Toddler Road Trip Packing List and Tips (12 Months+)

Road trips with a toddler (12 Months+) are no easy task, but they are possible! This checklist will help you remember all the things your toddler needs to survive the open road and their vacation.

Mealtime:

  • Straw or Sippy Cups

  • Open Cups

  • Plates

  • Forks

  • Spoons

  • Bibs

  • Placemats

  • Snack Containers

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Diaper Changes/Potty Time:

  • Baby Wipes

  • Diapers

  • Changing Pad

  • Diaper Rash Cream & Applicator

  • Small tie-able bags for dirty diapers (e.g. doggie poo bags)

  • Diaper Bag

  • Potty seat (if potty trained)

  • Hand Sanitizer

  • Wet/Dry Bag (for dirty or wet clothes)

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Health:

  • Small First Aid Kit (bandaids, antibiotic cream, anti-itch cream)

  • Baby Thermometer

  • Pain Reliever (depending on age)

  • Allergy Medicine (depending on age)

  • Toothbrush

  • Toothpaste

  • Sunscreen

  • Baby-proofing items (outlet plugs, doorknob covers, etc.)

  • Bug Repellent Spray or Bracelets

  • Motion Sickness Bags

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Bathtime:

  • Baby Body Soap

  • Tub Thermometer

  • Nail Clippers

  • Hair Brush

  • Lotion

  • Bath Elbow and Knee Pad

  • Bath Rinser

  • Bath Toy(s)

  • Inflatable Bathtub (if your destination doesn’t have a tub and your toddler can’t shower yet)

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Clothes:

  • T-shirts

  • Shorts

  • Dress Clothes (Dresses, Button Down Shirts, Pants)

  • Underwear (if potty trained)

  • PJs

  • Socks

  • Shoes

  • Sandals

  • Hat

  • Swimsuit

  • Swim Diaper

  • Jacket (Rain Coat, Windbreaker, etc.)

  • Sweatshirt

  • Sweatpants

  • Accessories (sunglasses, bows, etc.)

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Gear:

  • Car Seat

  • Stroller

  • White Noise Machine

  • Baby Carrier or Backpack

  • Baby Monitor

  • Pack N Play

  • Blanket(s)

  • Toy(s)

  • Book(s)

  • Lovey/Stuffed Animal

  • Coloring Book & Twistable Crayons

  • Pacifiers

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Road Trip Tips:

  • The keys to a successful road trip with a toddler are keeping expectations low and remaining flexible.

  • The days of driving “straight through” are likely over, so it’s best to set small goals, and celebrate these victories. For example, set a goal to try driving for two hours before pulling over again. Maybe it will turn out to be an hour and a half, maybe it’ll be three hours. Either way, it’s okay!

  • If you use pacifiers, keep extra ones in easy to reach places like the middle console or sunglasses holder. The pacifiers with small stuffed animals attached are much easier to find in a panic as well.

  • Fill up any and all drink holders in the backseat with extra wipes and diapers so that there are always some accessible without having to hunt for them.

  • Keep a paper towel or toilet paper roll handy, along with some small wash cloths to clean up inevitable messes.

  • If you can’t throw a diaper away right away, tie it up into a doggie poo bag to contain the smell.

  • Add sun shades to the back windows.

  • Add a mirror to the headrest.

  • Use a variety methods to distract your toddler when fussy:

  • Pop-up/Lift the Flap Books

  • Toys

  • Portable White Noise Machine

  • Shows on your phone/tablet (e.g. Kipper, Cocomelon, Sesame Street)

  • Take turns sitting in the back seat with your toddler.

  • For multi-day road trips, try getting into a routine:

  • Meal or snack and change diaper (while pulled over)

  • Buckle into the carseat

  • Entertain with toys/books/music

  • Nap (hopefully)

  • Entertain again

  • Pull over and take a break for another meal or snack, diaper change, and to get some fresh air.

  • At the hotel at nighttime, do your bedtime routine (even if you’re a few hours later than the usual time), so that they associate this particular sleep with overnight sleep.

  • Note that some hotels offer cribs if needed for younger toddlers. Certain hotel chains also offer suites with a door between the bedroom and living room, which makes it a little easier to keep your toddler’s sleeping area quieter.

  • If your toddler is hysterical, do not take them out of the car seat while driving. Pull over and take a break. But, if a break hasn’t helped:

  • Check that the car seat angle and straps are adjusted correctly. Refer to your car seat manufacturer for proper installation and use information.

  • Check if they are too hot (sweaty neck) or too cold (cold hands or feet). If so, try adjusting the temperature in the car.

  • Try changing their outfit. Some clothing items have scratchy decals or tags that may be bothering them.

  • Consider stopping for the day or at least for a few hours. You can search for a playground nearby on Google Maps to help get some energy out.

Disclosure:

  • Always consult with your doctor before taking any medication or giving any medication to your baby.