Survival Guide to Road-tripping with an Infant

How to Successfully Road Trip with an Infant on Board


My Story


A weekend road trip as a new family of 3, that doesn’t seem to complicated. WRONG!


It was only a 4-hour trip, but wow… I had no idea what I was doing! I was so afraid I would forget something we would really need that I pretty much-packed everything we owned.


Let me save you the trouble, we barely touched half the items I had in the suitcase.


I was so focused on everything we would need while at our destination that I didn’t put much thought into what we would need in the car.


On a day to day basis, I would normally just grab the diaper bag and head out. Herein lies the first problem we had while on our first trip with a newborn.


We’re driving along when something starts to smell… you know the smell… it’s like a mix of rotten eggs and something that just rolled over and died, and then exploded!


I look at my husband who is notorious for farting. It wasn’t him. Then we quickly put 2 and 2 together as we look at one another in bewilderment.


How could such a foul smell come from such a cute baby?


Of course, we are in the middle of nowhere land and there isn’t a gas station for miles. We pull off to the side of the road to inspect the situation, and OH MY we have got quite the situation!


This horrid smell is most definitely coming from this 9-pound baby. I get out the diaper bag and Lord helps us! There is only 1 wipe!! Yes, 1 wipe!


How could I have forgotten to check the diaper bag for wipes? Even worse how could I forget to pack wipes in the suitcase! That suitcase that is crammed full, barely able to zip, and has no wipes!


Worse yet, this is no normal poopy diaper. This diaper couldn’t even handle the force that rocketed from my little one’s booty.


It’s seeping out the sides, it’s all the way up the back and nearly to our baby’s shoulders. It’s soaked through the adorable onesie and even made its way to the car seat.


Now what? Mom mode commence! Grab that water bottle! Grab that stash of napkins from the glove box! Voila! Homemade wipes!


It wasn’t perfect but we got her pretty well cleaned up until we made it into civilization again, where we were able to purchase some wipes.


So moral of the story… don’t spend too much time focusing on what you think you might need and forget about the basics.


I’ve put together a good go-to list for future trips. Our trips since that first trip have been much better.


Now there has unfortunately still been plenty of diaper blowouts in and out the car seat, but the suitcase is less full and there aren’t unwanted items going unused.


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Checklist For Road Trip For Maybe

What You Can’t Do Without


  • Wipes – Double check the diaper bag for an ample amount of wipes but also take a new package of wipes with you.


  • Diapers – I always throw a box of diapers in the trunk, because that is the easiest for me and I know I won’t run out of an entire box.


  • Clothes – 2 sets of clothes per day plus one extra backup for the trip should do it.


  • Jammies – 1 set per night plus one extra backup.


  • Socks/Shoes – Dependent upon the weather. If it’s hot I wouldn’t even mess with socks and shoes. Maybe take a couple of pairs of socks in case you go somewhere with the A/C blasting. If it’s cold definitely take 1 pair of socks per day plus 2 backups because we all know how easily those tiny socks can disappear. If your baby isn’t walking yet, I wouldn’t worry about packing shoes unless you just want to because they’re so incredibly cute! In which case I’d only take one neutral-colored pair that will match all or most the outfits.


  • Burp Rags – My newborn spits up A LOT, so I always pack 3 burp rags per day and make sure to have a few in the diaper bag also.



What You Need For Bed Time


  • Do you need a Pack n Play or Bassinet?


  • Sheets – If you’re taking the Pack n Play or the Bassinet, make sure you have the proper sheets for it.


  • Blanket or Swaddle


What You Need For Bathing


  • Infant bathtub – Do you need to pack the infant tub for this road trip? Personally, I will just shower with my baby when we take short road trips. If it’s a longer trip I would consider taking the baby tub unless you’re tight on space.


  • Hooded towel


  • Washcloth


  • Body/Hair wash – I use the combo on trips. It’s at least one less bottle.


Important Extras


  • Toys/Books – When traveling I only pack a few of my daughter’s very favorite toys that I know will keep her entertained.


  • Sunscreen – If you’re going to be out in the sun.


  • First Aid and Medications if any – I know most newborns are on vitamin D drops, so don’t forget those!


For Breastfeeding Moms


I find it easiest to forego the breast pump on short trips if I know that my baby will be with me the entire time for nursing sessions.


Late into my breastfeeding journey, I discovered a hand pump and this became my go-to device for when I was out and about. If you don’t have one, you need one. It will make pumping life SO much easier. I seriously wish I would have known about them sooner.


More things you may need if you will be pumping:


For the Formula Fed Baby


  • Formula – If it’s a short trip having a formula dispenser will save you some time and space.


  • Bottled or distilled water


  • Bottles


  • Bottle Warmer


For the Car


  • Diaper bag



  • Window shade (if you don’t already have one) – Having a shade up makes it much easier for your baby to sleep if you’re traveling during the day.


  • Car seat cover – This is good to have for extra protection against blocking the sun inside the car and wind when outside the car, but if your baby gets warm easily, I would remove the cover while driving.


  • Car seat toy – This will help keep them entertained… hopefully!


Things I Quickly Learned Were Not a Necessity


  • Boppy – Who are we kidding? You’ll be holding your baby the entire time or someone else will be.


  • Baby Wearing Wrap – Same thing, are you really going to need this?


  • Activity Mat – there will be all sorts of new things for baby to look at that will occupy most of their time.


Tips For Your Road Trip With Baby


  • I know it’s the last thing you want to hear, but take breaks often. If your baby is upset and crying they can get overheated in the car seat very easily. It’s important for them to be able to get out and “stretch their legs” too.


  • Every time you stop it’s also a good idea to check their diaper. Maybe you’ll save yourself from having to clean up a blowout… or maybe you won’t.


  • If your baby is sleeping, let them sleep.


What have you found to be your road trip must-haves?


I hope this checklist will help you when you find yourself packing for that next road trip. If you’re anything like me without this list there is always that one thing that gets forgotten.


And if your husband is anything like mine, he will ask every time without fail “What goes in the diaper bag?” Now you can download this checklist to hand to him as well.


>>>Download Your Road Trip Survival List<<<

road trip packing list for babies
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