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Road Trip Essentials Packing List

Road Trip Essentials Packing List

2021 is the year of the road trips for many families! We are all itching to get out, explore and have fun this summer and fall.

One of my favorite things about road trips is the flexibility it offers, seeing sites along the way and being able to switch up plans as needed. Taking a road trip as a family can be full of lots of ups and downs, from excitement to annoyance, and all of the unexpected and joyful moments in between. In my younger days, I would just haphazardly throw items into the trunk and hit the road. Now that we are traveling as a family, roadtripping takes a bit more planning and prep. Whether you’re going on a two hour road trip or a cross-country adventure, being prepared and organized is an absolute must, especially when traveling with kids.
Before you hit the road, take a look over this list of everything that you’ll need for a fun, smooth and memorable road trip with your family and friends!

Road Trip Essentials Packing List and Tips:

Health & Safety

As always, safety first. Below are a few must-have items for staying safe and healthy while traveling and to be prepared for any mishaps along the way.

  • First Aid Kit: Make sure that your first aid kit is fully stocked: Bandaids (all different sizes), antibiotic ointment, tweezers, nail clippers, cold pack and more. You can assemble your own or purchase one that is already packed with everything you need.
  • Basic Medications: Pain and fever reliever, upset stomach, benadryl, and heartburn medication are a few to consider. If you have serious allergies in your family, make sure to pack epipens, if needed.
  • Sunblock
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Wet Wipes: These can be used for quick cleans after eating, wiping down the car and so much more. Bring more than what you think you’ll need as we always go through these quickly!
  • Kleenex or toilet paper: Road trip = rest stops and not every rest stop is well-stocked so sometimes packing your own can come in handy.
  • Puke bags
  • Flashlight
  • Car emergency or roadside safety kit: Hopefully it won’t need to be used, but better to be safe than sorry
  • Potty Seat (if you have young kids): If you have younger kids, taking a portable potty seat that can be used quickly can be so helpful in avoiding accidents.
  • Bug Spray

Comfort & Fun

When traveling in the car, staying comfortable and busy will keep everyone’s spirits and moods up.

  • Phone
  • Phone Mount: Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. A mount makes it more accessible for seeing GPS directions as needed too.
  • Extra Car Key: Pack along an extra car key so you always have a backup. Make sure it is stored on a separate key chain or with another person that is traveling with you.
  • Tablets: Preload tablets and phones with movies/books before you travel. Many services allow you to download some so that they can be accessed without the internet at a later time.
  • Chargers: Extra long charger cords are great when traveling and I always travel with portable battery packs too.
  • Headphones: A must unless you want to listen to kid movies the whole time. You’ll thank yourself for the peace and quiet. Pack a headphone splitter too so kids can both watch the same move at the same time.
  • Portable desks: there are some amazing options for portable desks that can be used in the car. Many are made with white boards, pockets for organizing and provide a hard and contained surface for kiddos to use to color, draw, write, play and even have spots for snacks and drinks.
  • Activity books/toys: mazes, coloring books, road trip journals, tangrams, mad libs, magnet games are all great quiet time options for in the car.
  • Journal and pens, markers or crayons.
  • Road trips games: i spy, scavenger hunts, bingo, and more! There are a ton of games and printables that provide hours of fun and entertainment.
  • Change of clothes (for everyone): You never know when you’ll spill on yourself or someone wipes out.
  • Blankets & pillows: Bring all the comfy goodies. Blankets are a must when no one can agree on temperatures and avoid neck pain with added travel pillow support.
  • Kids favorite toy/stuffed animals/loveys: Always bring along the favorites, especially if they’re needed for bedtime.
  • Sunglasses
  • Flip flops: Flip flops are the best for car travel: they’re comfortable in the car and easy and quick to put back on for rest stops and potty breaks.
  • A couple of towels: Great to have on hand for unexpected beach stops, splash pads and mishaps.
  • Outside toys like velcro balls or a frisbee, to burn some energy at pit stops.
  • Larger sheet for picnics/beach stops: Large bed sheets dry quickly and are lightweight for easy portability.
  • Assortment of cash and coins: It’s always good to have cash on hand for tolls and vending machines.
  • Chapstick
  • Lotion

Food and Drink

Bing on everyone’s favorite snacks and drinks! You’re in for a long ride, keep those tummies happy.

  • Mini cooler: Keep your cooler easily accessible to store snacks and drinks. You can use frozen water bottles to keep cool and less mess too! These soft sided coolers are perfect for the backseat.
  • Insulated water bottles
  • ALL THE SNACKS: It isn’t a road trip without lots of snacks to keep everyone happy and full. I like to pack them in see through bags to easily see and usually make a snack pack for each kid.
  • Several gallons of water: Keep extra for bottle fill ups and impromptu clean up sessions.
  • Gum

Organization & Cleanliness

  • Printed Directions: It’s always a good idea to print directions and have paper maps on hand. Too often, service can vary or be non-existent so making sure to have everything you need at hand in case is a must! I like to print off and gather all necessary info beforehand and put it into a binder or folder before we travel. You can also include hotel/rental information, important phone numbers, insurance info and more to have everything in one place.
  • Bathroom garbage bags or grocery store bags (one for each row in the car): These are perfect for trash and throwing in wet items like swimsuits or towels.
  • Car vacuum: I highly recommend a car vacuum that can be plugged into a 12v outlet in your car! Clean up sandy messes and crumbs to keep your car a bit more maintained during your road trip!

Before you go:

Don’t forget to have any general maintenance completed before you start racking up the miles! Check the tires, fill up the tank and go make some memories.

About The Author

Amber Battishill

Amber Battishill is a mom of 2, wife and creator of Mommy Gone Healthy, a healthy living and lifestyle blog for the modern mom. Her blogs focuses on healthy living, family-friendly recipes, and helping moms find balance in the chaos of motherhood. She’s also a certified yoga and mindfulness teacher and finds joy sharing her passion with others. When she’s not playing with her active kiddos, you can find Amber diving into a book, practicing yoga, hiking, or getting creative in the kitchen.

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