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How to Have a Successful Road Trip With Young Children: Pack an Emergency Box

When you have young children, you always have to think in worst case scenarios. A diaper blowout, accident or mess is bound to happen — maybe even multiple times. There will be sticky fingers, messy mouths, and probably some spills and boo-boos. Don’t get caught unprepared.

Pack an Emergency Box or Two!

Think of all the things that might go wrong and items you’d want to have on hand if there is a diaper blowout, accident, mess or someone gets sick. Pack these items into a tub to keep on hand — just in case. You might not end up using everything (let’s hope you don’t have to!), but you’ll likely end up very glad you thought ahead and brought at least some of these things.

For instance, we brought a thermometer and infant and children’s medicines. We were glad we did because all three children ended up getting fevers on our trip!

This time around, I actually packed two “Emergency Boxes” — one that I kept near the front seat and a medicine container I kept packed in the suitcase. Here are the items these boxes contained:

Travel Emergency Box

Plastic Bags (for trash or diapers)
Lysol Wipes
Tissues
Huggies Wipes
Ziploc Baggies
Hand Sanitizer
Lip Gloss
Lotion

Medicine/Hygiene Box

Bandages
Infant Pain Reliever
Children’s Advil
Benadryl
Travel sizes of Shampoo/Conditioner
Excedrin
Sunblock
Thermometer
Motrin PM
Body Wash
Neosporin
Fingernail Polish Remover
Multi-Vitamins

Make sure your diaper bag is also packed with an extra outfit(s), diapers, wipes, plastic bags and a diaper changing pad, in addition to the items you usually keep in the diaper bag.

How do you prepare for emergencies on trips? Share your ideas in the comments!

Other posts in the Have a Successful Road Trip With Young Children series

  1. How to Have a Successful Road Trip With Young Children: Be Organized When Packing
  2. How to Have a Successful Road Trip With Young Children: Pack an Emergency Box
  3. How to Have a Successful Road Trip With Young Children: Bring Some Good Books & Audios

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89 Comments

  • Christine says:

    I love the emergency box idea. It seems like every time we go on a trip my children end up with fevers and wouldn’t you know it, I forgot the meds again! I hate paying full price when I know I’ve got six bottles at home. I’m definately going to do this when we go on our summer road trip.

    • AJ says:

      I agree! I’ve had to pay full price twice when I would have been just fine if I had prepared and brought some of my stockpiled meds along!

    • TeamBonk says:

      I’ve started storing all of our meds at home in a small plastic travel tote (in the linen closet). That way, whenever we go on a trip, I just grab the entire tote. We have whatever meds we would have at home! A life saver!

      • Heather says:

        Me too! It’s always packed and ready to go! It has saved me many times. I also think that a small bucket ( like the ones for $1 at Target) is essential for an emergency kit. You can line one with a gallon ziploc bag to make car sickness clean up quick and easy.

      • Meredith says:

        I do this too! Seriously – it stinks when you’re away from home and someone needs cough drops or Nyquil and you have a TON of it at home that you got for a steal – and it’s not with you. Never fails that you no longer have a coupon for it, it’s not on sale, and the only place that’s open (in vacation-y places) is selling it for like $9 a bottle… LOL Well, I wouldn’t be laughing, but you know what I mean! Unless we’re on an airplane – which is only once a year and we are in regular neighborhood places with family (and my coupon binder!) – we take it with us.

  • Rae says:

    lipgloss in the emergency kit? Are we related? lol

    • Crystal says:

      😉 I try to never be far from my lip gloss. 🙂

      • Rae says:

        haha me neither! Lipgloss is an essential in my mind though my mom and husband think I’m nuts

      • Beth says:

        Crystal, why do you stock nailpolish remover?

        • Kari says:

          I was wondering that too. An emergency change of color to match the next day’s outfit? 😉

          • Crystal says:

            Well, I wouldn’t usually have it in my kit, but I did this time because I had my nails painted (a rarity for me!) and they were chipping and I didn’t have time to get the polish off before we left. So there’s my not-so-exciting reason for having it in there. 🙂

        • Davonne says:

          My nail polish chipped horribly on my last trip and I didn’t have any remover with me. Thankfully my sis-in-law had some and saved the day 🙂 And, I plan on always taking a bottle on future trips! (Maybe Crystal has a different reason, but there’s mine.)

        • Lexa says:

          Have you seen/heard of the nail polish remover pads? They are quite handy to have on hand for those who don’t use polish remover often (like me – I almost never paint my finger nails, and I paint my toe nails about 3 or 4 times a year). They are not cheaper than liquid – esp. if you get the liquid polish remover free! 🙂 – but less of a spill hazard and travel friendly.

