Road Tripping With a Toddler: What Works and What Doesn’t

I had written previously about how we were planning a big, fat road trip a few months ago, and I am going to share with you what things worked well and did not work so well for us so you can use this info yourself.  I am going to provide you with links to some of the items I like, but I am in no way affiliated with any of the companies, and don’t receive anything from them for sharing the products with you.  I may share a link to a friend’s affiliate link, but do so only with permission.  So here we go y’all.

First thing’s first.  The best and most recommended item to have, if you don’t already, is a minivan. We own a small SUV and a compact car, so for the trip we decided to rent a minivan for a few reasons: space, space, and space.  There is nothing like the freedom to not have to worry about packing too much, not having to worry about where to put the cooler (more on that in a bit,) and the ease of getting a toddler in and out of a car seat quickly.  My daughter is still rear facing, because it’s safer (and you should still be rear facing your little one too) so it was nice to not have to climb in and out of the car to get her… Especially with our frequent stops.

Next, Packing Cubes!!!  What the heck is a packing cube you ask?  Well, it’s a tool to help you organize your packing so you don’t have to pull out every stinking thing from your suitcase to find that one tank top you swore you packed.  They may look silly to you, and that’s okay.  Just ask my husband, they are amazing!  In addition to using packing cubes, we also used Ziploc bags for our toddler’s clothes.  The advantage?  We were going to be in 3 different climates, so it made it simpler to separate the three different clothing types.  Another awesome thing about packing cubes is you can put them in your hotel drawers and put your suitcase in the closet so you have more space in your room.  I’m tellin ya, these things are cool, and you should probably buy them.

Coolers.  How many of you loooove traveling with those big, bulky coolers that take up so much stinkin space and are hard to get to because you can’t just turn around and reach into on without jeopardizing your safely and flexibility as the car is moving?  Check out the slim cooler!!!  I was skeptical of this for sure.  Would anything fit inside?  Would it be difficult to maneuver while the vehicle was moving?  Let me tell you, this thing not only fit between seats like a glove, but it was super convenient as well.  It is more compact, so it may not hold the whole fridge, but I highly recommend getting one, even if you’re not leaving on a roadtrip.

Next on the list is a dvd player.  More specifically, one with a remote control and swivel so it can be mounted on the headrest of the seat in front of your child.  This way, when the movie is over, you can just hit play again (because what toddler doesn’t like watching the same movie over and over?). Oh this was a really good addition indeed!  Now, some of you may want to invest in headphones, but for us, it didn’t need to be very loud for our little one to enjoy it.  We had also purchased a few dvds to bring along, though she watched one in particular about a fish looking for its family for most of the trip.

Now besides the obvious snacks, drinks, toilet paper, portable oil diffuser, scissors, paper towels, wipes, and umbrella (ella, ellla, ella, eh, eh, eh… anyone?), the last thing I highly recommend is a grabber.  What is that?  Well, when was the last time you were in the front seat, and your toddler accidentally drops their stuffed toy for the 7th time and needs it right away?  Of course you are not going to risk your safety and that of those around you by unbuckling your seat belt to reach said stuffed toy.  So what can you do?  If you have a grabber, most of your reaching stuff while traveling 65 miles per hour problems are solved!  Of course, we forgot to pack ours, but thankfully, on our last visiting stop of the trip, my loving father happened to have an extra one and let us have it.  And it came in very handy!

So what about what didn’t work?  Well, we had bought a travel desk type thing, but it didn’t stay put for very long.  Maybe when she’s older.  Also, adding dryer sheets to our packing cubes didn’t really do much.  Probably because we use the kind with all natural ingredients, so they weren’t super smelly. Also, I think we could have packed her activities better.  I think we may have relied a bit too much on the DVD player.  This “organizer” fell apart before we could use it.  Oh yes, and when you make a packing list, be sure to review it before you leave so you don’t leave behind anything major, like birthday presents for your nieces.

A few honorable mentions; mess free coloring/ painting books, Zora bars, and extra sunglasses.

All and all, we had a successful trip.  I felt we were well prepared for most things which made dealing with a couple major disappointments a little easier.  We saw a lot of family and friends, and if I could ever convince my husband, we will do it all over again!

What about you?  What types of things are a must have for your road trips?

Thanks for reading!


I can’t believe I forgot to mention one of my favorite things that we brought, which is still handy to this day!  A trashcan.  Just line with a grocery bag, and start stuffing away!  What I love most about this, besides the fact that it keeps trash contained, is that it also keeps smells contained (uneaten food anyone?)!  So we packed a few extra grocery bags so when the ‘can’ got full, we could just swap it out and start fillin again.

Another thing that I didn’t mention was the oils I used in the diffuser.  I get carsick.  So I diffused a few drops of peppermint and ginger, and tickle me mad I didn’t get carsick. Not one bit.  Even while doing my word searches, which was amazing because typically I start feeling even more sick when I’m not looking out the window.  I also diffused lavender in our hotel rooms to help us relax and help take out some of the hotel ‘smell’.

Alrighty then.  I’m sure I’ll think of some more things after this next trip!




6 thoughts on “Road Tripping With a Toddler: What Works and What Doesn’t

  1. My sister got packing cubes before she left for college. They are so nice to have! That cooler is seriously “cool” I need one for the front seat definitely. A grabber! Oh man, why haven’t I thought of this before?? Also going on my shopping list. We got DVD players before our trip to Deleware, when we got to visit you guys, and they were a lifesaver! I need to look into getting more. Maybe for Christmas. The organizers are also something I’ve been wanting to get. Also those seat belt buddy things with the pillow and pocket that protects their necks? Have you seen those? I need them for the boys, also on the Christmas list. For the older kids I have a ton of road games to play. And for the little one…busy bags! Magnetized games are great.
    Great post!

    • I think I have seen the seat belt buddy things. I did see a few magnetic games, but they all had super small pieces. Definitely when she gets older though. Thanks for reading Aslynn!

  2. Is it bad that I get carsick…when I’m driving!!?? I think I’ll add ginger to my oil order this month and try this recipe. Oh and a car diffuser lol. Have a safe trip❤ We love yall!!

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