Get Road Trip Ready for Adventures with Little Ones

I’ll admit, I never expected to be a mini van mom. I’m a believer now, completely spoiled by the conveniences it offers, the automatic doors, built in window shades, the fold out screen. Plus, on cold or rainy days we have enough room for a picnic for four in the back!

I recently became a “Stay at Home Mom” other than the fact that we never stay home. This post covers what I keep stocked in the van so I have anything I might need on the go.

For entertainment anywhere, make sure to check out these free activities for kids to have on hand while you’re exploring!

Make sure your glove box or center console is stocked with the following items if you’re traveling with toddlers in the car:

  1. Peppermint Essential Oil – This is a game changer for those who get carsick! Any time someone feels woozy, open the bottle and take a big inhale.
  2. Vehicle Registration
  3. Insurance – Car as well as Health insurance cards
  4. Microfiber cloth for the dust that inevitably settles on your dash and entertainment screen. Instant clean!
  5. Individual-use Sunscreen Packets in case my full-size bottle is MIA from a beach bag or day trip backpack.
  6. Laundry detergent – Single use pack or pod JUST IN CASE you’re far from home and you have a carsick mess in a carseat you can wash the clothes/car seat liner with it. This has happened to us about once every 6 months with our son. Don’t let that stench ruin the rest of your journey.
  7. Kid Hand Sanitizer
  8. Gum/Mints
  9. Backup pair of cheap sunglasses
  10. Mask(s)
  11. Extra snacks
    • Rice Rusks are a welcomed snack til at least age 3
    • Baby Food Pouch (I don’t like to keep this in the car during extreme temperatures though)
    • Goldfish
    • Granola/Trail Mix
  12. Cords/Cables – Lightning charger, headphones, micro usb charger
  13. Rain poncho
  14. Emergency Cash (Just $10 has saved me on a few occasions where I forgot my wallet or was cashless.)
  15. Postage Stamps – I like to keep envelope and postcard stamps handy.
  16. Medicine / Personal Care
    • Pain Reliever (Bonine or Dramamine)
    • Motion Sickness Pills
    • Deodorant
    • Small Hairbrush
    • Dental Kit with toothbrush/paste
    • Boogie Wipes – Made for runny noses, but I also use them as a wet wipe. Less harsh that baby wipes (unless you’re already using water wipes).
    • Nail File/Clipper
    • Tweezers
    • Hair Tie
    • Band-Aids
    • Sanitizing Wipes
  17. Pen
  18. Post-its (For leaving notes for others or reminders for yourself.)

Read on for ideas to keep your children entertained on the journey!

Best Activities to Entertain Little Ones in the Car

Below are the items that live in my vehicle so I’m always prepared for traveling with toddlers in the car. Get more ideas here Favorite Travel Activities Under $15 and here Gift Ideas for Families Who Love Travel.

  1. Restaurant Backpack – A bag filled with activities/toys they only see when you’re out and about. This keeps them entertained while you can enjoy a meal out or a visit to a brewery. Here’s what we keep in our busy bag:
    • Model Magic
    • Tactile activity mat
    • Rush Hour
    • Animal Figurines
    • Hot Wheel Cars / Small Toy Trucks (Construction Trucks double as great sand toys)
    • Water Wow
    • Sticker Books
    • Wipe away Books
  2. Car Activities all stored in a Collapsible Car Organizer Bin
    1. Crayola Color Wonder Markers (No mess coloring)
    2. Board Books (at age 3, my toddler still sometimes tears pages, so I stick to board books in the car. Press Here is one of his favorites!
    3. A cookie sheet and magnets
    4. Water painting/drawling board
    5. A knotted shoestring and beads – This makes a big mess, but it probably keeps my 3 year old more entertained than anything else in the box
    6. A few Squigz
  3. Kid Headphones – Headphones specifically made for kids are best because they have a pre set maximum volume. We use these cute Forky Headphones so we don’t have to listen to Shiny and You’re Welcome on repeat.

Globally Inspired Picture Books

Picture books about unfamiliar places, faces, foods, and customs have generated such wonderful curiosity and discussion in our home.

Here are some of our favorites:

Busy Board

Quiet Books or Busy Books make excellent toys for road trips or air travel. I’ve had a number of flight attendants and fellow passengers take a picture of ours for the toddler in their lives.

Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links on which (at no additional cost to you) I may earn a small commission. I promise to use any kickback to explore more of our incredible world. Read full privacy policy here


  1. Small, battery operated vacuum – We use a Dewalt Wet/Dry Vacuum as it is easy to swap out the battery from our garage’s charging station
  2. Trash bin DIY – Convert a cereal container to a lidded trash receptacle
  3. Umbrella

One More Tip:

In the unlikely event you are in an accident, label each kid’s carseat with a bright piece of paper stating:

  • Their Name
  • DOB
  • Parent Name(s) and Phone Numbers
  • Primary Doctor and Phone Number
  • Allergies

1 Comment

  1. […] Turn your vehicle into base camp.Stock it well with beverages, snacks, a diaper changing station, extra clothes for all, and easy to access everything. Here’s how I pack our vehicle to be ready for anything. […]

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