They say the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, but I’m pretty sure that’s a lie – especially when you have a toddler. For parents, the saying should be that the journey of one mile starts with a thousand steps of planning, preparation, being organized, zig zags back and forth and at least one toddler meltdown before you really start.

It seems getting out of the house gets infinitely harder after you have a child (let alone multiple kids). Sky and I have been adventuring together for almost three years and I’ve learned the hard way to prepare ahead of time. (Ask me about the time when I didn’t bring a carrier ‘cause Sky “wouldn’t need it.” Famous last words.)

In the last few years, I’ve simplified the preparation process for any journey to just two steps: Always keeping the car organized and night-before packing.



Keep a bag of essentials in the car. I always keep wet wipes, sunscreen, bug spray, baby powder, first aid kit, toddler toilet, baby carriers and a hip pouch in the car. I consider these the essentials for hiking with my toddler. I’ve been known to get to the trailhead without something essential like sunscreen. Keeping these items in the car makes it so they’re always on hand without even thinking about it. Just make sure to keep an eye on how much you have left in your different bottles or how many Band-Aids are in your first aid kit. Replenish when necessary. The baby powder seems random on my list, but this is a trick I learned for taking care of sand. If you visit the beach or sand box often, add some baby powder to your essentials box and you won’t be sorry! I always keep a carrier in the car as I can run back if Sky decides she doesn’t want to walk about 50 feet into the hike.


I’m typically rushing out the door to make it in time to a hike I’m hosting, so something to keep my kid entertained is an afterthought. I normally put little plush toys and books in a small box she can reach to keep her entertained. On very long trips, I put her Kindle Fire in the box as well. The happier she is on the drive, the happier the hike will be.


I love taking my German Shepherd, Lilly, with us on hikes, so I make sure to keep a few dog items in the car like a leash, a ball, a collapsible water bowl, poop bags, and a dog first aid kit. Lilly can be a pain in the car and will try to sit on my lap, so I use a Travall pet barrier to keep her in the back seat area. Bonus: it’s really heavy duty so I can use it to keep other items in the back area too, like boxes when I need to move stuff.



Put everything near the door. While you might think that your child is walking so you will totally remember shoes, the reality is that you might not remember in your rush to get out the door. (You might also be going on a 7-mile hike that is three hours away with her when you forget said shoes. Lucky for me, a fellow Hike it Baby mama had an extra pair of hiking boots for her toddler.) When you pile everything near the door, it ensures you will get it in the car before you leave. If multiple people are packing, it also makes sure there is only one spot to grab items.


Group all hiking gear together in one drawer or bin. I tend to keep all of my kid’s layers and different hiking gear in one drawer so I can easily find it. This is way more important in winter when she’s in multiple layers. I do this as well for accessories like hats, mittens, etc. The hardest part is putting it back after it’s been washed.


Always pack a treat. I’ve learned this one the hard way. If your kid loves M&Ms or fruit snacks, pack a few in a hidden part of your pack for a bit of extra motivation when the toddler meltdown begins. Sometimes just a small treat will go a long way with a little one. My daughter has a love of freeze-dried strawberries, so I tend to keep a pack stashed in a secret spot in my car for those moments when she’s about to lose her mind. It’s staved off a meltdown or two and completely worth my sanity. Sure, she was a hot mess when we made it to the trailhead, but nothing a wet wipe couldn’t fix.


Pack your water, food, wet wipes, diapers, PullUps, snacks, first aid kit, etc., the night before in whatever is going on the trail (extra pack, hip pouch, fanny pack, jacket with big pockets). Put this by the door in your to-go pile. Pack what you think you will need and always pack a first aid kit (even if it’s a modified homemade one).


Pack your little’s pack even if they aren’t going to use it. Chances are you will get to the trailhead and they will start crying and say they can’t hike because you forgot their pack once you put yours on. I normally pack Sky’s pack the night before as well. She’s getting to the age where she enjoys wearing a pack for half the hike. I make sure it’s light so I only pack a few essentials (like her baby doll) and snacks.

If you are like me, keeping organized can help make getting to the hike a whole lot easier. While Sky and I may not be starting the thousand-mile journey yet, putting in a bit of work before we head out the door has made our smaller journeys even more enjoyable.


Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a sponsored post. The company who sponsored it compensated Hike it Baby via a payment or product to write it. Regardless, our organization only recommends products or services we use personally and believe will be good for our readers. We disclose this fact in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


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