        • Lis says:

          Though kids aren’t likely to get into Super Glue while on a trip (I think), polish remover is something that will “unstick” it.

  • Donna says:

    I always used the freebee tiny diaper bag you get from the hospital…and packed it and left it in my trunk with extra diapers, wipes…things like that….just remember to change the diaper when your kids grow out of a size….

  • Megan says:

    I made a first aid kit for my kids last summer when we road tripped to the beach. I store it on top of my fridge now – it keeps everything together in one spot and makes it easier on Grandmas if the kids need something while we’re not home.

    • Meredith says:

      holy mackerel. you are brilliant and you just saved the day in my house. Our kitchen is HORRIBLE on storage space and it leads right to the garage – and here in CO you store nothing in the garage b/c of temp extremes… so I have been moving and moving and moving all my little packs of tissues, etc. around and around and around trying to find a good spot for them… DUH! The top of the fridge has nothing except phone books we barely ever use. PROBLEM SOLVED!! You just made my whole week!!

      • Megan says:

        I am glad I could help!

      • Sara says:

        I found a couple of large baskets on clearance that I keep on top of the fridge for extra storage space. I can fit quite a bit in each basket and they are easy to pull down to get into, but they look so much tidier than random stuff being piled up there like it used to be.

  • Michelle P says:

    Here’s a biggie: Trash can liners and sanitary pads!

    When my family started passing around the stomach flu last March during a Spring Break road trip, we were in big trouble. My husband HAD to be back at work the next day and there was no extending our trip until everyone felt better. We knew we had 400 miles of desert to cross with few rest stops and gas stations to rely on, or even exits to pull over, so we had to be prepared. Multi-layering trash bags with a pad or two on the bottom as a splash guard and to absorb some of the liquid from vomiting kids was a life saver. I will never attempt a road trip again without these in our emergency kit!

  • Bridget says:

    Great idea!! I keep most of this in my car at all times but I’m definitely adding more of them….and might I add a change of clothes for mom too!!!!

  • BizzieMommie says:

    With an 8 year old, 20 month, and 6 month it is inevitable that something unexpected is bound to happen. I have a handy, see-through zipper pouch that I put medicine such as Aveeno cortizone cream, Tylenol, teething tablets, and Neosporin. The pouch fits nicely in the diaper bag so it travels wherever we go.

  • Ellen says:

    My son gets carsick easily, so I made “puke kits” to keep in the car. It is just a plastic grocery sack with a couple of OLD towels, a ziploc of baby wipes, bottle of water, an extra plastic bag for the gross clothes, and a clean change of clothes. After cleaning up a mess, I can throw the gross towels and wipes back into the plastic bag and throw it in the nearest trashcan. I can rinse out the gross cl0thes with the bottle of water and then put them in the extra plastic bag. The kits make clean up a lot easier and keeps the car from smelling awful!

    • Stacey says:

      My daughter always got sick too every time we got in the car. We had what we always called her puke pan. It was a butter bowl with the lid that way we could just put the lid on it and toss it. I always kept several in the car and wet wash cloths in a ziplock bag and several plastic bags from the grocery store for any thing that didn’t make it into the puke pan… Poor thing we even decorated one for her with all the different words for vomiting when she was going on a road trip with her boyfriend and his family she didn’t think it was funny but we all got a kick out of it.

  • Danielle says:

    These travel tips are amazing!!! Have a LONG car ride coming up (PA to Disney) next Friday so I’m lovin’ all these great ideas!! Thanks and keep them coming!!!

    • Carrie says:

      We have driven from OH to Florida about 6 times, and our twins are now 8. Let me know if you need any advice or tips. We are actually flying to Disney this time-that’ll be a new experience for us. The last 2 times we’ve been we drove. We’ll see how that goes!

      • Danielle says:

        Oh my word thank you… this site is just awesome! We’ve decided to leave my 7 month old b/c it’s to be in the 90s and it just seemed cruel to take him and put him through that when he’s not going to know what’s going on. My sister graciously agreed to keep him for us. So that leaves, my 3 & 5 year old girls, and my overactive husband!! 🙂 We have dual screen dvd players but we’re really hoping keep that to a minimum as they don’t normally watch a lot of TV. They make regular 3 1/2 hr trips to my husband’s family w/out stopping perfectly fine and have made a 5 hr trip to visit family in ohio with only one stop. I think they’ll do well but we’re stopping in NC to meet up with family and sleep and I’m kinda worried about day #2 in the car. Ideas??? Thanks!!!!

