For more info, read my disclosure policy.
I’ve always loved traveling! Whether it’s flying or going on a road trip, it’s so much fun to take a break from “normal” life to get out and see the world. When you have kids, going on a road trip can be a bit intimidating, especially with toddlers or preschoolers, and especially if they are going through potty training (or have recently potty trained). There are so many unknowns, like will there be places to stop along the way every time your little one has to use the bathroom? Will he/she be able to tell you in time? How will extra napping, snacking, and drinking in the car affect their bathroom habits?
Over the past year or so, our family has completed one full cross country US road trip along with several mini road trips consisting of 1-2 days. I’ve partnered with Pullups and Huggies to bring you the ultimate list of tips and tricks and our Family Road Trip Essentials, over 30 items, that you should definitely bring on your road trip to make things a little easier and a LOT more fun!
Packing the Car:
Packing the car correctly is almost like rocket science if you are a parent of small kids. Every placement makes a difference and is crucial to reducing stress and making things easier. Consider which items you will need en route to your final destination and keep those items easily accessible. For example, we will need access to snacks along the way but we need to make sure the boys don’t get a hold of them and eat too much or make a mess, so I keep all the snacks at my feet. Other things you’ll want easy access to: your child’s blanky and favorite stuffed animal, pillows, the diaper bag with Pullups and wipes, drinks, phones/electronics, your GPS, camera/phone/chargers, map, wallets, etc. A change of clothes for the kids (and maybe yourself) is also a good idea just in case of any spill or accident.
Also be sure that items won’t just fall out of the car when you open it. Be sure to protect breakable items and take into account lots of bumps int he road so delicate items can be secured properly. Blankets and pillows make great protectors. You can also pack fragile items in your luggage and wrap them with clothing. Okay, let’s get on with our trip!
The Family Road Trip Essentials List:
These are all of the items that we pack for road tripping! It looks like a lot, but they fit nicely in with the rest of our normal gear (clothing, toiletries, stroller, etc.). Each item took careful planning to make it to our Family Road trip Essentials List and here’s how we made our selections:
Meal Time Items:
- Portable Baby placemat: This portable placemat is made of rubber and is machine washable. It has grips on the underside that allow it to stick to restaurant table while in use. There is a little bucket in the front that helps to catch the food allowing your little one to have a second chance at eating it and keeping the mess to a minimum. Best part? You can clean it with wipes while on the go and throw it in the dishwasher at home. Aidan loves to take his food off of his plate and this gives me a piece of mind that he isn’t going to get all the germs on the table.
- Snacks: The possibilities are endless. While fruit snacks and candy are sometimes a popular choice, consider how many snacks your little ones will want eat during the trip and try to make selections that won’t upset their tummies if they eat too much. Dry snacks are a bit easier on the stomach. They also don’t stain the car if they spill all over.
- Plastic kid’s silverware: Depending on where you stop to eat or what snacks you find, it’s always a good idea to have the kids silverware just in case. Little toddlers have a much easier time with forks made for kids rather than longer, metal adult forks that are too big for them.
- Disposable bibs: You can find these almost anywhere that sells baby food. They come in a box with 20 or so. We have lots of great bibs at home, but when you’re on the road all day, using the bib several times can be messy and yucky. Disposable bibs have two stickers in the back that connect while in use and then you can throw them away. They also work great for random treats in the car (sometimes we stop through a drive-thru and let the boys get a milkshake treat).
Huggies PullUps and Wipes:
5. PullUps Training Pants: Even if your toddler is mostly potty trained, sometimes you have to drive much further to get to the next rest area, so allowing your child to wear PullUps during the trip provides extra security in the event of an accident. My oldest is already wearing PullUps either way and he’s almost all the way potty trained, but we use PullUps during the night and also if we plan to be away from the house for an extended time, just in case. It gives him and us the security we need and makes it easy for everyone.
6. Huggies One & Done Refreshing Baby Wipes: Wipes that are made for “on the go” (and not in a box) are the best kind for a road trip! Other than the obvious use, baby wipes have a big role to play on road trips: cleaning sticky fingers, wiping down tables at public restaurants, wiping up messes in car seats, and so much more! And how cute is this Dory packaging?!
7. Chux pads: So every now and then, an accident will happen. We experienced a MAJOR “diaper mishap” while driving from Florida to Utah and while I will spare you the details, I will just say it required an emergency stop, both parents, lots of disinfecting wipes, and a trash bag. The problem with these kinds of things is that when you’re out on the road, you can’t just wash the car seat out normally. You have to work with what you got. After scrubbing our little guys car seat with disinfecting wipes, it was really damp. So from that point on, we used Chux pads in case of another mishap to provide a layer of protection between our boys and their car seats. The white part absorbs any moisture and the plastic layer helps prevent leaks. These are found at most stores that carry medical supplies.
