Roadtrip With Baby and Toddler Tips

Looking for hacks to make a road trip with a baby and toddler go great? This Summer my family ventured a 10 hour drive and tent camping trip to the Redwoods, with a toddler, 3 month old baby, and our dog. 

It went incredibly smoothly, and many of my mom friends have been asking for the secret sauce! I’m going to break this down into several posts, starting with our road trip hacks for road tripping with a baby, toddler, and dog. In future posts I’ll talk about tent camping with kids and some Redwoods specific tips too.

Car preparations for our family of 4 plus dog were make-or-break. I have plenty of hacks to offer here but let’s start with what’s on everyone’s mind: what to do with ALL. THIS. STUFF!

My husband warned me ahead of time that with all the camping gear, food, and firewood, we would have no wiggle room, and he even told me to kiss my foot space goodbye! I took that as a welcome challenge. Everyone knows a long road trip is better when you can extend your legs!

First, I minimized my packing list to the bare bones. Clothes and shoes were packed in carry-on sized roll away bags: one for kids and the other for adults. Inside I included laundry bags to use for dirty clothes and to separate shoes from touching clothes. 

Car Storage With No Roof Rack

If you don't have a car roof rack, you'll need to rely on interior car storage solutions. Since roof racks are ridiculously expensive, I was so pleased to find a reasonably priced alternative that works to create storage inside a car! Our car's interior cargo net was installed specifically for this trip, but I’m leaving it up. It provides a space for soft items like blankets and pillows.

car cargo net
With a baby it's normal to need lots of burp cloths, blankets, and changes of clothes, and this was a game changer. I had a spot for my blankets and a change of clothes for me right behind my head. I also used the area above my daughter’s seat to store her shoes. As a toddler she is prone to remove her shoes and in a crammed car it’s so easy for a shoe to go awol. This one trick likely saved me from lots of frustrated searching time. 

What I love about the car storage cargo net: 

  • Accessible storage from anywhere in the car keeps essentials always within easy reach

  • Super easy to install, using velcro straps on otherwise useless overhead handles. 

  • Tightens with bungee drawstring so you can still see using your rear view mirror

Find the cargo net here: Roadtrip ceiling cargo net, right now it's $26.98.

Staying Organized on Roadtrips with a Baby

With a baby, clutter seems to be a fact of life! That's why I recommend you start packing the car at least 2 days prior to your roadtrip. Motherhood is such a paradox, we need things to be neat and tidy to feel sane but we also need everything in arm's reach! Sit in your car where you will be sitting and check that you car reach all of the following...

Things You Need Within Arm's Reach on a Roadtrip with a Baby

  • Wipes and Diapers

  • Trash bin (I love this one)

  • Water and snacks for you

  • Water and snacks for the kids

  • Binkies, and MORE binkies

  • Phone charger

  • Blankies

  • Burp cloths

  • Change of clothes for baby

  • Change of clothes for you (trust me, you don't want to be digging through your trunk for your overnight bag if you just got spit up on!

  • Laundry bag - because spitup is stinky and you want to get that off you and keep it from stinking up everything else in your car

The biggest reason for car clutter with a baby is general messes and diapers creating lots of soiled clothes and trash. My baby is three months old and still in diapers, and my toddler is already potty trained. You'll want to bring way more diapers than you think you will need! It’s so stressful to be running low especially when you’re roadtripping to a more remote place like the Redwoods. I stored diapers and wipes in the seat pocket in front of the baby carseat, and also kept wipes and diapers in the front passenger seat. I made do with built-in storage in the car for this, but kept reaching for the cargo net for blankets. I did most of the diaper changes in the front seat, protecting the chair with a couple baby blankets just in case.

And just to reiterate, it’s important to know how you're going to handle dirty diapers and trash. I used to keep a plastic garbage bag in the front seat, but when space is at a premium and you have dirty diapers to contend with, you need to up your car garbage game! Yes, I got an actual garbage can for the car.

Car trash can
What I love about our car trash can:

  • It straps in place right behind the center consul, a spot you probably weren’t using anyway that’s still easy to reach

  • It’s soft sided

  • Looks small but holds a deceptively large amount of garbage at one point I think ours fit three or four empty drink bottles

You can see ours here, and it's only $12.99: car trash can Of any of the things I bought for the car, this is the one my husband was most skeptical of. But after seeing it in action he is a believer. He kept marveling that it still wasn't full!

Estimating Roadtrip Time with Kids

We recommend you take whatever Google maps tells you and then add 20% longer travel time to it if you're traveling with kids. This doesn't make you a failure, this makes you practical. If you can accept the fact that you're going to need to take frequent stops, you can do it with no drama.