        • amy says:

          Dry erase boards with Low Odor markers. YOu can get them very cheaply if you watch sales and it kept my daughter busy for HOURS! They work great on a plane or in the car. We drove back from FLorida last year. I also packed lots of little NON sugary snacks. A cheese stick, a few grapes, five or six teddy grahams. All packaged seperately. Then we’d randomly dole them out to her. Kept her guessing. A grab bag of toys is fun. Just get a bag and put dollar toys in it. Garage sales or good will are good places to get these.

        • Carrie says:

          When are you leaving? You should email me-that way we aren’t taking up room on Crystal’s site :). Anyway, next week I have 3 posts on Disney tips and one on a road trip with young kids coming up. I decided long ago on our road trips, that letting them watch movies in the car most of the way wouldn’t hurt them. Like you, watching a movie or TV is a treat for my kids. And, I found out that even if they turn the movie on, they don’t necessarily watch it the whole time-it’s more of a “noise”factor and they’ll color, read, etc. while watching the movies.

  • AJ says:

    I also keep an index card with my emergency medicine supply that has dosing information for each medicine for each child so it’s easier if my husband has to give the dose since he doesn’t usually do that. Also has the doctor/ped ph# on it.

  • We have an emergency box too! Ours is in containers that fit nicely into our glove box. We also have a stationary bag in the van that has extra wipes, hand sanitizer, Kleenex’s and all the bigger items!

  • Rachal says:

    I keep something similar to this in my van at all times. It also includes things like a pen, nail clipper, balloons, (quick easy toy for unexpected waits) feminine hygiene products, extra diapers and wipes, outfits for each of my children and a shirt for me (baby spit up :), snacks, bottled water etc….it has saved the day on many occasions!

  • Rebekah says:

    I sure wish I would have done this. On our trip home over Memorial Day weekend, we had one 3 year old throw up AND have diarrhea while driving. That was one MESSY carseat! And I was one very unprepared mama. He also had growing pains over the weekend and I didn’t have any meds and we were in the middle of nowhere.

  • Ashley says:

    My husband and I always makes sure we pack eye drops in our emergency kit. It’s insane how we go through eye drops on car trips. When we are at home, we rarely use them. But as soon as we hit the road, his chronic dry eyes will act up or my contact will fall out. I blame it on the constant AC/Heat in the car plus concentrating on driving. We could levae the bandaids and Excedrine at home, but we are lost without our eye drops!

    It’s not kid related, but we always keep 10 $1 bills in our emergency kit just in case we hit a toll we weren’t expecting. This came in very handy on a trip to Phildelphia when our map system didn’t warn us about a toll road when we entered Deleware and would have otherwise had no cash in the car (he asked me to carry his wallet in my purse during a stop and, silly me, I put my purse in the trunk at one of our stops).

    • Moriah Lazik says:

      strange that you mention the dry eyes! Actually on my last road trip my eyes were in heaven from the moisture! Probably really unlikely for it to usually be the case but it was a nice change! I actually found myself being comfortable with contacts in my eyes for a 20 min nap!

  • Rachel says:

    I like to keep a small trash can with a bag lining near the front of our van. It’s great to put trash in (obviously) but more importantly, it can be a lifesaver when your two year old says she’s carsick about two seconds before the event occurs . . . my husband can’t figure out why I’m so fussy about having the trash can within reach until that happens! 🙂

  • Hollaina says:

    We keep a stocked and up to date first aid kit in the car at all times. I also pack a ziploc with all the other things we may need while on the road.

  • Nicola says:

    Everybody should carry Excedrin! I am a long time Migraine sufferer, one almost every day and Excedrin saved my life, they are great!

    • Moriah Lazik says:

      I definitely second this! I get AWFUL migraines and Excedrin has saved me on soo many different times!

    • Cecilia says:

      Nicola,
      Please don’t keep suffering from migraines! If you think about it, taking medicine for the pain just gets rid of the pain, not the cause. Pain is there as a warning system that something is wrong. Please find a chiropractor (it’s important to find one who will actually adjust you!) and get that taken care of. I will be thinking of you.

      • Nicola says:

        Thankyou for your kind thoughts Cecilia, I truly appreciate it. I have seen many doctors who have not been able to assist me They actually went away whilst I was pregnant but literally hours after having my baby girl they came back. I haven’t been able to take anything since she was born because I am nursing so I have just been surviving threw them with breathing techniques and a little yoga!

