Planning a small road trip with a toddler.


Planning ahead. 

When you have a small road trip to prepare for with your young toddler, you need to plan a few days ahead. Last minute planning is super stressful and usually leads to forgotten items that leads to unnecessary money spending. Planning a few days ahead is good. Especially if you’re scatter-brained like myself. Within this post you will find multiple lists that are separated by people and uses. Also included are tips to make the trip a bit easier to handle. I will give quick simple pointers on car sickness, and possible tantrums. In our case during our trip we will have someone in the backseat with our toddler, so she will be more entertained than if she had to sit back there alone. On our way home however she will be sitting alone. 

For our trip we are leaving on a Friday morning. So I’m here planning and writing along as I plan on a Wednesday.  We are only going to be away for 3 days including the driving time, so not too much packing is needed. Pack only what you need, or what you think you may need.

You don’t need to have 4 pairs of shoes and 6 outfits for a few days away. Yes it is good to have more then not enough. Don’t over do it as that’s just going to cause stress before, during, and after the trip. Bring one outfit per day and perhaps an extra or two as toddlers like to get their parents dirty. Toddlers on the other hand may need two outfits per day, (messy, messy children). The extra pairs are important when you’re staying at a hotel. If you’re at someone’s house then you can throw the clothing in the wash. 


If you’re staying at someone’s house, make sure to co-ordinate with them in the planning. This will ensure to pack everything you need. When co-coordinating make sure to see if they have toys, bedding, certain foods if it’s required, a high chair or booster seat, etc. The lists provided here are meant to be used if the place where you are staying is prepared for accommodating your little one. But is also applicable to those staying in a hotel or with unprepared hosts. 


Have a plan for in the car.

The day before you leave, really get to know your route. Know where the parks and washrooms stops are. Cranky children may need to just run off some steam or use the washroom. (so many washroom breaks…) Of course if your little is still in diapers a stop every few hours (unless they poop of course). If you’re potty training then of course bring the potty and you can use it while in the car if need be. 

When it comes to eating and drinking that is up to you if you allow it in your car. We don’t allow eating or drinking in the car with the exception of water of course. In this case we will be making plans to stop for lunch, for snacks they will be pulled out when we stop for diaper changes and washroom breaks.

Before you start your little journey, (if you’re not leaving super early in the morning) bring the little one(s) to the park. try to rid them of their energy before getting on the go. Maybe they will even take a nap for the first bit of the trip.

If they are naturally hyper and that doesn’t faze them then let them sit there and relax (or whine :P). Maybe they can read, color or watch a movie. If they are older play games like “I spy”. If the child is younger like mine then none of these are really an option. She is rear facing so she wouldn’t be able to color or anything. Our daughter uses her soother while sleeping so while she is still using it we will be abusing it during the trip (only if she gets cranky). Plus the soother will ease her sleep in the car and keep her relaxed. For children who don’t use a soother, try putting on a sleepy time music in the back or a movie, even read a book if that works. 

Car sickness?

If you get car sickness try taking anti-emetics like the over the counter options or natural like ginger 30 minutes before leaving. Another way to ease it that I have learned (but have not tried) is using a brown paper bag. Place the bag under your shirt onto your bare chest. Men may need to tape it but ladies can tuck it between the boobs or into the bras. Yeah weird I know! If it’s the child that’s in a car seat that is going to get motion sickness, then someone should be sitting with them. Unless they are in a forward facing car seat, they sit up more than a rear facing car seat. If you absolutely don’t want to sit in the back then just keep a vigilant ear out for their noises and actions. Vomiting in the car seat is a choking hazard. 


The lists provided will be detailed with Clothing for Who, Foods to bring like snacks. Makeup, Toiletries etc. 

Travel lists Free Printables

I hope this helped prepare you for your trip and ease the stress of traveling in the car with your precious cargo. Please feel free to contact me for more ideas to add to the descriptions or to the lists provided. 

The lists are free to print, not even a subscription required.



I am not liable for any forgotten items, stresses caused, or missed time frames. The trip is your responsibility to be prepared for. This post is a suggested reference to use, not requirement. 


3 thoughts on “Planning a small road trip with a toddler.”

  1. We went on a road trip recently and I forgot the rain coats! I thought I had a pretty thorough check list but apparently rain coats were not on the list.

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