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When it comes to travel, being the mom means anticipating what every single person could possibly need every single day of your trip. I mean, that’s basically life as a mom anyway, but now you’re doing it hours away from your baby-proofed, snack-stocked house. Thankfully, almost anywhere you go in the United States, you can find a convenience store or grocery in case you run out of Tylenol or diapers while you’re traveling. Personally, I try to avoid those emergency-run trips because I really detest figuring out new stores. I like my familiar stores with their predictable set-ups, and I like to go when there are no people. If it’s a Saturday and I run out of bread, we’re eating on tortillas until Monday. Truth.
I am also a recovering over-packer. Now that we have four people in our van, I try to really weigh what I am packing for everyone. Obviously, we’re going to need clothes and toiletries, but what about all the “extra” stuff? Kids seem to require a lot of “extra” stuff that I don’t want to be caught without! We recently tagged along on my husband’s business trip and I made a handy list (with pictures!) for you of our 5 must-have travel items for trips with little kids.
- Summer Infant Play Yard
I have been so pleased with the purchase of this play yard. We can pack it to have a safe space for the baby to sleep (we lay a quilt down to pad it a little) and a place for him to play where he can’t get into anything he shouldn’t. It’s big enough that I can sit in it with both kids to play! It takes about 2 minutes to set up or tear down, and when you fold it up it fits into a sleeve like a camp chair.
- KidCo Go Pod
The picture is in black and white because the colors were all goofy in my original photo, but I wanted you to see it in use. I really like this fold and go type activity seat. Like the play yard, it folds into a sleeve and is easy to store. We packed this as a high-chair alternative for meals in the hotel room. We also have a booster seat that straps onto a chair at home, but you never know what kind of chairs the hotel will have, so I prefer this freestanding version for travel. I particularly like the fabric that goes under the baby’s feet, just in case you don’t really want them touching the ground.
- The “Oops” Bag
This is going to be a required bag from here on out. Luckily, we didn’t need everything in this bag, but I felt so prepared knowing that I had it just in case.
This bag had everything you see pictured: A small trashcan, plastic bags, zip-top bags, disinfecting wipes, baby wipes, digital thermometer, first aid kit, paper towels, Tylenol, antacids, vitamins, kid medicine, scissors, tape, and a marker! The scissors came in extra handy when I couldn’t open my Reese’s pieces. It was an emergency.
This bag was stashed behind the driver’s seat so that I could easily reach it from the passenger’s seat. Once I decided to pack Roo’s potty seat, I went ahead and threw a roll of toilet paper in there, too. The potty seat was packed as a backup plan, just in case we couldn’t stop at a rest area quickly enough for her.
- The Snack Pack
Traveling with kids (okay, and me. And my husband) means packing a big variety of a lot of snacks. We also packed the ingredients for sandwiches, which helped save some money on the road. The Snack Pack includes all food-related items, like disposable plates, the kids’ cups, a knife for cutting apples, and bowls for holding snacks.
Lots of snacks, but we never went hungry! We threw some apples and most of the baby food pouches in a small cooler.
Since the kids don’t need any foot room yet, I stashed the Snack Packs behind my seat so I could reach it while we drove. Packing tip: Use gallon sized zip-top bags to pack all the cups, tops, and straws. Use another for the baby bowls and spoons. It makes it easier to keep everything together instead of rummaging around.
- The Entertainment Bags
For my daughter, this means loading up her Minion backpack with her DVD player, coloring book and crayons, and her Kindle Fire. Her Kindle has been her potty training motivation (only gets to use it on the potty at home) and her travel entertainment. It has tons of educational games, books, and videos loaded on it. I love that I can control what content she sees on her Kindle by restricting internet access and defining the age limits for programming.
The entertainment bag for my son (11 months) is a canvas tote filled to the brim with small toys so that I can keep pulling out new ones to surprise him. His favorite toys on our recent trip were the Pez dispensers and figurines he likes to take from his sister’s room.
What are your must-pack items for trips? I’d love to hear your suggestions!