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A family road trip can be filled with memories, fun, and possibilities, however, emotions can run high.

Whether it’s irritability or excitement you need to have a plan in place before hitting the road.

Taking a family road trip can be a lot of fun if you’re properly prepared.

The Ultimate List of Family Road Trip Essentials


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WET WIPES – Wet wipes help to clean up sticky fingers in the car and on the go.  Buy travel sized packages which are perfect for slipping in your purse or diaper bag.

TRASH BAGS – You never know what will come up on a family road trip.  You may need a trash bag or two for dirty clothes or snack garbage.

TISSUES – When we are out on the town (or ever!) we don’t want our children blowing their noses on their sleeves.  Having tissues along in the vehicle and in your purse or child’s backpack is a great way to keep noses clean.

CELL PHONE – It is important to have a way to contact credit card companies and family members in case of emergency.

DEVICES – If you are traveling for a long time, you may want to bring an in-car DVD player, or tablets with games in case your kids get really bored.  (Don’t forget a pair of headphones if you don’t want to be listening to the shows your kids are watching.)

DEVICE CHARGERS – It can be way too easy to forget chargers for the devices that you are bringing along.  Don’t forget to pack charging cords for ALL your devices.

BOOKS – Make sure your little ones bring their favorite books along.  Favorite books can often be read over and over again and will keep your children occupied.

GAMES & ACTIVITIES – There are a variety of games that can be played in the car. Why not create a road trip scavenger hunt or road trip bingo game?

WATER – You are bound to get thirsty at some point, and making sure you have water along instead of sugary drinks is a great idea.  I like to purchase insulated water bottles to keep the water from getting warm on longer car rides.

ROAD TRIP PLAYLIST – Make a playlist of your favorite tunes so you can groove out to the music on your road trip.

SNACKS – You are all bound to get hungry. It is a good idea to pack a variety of snacks to avoid frequent stops.  Protein bars are a great way to tie people over until the next meal.

COOLER – Keep refreshments and snacks cool with a cooler.


BLANKETS – For moments of snuggling, keeping warm, impromptu picnics, blankets are a must on a road trip.

FIRST AID KIT – With kids, it is very probable that somewhere along the road trip someone will need a bandage.  With a first aid kit, you are prepared in case of bumps and bruises.

PILLOWS – Pillows can add to your little one’s comfort levels, especially for a long road trip.  Travel pillows are great for in-car naps and snuggles.

STUFFED ANIMALS – It is a good idea to bring comfort items along, especially if you are going on a long trip and want your little ones to nap.

CHANGE OF CLOTHES – Accidents happen, and you want to make sure you’re ready for them.  Making sure that everyone has a change of clothes even for a couple hours away from home is a great idea.

TOWELS – Packing a towel is an amazing idea, they are great for quick clean up or if you need an extra emergency blanket.

FLIP FLOPS – Having a pair of flip flops available to slip on, makes getting out of the car that much easier.

PAPER TOWELS – Similar to wet wipes, paper towels are a great staple to have in your vehicle.  They make a great tool to clean up spills.

COLORING BOOKS – If your kids like coloring, bringing coloring books and colored pencils to keep them busy is a great idea.

WALLET – This may sound like a no-brainer, but I’ve been on vacation with someone who reached into their purse and realized they forgot their wallet.

SUNGLASSES – You need to be able to see when you’re driving, and nothing makes a child whiny quite as much as getting sun in their eyes.

MAP – Sometimes there is a need for a paper map, and it’s a good idea to bring one in case your devices aren’t connecting to the internet.

BUG SPRAY – Bugs are a pain, and bug spray is a great way to spend some time outdoors on vacation without worrying about pesky bugs.

A FRISBEE OR BALL – If you will be stopping to stretch your legs, it is beneficial to have something for the kids to play with, so they can get some energy out.  Tucking a frisbee or ball into the trunk of your car won’t take up too much room and is a great distraction.

PATIENCE – Patience is a virtue and if you are planning on spending hours on end in the car with your family, you will need it.  Making sure you stay calm is important, especially in stressful situations.

Family road trips are so much fun. Just make sure that you are prepared, and well packed and you will be off on your adventure in no time.

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Gail Finks

Wednesday 28th of July 2021

Excellent list. After countless 4,000-mile road trips over the years, I suggest adding 1 safety need and 2 suggested helpful tips, all of which allow for a smooth and entertaining trip, not to mention the application of time efficiency will provide additional relaxing moments.

For Safety: #1. All travelers wear a nylon lightweight rope necklace 14"-18" in length that carries a non-breakable whistle, a mini flashlight, and a pen (if possible within cost, the flashlight and pen be as one combined item to cut down on the number and weight of all items). The whistle, flashlight, and pen should be standard "keep on person" items for emergency uses only. That's very important so batteries work when you need them to, and the whistle definitely only in emergencies so everyone knows that means in trouble, come running. Calling wolf is forbidden to avoid the fable outcome. You never know when by accident the keys are locked in the car, so for obvious safety concerns, adults-only should have keys to the car (ignition, door, and trunk) on their necklace.

For Time efficiency and reductions of headaches caused usually by our grade school and younger age children. #2. Put one complete outfit in a Ziploc bag. The child may even help pick them out. The bags go in the suitcase, then each night the child can pick any bag they like to wear the next day. Clothes come out of the bag no wrinkles, and the dirty clothes go in that empty bag. Makes for easier laundering, and kids love grabbing an outfit bag.

For Entertaining. #3. A paper map of the entire United States, etc. Roll it or fold it up, doesn't matter. The fun part is to tell your story by tracking your trip. Color-coded markers if you like, just dot the places you stop at and connect the dots. You can add blank stickers if you desire for adding notes to the dots. Then when you get back home, it can be hung on the wall for storytime. One could create a road trip memory album that will become a treasured family keepsake.

Lauren Bricks

Sunday 22nd of November 2020

This is a pretty cool list. Now if you have a car that's in excellent condition, then you and your family should be all set for an unforgettable road trip!

Wanda B

Thursday 20th of December 2018

Trash bags for dirty laundry is a great idea.