  • Beth says:

    My husband and I haven’t attempted a roadtrip with our kids yet. At 3, 2, and 1, just the idea is exhausting. haha. But I do always keep the diaper bag packed with many of the same essentials that people are mentioning here. Especially a change of clothes for each kid. I also keep a bib, a grocery bag for dirty diapers or clothes, sunscreen, and a few non-messy snacks (if there is such a thing).
    One thing I would probably take along if we ever did decide to do a long car ride is a portable kid’s potty seat. When a todder has to go, they’re not gonna wait for a rest stop or the next McDonald’s bathroom! haha

    • a.k says:

      yess!!! ds NEVER used his baby potty while pt at age 2…just straight to the big toilet, no seat cover or nothing. he also somehow became TERRIBLY frightened of public toilets (i think it was because it flushed on hi once in walmart…) …so right before we headed out, i was like wait! let me grab that new potty juustt in cassee (age 3, no diapers, terrified of public toilets)…
      thank goddd i did! man he held himself pretty good, but when he finally needed to go, he went! lol..and he only was comfty enough to do it sittin in the potty that was seated on the car seat 🙂
      highlight of the trip.

  • Heather says:

    Scissors is something I am planning on adding. Recently, my daughter wound a piece of string so tightly around her finger that I could not get it off. Her circulation was being cut off. I opened our first aid kit (that stays in the van). While it had a lot of stuff, there were no scissors. Closest thing was a pair of plastic tweezers. I sawed at it with that, and got it off, saving me from dragging her and her brother back inside the store for help.
    Not too serious of an incident, but it made me think of worse scenarios, where time could be critical.

    • Lexa says:

      I keep a pair of scissors handy, too. We use them to cut straws shorter at restaurants (then the kids don’t have to tip the cups to drink; even with lids, tipped cups still spill!), cut open snacks quickly, trim a snagged nail if we don’t have nail clippers around, snip the tag off of new sunglasses when Mommy forgot hers on a trip *again*, and many other uses. I used to have an all-in-one tool that had scissors on it, but it got sticky and the scissors became useless.

  • Christy Brittain says:

    We learned the hard way that keeping an extra change of clothes, shampoo, a towel and a gallon of water within reach can really come in handy. Thankfully we actually HAD all of those things randomly on hand when my son threw up in the car about 45 minutes into our 6 hour drive! My husband is a stickler for keeping hydrated so we had the gallon water in the front seat. The rest of the stuff…it was just a blessing that we had no other place to put it since we were over packed! Since then, we keep those things together on purpose. I can’t imagine having to drive the rest of the way with a stinky kid and car seat, so the road side bath was a lifesaver!

  • Angie says:

    I just wanted to let everyone know that the emergency box idea is also a great one for college students. I’m currently in college and when I lived in one of the campus dorms last year, I had one of these emergency boxes filled with essential medicine (things like Motrin, Excedrin, Imodium, Tums, cough drops, Sudafed, Vicks w/Sinex, Pepto-Bismol…a lot of these things I got for free using coupons!)

    People in my hall quickly learned that I was like the mother of the hallway – I always had a ton of things on hand, and some of my best friends used supplies from my emergency box quite a bit (they always offered to pay me back, which was nice 🙂 So not only are these kinds of boxes lifesavers when one gets sick and still has to go to class or take an exam, they also allow a student to make friends!

    • Dee Wolters says:

      I sent a kit like described with each of my 2 college girls. They both used some of the items in it and were thankful to have it. It saved time and money. And when they were sick, they really did not want to go to Walmart to buy medicine. And since I had been playing the drug store game a while it was really cheap to stock their boxes.

  • Christy says:

    Once my oldest grew out of the stage that I had to carry a diaper bag around all the time, I always keep a change of clothes for him in the mesh netting on the back of the driver’s seat in my car. During the winter, it is underwear, socks, pants, t-shirt, matching jacket outfit (we live in SC and it can be 70-80 degrees or 40 in Dec. so that gives us layering options). The jacket has come in handy just by itself. During the summer, it is just shorts and t-shirt and underwear/socks. We have used it most often for non-potty accident reasons. Once we were at a friend’s house and he wanted to get in their kiddie pool, but we had no bathing suit–no big deal, change clothes. It is handy everyday but also on road trips. Recently, he went into a fast food restroom with my husband on a road trip and stepped in a puddle of pee that was on the floor—yuck. It got on the bottom of his pants–no digging through luggage for pants–just a quick change of socks and pants. The socks have also come in handy when we went to a jump castle party once and forgot to wear or bring socks. My husband said, “Do you want me to go across to dollar general and buy socks?” “No, we have some in the car.”-“Really?” Now we are carrying a diaper bag again, but I still leave his change of clothes in the car–less bulk in the diaper bag. The baby’s smaller and needed-more-often clothes are in the diaper bag–plus a shirt and bra for me (spit up, breastfeeding leaks).

