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“Twenty bazillion travelers are expected to hit the roads this Thanksgiving weekend, according to the latest report from ZZZ…”

Back in the day, (the “day” being my 20s), a big part of my job was writing/editing/distributing press releases that started just like this!

While I no longer work for “ZZZ” (clever pseudonym, I know), I still feel a sense of nostalgia for pre-kid road trips. Back then, our biggest concern was giving the dog his anti-nausea meds before he got in the car.

Today’s packing list looks a bit different:

  • IV pole for the feeding tube pump? Check.
  • Enough cans of formula for the entire length of the trip, plus extra? Check.
  • Medicines, syringes, bottled water and feeding bags? Check, check, check and check.
  • The actual kid? Check.

I’m fortunate that most of our family live close by. When we do travel, though, there are several items that are CRUCIAL for making the trip with JB easier. Here are several indispensable products we swear by for traveling with our special needs toddler. Even if you don’t have a child with a feeding tube or wheelchair, I bet they’d be helpful for your little ones, too.

  • Skip Hop insulated bottle bags: I have an unspoken rule that if I see one of these bags on sale, I buy it. No matter what. I LOVE these mini coolers. While meant to keep bottles chilled (with the enclosed ice pack), we use them to store JB’s feeding pump and bag during the day. These bags have a great buckle handle, making it easy to attach to a stroller, car seat, high chair, etc.
  • Skip Hop stroller organizer: Most strollers come with at least one cupholder for the grownups. Unfortunately, those cupholders are usually plastic and appropriately have giant “No hot beverages!” warnings. Enter this bag. It works with any stroller – including JB’s wheelchair stroller – and includes an insulated cupholder just screaming for me to finally put my latte safely down and free up my hand. Fact: I’m a much better mommy when I have my coffee with me.
  • Columbia diaper bag backpack: This backpack has been with us since we went to the hospital to have Baby JB. Since then, it’s withstood almost three years of JB, including daycare, playgroup, road trips, amusement parks, nature walks, playgrounds, the beach, and more. It’s fantastic: Super durable, tons of storage, and ultra comfortable. The only downside? Several of our friends have the same one because we all keep recommending it to one another!
  • Bright Starts Beaming Buggie: Behold, the little firefly that has made every overnight trip and hospital stay a whole light brighter. This toy seems simple: a cute little plastic bug that plays music and lights up. But it also has a waves/white noise option, which we use to help JB feel more at home wherever we are. It clips on to the pack-and-play or crib with ease, and is much easier to pack than a traditional white noise or music machine.
  • Wildkin nap mat: Consider this a “starter sleeping bag”. JB loves this all-in-one mat, blanket and pillow. It’s easy to roll up and bring when visiting family and friends, and it gives JB a familiar setting for his nap. Apparently it’s pretty comfy, too, considering we have photos of my dad napping next to it at a family function!
  • Blender Bottles: This one goes out to my fellow formula-feeding moms out there. These are the perfect way to mix a day’s worth of formula with minimal dishes to wash! Great for travel or everyday.
  • Car headrest hooks: Someone in a “tubie parent” Facebook group recommended these simple hooks. They are so simple, but so useful! We hang JB’s feeding tube pump bag (see: Skip Hop Bottle Bag above!) from these during car rides. You can also use them to hang car trash bags, headphones, purses, shopping bags, and probably 100 other things I can’t think of right now.

So far, we’ve only traveled domestically by car on our trips with JB. Air travel and international travel are completely different ball games, from what I’ve read and seen. We’re not that brave yet, but I am hopeful that over the next few years travel will become more accessible to disabled travelers and their caregivers.

What are your road trip must-haves? I’d love to hear!

Note: This photo is of our dog, not JB. It obviously was taken while the car was safely parked. We would never allow our dog to stick his head out the window while the car was moving. We also would never leave our dog in a parked car unattended. 

These opinions are all entirely my own, and I have not been compensated to review any of these products. That being said, there are Amazon affiliate links in the above post. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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