The holidays are prime road trip season and, if you’re driving with a little one, you might be a little bit nervous about what to bring. Never fear! From a stash of supplies to sop up inevitable messes to toys sure to keep your baby busy, here are the essentials you’ll need to make your road trip go smoothly.
photo: Quinn Dombroski via Flickr
1. First Aid Kit
Put all the baby care essentials inside, from a thermometer to fever-busting liquid Tylenol. Bonus: A box of Band-Aids can keep a road-tripping toddler busy in a pinch. Simply open up the box and let your little one take out Band-Aids and put them back in, over and over. If that loses its magic, they can peel and stick bandages all over their shirt.
2. Mini Garbage Bags
No doubt you’ll fill up a few garbage bags while you’re driving, whether it’s with wrappers from your own energy bars or bits of crushed-up crackers. Keep these at the ready so you can dispose of them at the next rest stop!
3. Extra Blankets
Swaddling blankets are lifesavers on long road trips. They can keep your baby cozy when it’s nap time, act as picnic blankets at the park, and even mop up messes in a pinch. Stash a few extras in your car so you’re ready for anything.
4. New Toys & Old Favorites
Pack your little one’s favorite toys, especially a lovey, and put in a few novel toys, too. You can rotate through your toy stash to keep your kiddo distracted as you cruise. We recommend putting a cardboard box or a plastic bin on the seat right next to your child’s car seat and filling it with grab-friendly toys, like this Oball Shaker.Toddlers will be entranced by a drawing board and a brand-new toy truck or miniature doll. To maximize the wow factor and keep your child entertained for even longer, wrap each toy in wrapping paper before the trip. If you’re feeling extra crafty, make your little one a quiet book, a soft fabric book designed to keep toddlers busy and encourage fine motor skills. For More ideas, read The Best Baby & Toddler Toys for the Car
photo: Sean Freese via Flickr
5. Mini Vacuum
Crumbs and toddlers go together like peanut butter and jelly. If all that mess drives you nuts, grab a portable vacuum cleaner with a car-compatible power plug, like this one.
6. Bags to Hold Dirty Clothes
With babies and toddlers, laundry can feel never-ending, and it’s no different on road trips. Whether there’s a blowout or a spit up, having a few of Wash.It.Later’s Soak & Save Bags gives you a place to stash dirty things until you can toss them in the wash. They’re pocket-size, leak-proof and have built-in stain-busting solution inside them.
7. Extra Outfits—For You & Your Babe
Bring at least two or three easily accessible changes of clothes for your baby. You don’t want to be digging around in a suitcase for a new pair of footie pajamas on the side of the road! Keep a clean shirt nearby for yourself, too, as there’s a good chance you’ll get soaked in spit up. It’s the law of the road.
8. Board Books
A few board books are perfect road-trip distractions for babies and toddlers. Littler ones love to gnaw at Indestructables, drool-friendly books featuring faves like farm animals and smiling faces. Interactive lift-the-flap books and texture-packed books like See, Touch, Feel are made to mesmerize toddlers. For more ideas, read 25 Board Books Every Baby Needs
9. Your Favorite Tunes
Crank up the music. Your favorite tunes will help the ride go more smoothly for you and for your baby. No need to resort to the Wiggles; you can put on any music you enjoy, and chances are your baby will bop along to the beat too. Just be sure to put together a lullaby-packed playlist for nap time.
10. Finger Foods
Pack the good snacks, both for you and your hungry kid. If you have two adults along for the ride, one of you can hang out in the back with your wee one and monitor snack time, to ensure all those Cheerios get chewed up. Flavorful mini muffins are a great road trip snack if you have time to do a little baking before you hit the road, or throw in your favorite bite-size bits of fruit or cereal. Don’t forget to pack water, too!
11. Playground Prep
Because you’ll need a break! Download Playground Buddy, an app that helps families find awesome playgrounds all over the country. You can get a little fresh air and push your kiddo on the swings before finishing your drive.
12. Extra Wipes & Diapers
It’s inevitable: As soon as you leave the house, your little one will need a quick change. Be sure to throw in extra tissues, too, for runny noses and quick mess clean-up.