  • Beth says:

    We do this but keep it in the car at all times for everyday “emergencies”.

    Our box has: water, snack, shelf stable juice or milk, sippy cups, bowls (cleaned and placed in ziploc bags), change of clothes for each child (size and season appropriate), light weight jacket for each, sunscreen, first-aid stuff, wet wipes, activities, roll of quarters and 5 one dollar bills (vending machines, parking decks, ect), directions and numbers to nearest child emergency rooms (in case GPS dies), a few plastic grocery bags, disposable changing pads (work for losts of things), old wash cloth, disposable placemats (also work for many things)… when boys were younger, kit included diapers, formula (even though boys were breastfed, my husband couldn’t handle this if I wasn’t able or around), bottles and nipples cleaned in a ziploc, can opener if needed for formula (I just bought the individual powdered packets – never used but nice to have on hand) and a few jars of baby food.

    Obviously, the kit has changed as their ages and needs have changed but I use this kit often and have been glad to have it!

  • Amanda says:

    I love lip gloss too!

  • I just made an emergency kit for carsickness! I made it and needed it the next day! Whew! Just in time too! Check out what was in it http://samandann.blogspot.com/2011/06/ewww-carsickness-kit.html

  • Beth says:

    I’d bring tweezers too- it seems that vacations lead to splinters in my family- camping, picnic tables, mulch on playgrounds, etc. Tweezers have come in handy.

  • TeamBonk says:

    One more thing in our “emergency kit” is my middle daughter’s thyroid medication. She takes one pill a day so I try to keep a few in the car kit in case we ever run into troubles and are away from home longer than anticipated. (I also keep a few extras in the diaper bag.)

    Unfortunately, my older daughter’s extra epi-pen cannot be left in the car at all times due to temperature changes but it’s a MUST for us on a road trip (and we’ve got an extra in the diaper bag!)

    My youngest daughter has to wear an eye patch once a day for an hour … try to keep a few of those around too (since I often forget about them when packing up for the day).

    Thankfully my son doesn’t have any specific “medical needs” … LOL! 🙂

    On a side note, I also keep a small bag with some basic arts and crafts materials … paper, crayons, pencils. Just enough to keep the kids occupied in the event of car troubles or unreasonable traffice!

  • tampatwin mom says:

    feed packs I call them- great for infants and toddlers. I put a zipper bag of a meal or a days worth of meals and snacks- formula in indiviual packets from baby food jars, bottles with the water needed to mix ready to go, a disposable bib with a spoon TUCKED in the bib, baby food and napkin to use as a wipe if needed. ALways some little ziploc or baby food plastic jars filled with snacks that child likes. Also, I have entertainment packs including a table cover for a small child, crayons, a small toy or book (hard plastic so you can clean it at the hotel) for a resturant stop or bored moment in the car

  • Linda B. says:

    Disposable changing pads are great if your child has thrown up or wet (or even spilled their drink) on their car seat, especially if you are hours from somewhere where you can wash it. Since the pads have a plastic backing, after you have cleaned up what you can of the mess, put the changing pad on top of the car seat and your child can sit in the seat without sitting in whatever is on the seat.

  • Marie says:

    I have kits like many of you mentioned with extra clothes for the kids, snacks, medicines etc. but the one thing I could not have done without was a POTTY chair. I bought one that was more sturdy and had a lid so if we were somewhere you couldn’t dump it out it wouldn’t tip in the back of the car. We did many roadtrips, longer then 13 hours, when our twins were under 2. Instead of having to look for the nearest exist we could just pull off and go potty.
    Also if you’re kids need anything special make sure to have extra’s. My daughter needed a special feeding nipple that could not be bought at a store. My loving husband wanted to “give me a break” when we were going out for a long day several hours from home. When it came time to feed her we had a bottle but no nipple! After going to 4 drugstore/pharm. we ended up with a syringe. I sat in the back of our car feeding her for over an hour with a syringe. From that day on my husband packed an extra nipple in the diaper bag and in the glove box of the car.

  • Don’t forget tissues and food of some sort. You never know when you are far from food and the kids are melting. Throw some granola bars into your emergency kits moms!

