Don't pack to the gills. It always happens that you bring more stuff home, especially on vacations and trips to the grandparents.
If you don't already have one, create an emergency kit filled with first aid kit, flashlight, tools, water, etc. If you're traveling in hazardous winter weather, pack warm blankets in case you're stalled or stuck somewhere.
Make a list of things to bring and keep it in your suitcase. On the return trip, you can check that you've packed everything (including the beloved blanket or stuffed animal that was hiding under a bed). Update the list right before your next trip.
Pack a small diaper bag with just the necessities for diaper changes. It's hard enough changing a diaper on a cold, unfamiliar table without having sippy cups and bibs falling to the floor.
Bring outlet plug covers, elastic bands for cabinet knobs, portable mesh baby gates, and other safety items to your destination.
Pack carefully and beware of flying objects. Stash all your gear in the trunk, under a tarp, or tie it down. Water bottles, diaper bags, even toys can become projectiles during a crash.
Hang a mobile or an unbreakable mirror for your child to see.
Leave space to sit next to your child's car seat. Long trips can be boring to infants and children, so you may have to act as entertainer, puppeteer, tour guide, or reader.
Put together a special trip bag, with a few toys, books, homemade sing-along tapes, and treats.
Bring a variety of recorded music from the Beatles to classical music to kids' tunes.
Don't use a portable TV with a car adapter. Sure, it works, but it's also a dangerous projectile in an accident.
Keep napkins in your glove compartment.
Put the sippy cups, snacks, and diapers in an easy-to-reach location in the car.
Consider bringing your own meals in a cooler. Fast-food restaurants rarely offer balanced kids' meals with fruit and vegetables.
Put a few lollipops with safety handles in your glove compartment.
Keep change and tokens in a sealable container (such as a plastic spice jar) so a curious child won't decide to swallow them.
Don't pack a case of diapers, buy them later.
Remember, if you forget something, you can purchase it along the way or at your destination. (Unless it's the irreplaceable stuffed animal or blanket!)
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