Summer, spring, winter, or fall, this family is always down for a road trip! Over the years, we’ve gotten really good at knowing what we need to pack and all the family road trip essentials we need to bring with us. Here is our family road trip packing list [with a free family travel packing list printable included]!
Family Road Trip Essentials For the Car
Back of the Seat Organizers
The way my kids tear up the back of my front seats absolutely 100% makes car seat organizers a necessity. Not only do they protect your upholstery but they also place everything the kiddos need within arms reach.
Kid’s Travel Tray
If you’re traveling with younger kids, you’ll want to be sure to include a kids’ travel tray on your family road trip packing list. It will give the kids a solid area to eat, do activities, or even lay on.
Car Seats and/or Booster Seats
Comfortable car and booster seats are paramount on a family road trip. If it’s time to size up or upgrade, be sure to include a new car seat in your family road trip essentials. The Maxi Cosi Pria Max was my favorite car seat with Bug was an infant. It was the only car trip she didn’t sweat [and then scream] in so it is a family road trip essential. The Evenflo Chase Sport Harnessed Booster was our mid-range car seat. The Chicco Kid Fit 2-in-1 is the car seat we use now. I didn’t think it was possible to love a car seat as much as I loved the Maxi Cosi Pria Max but yet here we are. It is the best car seat on the market for kids over the age of 5-6.
Check out this detailed post if you want the inside scoop on the very best travel booster seats.
Family Road Trip Essentials for Comfort
Travel blankets are a road trip essential to make sure everyone is comfortable during the trip. Not only can you use them to cover up if it’s cold but you can also roll them up to be used as neck support or lay them flat for a roadside picnic. The 4 in 1 Travel blanket is a favorite because it is multipurpose [it has pockets!], you can clip or slide it onto luggage, and includes a travel pillow.
Neck pillows aren’t just good for trips on an airplane; they’re also a must-have for any family road trip packing list. It avoids a case of flopping neck [you know – when their neck completely flops over in their seat] and adds an extra level of comfort to your road trip.
The Trtl Travel Pillow has undisputably good reviews from others in our travel circle. It wraps around your neck like a stiff scarf to provide support. The Travel Memory Foam Pillow is like your traditional pillow but perfectly travel-sized. Lastly, an oldie but goodie, the Airplane Travel Neck Pillow provides general neck support and is a great option especially for older kids.
Refillable Water Bottles
We never travel without refillable water bottles so they definitely had to be included in this family road trip packing list. Any bottle will do but these insulated Thermos brand bottles are the best and are the exact brand we use for our girls. They’ll keep your hot items hot and your cold items cold. Ice inside these bottles lasts the entire day.
Kid Road Trip Snacks
My favorite subject for any trip: snacks! Snacks are absolutely essential for any worthwhile road trip so of course they are included here on this family travel packing list. For convenience sake, try to stick with snacks that don’t require refrigeration. Some great travel snacks are:
- Gogo Squeez Yogurtz [this yogurt is shelf-stable and comes in a kid-friendly squeeze pouch. No fuss and no mess. My youngest goes bananas for these.]
- Dried Fruit [cranberries, raisins, apricots, etc.]
- Salted nuts like cashews, pecans, or peanuts
- Fruit leather
- Boiled eggs*
- Rice Krispie Treats
- Chex Mix
- Popcorn [or better yet – Pirate’s Booty]
- Tortilla roll-ups* [deli meat rolled into a tortilla]
- Butter croissants
The items marked with an asterisk [*] require refrigeration. If you decide to travel with items that need to be kept cold, consider purchasing a travel cooler bag. This CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag comes in a variety of colors, folds completely flat, and keeps things cool for hours. Don’t forget the ice packs!
Family Road Trip Essentials for Entertainment
Age-appropriate activity books are a sanity-saving essential for all family road trips. The right one can occupy the kids in the car for hours. Also, if you’re not a big fan of screen time, books mix things up a bit so they aren’t on their tablets the entire drive. Brain Quest books are a family favorite with a variety of educational activities all in one book.
Window Gel Clings
For the younger little ones, you can help pass the time on family road trips by using window gel clings. They are the same concept as stickers but much easier to clean up after. Also, as a bonus perk, most of them are reusable so they can be used for the family road trip on the way there and the way back!
Family Road Trip Games
Nothing ruins a family road trip more than kids asking the dreaded question every 2 minutes: “Are we there yet?” Distract and entertain by providing plenty of family road trip games. Check out Family Vacation Critic’s list of the best road trip games for families for ideas.
Tablet, Smart Phone or iPod
I know many parents limit their kids’ screen time but if there is ever a right time for stretching that rule a bit, it’s a family road trip. Equip yourself with a tablet, load it up with downloaded Netflix shows, and enjoy a quiet ride. Parenting hack: if you have a younger kid that wants an iPhone like their older siblings, get an iPod instead of a tablet. It looks just like a real iPhone and keeps the kids happy!
Mobile Battery Packs
Keep everyone’s battery at 100% with a mobile battery pack. Not only will this family road trip essential keep everyone’s tablet’s charged but it also works with GPS devices and other small electronics you might use during your family road trip.
Charger cables are the family road trip essential that we forget the most often so it had to be included in this family road trip packing list. Be sure to purchase charger cords with braided cords so that they last longer.
Allow everyone to listen to their entertainment in peace by investing in some headphones. These kid-friendly headphones are wireless and fit most 6 to 10 year olds comfortably. Even my youngest, who loves to make everyone in the car listen to what she’s listening to, wears her kid headphones without complaint.
Phone Car Mount
Safety first! Go hands-free by adding a phone car mount to the family road trip packing list. It mounts to any surface in the car and lets you keep both hands on the wheel. This is especially helpful if you’d like to vlog or record parts of your car trip.
Family Road Trip Essentials for Health & Safety
First Aid Kit
Kids are extraordinarily germy but their chances of catching the “ick” seem to multiply when traveling. Ditto for injuries. For that reason, we definitely recommend including a first aid kit on your family road trip packing list. Here are other tips for keeping kids healthy while traveling.
Disinfecting Wipes and Sprays
You’d be amazed at how dirty most surfaces are – even your own car. And if it isn’t dirty at the start of the trip, there’s a good chance it might be by the time you reach your destination. Save yourself from the grime by including disinfecting wipes in your family road trip essentials. For those cloth surfaces that can’t be treated with a wipe, spray them with an antibacterial spray like Lysol.
Motion Sickness Bags and Bracelets
Does anyone else have a kiddo that’s prone to motion sickness? If so, don’t forget the motion sickness items on the family road trip packing list. The motion sickness bags catch any accidents that might happen in the car [they also double as awesome trash receptacles for all those snacks] and are disposable. The motion sickness bracelets are designed to prevent [or at least minimize] the feelings of motion sickness.
The other health and safety items you might need for your family road trip will depend on your family and your destination. However, some of the items we also tend to include are:
- Bug spray
- Hand wipes [I LOVE Wet Ones hand wipes and travel with them everywhere]
- Hand sanitizer
FREE Family Road Trip Packing List Printable
Want this list in a printable format, Don’t forget to download your free copy of these family road trip essentials below!
What items do you include in your family road trip packing list?