  • Rebekah Williams says:

    This post just makes me laugh – we are SO there with you…expecting baby boy #5 any day and our oldest is 5…yes, all boys. 🙂

    We sort of go on step further though – in the summer I take an older over the door shoe holder, clip it to the back of the driver seat and use the pockets to keep things like sunblock, bug spray/wipes, baby wipes, socks (inevitably there’s a play place that requires them!), small toys (or two), few extra diapers, bubbles, jump rope, chalk, inflatable ball, outfit per kid, sunglasses (they get TONS of free pairs at various activities!) – pretty much an easily organized “summer essentials” kit. No matter where we go someone is getting wet, a friend is late for a play date, we have “dead time” in between errands/appointments – and it’s an easy, go-to summer fun spot. It helps me from constantly wondering if I have sunblock in the diaper bag, have enough diapers, etc…

    We DEFINITELY take the medicine with us on trips!! Learned that the hard way after driving over 30 minutes from my parents house (small town, all stores close at 9 p.m.) and paying full price at Walmart for thermometer, etc. in the middle of the night.

  • Amy says:

    For the bottles of medicine, I keep them in Ziploc bags in case they get sticky, and I write each child’s dose on the baggie with a Sharpie.

  • Jennifer says:

    No doubt some doctor or nurse is going to read what I’m about to write and completely disagree and shoot me down – but I’m writing it anyway (plus my sister is a paediatric nurse and three of my best friends are nurses and they agree with me…)

    My daughter suffers from chronic ear infections and currently has her second set of tubes in – we think one might be out as she got a ear infection last week for the first time in 2 years. As such, I try and keep an extra script for her antibiotics (as she’s allergic to penicillin) on hand and fill it just before we travel. I also keep her and her brother’s croup meds on hand as they always seem to get croup when we travel. I’ve only been doing this the last few years as:

    1. We travel internationally and off the beaten track a lot – so travel times are long, ERs and docs aren’t necessarily handy and I don’t want the kids suffering unnecessarily for a long time (especially with the croup).

    2. My docs don’t just hand out a ‘just-in-case’ script, I’ve always saved the croup meds (they inevitably give you enough for several episodes) and I’ve had extra antibiotic scripts two times for other reasons.

    3. I know my kids well enough to know when they are going to end up with croup (I sense the symptoms during the day) and ONLY give them the actual meds if they wake up with the barking cough, NOT because I think they might. As with the antibiotics, the same is true there, and luckily I’ve never had to give her any when traveling.

    4. My husband and I both have traveled to remote, developing countries for our work and we’ve always been supplied with full medical kits from our companies (we’re talking all the drugs you could imagine) and whilst we’ve always grabbed one of these bags for even our jaunts across the Pacific to see family (we’re from Australia and the US), we’ve never had to use anything more than electrolyte tabs, thankfully.

  • stephanie says:

    Since I have had kids, I have learned to ALWAYS have supplies on hand. I don’t have a console between my minivan seats, so I put a storage box (fits perfectly) & I have all the essentials with me at all times: tissues, snacks, wipes, flushable wipes, sanitizer, bandaids, plastic bags, paper towels, etc. I also make one up for impromptu picnics in the summer: paper plates, utensils, wipes, napkins, park passes, etc. That way when the mood strikes us, I just grab the picnic supplies & don’t have to hunt for everything. When we get home, before I put it away I restock it. Works like a charm

  • Nicki S. says:

    I know you guys have touched on a lot of smart ones, but don’t forget that it’s easy to grab one of the free single use Tide packs that we get with coupons from Target or WalMart and toss it in the suitcase. You might not use it, but if you need to wash dirty clothes in a hotel sink, it’s a life saver. And was free, as opposed to hotel dry cleaning or finding a laundromat.

  • Carrie says:

    One thing we used to keep in our car for long road trips is an empty water bottle. I’m not kidding you when I say my boys have each had to pee so bad when there was no rest stop or we were stopped in traffic on the way to FL and we couldn’t pull off for them to even pee beside the car. Hence, the empty water bottle-they peed in it, we put it in a plastic bag, and disposed of it asap at the rest stop or at our next destination. I know, weird and gross, but it’s better than peeing in their pants or all over the car!

  • Lisa says:

    I always keep a bag of “essentials” in the car. It contains first aid items, aspirin, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, baby powder, q-tips, avon bug guard spray, plastic bags, toilet seat covers, toilet paper, liquid hand soap, antibacterial hand sanitizer, nail clippers and a few other items. You just never know when you’ll need something.

