If you’re like me and a first-time parent, it is daunting to go on your first road trip with a baby. What to pack, what to bring, the mental checklist runs on.
Our first road trip was from Sacramento to Los Angeles with our 8 week old. Now home, I want to share what we brought on the trip to help make it go smoothly. We booked a six-night trip that was split across two hotels and around a 5.5-hour drive each way. I spent probably too much time thinking about what to bring. But I would much rather be prepared and it certainly helped calm my nerves.
Now back home, I can say the trip was much easier than it felt in my head. The prep work definitely paid off and having a game plan was helpful. We thought about where we wanted to stop and made sure our car was set up for the stops to feed and change. More on that below.
So here’s my essential packing list for a road trip with a baby. It’s everything we brought for the car drive and what you may consider to bring on yours.
Essential Packing List for a Road Trip With a Baby
Travel Tips for the Road Trip
TIME BUDGET: We chose to stop every 2.5-3 hours to give the baby a break from the car seat, feed, and change. These longer stops took around 45 minutes to an hour. Then we had the occasional one-off stop for a quick feed or change.
IN THE CAR: I would recommend the essentials being within hand’s reach and setting up a diaper changing area. We didn’t want to use public bathrooms so we changed her in the front seat of the car.
TIMING: If you’re headed on a longer trip, try to time it with one of the longer naps. I know our baby sleeps longest in the morning and after the middle of the night feed. So we left at 5 am promptly after her feed. We got a really nice long stretch before having to stop.
FLEXIBILITY: Sometimes you may have stop in the most random places or even only after being on the road for 15 minutes, roll with it!
SAFETY: Always double-check your car seat. Map out where you want to stop, it is super helpful.
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What to Keep in the Front of the Car
- Several diapers + wipes
- Butt cream (we used this one since we were going for 3-hour stretches)
- Changing pads. For the changing pad, I bought these puppy puddle-proof liners to protect our car seats underneath our Gathre changing pad.
- Plastic bags for dirty diapers or soiled clothes.
- Burp rags and lots of them. I had a single bag just of burp rags for the trip.
- Haakaa if breastfeeding (super helpful if you get engorged/overfull on the trip)
- Any other feeding essentials like bottles + formula
- Portable sound machine — we use this all the time in the car.
- Nasal bulb suctioner in case you need to suction.
- Blankets — we keep two in the car.
- Outfit changes for you and baby. At least 2 for baby.
- Sun shades for car windows — these block UVA
- Safety mirror to see baby
- First aid kit + one towel
- Toys or books for baby for entertainment
- Diaper Bag: I kept ours up front stocked with our normal go-to’s. I love our Caraa Diaper Bag.
- Snacks + water
Everything Else to Pack
How much you pack is dependent on what gear you choose to travel with. Since we were road tripping and using our SUV, we packed what would be most convenient for the trip. I’ll share what we packed for gear and some alternatives to consider.
- Car seat (Cybex Aton 2) + Mios 2 Stroller. These connect together as one travel system. (rain gear for carseat and a stretchy car seat cover – great for protecting baby from curious eyes!)
- Baby Bjorn Bouncer – loved having another spot to put baby in our hotel room.
- We have the Guava Pack & Play which is what I pack every time
- The Slumber pod – a black-out tent for naps and fits over most pack & plays. Wouldn’t travel without it.
- Artipoppe Baby Carrier — this was amazing to have on the trip, it’s one of our most used baby items.
Whatever you may use to get baby down at night. For us that is:
- Swaddle (brought 2 in case one was soiled) or sleepsack
- Hatch Sound Machine – we use it as a nightlight, could use the portable sound machine instead. Certainly wasn’t necessary but we had the room.
- Owlet Sock
- VAVA Baby monitor. You don’t need any internet for this to work.
- 2-3 outfits a day – we live for bodysuits and kimono-style onesies.
- Sweaters + outerwear
- Sleepsacks or pajamas
- Socks + shoes + beanies + sun hat
Hygeine + Medical + Diapering
- Dish soap to clean bottles/pacifiers
- Laundry detergent – we did a bit of handwashing
- Baby Shampoo + Soap
- Thermometer + infant medications
- Rash Cream + body ointment
- Diapers + wipes + changing pad
- Baby brush + nail clippers if a longer trip
- Nasal aspirator + saline drops
- Burp rags — these muslin ones are our favorite.
- Formula, bottles, cleaner brush
- Forks, spoons, plates
- Breastfeeding: cover, disposable nursing pads, Haakkaa, breast pump if needed