Essential Items for a Road Trip with a Toddler

Road trips are not always fun.  Hours of driving in a tiny vehicle can be enough to make anyone miserable.  Add in a screaming toddler and things just get worse.  But, luckily, some good planning can ease some of this road trip pain.
We take long car trips with Bean often.  It is a byproduct of having far away family and a hunger to leave the city on the weekends.  The numerous road trips have given me multiple opportunities to develop a good road trip routine.  I developed a list to make sure that any road trip goes smoothly.  We travel with the below list of items on every trip and it has been so helpful! 
1.  Car Organizer
This is an easy one.  We purchased a car organizer for our daughter the first moment we realized that we were going to be habitually taking car trips that lasted over two hours.  Our organizer has several pockets and can hold anything from books to sippy cups.  
Now, those of you with young children may be thinking:  My child is too young for this.  How will he/she reach any of the items from a rear facing carseat?
It’s true.  Young children won’t get the full functionality of this item for a little while.  But it is still useful!  Before we purchased the car organizer I would have to dig through the diaper bag every time that Bean was ready for something to eat or play with.  This way, everything is in the organizer in its designated space.  That way, I can just reach around and grab the item and give it to her when necessary. 

2.  Food and Snacks:
Snacks are essential for any long road trip.  Packing a snack before embarking on any journey can save the time and expense of having to stop to purchase something along way.  Plus, by packing your own snack you decrease the likelihood of caving in and buying something you normally wouldn’t (candy/chips, etc.)
We pack Bean a sippy cup full of water, a sippy cup of milk, cheerios, and sliced fruit.  This gives her some variety and usually will keep her occupied for about a half an hour. 
3.  Activity Books:
This one may vary based on your individual child.  Right now, Bean loves books.  Not so much for reading, but she loves to turn the pages and look at the pictures.  We have a couple smaller books that fit nicely into the pockets of our car organizer.  After she is done looking at one, she can swap it out for another.    Plus, anytime that Bean spends picking up a book is beneficial!  And sitting in a car where there are limited options for entertainment may be a good idea to promote reading (or at least looking at) books. 
4.  Extra Clothes:
There may come a time when your little one spills something in the car, or even has a diaper blowout.   This makes having easily accessible extra clothes a must have!  I’m talking about an extra outfit that is separate from the rest of the clothes stowed away in your suitcase.
5. Electronic Device:
For a really long road trip we bring out the tablet.  We download a show or a movie before hitting the road and pull it once Bean has circled through the rest of the toys that we have packed.  Just don't forget a portable charger in case you run out of battery!
6.  Blanket
We love to turn the air conditioner up in the car to keep it cool.  Bean on the other hand likes to snuggle and stay warm.  Having a blanket in the car that she can hold on to or cover up with helps her relax and be comfortable in the car.
Think my packing list is incomplete?  Leave a comment and let me know what your toddler loves to have on a road trip! 


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