How to Pack For A Road Trip With a Baby or Toddler

Taking a Road Trip with a Baby

With the holidays upon us, many of you will be hitting the road. Maybe it’s to see family or maybe just to use  the extra vacation days to go somewhere fun. We also know that traveling with kids can be . . . a challenge. Recently when my husband and I got away on our own for a night, it was like we had forgotten how easy it was for just the two of us to go somewhere!

You should have seen our car the first time we took Reagan with us on vacation. We drove to Lake Tahoe (a seven hour drive from our house) and our SUV was PACKED to the brim with every baby thing you can imagine. I wish I had a picture of it!  I brought our entire stash of cloth diapers (along with wetbags and laundry detergent), walkers, a rocking horse, her exersaucer, the pack n play, the stroller, toys, snacks, formula, bottles, blankets, and I don’t even remember what else. Whatever we had it was WAY too much stuff to be taking anywhere.

So, what should you take and what needs to stay at home?

Take It: Pack N Play

It’s really helpful to have a place for baby to sleep, nap or play wherever you end up. This is still our number one go to whenever we travel. The pack n play has become a staple for babies everywhere due to their multi-purpose functionality and how easy they are to fold up and go.

Leave It: Large Toys

You really don’t need to bring everything you keep in your living room. If it doesn’t fold up into something smaller, leave it at home.

Take It: Extra Clothes

It’s inevitable that you will need multiple clothes and better safe than sorry, right? I bring 14 outfits for a baby. If you are going to be gone longer than a week and go through all your reserves, finding a place to do laundry shouldn’t be too hard.

Leave It: Diapers

What?????? Um, the baby needs diapers! True, but you don’t need a whole box. Take enough for each day on the road + 2 and have Amazon deliver a pack to your destination.

Take It: Snacks

Snacks are a necessary item for any baby or toddler 8 months and older. Younger babies will be fine with milk or formula. Remember that for younger babies still need to eat about every 2-4 hours and you may need to plan for more rest stops than you are used to.

Leave It: Baby Food

Just buy it at your destination or have it shipped there. Special dietary needs are an exception. See how I packed for my PKU kids special diet on our vacation this summer here.

Take It: Stroller

Even if you babywear religiously, having an option of a stroller is a great option, especially if you are traveling to a place where you may be walking more than you are used to.

Leave It: Baby Bathtub

You can find safe alternatives such as low water, bathing or showering with baby or using the sink. Taking the tub just isn’t necessary.

Take It: Changing Pad

You don’t know where you might need to change your baby and it’s good to have a nice clean changing pad for public restrooms, your car, floors, or wherever you find yourself.

Other Things to Pack:

  • Baby carrier or sling
  • Feeding essentials for wherever you are in your feeding journey
  • Soothers and nighttime essentials
  • Trash bags or old grocery bags
  • First Aid Kit

If you have a toddler that is potty training, take a small potty seat and some wipes. Be prepared to stop frequently and abruptly. Don’t stress about it or get flustered. Like everything else about parenting toddlers, have a plan, but learn to go with the flow.

One more important step before your trip is to check your car seat. Make sure that it installed correctly and that all the straps are in the correct position for your child’s height.

Remember that traveling with babies doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful, but it will take a little more time and patience. Don’t be surprised when you have to switch things up and your perfect plan doesn’t go as planned.

Safe travels!



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