Photo of Shelly Rivoli

Shelly Rivoli

Professional Travel Expert

Toddler Road Gear

Featured On:

  • TheView
While road-tripping with a toddler may sound like the opposite of a vacation to some, it can actually be a great way to travel for many families, particularly those who are well prepared for it. Consider these tips as you plan your grand adventure:

1. Plan “meaningful stops” along the way every 2-3 hours of your journey, where everyone can get out of the car and get some exercise, a change of scenery from the interior of the car, and a chance to use the bathroom (or at least get a fresh diaper). Even a 10- or 15-minute stop can be “meaningful,” if you plan it right.

2. Pack a small ball to chase around at rest areas and parks, or a kite to fly at beachside turnouts. Either one takes up little space in the car, helps burn off energy, and has great entertainment value for kids.

3. Create playlists of kid-friendly grown up music you can all enjoy and even sing along to — without driving yourselves crazy.

In addition, consider these innovative products that can make your time on the road as pleasant and fun as possible. Here are the five best:

Best Road-trip Gear for Toddlers by Shelly Rivoli

The Best You Can Get

  • Go-Anywhere Table and Footrest

    Shelly says: If you had to spend hours on the road with your own legs dangling unsupported, chances are you’d get antsy, too. This footrest supports little legs of all lengths, and children weighing up to 60 lbs. And while the footrest helps with comfort, the adjustable tray helps keep kids content by giving them a surface for coloring, eating, playing with toys, and, when they become a little older and trustworthy, parking a portable DVD player. A recessed cup holder keeps drinks or snacks within easy reach. The non-skid base fits easily beneath car and booster seats, and the tray is easily removed when not needed.

    • Works with all toddler car seats and boosters
    • Tray and footrest are height-adjustable
    • Built-in cup holder and snack compartment
  • Booginhead Sippy Grip

    Shelly says: The Sippy Grip is simple and straightforward to use, and is an absolute sanity saver during road trips. An adjustable strap cinches around your child’s bottle or sippy cup, while the non-slip backing keeps it where placed. At the other end, Velcro fastens around a car seat strap, stroller strap or bumper bar, and restaurant high chairs as you travel.

    • Adjustable strap fits most cups and bottles
    • Nonslip backing won’t let cups go
    • Attaches to car seat, stroller, or high chair
    • Washable and nontoxic
  • Munchkin Snack Catcher

    Shelly says: By trip’s end, your back seat may look something like a cracker convention. Not so, if you keep your child’s car snacks contained in a snack catcher. The soft plastic split lid allows little fingers to retrieve the goodies inside, but keeps contents from spilling out even when dropped (or thrown!). Use a carabiner clip or toy link to attach one of the handles to your child’s car seat strap and avoid drive-time experiments with gravity and untimely “snack panic”.

    • Holds 9 oz. of dry snacks
    • Lid allows snacking without spilling
    • Handles can be attached to car seat with a clip
  • Peapod Plus Travel Bed

    Shelly says: More than a travel bed, the Peapod Plus can also be used as a play tent on the beach, in the backyard, in the picnic area, and in the campsite. Babies snooze and play protected from sun, wind, and insects, while older toddlers and preschoolers come and go as they please. It pops up instantly when removed from the travel case, and folds to 19”W x 6.5”D when stored. The air mattress inflates in around two minutes with the included air pump, and then slips into its own pocket to prevent shifting. Roll down the extra flaps to create additional shade in harsh sun. A lightweight sleeping bag is also included with the Peapod Plus. Measures 52.5”L x 34”H x 25”W.

    • Use from birth to 5 years
    • Use indoors and out
    • Pops up instantly
    • Protects from sun, wind, and insects
  • Foogo Stainless 7 oz. Sippy Cup

    Shelly says: It’s hard to keep drinks cold, safe, and spill-proof for hours on the road — especially in the hands of toddlers. These sippy cups are leak-proof and sweat-proof, and are insulated well enough to keep a cold drink cold (even milk) up to six hours. With stainless steel inside and out, they are also safe (non-reactive) for use with water, juice, and all types of beverages without worry. Not to mention, stainless steel is much easier to keep clean (and odor-free) when you are doing the nightly dishes in a hotel sink.