Bathroom breaks are probably the biggest culprit for travel delays with kids. But let me get real with you for a moment... if you are a few months post-partum like I was for this road trip, remember your bladder is still healing. So need to take EVERY opportunity to use the bathroom, even if you feel like you don't have to. You can really make this a lot easier on everyone if you're willing to forgo the traditional toilet and get a little wild, haha. As an adult this is pretty straightforward, and you'll be glad you had those baby wipes on hand.

But for my toddler, I use a potty chair specifically for the car. I used to bring my daughter’s only potty chair with us in the car which was always a source of stress as I'd often forget it at home and it's just really bulky! For this roadtrip I got wise and purchased one that's designed specifically for the car.

What I love about the roadtrip potty chair is... 

  • It's fully collapsible, not a space waster - even the legs fold in

  • It has baggie liners for easy cleanup

  • The basin is removable so you can set it up outdoors to help them go on the ground 

 The one we use is reasonably priced at $20.99 and is linked here: toddler potty chair

Keeping Your Baby Happy on a Road Trip

The ability to easily see and interact with your baby in their car seat is really non-negotiable on a roadtrip. Its so hard not to hold baby for a long period of time, too as a Mom!

carseat mirror
The situation is made a lot better with a basic, high-quality carseat mirror. Full visibility of a baby is a safety must, and a mirror is the best option for visibility with rear-facing seats. A good mirror also benefits the baby. If it's large enough and a high enough quality, the view of the road and the front passenger seat reflected in the mirror adds interest and a sense of comforting presence for a rear-facing child. In the past, I wrestled with two terrible baby mirrors that required near constant adjustment and they would often flop down during driving excursions. I’m pleased that I finally found one I love. I have linked it here

What I love about the carseat mirror: 

  • Easy install

  • Super large mirror so you can see baby’s whole body and he doesn’t slip out of view

  • Sturdy swivel adjust

Like I said, any kids car mirror will do, but if yours is problematic, it's time to upgrade so those problems don't plague your whole road trip. Ours was only $20 and totally worth it, here's a link: carseat mirror I have watched my baby playing with his reflection now that its not the old small and cloudy one... quality makes a big difference here!

Sun can also be a big problem - many times you won't know why baby is so fussy and it's just because the sun was in their eyes! No matter how tinted your car windows, harsh sun can prevent kids from being able to rest easy. I used to struggle with blankets draped over the windows, having to constantly readjusting them and then even sometimes falling on my kids face!

sun shade for car window

I'm so glad I found these sun blockers for the windows. What I love about them:

  • no spit necessary! They actually stick with static cling. 

  • My child can easily remove them too for when we want to roll down the window and get a better look at the view (did this in the Redwoods!)

  • Slim and easy to store

They are another cheap hack at only $11.97 for a pack of two... car sun shades for kids window

Car Roadtrip Toys for Babies and Toddlers

Like any good mom, I want to give my kids the world and make sure they have everything they need. But for my two kids in a very packed car, it was essential I kept the toy clutter at baby. I chose just one or two quiet items for each of them to stay entertained. 

For my 3 month old, I brought his favorite- the TaGgies Crinkle Paper Baby Toy. I have linked the exact one. The interesting mix of textures including fuzzy parts, silky tags, and lumpy doggie face provided just the right amount of entertainment for eager little fingers, curious mouth and sleepy eyes that just want to doze. The best part? The silky tags serve as a kind of pacifier for him. This is amazing because the Binky kept falling out of his mouth which was driving me crazy! For some reason he likes the tags just as much. 

Why I love it

  • crinkle sound is like ASMR for babies

  • Keeps baby calm and occupied 

  • Big key ring so it won’t fall out of reach

  • Silky tags work like a stand in for the binky

It's only $10 and makes baby (and thereby me) very happy. Here is that link again: taggies baby toy

For my toddler, I love her quiet book (a soft, tactile activity book, link here $24.99) for times like these and the activity table. I was sure to fill up her Activity Table with goodies like paper, stickers, crayons, and yes I did use a movie or two on my iPad. If you’re going to have your child watch movies, be sure you’ve “downloaded” them so that they are viewable when your signal fades on longer trips.

car activity table

Why I love the activity table for my toddler: 

  • slot for the tablet keeps it safe from crayons and spills, propped up correctly, but still responsive to fingertips

  • Surface is wipeable, and dryerase if you’re willing to risk using dryerase markers

  • Slim and easy to take off and put on your child’s lap

  • Great surface for eating, drawing, reading or any other activity

  • Cuts down on the incidents of a front-facing toddler constantly dropping things!

The activity table is $26.99 (linked right here!) and is a great thing to put on your wishlist.

