We go so often, that it’s just easier to keep the car always packed!
- Playground bag – Starting when my kids were toddlers we would meet up with friends or stop at a park almost weekly. I kept a “Playground” bag in the car. I stocked it with sand toys and shovels from garages sales (and always extra for friends), chalk, bubbles, bug catching net and a jar.
- *not pictured – Training Potty – When the kids were little, I would also keep a little training potty in the van, plastic sacks and paper towels. Not every park has a bathroom or at least one you want your toddler using!
- Backpack – For the zoo, pumpkin patch, Living History Farms, parks, hikes, farm trips – I need to carry water and other necessities. I was using my backpack so much that soon, it just stayed in the car.
- Dirty Shoe Bucket – These kinds of plastic tubs are great and I keep them handy in the garage to toss into the car before we head to a park or creek. My kids can’t seem to stay out of the water.
- Blankets – I keep a few blankets for wrapping my kids up if they have gotten too dirty or wet. I can’t tell you how many times I have stripped my kids down to their diapers or undies, wrapped them up in a blanket and headed home to a warm bath.
Life is Too Short to not get Messy!
- Extra jackets, hats, gloves – MY FAVORITE Kid Gloves!
- Socks – because McDonald’s charges you $1 per pair to play in the play land.
- Umbrellas – because the kids think they are fun.
- Plastic Table Cloth – We picnic about once a week, so this comes in very handy!
- Instant icepack and rubber gloves – Part of my first aid kit that stays tucked away in the back because we don’t use it very often. The rubber gloves also come in handy if you end up picking up trash in a nature area that needs some TLC.
- Plastic grocery bags are a must for trash, messy/wet items or a quick organizing job.
- Sun Screen – Yes, I know it goes bad if kept in a hot car, but I figured bad sun screen is better than no sun screen if I forget to bring the good stuff along.
- Hand Sanitizer – I bought a giant jug from a discount warehouse store and just refill my smaller bottles.
- First Aid Kit – Every few months I make sure to restock the Band-Aids.
- Dog water bowl (hard to see in the picture) and baggies – Toby travels so much with us that I just leave his stuff in the van. I keep lots of baggies because I am a firm believer in responsible pet ownership – Please clean up after your pets if you are in a public area.
- USB cable – You’ll notice that our van doesn’t have any TV’s. I am not opposed to them, our van just simply didn’t come with one, and we never bought one…and my kids don’t know any different. But my cell phone dies a lot. 😦
- Music and unabridged books on CD – We spend a lot of time driving and I try to use that time purposefully. We love to listen to stories. In one week we can listen to a 4-6 hour story like Charlotte’s Web or The Jungle Book.
- Trash – mine is a small wicker basket that a plant came in and I just tuck in a grocery bag and boom-trash can!
- Wet Wipes – Do I need to say more?
- Facial Tissues – We sneeze a lot. 🙂
Ok – here is where I get a little OCD…
- Blank Paper – Why? I have never used it! So, when I was a kid, I watched the movie Snowbound: the Jim and Jennifer story based on a true life event. Well, now I just feel like I need paper in the car in case I ever get stranded and need to start a fire. I don’t even have matches in the car…anyway, on to my next craziness…
- Maps to the hospital – before GPS’s or smart phones, I printed off maps to the hospital, just in case. Thank the Lord we have never needed to use them!
- Trash bag – it was a free sample and seemed perfect for the car!
- Duck Tape – same as above – free sample – who knows…seems like a good idea to have it in the car!
- Park and trail maps! – We keep our local park maps and use them all the time! I picked them up from the county conservation office.
Ever since my kids were toddlers, we pack a snack bag and take water! It’s not uncommon to be gone from home for 3-4 hours at a time and full children = happy children!
I found these great trays for the kids at Hobby Lobby. The trays are pretty sturdy and stack into each other. We use these for longer road trips. I like to make trips as much fun as the destination and plan lots of surprises and activities for the kids.
My TRAVEL Board on Pinterest has lots of the activities we have done in the past! My rule for Pinterest is not to pin anything I won’t use or try! Just because I like an idea doesn’t mean I will pin it! I also frequently “clean-up” my boards and delete pins that I no longer need!