Time to load everyone up and hop in the car for a good old fashioned family road trip! You already know babies come with a lot of baggage, right? No worries! I’ve rounded up all our road trip essentials for toddlers just for you.
Now you can focus on all the fun times ahead and less about what to pack! I love being
over prepared, so I’ve put together a list of everything we used on our last road trip (plus a few things I wish we had!)
Leave a comment and let me know where you’re headed on your road trip, or if there are any other essentials you have to take along with you on a road trip!
I also rounded up the road trip essentials for toddlers playlist– the best songs for the whole family (from 90’s to Disney and more!) Just go here to download it!
This post contains affiliate links. Meaning, if you order something I recommend I receive a small kickback for introducing you to your new favorites at no cost to you!
Water Wow Books: These are a HUGE lifesaver. I seriously cannot praise them enough! Water Wow books are a thick book with a pen/water brush that stows in the front. Amazingly, when you brush the water pen over a page, it reveals hidden pictures for each scene. It’s mess free and keeps my little guys entertained for a LONG time.
Lace & Trace: Can you tell we’re Melissa & Doug fans? These lacing shapes are sturdy and hold up well to toddler play. Wyatt loves to play with just the animals or spends time concentrating on lacing around if he’s in the mood. Just keep the extra strings in the little wooden box and you have instant, built-in storage.
Take Along Railroad: We actually got our railroad ON our last road trip along with a Take Along Town. They make a farm too! The town folds out from the box to a play set with tracks for vehicles or trains, trees, tunnels, etc. Wyatt and Jep both played forever with theirs. They’re both SO detailed and the pieces are unique. Our other Melissa & Doug cars and trains fit these tracks, too.
Reusable Sticker Pad: These are endless hours of fun for Wyatt! There’s tons of difference vinyl scenes in a handy book with stickers to create scenes and encourage imaginative play. I recommend bringing a little bag to put the extra stickers in so they’re easy to get to. It also helps to peel off the “background” of the sticker sheets so their little hands can put stickers back wherever they want to instead of the exact spot they came from.
Doodle Pro: I remember one of these from my childhood, so it’s fun to see the boys play with them now! There’s hardly any pieces to keep up with and thank goodness the magnetic pen is tethered to the board.
Magnetic Farm Playset: This is similar to the reusable sticker pad, but we opted for a farm magnetic set to switch the scenes up a bit. It comes in a magnetic tin to keep all the pieces corralled. I also didn’t bring EVERY single magnet to cut down on pieces everywhere.
Other Activities we love:
Daniel Tiger Colorform Playset: Won’t you be my neighbor? This set is neat because it stows away in it’s own little box! The scenes are double sided and pop up into a triangle like an easel.
Matchbox Cars: These are ALWAYS in our diaper bag whether we’re traveling or not. Wyatt drives them over every surface and pretends they’re flying, racing, etc.
Books: My boys are fans of lift-the-flap books and we usually bring board books since they stand up to little hands better.
Crayons and Paper (This one is totally up to you! We didn’t pack these because I couldn’t trust that they wouldn’t lose a crayon or color all over the door.)
Treasure Discovery Basket: This is perfect for smaller toddlers who aren’t into all the intricate toys yet! Think random but safe-for-little-hands items! Really, anything they can’t swallow and you won’t miss if it’s thrown in the car somewhere!
Here are a few ideas to get you started–
Soft squeaky balls
Jars with lids
Old wallet with cards to take in and out
Travel Tray: We didn’t have one of these for our last trip to Hot Springs, but this one is on my list for our next trip! Having a tray for older kids to keep their things organized would be a huge help. This one also has a place for a tablet and cup holder
Snack Must Haves
One of my favorite parts of having a toddler means you can give them all the snacks to help keep them happy! Here are a few of our favorite travel-friendly snacks and accessories. This category is probably the top of my list for road trip essentials for toddlers. Happy snacking!
Reusable Snack Bag: These bags from Itzy Ritzy come in SO handy. We use ours all the time even when we aren’t traveling. You can pop them in the washing machine when they’re dirty and air dry them. You can use them for storing pacifiers, dry snacks, or any other little items floating around the car!
Stainless Cup: Between Wyatt and Jep, we’ve tried EVERY type of stainless cup out there. This is our number one favorite. It’s never leaked. The straw inside comes apart completely for cleaning. It also comes with a tiny scrubber for the mouthpiece! It keeps their drinks super cold and ice takes forever to melt.
Stackable Snack Tower: Honestly, these are almost like a bonus activity for the kids! Just portion out snacks ahead of time and let them unscrew the containers from each other and choose what to snack on. Super easy to clean and they’re made from recycled materials. Win-win!
For younger kids, we love the Munchkin weighted sippy cups. They can tilt them any direction and the straw will still work however they’re holding it!
Yogurt Melts: These are such a good alternative to candy or gummies for little teeth!
Rethink Water: The boys are literally obsessed with these and I’m not mad about it. Wyatt went through a phase of LOVING sweet, sugary juice. We always watered it down, but Rethink Water looks like a juice box with less than one gram of natural sugar. Mom win.
Fruit & Veggie Pouch: Really, if you aren’t trying to sneak veggies in at every single chance are you even a mom? These pouch toppers help make sure the pouch food won’t go squishing out everywhere.
Other Travel Must Haves
Travel Highchair: I keep this folding gem of a highchair in the back of the Suburban for a “just-in-case”. Apparently, we have a lot of those instances because we use it a TON! It’s flown with us, too.
It’s designed so it won’t tip over, can strap to a regular chair, and the cover is machine washable! The tray swivels from either side and is removable so it can be used as a regular seat, also. Checks all the boxes!
Sanitizing Wipes: I love these because they’re safe for food surfaces and gentle enough to wipe toys off or hands. They smell fresh like oranges and have zero weird chemicals in them!
Travel Potty: Listen, if you’re in the depths of potty training, I feel for you. I wish we had this potty seat on our last trip with all the long stretches of no gas stations in sight.
We’ve since bought it and it’s in the Suburban, ready to go! I also have a pull-up in the removable part as a liner to help absorb any, *ahem* messes. They make liners, but we already had pull-ups on hand!
Extra baby wipes: We use this brand and love them because they’re unscented and made of natural ingredients. They’re also thick and textured.
Sun shade for windows: I love the kind that adjust so they can still see out the windows easily.
Biodegradable Diaper Sacks: You already know there’s bound to be at least one giant mess!
Sound Machine: This machine from Hatch Baby is my absolute favorite because I can control the settings from my phone! It helps to try and keep a similar routine when it comes to sleep. Wyatt knows that when the light turns blue it’s time for a nap. Top of my road trip essentials for toddlers when it comes to an overnight stay!
Baby Monitor: Similarly, with the Lollipop camera you can check in on your little one from your phone. It pops up alerts on your phone if they’re crying or restless. This is perfect if you’re staying with family and want to be able to put them down for bed but stay up awhile longer!
Are you on Pinterest?
Let’s be friends there, too! You can check out more great ideas for family road trips and travel inspiration on this board.