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10 Items You Must Pack for a Family Road Trip

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I love traveling with my children, but there’s a lot of work that goes into making sure you have everything you need for every part of the trip. If you’re planning on hitting the road with your children this summer, here are a few items you’ll want to be sure to pack for a family road trip.

10 Items You Must Pack for a Family Road Trip |

My husband and I like to go on vacation once a year, and almost always to see somewhere new. That has reset a bit since our children were born, though, as we’d like to make it a family goal to see all 50 states together. We didn’t go anywhere last year; Between buying a house and having a baby we were broke and tired! Thus, we had two years to figure out where to go this year and we ultimately decided to head back to one of my favorite cities, New York City, and also check out a place that’s new to both of us, Baltimore.

There was one snafu when we were planning out this trip.

Our daughter is not ready for airline travel.

Let’s just say that my daughter has a healthy set of lungs.

While I’m not afraid to travel with kids, and my son has flown multiple times, I’m just not comfortable taking my daughter on an airplane until she can be reasoned with. There is no doubt in my mind we would be the most hated people on the airplane because my daughter can scream in multiple octaves.

Thus, next month we will embark on a family road trip to New York City and Baltimore!

Planning a road trip as a family can take a bit of time and effort to make certain that everything is packed and ready to go. We took a road trip with my son when he was a year old and it took weeks to plan out. It’s hard to remember everything for everyone! And what about trying to remember everything for those “just-in-case” moments? The list can be never-ending and the fear of forgetting something always seems to be lurking in the background. The truth is, there may ALWAYS be something that can potentially be left out when packing for a road trip. But for parents, there are a few things to always TRY to remember to pack to help ease those travel woes with little ones.  If you’re planning your own family road trip this summer, here are a few items you’ll want to make sure are in your car before hitting the road.

10 Items You Must Pack for a Family Road Trip


First Aid Kit

You never know when an accident may strike. Papercuts happen on road trips, as do other owies and boo-boos! Be prepared with this first aid kit full of band-aids and other items that you may need to have for your journey.


Backseat Car Organizer

Traveling far distances means that your children will need to have items to keep them occupied and the more items they pack, the more risk they take of dropping one of those items out of their reach. With this backseat car organizer, now they can have complete control over making certain that their items belong in a spot that is easy to access and get to, without the worry of having to pull over to help them out.


Car Seat Protector

Don’t have the time to worry about keeping your car clean on a road trip, but you also don’t want to have to worry about spending a ton of time after you arrive at your destination cleaning up the messes either? Invest in a car seat protector and you’ll be so happy that you did! Not only does it protect from spills and stains, it’s also super easy to remove and clean off as well.


Kids Travel Tray


Why not give your little ones the option of having a table to be able to draw on and use when traveling down the road? With this kids travel tray, they can color and create or have a handy place for their snacks, all in their own control.


Potette Portable Toddler Potty

Let’s be real…not all bathroom emergencies for your little one happen when there is a bathroom available for convenience purposes. It’s better to be prepared for those moments on your road trip than not! With these a Potette portable toddler potty, your little one can feel comfortable using the restroom whenever they need to go, rather than have to hold it until the next rest stop. (P.S. Don’t forget the liners!)


Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Leave those plastic water bottles and their twisty lids at home during your next road trip and equip your child with this awesome stainless steel water bottle. Not only will it keep their beverage cooler longer, it also it super easy to refill as well at each of your rest stops along the way.


Water Wow

When you pack for a family road trip, you not only have to think about the necessities, but also how you’re going to keep your child entertained both on the road and in the hotel, or wherever you’re staying. One of the best items I’ve found for toddler entertainment are  Water Wow Books, which are coloring pads that kids can use over and over again. You fill the brush up with water, so kids feel like they’re coloring or painting, but after the water dries, the image disappears so they can do it all over again!


Car Garbage Can

Trash is going to be something that is going to happen on your road trip, so be prepared and ahead of the game by having a trash can in your car, ready to go. Being proactive instead of reactive to the trash will allow you and your family to keep your car clean and functioning well for the duration of your road trip.


Car Visor Tissue Holder

Runny noses seem to be a constant with little ones, right? Instead of digging around in your purse or middle console every time a kleenex or napkin is needed, use these visors to store them easily and within reach!



While we already have many of the items on this list, I just picked up this cooler for our upcoming road trip. We almost always buy beverages when we get to our hotel, which I hate because the markup is so high. Now that we have a cooler, we can stock it with drinks before we leave and stop at a grocery store to refill as needed. It’s also great because our daughter needs to drink milk each day, so we can carry that along without fear that it will go bad. I chose this one because it is surprisingly stylish for a cooler and it is compact enough that it fits between our two backseat captain’s chairs.



Fire 7 Tablet

I’m pretty anti-technology for kids, but I loosened up and purchased a Fire 7 Tablet for my son to use. I settled on this one primarily because the price was right ($49) but also because I received three free months of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited. With FreeTime Unlimited, my son gets free access to hundreds of kid-friendly apps – that you can control, of course! I set his age and then went through, app by app, deleting ones I didn’t want him to access. I turned off the web browser and videos. Now he only has access to educational apps and books, but I know they’ll keep him busy when we’re on the road for hours at a time.

Amazon does make the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet, but I didn’t want to pay double the cost for essentially the same product. Instead, I just purchased a Kids Friendly Protective Case to help keep the tablet safe.


Plan Ahead!

Traveling with kids doesn’t have to be stressful if you plan ahead what you’re going to pack for a family road trip. Be sure to pack key essential items that can help you as a parent be better prepared for whatever you may encounter, be it an injury, thirst, a runny nose, or boredom.  The items above are great items to have in your car for those long road trips with your younger children! Try out a few of them and see if they work well for you on your next road trip. With a little bit of planning ahead, you’ll be amazed at how much smoother your road trips can be!

Also check out:
How to keep a one-year-old entertained on a long road trip

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