8. Hand Sanitizer: As a parent, hand washing is essential. While you may feel like you packed everything but the kitchen sink, you definitely didn’t pack your kitchen sink. Sometimes it may be necessary to change your kids at a place where you don’t have access to soap and running water, so hand sanitizer helps keep everyone clean and germ-free! Portable sanitizers are available in small travel sizes and that’s all you need!
Accident Cleanup Supplies:
9. A Baby Wet-Bag: These are SUPER handy on-the-go around town and during a road trip! If for any reason your kids need to change their clothes, you can put the wet clothes in this bag and zip it shut so you can wash them when you reach your destination or return home. This prevents messes and stinky clothes from getting all over everything in the car.
10. Paper towels: This is pretty easy, but you’ll want a roll of paper towels to help clean up any messes, spills, etc.
Lollipops (for the kids) & Gum and Fruit Sours (for parents):
11. XyloBurst Lollipops: I don’t know about you, but our kids LOVE lollipops! They also work as rewards for great behavior and on a road trip, our little guys are definitely troopers! However, as mentioned before, I don’t want to load them up on sugar. Xyloburst Lollipops are sugar-free AND aspartame-free! They also taste great and the boys don’t know any different. They even claim to be dentist recommended, which is certainly a kid and parent win win!
12. XyloBurst gum & Fruit Sours: Gum works great for flying on planes to help keep your ears cleared from air pressure. It does the same trick when driving through variations in elevation through the mountains. XyloBurst Fruit Sours are quite yummy and work as a great little “treat” while driving on a road trip. They also make a great alternative to candy if you want to avoid regular sugar. XyloBurst gum and fruit sours, like the lollipops, are sugar-free and aspartame-free.
13. Neck Pillows for Little ones: When my little ones fall asleep in their car seats, I get nervous because their little heads bob around and sometimes they are laying with their heads down and chins resting on their chest. I want to make sure they are both comfortable and able to breathe well. We bought two of each of these to try out for the boys and they each preferred a different one. They weigh nothing and are small enough to fit their little necks just right. They both have comfy car seats, but during a long car trip, we want them to be as comfortable as possible.
14. Their favorite stuffed animal: This is important! It provides comfort and security for your child as their venture into new places that are unfamiliar and outside their daily routine. It also allows them to feel okay taking a random nap as this is one of their sleeping cues. Finally, they will DEFINITELY need it for sleeping when you reach your destination. Andrew has a bunny and Aidan as a kitty and they have traveled all over the country with us. Not only is it cute but it will make such an amazing story someday when we tell them about all of their fun adventures we took them on while they were little.
15. Your little ones’ blankets: Just like the stuffed animal, their blankets provide comfort and security, let them know it’s okay to take a nap, and help keep them warm if the air conditioning is too cold.
16. A selfie stick: Much of your day will be consumed with endless driving and hundreds of questions of “Are we there yet?” but this adventure your family is on is a memory in the making. You will pass through many fun and exciting places along your way and you’ll want to capture the moment. Having a selfie stick is a great way to make sure everyone is in the picture! Don’t skip this step, you will absolutely LOVE looking back at them later!
17. Portable Power Stick: Between using a GPS, and using mobile data outside your home wifi, your phone batteries are going to quickly drain. Although mankind lived many years without cell phones, they have become our lifelines in more ways than one. A portable power stick is ESSENTIAL for road tripping! This one from Moxyo is unique because it actually holds TWO full charges so my husband and I could charge our phones at the same time! But we’re so prepared that we have two of them! It’s great quality and also has battery check lights on the front that you can activate easily to see how much power is left. Don’t leave home without one!
18. Lightning Cable: The Moxyo lightning cable is Apple certified and tangle-free allowing you to charge your devices comfortably on the go. It works great for in the car and at the hotel!
21. A safety flashlight: I have this awesome tactical flashlight that comes with a hook so it can be hung as a lantern. It changes from solid light to blinking strobe lights. In the event of an emergency, it’s a great tool to have and it’s smaller than the palm of my hand! It’s also rainproof and shock proof!
20. A Tablet for the Kids: We allow screen time in our house (approved shows, movies, and games, of course!). We find tablets to be essential on a road trip! We got an SD card for their tablet and loaded up several of their favorite movies and several episodes of Daniel Tiger for the boys to help keep them entertained along the trip! Be sure to have a child-friendly case to make sure the tablet is “safe.” It’s so easy to slip into the top pocket of the car seat organizer that we use, so the boys can watch a movie hands-free. We also put it on the center console if the boys want to watch a movie at the same time together.
