Now that the temperature has dropped and there is quite a bit of travel in most of our foreseeable futures it is time to make sure that no matter where you go or where you get stuck- you will be prepared. Whether it’s going to Grandma’s down the road for Thanksgiving or driving three states over to ring in the New Year. Things happen- diaper bags get dropped in a puddle of slush, cranberry sauce gets smeared all over your child’s nice holiday outfit, a freak snowstorm leaves you stranded at some distant relative’s home for the evening, or the car could get stuck in a ditch. It is best to keep a basket or duffle bag or something of that nature in your vehicle for when what’s in your diaper bag won’t be enough to get you through the next 6-12 hours of unexpected stress.
Firstly, find a basket/bag/bucket that will suit your needs. Make sure it fits in your vehicle in a place where it won’t be in the way, get knocked over, or be hard to get to. I have an odd basket, it’s about two feet long, one foot deep, about six inches wide and fits perfectly between the front seats of my minivan or tucked in the foot space of the middle row under the babies’ car seats. This list is prepared for the colder months of the year but can be adjusted accordingly for different seasons. I trust that you all know what to pack in your diaper bags for wherever you are going, these items below are extra and should be packed in your basket just once, and will remain in your car until you use them and they need to be replaced.
Next, pack what you need!
- If you have children in diapers I recommend packing at least 4 diapers per child (this is not taking into account whatever you have packed in your diaper bag for your outing, these are extra) and a full package of wipes.
- For each person travelling pack a pair of comfy pants and a t shirt, these will serve as back-ups after a diaper blow-out, fat pants for after a big meal, and pajamas for everyone if there is an unexpected sleepover.
- Snacks! Whether it’s a box of granola bars, a bag of trail mix, or just a box of cheerios- keep something that’s dry (won’t freeze in the car) and has a decent shelf life. In addition to snacks you should have a plastic cup or water bottle for each passenger which you can fill before-hand but don’t leave them in the car after your trip- take them out when you get home. For babies or little ones who still take bottles or sippy-cups pack one (empty) for each and just make sure to have fresh bottled water when you get in your car for each trip.
- Entertainment! Whether for the drive or once you are at your destination, the kids (and you of course) may have moments when they need something to do. I use an internet radio app on my smartphone which allows you to create stations so I have one made to play music I like, one for kids’ music, and one that is stand-up comedy for when the kids are all sleeping and I need a good laugh. This way you have something for everyone and every mood. For the basket keep a coloring book and sandwich baggy of crayons, a couple board books and toys that rattle or jingle for the younger crowd that can be clipped somewhere so they don’t end up on the floor. For your own sanity- avoid any toys that play music or light up or are otherwise annoying!
- Power up! Pack a flashlight with fresh batteries and make sure also to pack an extra charger for your cell phone and any other devices you are bringing
- Comfort! You don’t need to load up sleeping bags but you should bring a small blanket for each person whether it’s a lovey or just a small blanket, or a throw blanket for each row- keep these on the seats or under them rather than taking up space in the basket. For those that use pacifiers keep one for each in the basket just in case they dropped them before getting into the car or you can’t locate the one in the diaper bag.
- Keeping clean! In addition to the baby wipes which serve a billion purposes I like to keep cleaning wipes of some sort for those times when I don’t want to disturb their naps but am stuck staring at everything that’s dirty in the car while I wait. Paper towels- they can handle a spill, a runny nose, or emergency toilet paper for that gas station bathroom.
Last but not least make sure you have the essentials for your car (not for the basket): a working spare, tire iron, jack, portable battery charger (if you’re lucky enough to have one), a first aid kit, and one of those windshield scraping things. You should also bring a list of important numbers: tow truck, taxi, rental car, AAA (again if you’re lucky), relatives or friends who live along the route you are travelling, and the number for your destination so you can let them know if you break down or are running later than expected. Most of us are smart and have these in our phone but it’s good to make a hard copy (like on paper) just in case your trusty cell phone gets dropped into a puddle/snowbank, gets run over, or the battery dies.
I have had my basket in my car since last spring and I go through it when I clean the van and restock what’s needed or what has been grown out of (diapers, clothes) and also swap some things out for different seasons like sunscreen for summertime and a hand towel for mud season. Hope this helps provide some peace of mind for those countless hours you will spend on the road this holiday season and in the future.
What’s in your car basket?