Staying Stylish in Suburbia

Tips for the Road-tripping Family

Thursday, November 21, 2013

On the road again...

This coming Saturday we are hitting the road to make the 8 hour drive back home to where my husband and I both grew up. Our three year old has done the trip with us before but it will be the first time that our almost four month old will be along for the ride. It's times like these, heading home for the holidays with two little ones in the back seat, that I simultaneously feel the most blessed and at the same time the most like...who am I? How am I this grown up person with a family of my own? It's both amazing and kind of surreal. It's also be a bit daunting to set off down the road with what can feel like two ticking time bombs. When will the toddler decide to have a tantrum? When will the baby start crying because she needs to be changed?

Like I said we've done this trip a time or two before and I've found that having the right gear along can lesson anxiety and chances for major mishaps. If you were to ask my husband he'd probably tell you that I tend to over-pack. The more options the better I always say. On the other hand while road-tripping with the kids there are a few essentials that we definitely agree we cannot do without. I thought I'd share them on the blog today. Keep in mind these are young family specific, although, many of the items would be useful on any kind of road trip.

The essentials

Family Road Trip Essentials

Most of this is self explanatory but...


You've Just got to have it. Hopefully you've put some thought into it and made a travel playlist but I don't care if your using a boom box from the 1980's or singing your heart out to the pop country station on the FM radio. A road trip is nothing without a soundtrack to go along with it. Also, if you have little kids you might want to brush up on your sing along repertoire.


Unless you want to wind up eating a whole lot of gas station junk food I'd suggest you pack some healthy snacks and bring your water bottles (sippy cups) along too. An abundance of bathroom breaks in inevitable with small kids so you may as well stay hydrated. 


There's nothing worse than driving into the sun and realizing you forgot your sunglasses at home.


I can't read in the car because it makes me sick but our Kindle has been a saving grace when it comes to traveling with our toddler. She can watch movies on it or play games. Hours of educational entertainment at her finger tips. 

Map App

I really don't know how I lived without a navigator for so long. Stay on track and avoid fighting about directions. If you don't have one on your phone make the investment. I'm telling you it's so worth it. 

Travel Pillow

Whoever isn't in the drivers seat will inevitably start to nod off at some point in the trip. Don't arrive at your destination with a crick in your neck. Plan ahead and pack a pillow.


Clearly I'm all about documenting my family and snapping pics but seriously one day your going to look back on these little holiday road trips and be so grateful for the photos. 

Diaper bag

See the image below for further details on this one.

Diaper bag

  1. Hand sanitizer because gas station germs are gross.
  2. Burp cloths for spit up but also any other kind of spill.
  3. Diapers and lots of them!
  4. Nursing cover. Unless you are bottle feeding or prepared to whip out your boobs in front of everyone in which case more power to ya!
  5. Change of clothes for the kiddos in case of accidents. 
  6. Diaper cream (self explanatory) 
  7. Wipes because they are handy in so many situations.
  8. Bib because it's nice to avoid having all your toddlers clothes completely covered in stains
SIDE NOTE: I usually combine my diaper bag and purse. Less bags means less to keep up with. It also means that my wallet, keys, iPhone, and chap stick are added to the mix. You also might want to consider bringing along a changing pad. I don't bother with one because they take up so much space but they can be useful at times. Plastic Ziploc bags are also super useful for dirty diapers.

A few more tip when traveling with little companions:

  • TIMING: Although as adults we tend to want to drive straight through, only stopping for quick bathroom breaks. When you have littles with you it's important to give them time to get out of the car and really burn off some energy. So when I say that we have an 8 hour trip ahead of us that is factoring in up to two extra hours for stops. My mother-in law can do the same trip in 6 hours but we will stop for lunch and have at least a couple run-around and stretch breaks as well. 

  • BATHROOM: If you have a kid or multiple kids in diapers, I suggest doing diaper changes at fast-food restaurants rather than gas stations. They almost always have changing tables where as gas stations are hit or miss. If they are potty training you might want to consider bringing along a portable potty. 

  • PLAY: If they are old enough give the kiddos a few things to play with. Stickers are great! You can also go to the dollar store and buy a couple new cheap trinkets. The newness will keep them interested at least for a while. 

  • SLEEP: Let them sleep! Try to take advantage of nap time on the road by not stopping if you can help it. Also keep in mind that while on vacation it's super important to keep things familiar for your kids when it comes to bedtime. If they have a special stuffed animal or blanket then bring it along. If they fall asleep to a sound machine or particular song or you always read them the same goodnight book then bring that along too. It will help them feel more secure in a new setting.

And there ya have it folks! I hope this has been a helpful post. I'd love to hear any of your tried and true travel tips as well. What have you found helpful when traveling with kids? Happy trails everyone and stay safe out there. xoxo

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  1. My exact thoughts this week!
    I ditch the formal changing pad as well, but I have some of these that are super thin, that I can lay down first on those public changing tables.{keyword}