Toddler Travel Essentials

We recently revealed some of the ideas we’ve had for our summer vacation, and no matter what we choose, we’ll clearly be hitting the open road for our little adventure. Since this undertaking will involve traveling for an extended period of time with an active 2-year-old, it’s going to take some planning and strategic packing to make it all work smoothly. Well, as smoothly as anything can when a toddler’s involved. Am I right? #littlewrenchthrowers 

Let’s just say figuring out what to bring on a road trip with a little one involved can be a bit of a challenge.

So, I thought it would be fun to share a handful of items that I consider must-haves (or at least “they-help-the-cause” haves) to make a road trip way less stressful on mommy and daddy…and doesn’t that make the trip more fun, as a whole? Feel free to add them to your packing list if you think they’ll work for you!


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1. This one’s as much for the parents as it is for the kids. An iPhone is a life-saver, especially if you’ve got unlimited access to the interwebs. We like to use ours to customize our listening experience with Pandora, but I’ll admit publicly that I tend to let Hadman use the PBS Kids app to watch whatever shows he wants for a few minutes. Yes. I’m that mom. The guilt overwhelms me. Kinda. Oh, and I’m including this cell phone cover because mine’s chipped and in need of replacing…and don’t you just love the hip arrow design and ability to insert a picture of your little monkey? *swoon*

2. An adorable fleece blankie. What’s more versatile than that? Use it to snuggle up if you’re leaving on one of those chilly summer mornings (they exist here in the northeast, at least), if your little one is in the need of some comfort, for a quick picnic lunch along the way, or as an easy-to-shake-out beach blanket. I adore how you can personalize this nautical design to suit your own family’s needs.

3. Have you ever noticed that you can get just as bad a sunburn while riding in a car as you can while sitting outside? Only it’s super uneven and not fun to look at. I’m a sunscreen obsessed mama, so I’m all about slathering it on before a big trip (and throughout). Badger is a trusted eco-friendly brand that not only WORKS, but that’s all natural and free of nasty stuff. I like this combo-pack that includes bug spray because my little guy just happens to be a magnet for bugs since he doesn’t know how to swat them yet.

4. Honestly, this is an everyday “must” for me. I don’t go anywhere without my stainless steel water bottle. It’s just my thing. So, needless to say, I’d much rather fill this up with our filtered water (and add more along the way) than buy bottled water — or less healthy options — on the trip. Oh, and this one can hold cold OR hot liquids, so feel free to fill it with your java if you need a caffeine kick.

5. This is another product that we use everyday, but it’s particularly suited for travel. This set includes two little cups with silicone tops. Sounds simple, but the tops have ingenious slits in them that make it *harder* for the food inside to fall out. (Notice I said *harder*; our little monkey has a tendency to grab a huge fistful, so stuff’s bound to escape, but it’s better than having him dump the entire contents in the backseat.) So, go ahead! Fill ‘er up with puffies or organic toasted O’s cereal (you know what I’m talkin’ about), and hand it over, carefree. I do.

6. My #1 tip for any overnight trip with a toddler is packing a cooler full of your usual (healthy-ish) already-prepped foods, snacks and beverages. Then, use it to fill a smaller lunch bag like this one with snacks or meals when you reach different stops. This also helps when you decide to stop at a restaurant; packing at least one healthy fruit or veg will help offset the inevitable unhealthy toddler fare they’ll be offering. #macncheese #chickenfingersandfries #nothinggreen?

7. I got to review these Tegu magnetic wooden blocks last year before Hadman was really old enough to enjoy them. I’ve gotta say, though, I’m so happy to have them now because they’re PERFECT for keeping the munchkin occupied while traveling. Why? They’re magnetic, so there are no pieces falling all over the car and getting lost under the passenger seat. They’re not too big or too small, so there are no choking worries. Plus, they’re compact, with their own cute carrying case.

8. For our little guy, books are the best thing on earth. So, for the car, board books are great. They’re durable, smaller than the usual picture book, and often fun and interactive. In this case, he can independently look for words that he knows (or “oof oofs” and “nanas”), or I can turn around in my seat and ask him to look for different items.  

9. We don’t have this yet, but I want it SO badly. Crayons and coloring books aren’t ideal travel materials for toddlers. THIS, however, is ideal. I remember getting a Magna Doodle when I had my tonsils out as a kid and loved it. This one is even simpler (no choking hazards with those little shape stamper things) and perfect for little doodling hands. 

So, what are YOUR must-haves for a road trip (especially with little ones along)? Any suggestions for what work for your family that I might have missed?

***Full disclosure: I am not sponsoring the aforementioned brands, and chose them based on personal choice. I was not monetarily compensated or provided with free products for my feelings. As always, all thoughts are completely, 100% my own.***

2 thoughts on “Toddler Travel Essentials”

  1. OK, I was a firm believer in “I can't believe that 2 year old has a dang iPhone/iPad/etc. When I was a kid, we played with dirt.” Then I discovered all the educational apps. Yep, we've got the PBS Kids app too. Now my iPad is my daughter's iPad and she can work it better than I can. I am that parent too. Oh the shame!! I want to buy number 7 now. We own number 8 and it's awesome! Number 9 is already on the list of birthday gifts for the toddler!

  2. LOL Thank GOD I'm not the only one. 😉 (At least I feel a twinge of guilt. There are those parents who don't think twice about it.) Can't believe he knows how to unlock my phone and find exactly what he needs. *tears* So much smarter than I was at his age! (Or maybe there's nothing to compare to. Sure. Let's go with that.) And it's SO cool that you're into the other items! I can't WAIT to get # 9; it seems perfect for his doodling ways, sans the mess.

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