Family Road Trip Essentials: Things You Need for a Road Trip with Kids

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Road trips provide many opportunities for families to create lasting memories before the kids grow up. However, one problem many parents face when planning is the stress of packing all the road trip essentials for a trip with kids. 

Am I packing enough? Am I packing too much? Am I packing the items needed? All of these questions and more run through every parent’s mind as they prepare for an upcoming road trip. 

To provide peace of mind, below is a list of family road trip essentials to help ensure everything is packed and ready to go. 

1. Road Trip Games

Road trip games help pass the time while spending extended periods sitting still in the car. Many games are available for kids of all ages, including license plate games and road trip bingo. In addition, kids love to play Briarpatch Travel Scavenger Hunt Card Games for Kids, which provides hours of fun, keeping kids preoccupied.

2. Clothing and Shoes

Pack one outfit per day per person, plus one or two more outfits, to allow spills and accidentally getting clothes dirty. 

For shoes, pack comfy, slip-on shoes that can quickly come off when riding in the car and used when leaving the hotel room to get ice or other necessities.

To help organize your clothes, use packing cubes in your luggage. 

3. Travel Trays

Travel trays provide a steady surface for kids to set their snacks, play games on, and use for coloring.

A great option is the Lusso Gear Kids Travel Tray which provides a tray that sits over the lap with storage pockets on the sides. 

4. Car Seat Organization Bin

The back seat may get a bit unorganized throughout the road trip, especially as kids dig around looking for things they need.

Keep the car’s back seat organized with an organizer like the Lusso Gear Car Seat Organizer,  complete with bins and pockets to keep everything your kids need organized. 

5. Pillows and Blankets

Kids will sleep while in the back seat, and having pillows and blankets packed offers them comfort while napping. Additionally, travel pillows, such as the BCOZZY Chin Supporting Travel Pillows, provide kids and adults support while sleeping, sitting up, preventing sore necks. 

6. Plastic Bags

Every road trip requires packing plastic bags, especially gallon-sized zipper food storage bags. These bags help collect trash, store opened snack bags, and wet swimsuits. 

Pro Tip: Zipper bags come in handy when kids get motion sickness in the car, and you are unable to pull over immediately. Use the bag for them to throw up in, seal it up, and then throw it out at the next stop. 

7. Headphones

Listening to the same kids’ movie throughout the entire road trip can be tiring. Instead, pack headphones for the kids to wear when watching movies or listening to music on their tablets. 

8. Roadside Assistance Kit

Anything can happen while traveling, and having a roadside assistance kit available can help get you back on the road. A car roadside emergency kit with jumper cables includes everything needed for minor repairs of the car, a first aid kit, utility knife, snow shovel, flashlight, and other safety items. 

MORE TIPS FOR YOUR ROAD TRIP:
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR CAR FOR A ROAD TRIP
ROAD TRIP FOOD IDEAS: PACKABLE SNACKS AND MAKE-AHEAD MEALS

9. Portable Battery Pack

Portable battery packs or chargers help keep all electronic devices charged while traveling. Don’t forget to pack the power cords and device chargers. 

10. Motion Sickness Supplies

Make sure to pack motion sickness tablets because motion sickness can happen at any moment. Another option is motion sickness bands help reduce nausea related to motion sickness. 

11. Wet Wipes

Babe wipes help clean up messes, spills, and sticky fingers. Disinfectant wipes help wipe down surfaces at rest stops and hotels. 

12. Activity Books

Activity and coloring books are available for kids of all ages and work well in keeping them busy in the back seat. 

Pro Tip: Purchase colored pencils for use in the activity and coloring books to avoid lost crayons melting in the back seat. 

13. Reusable Water Bottle

Reusable water bottles are perfect for filling up and saving money by not having to buy bottled water or other drinks. Consider getting the Brita plastic water filter bottle, which makes it possible to refill at water fountains, providing filtered water while driving. 

14. Travel Cutlery, Plates, and Bowls

Stainless steel family cutlery sets provide all the utensils needed for a picnic or when the fast-food worker forgets to include a fork. Also, having extra plates and bowls helps give kids a surface to eat snacks and meals while in the car. 

15. Towels

Microfiber towels are plush and absorbent and come in handy when caught in the rain or have a spill. Bonus is these towels take up little room in the car or suitcases. 

