Travelling With Toddler Survival Guide: The Must Have Items

Travelling With Toddler Guide
13 March 2016

March Break is here and summer is soon on the way. For many families that means road trips! If you have little ones running around your house at the moment, you may be left panicking about the items you'll need to keep them happy while travelling. I drove from the Greater Toronto Area, Ontario to Moncton, New Brunswick last summer with a two year old, and lived to tell, so I thought I would share the "must have items" that helped get us through the trip unscathed.

You know how we all complain about the amount of items we need to lug around when we bring our children anywhere, a long distance car ride is not the time to try and pack light! You will need quite a stash of toys, snacks, clothes and gear to keep your toddler happy and comfortable during your travels.

Here is my checklist of must-haves when travelling with a toddler:

Diapers, Training Pants and Underwear—oh my!

If your child is still in diapers, pack plenty. My son had just started potty training so I had him in training pants but he still soaked through at one point—car seat and all. An absorbent pad in the seat can help avoid this mess. And do not forget wipes! Bring a ton of wipes! Perfect for everything from emergency bum changes to impromptu face washing before you go into a restaurant. Speaking of restaurants, a travel change pad to put on those icky public change tables is another good to have.

Blankets and Pillows

Blankets and pillows saved my life a few times during our 18 hour road trip. They were great for comfort, shade and even something comfortable to play on when we would stop to stretch our legs.

Plastic Bags

I cannot express enough—plastic bags are so important. You will use them for everything from soiled diapers and clothing to storing snacks once you have disposed of their original box. You can also collect garbage from within your vehicle at every stop—so that you don't have a huge amount accumulated when you reach your destination.

Travel Toiletries and Hand Sanitizer

Keep a small bag of necessary toiletries and sanitizer in an easy-to-reach spot inside your vehicle. Travel toothbrushes, toothpaste, travel-size soaps and shampoos, hand sanitizer, deodorant, diaper rash cream—everything you could possibly need—bring it and keep it close. We dealt with an unexpected bum rash while on the road, and found these necessities to be super expensive at pit stops. Don't forget Kleenex too!

Toys, Books & Games

Trust me when I say, bring entertainment for your little ones. Unless you want to continuously hear them asking if you are there yet, bring their favourite games, books and toys. There are lots of car friendly and plane friendly options. I brought the LeapPad along for my son, with a few brand new games so that he wasn't easily bored. I also used our portable DVD player a lot. That was definitely a life saver. Plus, you can snag kids movies for $5 left, right and centre at Walmart Canada stores.

Necessities—Clothing, Shoes, etc.

This may be obvious, but if you haven't travelled before then you never know. Always extra clothing, socks, underwear for the kids. A good guideline is to bring two outfits per day—kids get messy and it's all part of the fun. Also keep an eye on the weather to make sure you bring appropriate apparel and footwear. Speaking of footwear, bring an extra pair. My son ran through the puddles and we only had one pair of running shoes, and he needed another pair of footwear right away. If you may have the opportunity to go swimming, then don't forget your swimwear, sunhat and sunscreen.

Snacks & Snack Related

Bring lots of snacks, and a variety too. Bear Paws, dried fruit and granola bars were my go-to for my little guy. Don't forget few sippy cups or drink canteens. My son wanted to switch from chocolate milk to juice while we were on the road, and I had wished I had a separate cup at that moment. Not all of the pit stops will have children friendly cutlery, especially for toddlers, so bring a set of these as well. Speaking of that, a portable high chair or booster seat for small kids helps a lot.

Are you making a list yet?

Here are some other helpful items to add while you're at it:

Your best bet is to start preparing about a week before you leave. I left everything until last minute and forgot several items, as you can tell from my experiences told above. Make an actual list and stick to it. That will help you remember to bring everything with you, and it will also help you remember what you need to bring home.

After all that hard work don't forget your camera to capture the memories you're going to make! After all that, gosh... don't forget the kid!

Would you add anything to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

TOPICS:   Babies   Travel


  • MollyAnn

    We made a similar trip last summer: Moncton to Ottawa with our potty training 2yr old and teething 1 yr old. My highly recommended add-ins are Baby (or toddler) Tylenol so you aren't stuck buying it somewhere very expensive or looking for a place to buy it and toddler Gravol in case the LeapPad/iPad does not work out. This happened to us and we ended up pit stopping to clean vomit. Extra, extra clothes, wipes, towels, etc all required!!

  • Noahsmum

    I think you covered it all.  I'd add Tylenol or pain medications, mosquito repellent/bug cream, and even allergy medicine. I had to buy it one time when I travelled!  I hate packing so much but now with a 4.5 year old and a baby I have to pack a caboose almost!

    • Brooke Wilson EDITOR

      Ah yes! Can't forget that either. Thanks for the addition! When I'm done, I barely have room in the car for the kid.

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