Baby Road Trip: The Secrets to a Happy Car Ride {Part 2 ~ Packing Printable!}

In our last episode of “Tear-Free Travels”, we puttered down the highway, visiting the quaint village of Safetyville and sauntering through the rolling hills of Playdom.

We completed half the journey.  Today we’re going to finish our little adventure.

It’s time to dry up your baby’s monsoon of road trip tears.

Baby Road Trip: Secrets to a Happy Car Ride (Part Two) -

Our odyssey today is going to carry us to…

  • The Cliffs of Clutter
  • Munch Mountain

The first is best avoided, while the second should be savored.  Slowly.

Hit the gas, girlfriend.

Let’s roll.

Baby Road Trip Stop #3
Avoiding the Cliffs of Clutter

Looking down at my map (because in my daydream, we’re all hipsters for some reason), I see a giant red “X” over the next landmark on our journey.

It’s labeled “Clutter Cliff” and it’s something we’ll want to very carefully avoid because at the bottom of said precipice are the Depths of Despair: the fiendish rocks that have sunk many a parent’s happy vacationing dreams.  

At first glance, Clutter Cliff seems unassuming, but without careful navigation it can quickly get out of control.

Keeping the car organized and as clutter-free as possible will help everyone’s stress level stay on this side of the drop-off.

To that end, here are some suggestions to keep well aware from the hazards of a junked-up vacation car.

Auto-Prep Ahead

Do all the auto-prep stuff before putting your baby in the car. 

For us, that usually looks like Cameron taking the van to get filled up with gas, check the tires, check the oil, and getting it washed and vacuumed out.  (Nothing helps my psyche for a long car ride like packing a clean car!)

While he’s doing these very stereotypically male jobs, I happily putter about the kitchen in my apron…um…watch another episode of Downton Abbey…um…finish packing stuff.  (Yeah.  I’ll stick with that one.)

Baskets, Totes and Bags, Oh My!

After you’ve spent hours packing your suitcases and making a mountain of junk, it’s time to cram all of those items into your seemingly clown-sized car.

Don’t just throw stuff in the car and hit the gas.  You’ll have to pull over a thousand times for things.  Think through where everyone is sitting and figure out how to place toys, wipes, snacks, etc. etc. in the car to limit the need to move around a whole lot.

This means you’ll need baskets, boxes, and bags.

Baby Road Trip Must Haves: Some Smart Car Organizers -

#1. A backseat organizer keeps all kinds of fun distractions (we’ve already mentioned) at your baby’s finger tips.  If you have an alert baby, this is worth more than your little chubster’s weight in gold.  GOLD.

#2. Fabric boxes are the perfect size for board books, plastic toy cars, little dolls, snacks, etc.

#3.  I like to keep this Flex Tub in the car at all times, actually.  I throw bottled water in there, non-chocolate granola bars, games and activities, anything that might be helpful to have in the car that I don’t want to try to remember to add later.

It’s my Anti-Whining Insurance Policy.  Mom, I’m hungry…thirsty…bored… Before a big trip, I usually clear it out and add in a few Dollar Store surprises for the girls to discover during the trip.

It would also be a great place to store diapers and wipes for the trip – easy to carry  around & very accessible in the car.

#4. This storage container has a box for books and toys, but also has sippy/bottle holders attached.  An ideal situation if there aren’t cup holders attached to your baby’s car seat.

Keep It Clean

It’s amazing how fast a road trip can trash a vehicle.  Before you know it, the kids are smashing fries into the carpet and the bottle of milk has spilled over the carpet.

(I recommend crying over that spilt milk, btw.  It’s going to fill the car with the aroma of decaying bovine excretions if you don’t get it cleaned up fast… #experiencesucks.)

There are a few sanitary items I refuse to pull out of the garage without.

  • An unleakable trash can ~ You can pick one that hangs over the back of a seat (here), but for our family, only this one will do.  (Bonus: a lid!)
  • Disinfecting wipes ~ I cannot tell you how handy these are.  These fit perfectly into the mesh side of the trash can.
  • A kitchen towel ~ Tucked into the glove compartment, for bigger spills.  A roll of paper towels always gets trampled and soaked with mysterious liquids.  I end up throwing out the whole roll as useless.
  • A window hammer ~ Yes, I’m a bit paranoid, but I like having one of these in the glove compartment.  It cracks windows and can slice through seatbelts in the case of the unthinkable.
  • Booger wipes ~ Do you really want to stumble out of the car to see your friends and family, only to look over and see a mountain range of snot forming on your “I swear he’s really cute normally” son?  Save yourself some humiliation – these work so much better than regular tissues.


