The Ultimate "To Grandmother's House We Go" Travel Essentials for Toddlers

Whether your family lives hours away, or just minutes, spending an entire day at Grandma's house can seem like an eternity without the right gear.  Trust me.  With a super-active 1-year-old, walking everywhere, getting into everything, and pretty much creating chaos at every turn, I get a little stressed thinking about how I'm going to keep him happy while I get to enjoy time with my family during the holidays.

I have found that -- as in football -- a good defense is the best offense.  So I've put together a list of the things you simply must not forget to pack when visiting family for the holidays.  Whether you are there for just an afternoon, or an entire week, you'll want to be sure to pack the following:

1. Easy eats.  My family is pretty good about bringing items to eat that all will enjoy. Our family has lots of children, so it's expected.  Not everyone is so baby-friendly with their fare, however.  If your meal plan involves a lot of soups and crudite, you little one may not eat well.  I recommend always having on hand some easy, pre-packaged, and shelf-stable options, like the Gerber Graduates lil' Entrees meals.  Pair them with a new pack of the Graduates Soft-Bite Toddler Spoons for easy self-feeding.

You might also choose to go completely self-contained with one of the delicious Plum Organics One-Pouch Balanced Meals.   Don't forget the bibs and sippy cups!

2. Extra clothes.  Baby has to look good during the holidays; there will be lots of photos taken! But buying those adorable holiday outfits doesn't have to be expensive; in fact, we stock up on cute essentials so that baby can always be photo-ready -- even after a meal like above. The Healthtex brand of clothes is back at Walmart, and we can't get enough of the flannel button-ups (shown in top photo).  At just $5.98 for an assortment of colors and sizes up to 24 months, we can wear one and pack two without breaking the budget.

3. Extra shoes. I never seem to come home with BOTH shoes. Something about the way baby's feet are always on the move makes sure that Manny is only wearing one or the other shoe.  We have tried solving the problem by buying snugger, more expensive shoes, but this only leaves me with heartbreak when we lost one of those, too.

I have settled on a strategy of buying several pairs of the canvas slip ons from Walmart that cost jut $5.87 (shown in the photo above.) You really can afford to pack an extra pair to Grandma's! (Don't forget the socks!)

4. Diapers and Wipes. Packing these items is a no-brainer, but with all the travel-sized options on the market, it may be tempting to buy them all. We have been pretty happy with carrying along at least one pack of the Parent's Choice Flip-top package of Cucumber Wipes. They are really good at cleaning up faces and bottoms. I love the scent, too!  The single pack is available only in stores, but if you are planning ahead, I also recommend ordering a 3-pack of the wipes for just $4.77!

I also suggest keeping 2 diapers in your purse and the rest in a dedicated "diaper and wipes" bag.

5.  Toys and books. You certainly do not want to carry your entire toy-box with you on the road, and I'm fortunate that my Grandma has a fully-stocked toy room.  But if your Grandma isn't as prepared, or you have a long car ride ahead, I can't stress that simple toys and books make the best entertainment.  Walmart has an assortment of VTech Toys for Babies and Toddlers at just $10! I really like the ones that have clips for attaching to the car seat and high chair!

Baby board books are a big hit with our family, too!

6. A Way to Carry it All. I know that there are a plethora of baby bags and diaper bags on the market, but I love bags that serve more than one purpose. That's why I'm a big fan of using a backpack for baby gear, especially if it has compartments for my laptop or tablet.  Most have endless pockets and provide ergonomic support, which is essential if your trip to Grandma's includes a dash through an airport during a tight layover!

7.  A Way to Carry Baby. While I spend much of my time at Grandma's letting baby play on the floor, there are times you need to hold him -- and have your hands free to help set the table and get the other kids their plates.  A good baby carrier can mean the difference between a good time and exhaustion.

Did you know that Walmart carries the most popular brand of baby carriers, including Baby Bjorn? The Original Carrier is on Rollback right now for just $79.95!

Are you headed to Grandma's this holiday? What must-haves do you have in your bag?

As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I've received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.  Links to shopping sites may be referral links.