16. Medications

In addition to packing prescription medications, bringing other medicines, such as allergy, cold, painkillers, and upset stomach, ensures you have what you need when you need it. When needing to take multiple medications throughout the day, use AUVON’s iMedassist for easy access while on the road. 

17. Toiletries & Hygiene Products

Pack toiletries, such as shower gel, shampoos, conditioner, lotions, deodorant, toothpaste (and brushes), etc., for each person in the family. For shorter trips, pack toiletries in leak-proof squeezable silicone travel bottles

Pro Tip: To prevent leaks on clothing, use gallon-sized zipper plastic storage bags to pack toiletries before packing them in the suitcase. 

18. Hands-Free Phone Mount

A hands-free phone mount installs securely in your vehicle, allowing easy access to your phone, including checking the navigation app. One example is the VANMASS Car Phone Mount which is durable, easy to install, and places the phone exactly where it needs to be while driving. 

19. Paper Towels and Tissues

When messes happen, or noses run, having a roll of paper towels or tissues handy is a lifesaver. 

20. Hand Sanitizer

Protect your family against germs at rest stops and roadside attractions by having plenty of hand sanitizer in the car. Pack large bottles to keep in the car and smaller, personal-sized bottles to carry with you when exploring. 

21. Road Trip Snacks

No road trip is complete without having snacks to enjoy. Of course, the snacks you pack depend on what your family wants to eat, but some popular road trip snacks include pretzels, gummies, granola, Twizzlers, and Goldfish Crackers. 

Pro Tip: Save money by not buying individually packaged snacks and pack your snacks using snack-sized zipper storage bags. 

22. Cooler or Cooler Bag

It is refreshing to enjoy a cool bottle of water or a juice box while traveling. Keep items cool in a soft cooler bag or if you prefer an iceless cooler try a plug-in cooler. 

23. Camera

Be prepared to capture all your road trip memories by packing a camera. Also, don’t forget to bring along a camera for the kids to use, such as Ourlife Kids Camera, which is waterproof and kid-proof. 

24. Water, Water, and More Water

Did I mention you should pack water? Do not forget to pack water to keep everyone hydrated. If your kids do not like plain water, bring along some Mio Liquid Water enhancers to flavor the water. 

25. Waterproof Phone Pouch

Do not let your phone get damaged by water at the beach, pool, or from spills in the car. Instead, protect your phone with a waterproof phone pouch. There are many waterproof phone pouch options available, including Syncwire’s Waterproof Phone Pouch, which also comes with a lanyard to carry your phone around your neck for easy access. 

26. Phone

This item serves as a reminder to pack your cell phone. It may seem obvious, but as you get busy packing, it could be something you accidentally leave behind on the kitchen counter. 

27. Bug Repellent and Sunscreen

No matter where you travel to, chances are you will need bug repellent and sunscreen. One quick and easy option for bug repellant is the Quantum Health Buzz Away Extreme Towelettes because the individual towelettes make for easy application when you have squirmy kids. 

28. Extra Everything

When packing, include a little extra of everything, such as clothes, snacks, and supplies. If traveling with infants or toddlers, bring extra diapers, wipes, formula, and baby food. 

29. Sunglasses and Hat

Protect everyone’s face and eyes by packing sunglasses and hats. The kids will love wearing their favorite superhero or cartoon character on their matching hat and sunglass set. 

30. Empty Tote or Suitcase

Everyone comes home from a trip with more than they left with, which is why you need to pack an empty tote or suitcase. Reusable grocery bags are durable and fold up in a bag until needed, making them the perfect extra bag. 

31. Roadtrippers App

Before heading out on your road trip make sure to download the free Roadtrippers app to help you both plan your route and find fun things to do along the way to break up the drive.

This app is great for finding unique stops, places to eat, and a place to rest your head at night.

You can even get cashback when you purchase a Roadtrippers Plus through Rakuten (Get $20-$40 cashback just by signing up through my link). The Plus plan allows you to do even more with the app like plan longer trips and remove the ads.

You Got This

As a parent, you may worry about what to pack for your upcoming trip. Know you are not alone; every parent worries about packing too little, too much, and forgetting the essentials. Do not worry, you have everything under control, especially when you use the above-listed family road trip essentials. 

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Picture of Craig and Mel in front of Albie the Campervan

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We are Melody and Craig: Wisconsinites that love weekend adventures from Milwaukee and long-distance road trips in our campervan, Albie. 

We created The Winding Road Tripper to help you plan your next Midwest or road trip adventure. 

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