Sippy Cup Catcher:
21. A Sippy Cup Catcher: So our youngest likes to play a little game, sometimes on accident, mostly on purpose: He drops his sippy cup and asks us to get it for him. The problem with that is after about 10 rounds, Mommy is too tired of that game, Daddy can’t play since he’s driving, and sometimes it gets stuck into nooks and crannies where I can’t reach it without having to pull the car over. I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could find a sippy cup leash?” and then I found a product that did exactly this! Simply string it around the sippy cup with the rubber cup grip and then attach the other side of it to your child’s car seat. It’s long enough for them to drink easily and put their cup in the cup holder. They can even drop it if they really must, but then when they need it again 10 seconds later, they can just pull on the rubber gripped attachment and have access to their sippy cup again!
Fun & Games:
22. Books to read: We love to include books to read in our kids’ car seat organizers. They seem to nap out of sync with each other, so books are a great quiet activity to help keep them occupied. I like to find themed books about “on the go” or travel to make it fun for them!
23. Road Trip Bingo: Believe it or not, I remember having an older version of these as a child and it was one of my favorite things to do in the car. Each Bingo game has different types of things on it such as a stop sign, a construction truck, etc. and they have little color windows that slide across the item in blue to mark it. I came across these and had to get them and I know we’ll be making fun memories with them! The slide windows make them reusable and I got 4 different variations so that’s enough for 4 people to play in one game! Best part? They were only $1! Crazy!
24. Glow Sticks: After a long day of driving, kids start to lose interest in the adventure towards the end of the day, especially when it’s dark and they just want to get out of the car and into their beds. A pack of glow sticks will buy you a bit more night time drive time with your little ones and make it fun for them again!
25. A First Aid Kit: It’s good to always keep a first aid kit in your car in general, but this is an absolute MUST for a road trip! You’ll want to make sure this is easily accessible when packing up the car!
26. Sunscreen: On a road trip with little ones, it’s a good idea to stop every couple of hours or so to let your little ones stretch their legs outside of their car seats. If possible, seek out a park or a playground so they can have 15 minutes of fun. It will go a LONG way for morale. If you end up playing outside, having sunscreen at the ready is a great idea!
27. A poncho: You just never know if any driver situations will occur, such as the need to change a tire. Having a poncho just in case is a great idea and it takes up barely any room!
28. Boogie Wipes: These are a genius idea, made just for noses, for little ones who get a cold. They smell like grape and encourage little ones to blow their nose on somewhere other than their sleeve.
29. Kid’s Motion Sickness Medicine: Out of our many road trips, we’ve luckily only had one incident of car sickness. It was the most unfortunate time because there’s nothing worse than having a little one get sick, especially when you are confined to a packed full car and can’t hold them. We found children’s motion sickness medicine to work like a charm. As always, be sure to seek a doctor’s opinion before giving your children any medication, even over the counter, and be sure to read the age requirements and dosages before administering.
30. Scissors: These are great to have if you need to cut anything open. However, they should be kept away from little ones. I bring a pair on the road trip and keep them in the glove compartment.
31. A few garbage bags: These work well for easy cleanup or any car sick moments. The better prepared you are, the more comfortable your trip will be and the easier it will be to clean up when you return home again!
Make Your Trip Easier:
You can find most of these Family Road Trip Essentials, as well as Huggies PullUps and Wipes, at your friendly Neighborhood Walmart Market store. It’s smaller than the super store and has everything you need at the same great prices as regular Walmart stores, making your shopping trip quick and easy! Get your necessities and snacks and head out onto the open road!
Find your nearest Neighborhood Walmart Market store here.
Make your shopping trip even better with these coupons:
Click Here to get your Huggies Diapers Coupon!
Click Here to get your PullUps and GoodNights Coupon!
Click Here to get your Huggies Wipes Coupon!
What are YOUR favorite Road Trip Essentials?
Leave a comment below!
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Some items included in this post were sent to me complimentary for testing purposes. All thoughts included here are my own. I choose to only share products that my family actually uses and loves. The above may contain some affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, if you choose to make a purchase, I may receive a small portion back to help run this blog and bring you more great content! Thank you for your support!
Owner and operator of Paperclips & Pacis, a lmotherhood lifestyle blog sharing all the best of #momlife. Wife to Drew, Mommy to Andrew (age 6), Aidan (age 5), and Avalynn (age 2). Lover of Disney World, office supplies, and social media. Instagram: @paperclipsandpacis