  • amy says:

    Socks. For some reason when my daughter gets cranky on long trips if I change her socks it makes her feel better. We noticed this the first time on a plane trip when she was 15 months old. I had changed her diaper and a shoe had fallen off. I noticed her sock was damp so I changed her socks before we boarded the next plane. She was SO much happier. I almost always carry an extra pair of socks in my purse now. She’s 7 and she still enjoys fresh socks. And such an easy thing.

  • Susanne says:

    Great ideas Crystal,
    Just remember some medicines and liquids cannot withstand the heat.
    Most medicines and flamable liquids have temperature storage guidlines on the lable.

    I also like the idea of extra cups, napkins etc…
    Sometimes we will get one large drink ( lemonade or tea,)
    way too much for one person! With a few extra cups
    everone can have a small drink.
    Great ideas all the way around 🙂

  • Emilie says:

    Febreeze was a life saver when my son threw up in his carseat. (there are travel size ones at Walmart as I don’t normally use this product). It saved us all from the smell for the many hours home. I had washed the carseat out in a gas station bathroom and put it in a plastic bag. My son just sat in his carseat with a blanket for padding. But there was some on the seat and it smelled even though I had cleaned it as well as I could. When we got to a friends house we were able to spray the seat!

    I pack a roll of paper towel, plastic bags, wipes, a small bucket/styrofoam cooler, extra change of clothes per person, snacks, auto bingo games printed for free, batteries (AA and AAA), and a ziplock of change in the glove compartment (for tolls).
    I pack medicines too in the formaula my children are used to taking. Hard to get some types at gas stations and like others said, they are expensive!

    I need to get mine ready as I am taking a 11, 8 and 5 year old boys from the UP of Michigan to TN in a van! We will be taking the DVD players and a lot of movies!!!!!!

  • Kate says:

    My kids’ car trip thing is bloody noses – blech! I have 2.5 gallon ziplocs and big men’s hankies in the glove box at all times. The bags are big enough that the kids(8 and 12) can get their whole faces in until we can pull off the road, and a little peroxide when we get home and the blood is gone from the hankies. Thankfully, they didn’t start doing this until they were old enough to handle some of the situation themselves!

  • Kate says:

    Oh, we also keep a pair of old prescription glasses. I have a tendency to rub my contacts right out of my eyes, and recently lost one in my car(luckily I was just at the local grocery store!), so having a backup pair of glasses can be a life-saver!

  • My Boaz's Ruth says:

    What kind of sunblock do you use that can handle being left in the car? I’ve tried keeping sunscreen in the car and its a liquidy mess when we go to use it!

  • Tracy says:

    I also carry a cheap bucket from the Dollar store with a few plastic bags in it for liners In Case Someone get ill and feels like puking. Just thought I would share as this has come in handy just on a normal in town trip to run errands.

  • Tracy says:

    Also have Baking Soda on hand as it will get rid of the smell and if anything gets on your seats you clean up what you can, sprinkle on the Baking Soda and when it dries vacuum it up and smell is Gone…..

  • Tina says:

    Consider packing only one suitcase with clothes for everyone in it for EACH day of the trip or for the number of days you want to go without washing. Actually, we made a two week trip for all 11 of us with only three suitcases full of clothes. We did laundry every second day so we had two days worth of clothes (to wear and then wash) and wore one set. That year we also had three matching shirts made with our family crest to wear with our culottes for girls and khakis for boys so we didn’t have to decide what to wear! (I had a separate suitcase with cosmetics, a tub with first aid and meds, and a bag with extra outfits for the baby. Disposable diapers were in their own sack and replaced as needed.) You can make your own variation of this, but we found it easier to pull out one suitcase and a few extras each night than eleven suitcases!

  • Samantha D says:

    I’m 23 , but when i was little my mom had one of the first plymouth mini vans (before all the mom’s caught on to getting one). Anyway, on long trips we had 3 clear plastic boxes with lids we stored under the middle seat. They were filled with little toys and games (such as the older mcdonalds toys when they were fun and cool). In this case you could pack them with books, coloring items, puzzles, etc… She always had a medicine bag (ours was like a insulated bag so it didnt get to hot if left in the car) she went through each year and made sure we had the emergency supplies ready – first aid, pain relief, aloe, wipes, compresses etc… it was a bag with a strap so it went were ever we were staying. We didnt have dvd players or ipods etc back then but we had our own walkman’s and music cases. Then our backpack full of things to do.

    Im a nanny now and i help the family I watch get ready for their long trips by going to the library and picking out a ton of dvds (for free) that they can watch in the car.

  • MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

    YOU KNOW! We were doing great on our trip until I read this! Literally a couple hours after reading this entry and realizing I didn’t set up an emergency box, my oldest’s stomach decided to give out and she threw up ALL OVER her car seat while we were stuck in traffic. My husband was with a friend so it was just me and the two girls. I managed, but I had to take my dd out and strip her totally naked on the side of the highway! I had her hidden between each of the car doors, but still. I had a towel in the trunk and went through all of our wipes! It was a crazy mess and smelled so bad!! We got to the hotel and I just dunked my daughter but had to wait until just now to wash the seat and all the messed clothes…SO GROSS!!

  • K says:

    Thanks—as we’re getting ready to head out on our first “real” family vacation in about 6 years, I’m loving this series and plan to refer back to it in July when we’re actually getting packed up. Your sharing what you packed will hopefully mean less of me stressing about making sure I’ve thought of and packed everything!

  • Rachelsuesmom says:

    I leave most of the medicines / thermometers / etc mentioned above packed in a “bathroom” bag in the closet with the rest of the suitcases. Then I never have to worry about forgetting something important when packing, I just have to check expiration dates a couple of times a year.

    Emergency kits aren’t just for long trips, though! I have always kept a gallon ziploc bag in each trunk (including Grandma and Grandpa’s cars) with a spare outfit, correct size diaper (when it was applicable) and wipes. When the seasons change, the emergency kits get updated with temperature appropriate clothing in the correct size, and these kits saved me so many headaches over the years, I can’t begin to count!

  • Christina says:

    You are truly superwoman and think of everything!

  • Wendy S says:

    Just remember medicine’s effectiveness is greatly reduced by heat. just and FYI.

    I have my emergency kit – a small diaper bag that always has diapers in it -in case I forget my real one. It also has single use antibiotic ointment and bandaids. Int he back of my van I have toilet paper (I grew up in a 3rd world country where bathrooms sometimes didn’t have toilet paper – so it’s a personal weirdity of mine) – I also ahve a blanket, and a bin full of extra pairs of underwear for al children in their sizes, jeans, shirts, sweat shirts. I can’t tell you how many times we raid it – accident with child recently potty trained (raid the bin) – went to a museum, had outdoor playground – kids fell in mud (raided the bin), forgot my diaper bag – pulled out the extra van one, I have even given undies to a friend who’s child had an accident and she had no spare. We get somewhere and it’s chillier than we thought – raid the bin, or maybe it was warmer than we thought, raid the bin…. 🙂 It has come in quite useful over hte years. When you change out your children’s clothing sizes – remember to restock the bin.

  • erica says:

    wow, so many great tips, i had to add one for those of you who get car-sick kids: Have them wear one of the plastic bibs with the pocket to catch food (only you’ll be catching it on the way back up). They are easy to wipe out with napkins or rinse out in a sink.

    We did this after my 2 year old got sick in the car, and we had already changed him into outfit #2 on the side of the road. He was so young that he couldn’t predict or verbalize what was about to happen or figure out how to deal with it. It saved a car seat and what would have been 3 more sets of clothes.

  • Tabatha says:

    My husband also packs his own emergency box which includes tools for the road. He includes anything he might need to fix something on the car like jumper cables, screwdriver set, extra fluids like oil and power steering among other things. This emergency box has actually been used more than our other emergency boxes and not just for our car either! We’ve been able to help others because of it!

  • Stacey says:

    I’m a huge fan of the emergency box. In addition to the medicine box and the clean essentials box I keep a rainy day box in our pop-up camper filled with the playdoh that never dries out, puzzles from the Dollar Tree, a box of crayons, travel battleship, travel connect four. Every year I replace one of the games with a new game just for something new. The play-doh is always a hit even when my teenagers were living at home.

  • Shelby says:

    An emergency kit for carsick kids is a must in our family. Latex gloves to wear during cleanup, plastic bags for clothes covered in vomit, clean changes of clothes, emesis bags to vomit it, wet wipes, disinfectant, a water bottle for your kids to rinse out their mouth, and some air freshener!

  • Natalie says:

    I think the most exciting part of our 14 hour drive with 2 kids under two was packing their days outfit, extra cloths, pjs, and for the little one burp cloth in ziplock bags for each day. Labeled their name and degree of warmth (i.e. Warm very warm etc) and Thanksgiving outfit. That way we didn’t have to bring in everyone’s suitcase for each stay at the multiple places we slept during that week. It made this travel mommy happy. 🙂

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