diaper, offer a snack and entertain in some way. But I never pack so much that I can’t fit what I need into a regular-sized purse. What I do fully stock is my car. I rarely go anywhere without it, so I make sure that’s where I store all my extras: change of clothes, extra diapers, drinks, sunblock, bug spray, medicines, food, water, shoes and a great bundle of wipes.

Changing Pads

I have found that it is oftentimes easier and more convenient to change my child’s diaper in the car. I do have a van (no shame, ladies) and I will use the floor of the van to get the business done. If I am out and about I will generally have a small blanket or changing pad and will use that in the restroom. They’re easy to clean and do a much better job of keeping your baby clean than the small disposable pads do.

First Aid Kit

I have a “go-to” kit in my car that covers automobile needs as well as first aid needs. It comes with items that would cover you in a sticky situation with a flat tire as well as Band-Aids for those inevitable scratched knees. It is nice to have it all in one place. It is rather large, so I generally only bring it along on longer road trips. It is a good idea to pack a toy in your first aid kit that could distract a child while you are helping get them bandaged up; sometimes distraction is the best medicine. Or sometimes you might notice that your little one seems to be getting fussy, hoarse, or “under the weather,” in which case you could reach for cough syrup, a probiotic, electrolyte supplement (to stave off dehydration when you’re traveling), or gripe water (like this one from Mommy’s Bliss).

Plastic Bags & Extra Clothes

You never know when you’ll need an extra change of clothes or a plastic bag for a soiled diaper. Our Yellowstone trip was filled with muddy hikes, eating in the car and playing in a lake. I was so grateful to have an extra set of clothes in the car for the kids, and bags to put the dirty ones into. If you have a child that tends to get car sick, it might be a good idea to have bags on hand for that reason as well.

Sling or Front Carrier

I keep my Ergo carrier in the car with me at all times when traveling with my baby as I often need to be hands-free to help my other kids. It is nice to have as you travel because you may not know if there will be stairs or hills that make having a stroller awkward.

If you have an older child, you may want to consider packing along a hiking backpack as they can make traveling through rough terrain a little more manageable. As an added bonus they may even fall asleep.


Load your car with entertainment on the go. For us that means a few LEGO characters, magnet boards, action figures, and an iPad full of shows and games they can play without an internet connection.

Quiet, Comfy Space

If your children are anything like mine then you know that naps are life savers. Do whatever you can to make a nap in the car possible. If the kids have a favorite blanket or bottle, do it. If they need soft music, have it on queue. If your toddler’s car seat can recline, think ahead and change those settings before you leave the house. Naps always rejuvenate my kids and make the ride so much more enjoyable.

One last tip: Bring a treat for you, because heaven knows there will be times you may need it! Safe travels!