Baby Road Trip Stop #4
Munch Mountain

Ah, Munch Mountain.

With it’s grand vistas of pretzel-stick trees and Cheerio clouds, it’s a welcome sight to be sure.  Nothing helps our children calm down quite like the promise of snacking in the car.

Snack Packing Don’ts

As you’re packing your snack bag (this collapsable one is my absolute fav), here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Limit the sugar.  He’s trapped in the car, so this isn’t the time for him to get a sugar rush.
  2. Nothing sticky, meltable, or gooey.
  3. Nothing that can stain.  This means chopped cherries, blueberries or anything with beet juice is out.)
  4. Make it choke-proof.  If your baby is going to be snacking, you need to make sure he could, in theory, swallow his food whole.  (Quarter those grapes!)
  5. There will be a mess.  It’s impossible for your baby/toddler NOT to make a mess.  Accept it as inevitable and then come prepared using the tips I shared earlier.

Snack Packing Do’s

  1. Look for squeeze packets so you don’t have to try to feed with a spoon on the go.  You can purchase organic baby food, or get your own squeeze kit if you make your own baby food.
  2. If your baby is old enough, pack some Gerber Puffs, Cheerios, or Yogurt Melts for him to munch on.
  3. Don’t forget to pack a good booster seat (with a tray).  Unless you like holding on to a squirmy grumpy baby during meals…
  4. If you’re breastfeeding, pump ahead and store the milk in bottles inside a cooler.
  5. If you use formula, either purchase Ready-to-Feed formula that’s already mixed, or pack a few bottles of water and a formula dispenser.

Baby Road Trip Snack Savers

#1.  Gyro Bowl ~ Looks space-age and futuristic, but is actually really common-sense cool.  Bowl rotates to stay parallel to the ground.

#2.  Stackable Snack Cases ~ the perfect portion amount, with a variety of healthy snacks to rotate through.

#3.  Flippy Snack Cup ~ Has a handle so it can hang from the stroller or diaper bag without spilling.

#4. Monster Snacker ~ Who wouldn’t want to snack out of this?  (The sensitive, less adventurous baby, that’s who.  Probably best for rough-and-tumble personalities!)

It’s Time.
{Free Packing List Printable!}

So we’ve gone over a lot in our little sanity-saving baby road trip series.  (Tell me you didn’t miss Part One!)

An insightful reader asked me for some sleep and napping tips for the weary traveling baby.  I thought that was a brilliant idea and have already begun writing it. Sign up here  and I’ll email it directly to you! (Such service!)

I thought it might be useful if I included a free little baby packing list for you to reference.   Afterall, many of you know how I feel about checklists… Making checklists is how I successfully procrastinate things (like packing the car).  It’s my secret weapon of “One More Coffee While I Work On This”.  *wink* The point is, I ♥ checklists, so I plinked around and created this one for you.

Free Printable ! Baby Road Trip Packing List -

Like free things? Subscribers always get first dibs on giveaways and product reviews! Sign up here

That said, if you’d rather use my secret to procrastinate your own packing, I’d hate to rob you of one more coffee.  Pretend it’s not here. 🙂

Click here to get your free
“Baby’s First Road Trip”
Packing List.

No matter how long your baby’s first road trip is, it’s important to try to keep your mindset on the positive side of things.

Think of it this way…

Add Your Wise Advice On Baby Road Trips…

What does your baby like to snack on during trips?  

How do you keep the car organized and clutter-free?  

Share your tips in the comments!

Meet Heather Taylor

Heather Taylor

Heather is the Chief Encouragement Officer here at Incredible Infant and has been writing and encouraging parents online since 2007.  She's certified in baby sleep coaching (yes, that's a real thing), has served as an Expert Parenting Panelist for numerous events, and has been a featured writer on blogs like,, My Kid's Adventures, Cafe Mom, and others.  If it's 2am and you're desperate to read SOMETHING, click here for all her darkest secrets, including why she really shouldn't be allowed to blog.  


 I ♥ honesty. Affiliate links may be present. (See what this means.)
Baby Road Trip: Secrets to a Happy Car Ride (Part Two) -

Pin this for your next road trip!


  1. D Miller says:

    Wow, that trash can is like 5 x the size of ours! That’s more like it! Thanks for these tips, Heather! We are headed on the road in a week and I will be so prepared now.

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