    • BPA-free, with stainless steel interior and exterior
    • Vacuum insulated and sweat-proof
    • Keeps drinks cold up to 6 hours
    • Dishwasher safe
  • Kiddopotamus Cradler Adjustable Head Support

    Shelly says: Once children face forward in their car seats, there’s little to keep their sleepy heads from drooping sideways and even forward during drive-time naps. Since the Cradler supports the jaw and cheek, it provides cushiony support where it’s needed most to keep heads from even falling forward. It also doesn’t add any padding behind the head or neck so it won’t force the head uncomfortably forward like many travel pillows do. Self-fastening tabs attach to car seat shoulder straps. The Cradler has been crash-tested and approved for use with five-point and three-point harnesses.

    • Prevents sleepy heads from drooping
    • For newborns up to 5 years
    • Supports from the jaw up
    • Easy to add, remove, and wash

You will be happy with any of these

  • High Road Kids Back Seat Car Organizer

    Shelly says: This multi-purpose organizer adjusts as your child, and your family, grows. Start out using it as a convenient cooler that’s easily accessed on the road, with pockets helping you keep diapering essentials (including the indispensible antibacterial hand wipe dispenser) and toys organized. Eventually, it becomes your toddler’s command central, loaded with his preferred toys, books, snacks, and sippy cup in easy to reach pockets. Flip up the edges of the lid to make a spill-proof tray to help contain his crayons, toys, and French fries. When a younger sibling comes along, you’ll make good use of the dueling cup holders and identical storage pockets on each side. When they’re old enough, the top becomes a table for their travel games. Inside, adjustable dividers help keep contents organized. Since it’s made of rugged 600 denier pack cloth with a shoulder carrying strap, you’ll also appreciate this Talus organizer beyond the backseat, as when picnicking, overnighting in motels, and hanging out at the beach.

    • Fastens to a seat belt to stay put
    • Insulated to double as a cooler
    • Easily shared by two passengers
    • Sides flip up to create tray top
    • Shoulder carrying strap
  • Protect-A-Bub Car Seat Sun Canopy

    Shelly says: While this can be used with both infant and toddler car seats, its real advantage is in use with forward-facing toddler car seats that offer no other shielding from the sun. This lightweight canopy offers UPF 50 protection from sun shining through the rear and side windows, with adjustable side panels that lift out of the way when not needed. Be aware that in very small cars, this will likely block part of your rear view.

    • Fits all toddler or convertible car seats
    • Blocks 98% of UV rays
    • Made of lightweight, breathable fabric
    • Folds to a 10” disc when not in use
  • Deluxe Travel ‘n Trundle

    Shelly says: Make a fast, familiar bed for your child in cramped hotel rooms, tight camping quarters, and on relatives’ living room floors. The 1.5” vinyl-covered mattress (with included fitted sheet) adds cushion and insulation, while the 5” raised bumper prevents nighttime rolling. In the morning, simply roll it up into its own carrying duffle, and let your child proudly “shoulder it” out to the car. The sleeping area measures 52”L x 26”W x 5”. Packed in the duffle, it measures 27”L x 11”W x 12”H.

    • Lightweight and compact
    • Fast, straightforward set up
    • Raised 5” bumper prevents rolling
    • For children 2 years up to 52” tall
  • Fisher Price Doodle Pro Basic

    Shelly says: This large Doodle Pro provides a drawing surface that spans from one side of the car seat to the other. When your child finishes the first masterpiece of your drive, it’s easy to start the next with a simple slide of the eraser lever. While it’s recommended for ages three years and up, you may consider removing the shape stampers for use by a slightly younger child. The easy-grip stylus is comfortable for hands both little and big, and is firmly attached so you won’t have to hunt for it.

    • Extra-large drawing surface
    • No mess
    • Unlimited uses
    • Attached stylus won’t get lost along the way

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