Road Trip with a toddler – what to take in the car
We’re 7 months into our epic road trip with a toddler and dog around Australia.
We left Sydney in July and have been up to Cooktown, back down the east coast to Victoria, across to Tassie, back to Melbourne for Christmas, through South Australia and we’re currently cruising around the south west of WA – which is beyond amazing and so beautiful!
We’ve driven over 24,000kms which is A LONG time for a toddler in a carseat. We’ve not yet mastered the full art of a whinge free trip, but each day we get a little bit better at it. The cover photo was snapped somewhere in the middle of the Nullabor.
I was chatting with another mum who is doing “the lap” yesterday about the must haves in the car, turns out it’s almost the same, so I thought I’d share them here on the off chance any one reading is about to embark on the madness of driving around a massive country with a baby or toddler. It’s daunting and a hit list of stuff to set up with is always handy, from there you can work out what works for your little one.
- Food – more than you think. Unless you’re a massive planner (I’m not) chances are you’ll have no idea what you’re doing for lunch each day. Some days we’ve ducked out for a coffee and come home after dinner finding so many awesome things to see and do. Get great at “pass back” snacks – aka a snack that can be passed back to the carseat without fear of your car looking like a full disaster.To keep thinks simple, we pack a lunch box for our son each day. It’s not pinterest sexy but it does the trick! Common snacks in our car – cheese sticks, brown rice crackers, Fruit, Nut butter or Vegemite sandwiches, bliss balls, freeze dried fruit, nuts – broken up so he doesn’t choke on them, yoghurt pouches, popcorn – although I do end up picking out popcorn from the car seat every afternoon.I’d love to be all domestic and say fancy zucchini slice and healthy home baked treats (it happens sometimes) but generally things have to be quick and easy because we are always on the go and I have limited time for baking and being a domestic goddess. I use a very boring but practical Fridge to Go which is brilliant with the removable ice brick. It gives me lots of flexibility on what we can take in the car.
I also love the Kids Konserve stainless steal containers they’re easy to keep clean, don’t break and stack together when they’re empty. Total win in my world! They seemed expensive when I bought them, but I’ve used them every day for over 2 years, which for me is a seriously great investment and a lot more eco friendly than plastic disposable stuff.
- Water bottle/s – We have one each and for the last week I’ve been taking two for my toddler…. because if I take the wrong one, it’s asking for trouble and I won’t know which is “the one” until we’re out and about. Aside from that, it’s summer and it doesn’t hurt to have some extra water on board.
The current favourites are the Klean Kanteen stainless bottle – my fav because of the size and it’s stainless so less nasties leaching into the water. The other one is the Kids Eddy Camelbak which is a little easier for him to manage in the car. I upgraded my water bottle before the trip to a Stainless steal Klean Kanteen because of the plastic in the sun and nasties and all that. I love that it still feels clean after 7 months of hard work! You can read more about my fav mum water bottles here.
- ipad – I want to say books and toys in this spot, but really the ipod and play school has saved us on this trip. We have our routine where we get up and out the door, go grab a coffee and work out the day and if its a drive a couple of episodes of play school get watched before we break for a look around or lunch. It’s a savior!Seriously, you can’t play “I spy” with a toddler very easily and “look cows” gets boring after 22,000kms. PLUS it can host a bunch of educational kids apps, drawing apps and movies for special treats. Just get yourself a holder that attaches to your headrest and make sure it’s easy to slide it in and out, without having to turn around from the front seat. iPad for the win!
- Toys & Books – because sometimes they work sometimes they don’t.
- Spare Clothes – because toddler, that’s all! I keep a bag of swimming gear and a warm hoodie in the car too because the weather over a 600km drive can be pretty different at the other end and inbetween can be filled with awesome spots you want to dive into for a quick swim. After being caught out for a day without taking shoes with us, I keep a pair of shoes in the car as well… Whoops, I’m sure I’m not the only mum to run out the door, picking up my barefoot son and not realising he didn’t have shoes!
- Nappy Wallet – I love my melo baby tote – it fits a couple of nappys, all the bits you need and can be thrown into whatever bag you’re using on the day.
- Dustpan and broom – super handy for sweeping out the carseat and all the sand and dirt that gets tracked in after we’ve been out exploring.