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 are not prepared.

Our family just recently took a road trip to Yellowstone National Park, 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.

Road Trip Tips

1) Plan 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.

2) Pack a Full Cooler

Bring foods that are nutrient-dense, delicious and not packed full of sugar. I love Beech-Nut pouches. These pouches come in a variety of flavors and are packed with real fruits and vegetables that would make your grandma happy. The pouches are a much easier way to get your child to eat a variety of foods.

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

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

3) Fully Stock your Car

Can I confess something? I fully stock my car with duplicates of baby essentials. I make sure I store all my extras: change of clothes, extra diapers, drinks, sunblock, bug spray, medicines, food, water, shoes and a great bundle of wipes.

4) Change Baby in the Car

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 are easy to clean and do a much better job of keeping your baby clean than the small disposable pads do.

5) Grab Your 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).

6) Plastic Bags are a Must

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.

7) Bring your 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 can not accommodate a stroller.

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.

8) Load Up on Entertainment

Pre-Load your car with entertainment on the go. For us that means a few LEGO characters, magnet boards, and action figures. If you are screen-friendly, download shows and games on a tablet which they can play without an internet connection.

9) Create Quiet, Comfy Spaces

If your children are anything like mine, 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, pack 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!