Beyond these fun hacks, my final piece advice for a road trip is just to be confident! You have so much going for you on a road trip- constantly changing scenery out the window, the steady thrum of the tires, the vibration of the road. There is a saying that my pediatrician told me when I was concerned my baby’s daytime sleep would lead to a sleepless night. He said, “Sleep begets sleep.”  Allow your children to enjoy a drowsy day full of rest without worrying about the consequences later. He was right. Any time we’ve allowed our children to sleep extra they seem to be alright with the night routine as well. 

This blog post has a companion video! There is so much to show you so I thought I'd give you an actual tour of our roadtrip-ready car. Follow along with this blog post for easiest access to links and extended descriptions that I didn't have the time to share in the short 4 minute timeframe. I invite you to watch our video on YouTube: Roadtripping with a Baby and Toddler which shows many of these items in use. It's a brand new channel just for our family adventures and I called it: The Go Wild Gabrieles! Thanks for checking out this blog post and if you have any questions please leave a comment here or on the video and I'll get back to you! Big hugs, remember to just relax and enjoy the journey!

- Laura

The Morning Miracles Challenge with Ambitious Christian Women - November 2020

Ever tried to start something new and make it a habit? It's hard! 

When I decided that I wanted to read my Bible every day, pray intentionally, and do basics like daily stretching, I was feeling SO willing and SO ready! I knew how beneficial those simple changes would be to my life, and though I didn't expect it to be easy, I knew I was capable. Plus it was a noble pursuit and I knew God would help me. My self discipline wasn't great but I wanted to grow it and be that woman I knew I could be. 

But it was way, waaaaaay harder than I thought. 

The first couple days went well, and I felt excited and good about it. I sensed change coming. But then, I got off track. Just one day of staying up too late then sleeping in a little too long to get ahead... and suddenly I felt my old habits overtake me, like a giant wave. 

I was humbled. I was going to need help. More prayer... more will power... something! 

What I really needed was like-minded community. Sisters in Christ that wanted this morning routine change too. Women who were honest, kind, gentle but also driven, passionate, on fire for God. I needed them to come alongside me and encourage me. Not just for one day, but every day. But I didn't know how to find them. So for months I struggled alone, reading books and listening to motivational audio recordings to fill the void.

Eventually, after much trial and error, I gained the insights, tools, and self discipline to make my morning routine a reality for me. 

That's why I created the Morning Miracles Challenge. I realized that my trial-by-fire could benefit other women and help them get ahead more quickly.

Think of your morning like this: 

Every day, your mind is like crowded beach, full of voices vying for your attention and things to trip over. There are people, responsibilities, and many colorful distractions luring you, and there is also a cozy cabana that invites you to just tune out, lay down and waste away the morning hours, wearing earplugs and dozing in the sun. 

But in the distance, you see something different. Something wonderful. The sunrise kisses a small, quiet island with nothing but a Bible, glass of water, a tree for shade, and a simple, comfortable chair. Just the sight of it thrills your spirit. You sense the presence of the Lord is there. A time of refreshment, meditation, and personal growth just between you and God await... if only you can get there.

You look around again at this noisy beach you're on, and you know for sure where you want to be. Not here, but over there with your Jesus. 

You're about to link arms with a group of women who will help you paddle out every day for 10 days, help you beat the waves and the tides, and overcome the voices from the shore that call out to keep you from changing. 

It's the Morning Miracles Challenge, a 10 day morning routine challenge that gets you to that place, just you and the Lord, for healing, for comfort, or just to feel His presence in your life again.

Each day you're asked to check in with your team on our private Facebook group. We want to know how you're doing and help you stay focused. After those 10 days are through, you'll know the ropes and where you can improve. You'll be stronger to face the rest of the month on your own. But if you fail, or if you want a boost again, we will be here the following month, for 10 days, to help you reach your goal.

What I have found is that women keep coming back, again and again. Just for the community and encouragement. Each month of our lives is a new adventure, and the Morning Miracles Challenge returns with a new theme and new ideas to help you succeed.

Some months you'll be stronger than others and you'll be one of the women who can help a teammate who is struggling. Other months you'll benefit from another woman's strengths. But one thing is for sure - we will be glad to have you.

Click this link to join: 

I hope to see you inside.

With love in Christ,


P.S. If you'd like to join us for November 2020, you should know that signup is happening right now. Our first day of the 10 day challenge is Monday, November 2nd but we like to get our groups together in advance. You can join us in the group at any time, but if you'd like to be added to an official Morning Miracles Challenge accountability team for November, please sign up right now!

God is the Master Gardener

Each month, I co-lead a 10 day morning routine challenge called “Morning Miracles” - it’s one of my favorite things, and while it is the smallest of our groups, I consider it the heartbeat of the Ambitious Christian Ministry.

Years ago, when I started getting serious about putting God first in my life and days, I had difficulty finding likeminded women, specifically Christian women, who were actively pursuing a strong Jesus-centered morning routine. 

