Packing a diaper bag for a long trip can be a daunting task. What do I need besides diapers, wipes and bottles? Am I missing something?
There is no easy answer. It’s been my experience that each trip throws me a new curveball. Drama can pop up at any turn.
The number one rule of parenting is “Love your child.”
The second rule is “Be prepared for anything!”
I have 2 diaper bags.
The first is for short trips. It is compact and carries the basics: diapers, wipes, formula and a toy or two. Generally, you won’t need much more than these items if you’re just heading to the grocery store. Who wants to carry around a boulder along with her groceries and baby? Survey says…no one.
The second bag is for longer trips. I call this bag “The Monster”. This is the giant diaper bag every expectant mother receives at her baby shower, uses for a week and then realizes she may not need to carry it everywhere. It’s okay to put this big boy in the closet, but don’t discard him completely.
The Monster is your friend! If you’re planning on being gone for an entire day or even a weekend, you need to be prepared. I know first-hand…anything can happen.
There are 10 things, beyond the basics, that I strongly recommend you carry in The Monster:
1. A Waterproof Disposable Camera: So you’re burning to use your fancy $200 digital camera? Me, too. BUT…don’t carry it in your diaper bag unless it’s safely stored in a waterproof carrying case.
Diaper bags often have containers filled with liquid in them. If one springs a leak (and sooner or later, it will), you’ll be in the market for a new camera. A waterproof disposable camera is great for trips to the beach and everyday use.
2. A spare shirt for you: Parents get messy. Any number of yucky disasters can happen. Use your imagination.
My oldest son wasn’t a “spitter” so I didn’t carry a shirt for myself, despite my family’s advice. One day, in the middle of a long shopping trip at the mall, I learned my lesson. A spare shirt can quickly become the deciding factor between a walk of shame to the nearest restroom or out the door and on your way home.
Unless you’re looking to save money through “natural consequences,” pack a shirt.
3. Sunscreen (minimum SPF 30): This is a good idea all year, not just in the summer. You always want your baby to be safe from the sun’s powerful rays. If you are outside, protect your little one.
4. Zipper Bags: I recommend 1-2 gallon size bags plus 1 sandwich sized bag per child. The possibilities are endless. They just plain come in handy.
I use the gallon bags for soiled clothes, dirty diaper disposal and carrying back “treasures” that my boys find wherever we are. They always “have” to keep something.
Sandwich bags are awesome for dirty tissues, parade candy (when they throw it, you’re not stuffing it in your pockets) and snacks.
I have 3 boys, which means 3 bags of everything. If we’re out and about and someone’s feeling peckish, I buy 1 large snack and split it into 3 bags for each kid to munch at his discretion. Stop whining and save cash at the same time. Excellent.
5. Small first aid kit: Always keep a supply of adhesive bandages, alcohol wipes and triple-antibiotic ointment in your bag. Last summer, I had to patch up my dad and my son within 5 minutes of each other. Dr. Mom to the rescue.
6. Bulb Syringe (The Nose Sucker) and Tissues: Mucus happens…and you’re ready to conquer it.
7. Fever Reducer: If your baby spikes a temperature when you’re at Grandma’s house, you won’t be in a panic to find a drugstore.
8. Quarters: Having quarters for a vending machine can be the difference between a total meltdown and sweet serenity. Save your sanity, pack some change.
9. Hand sanitizer: Germs are everywhere. Diapers need to be changed. Sanitizing your family’s hands can save you all a lot of grief down the line.
10. Snacks: I always have a couple packs of age appropriate snacks for each of my kids. Long car rides are a lot quieter and less expensive if you have a little something hidden in your bag. Small baggies of cereal are great pacifiers while you’re waiting for your meal at a sit-down restaurant, too.
This may seem like a lot, but every single thing on this list has saved my husband or me at least twice. If you have these simple items with you, then life’s little surprises will remain little. An extra touch of preparation can make or break a trip with your family. Properly pack The Monster and he will keep your day out drama-free.
Jessi Arias-Cooper is a work from home mother of 3 boys and has been married for 10 years. She co-owns a freelance writing business, Profitable Prose, with her husband, Brock. If she had time for hobbies and interests outside of parenting and keeping house, they would be jewelry making, baking, watching bad B-movie horror flicks and creative writing.