Now, there are about 500 of us meeting monthly in the Facebook group located here: Morning Miracles Challenge

The group is managed by 7 amazing co-leaders:

Mary Mulligan Stipp, Illinois
Bekie Blanco Abiro, Texas
Debra Abisher, Arkansas
Beth A Summers Eilers, Illinois
Julie Jeno, Utah
Alison Tegano, New Jersey
Jennifer Reaves, Texas

These women have all been working with me practically daily for the past 1-2 years. In addition to helping keep the Morning Miracles machine running month after month, they help me think through complex social issues, like the ones we are facing with Coronavirus and Black Lives Matter, and hold everything up to the truth of the Bible, before opening my mouth to speak formally as a representative of the ministry. They are wise, loving, and fun! We finally met just for fun last month (Bekie’s idea) and we learned so much about each other. 

I’m sharing all of this for two reasons. 

Firstly, in just two days the Ambitious Christian Women ministry turns 4 years old! 😍 I plan to post separately about that, especially for those of you who support us financially. 

And secondly, part of today’s challenge was to reflect on Genesis 2:8 and 2:15 and how we should be tending the garden we’ve been placed in.

I think it honors God to reflect on all He’s doing and consider how you can be a better co-laborer. 

When I think about my garden I think about all the wonderful opportunities I’ve been given, and all the things budding, about to burst forth - how my daughter is growing beautifully strong and fast, how we are possibly buying our first home soon, how I was just offered my job back at work on my own terms, and how the ministry continues to flourish despite change and pressures of life. I think about my approach to motherhood and how I’m being constantly refined. I think about my relationship with my husband, and how parenthood is growing us. I think about my friendships online and off, and especially our church. 

There is always so much happening! And I see God’s hand and favor in it all. 

When I think of areas that need my attention, it’s overwhelming. I think that for sure I can never do ENOUGH. I am always thinking of new projects, Bible studies to facilitate, snail mail to send, blog posts to write. And if we get this house, I’ll have my fair share of home projects to keep me very very busy. But I want to be walking in step with the Holy Spirit, so that means I’ll need  more self-control than ever.

I learned a while ago to give it all to God and ask for the grace to complete the MUST DOs plus a little more, and to run my own race with excellence. I know for sure that for me it starts in the morning, every morning by meditating on God’s word (the Bible) and praying real, thoughtful, strategic  prayers. Those two things are like the watering of the whole life Garden. If you don’t have the watering consistent, all your hard work is at the mercy of the weather.

And LOOK OUT, because if you haven’t noticed - the weather isn’t very merciful! 😂

I will never be a master gardener of my life, but thankfully I look to Jesus, the rock that is higher than I, the one who is and will always be THE Master Gardener. He leads, guides, and directs me, and I don’t need to worry about anything,

If you’re considering putting God first every day with a strong morning routine that’s centered on Him, you’ll love our little group. You are placed with accountability partners who want the same and encouraged to check in daily with your team showing you are completing the various steps of the challenge. Scroll back up for the link - I hope to see you inside! 

❤️ Never stop learning, growing, and reaching 


Laura's Christmas Gift List... EXPOSED!

This is my fun little video sharing all my Christmas gift ideas for my in Laws, Gifts for Men, Gifts for Kids, and all the women in my life! There are ACTUAL spoilers in here so please if you even MIGHT get a Christmas gift from me, please skip this video!

When you make a purchase through one of my links, you support this ministry at no additional cost to you! Sometimes, because of the discounts and promo codes I can offer, the price actually comes down. Thank you so much for watching, clicking, and liking and commenting!

Watch the video on YouTube here:

Lauras Christmas Gift list

And all the links to the gift ideas are below in the show notes!

🎁 Gift 1: Luxury PJ set!
I got my Cosabella Pima cotton, mother of pearl button pajama sets from Stitchfix Extras

🎁 Gift 2: High Quality Bra

🎁 Gift 3: Christmas Card stuffers

🎁 Gift 4: More Christmas Card stuffers

🎁 Gift 5: The Christian Daily Planner

🎁 Gift 6: Purchase an Acre of Land in their name
  • I used for Scotland, and you can find other websites for things like naming a crater...

🎁 Gift 7: (Oops I skipped 7 sorry lol there is no 7)

🎁 Gift 8: Coffee Table Book of photos of their favorite place or home city

🎁 Gift 9: Picture Book of Psalms

🎁 Gift 10: Experiential gifts! Check Groupon for good ideas near where they live.

🎁 Gift 11: TOYS - Big but not as expensive as they look!

🎁 Gift 12: All my Friends Have Issues

Thank you for watching and reading! To learn more about this ministry please see our Ambitious Christian Women Patreon page!

Content by Laura Gabriele