The Ultimate Road Trip Packing List For Families

Cover photo credit: @ Gorilla/depositphotos.com

 

Heading out on a road trip but need a packing list? Our family has done quite a few this summer, as it seems to be the vacation of choice for many families.

Whether you are heading out for a short weekend jaunt or a longer road trip vacation, here is our tried and true list of things to bring on a road trip!

 

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you should you make a purchase using this link.  See my disclaimer.

 

road-trip-packing-list-family-ready-to-go
Photo credit: FlairImages/iStock by Getty

 

 

Why Road Trips For Vacation

Our family loves road trips because it is such a great way to see everything you miss when you fly from one point to another.  Though they can be long, and tedious, they are often a lot of fun.  With the right road trip activities, your kids can be kept engaged enough to pass the time.

 

Road Trips Are About The Journey

Many years ago, before kids, my husband and I did a road trip in Ireland. We flew into Shannon and spent a week driving across to Dublin, stopping in a new bed and breakfast each night.  This was before the internet, so we would call places each night to check on availability.

But what made it so fun is that we often saw things we didn't expect to see, giving us opportunities for unexpected stops.  In fact, some times, we would plan to see a town but didn't care for it much.  Moving on to the next town that wasn't on the plan was sometimes more exciting than the one we planned.

 

Road Trips Can Immerse You In A Location

Because you are spending hours driving through somewhere, you really see a lot of a location. During our Ireland road trip, we also listened to Irish radio.  Listening to popular music in the country (or state or region) and local news can teach you a lot about what is going on in that location.

 

Road Trips Can Inspire Unexpected Adventures

Sometimes on road trips, we will find an unusual roadside store, attraction, or a view that we want to see.  Unexpected adventures are often some of the things my kids remember most about a road trip.

One of the reasons I love the Road Tripper app is because this handy helper not only provides directions, places to stay, and places to eat. But it will alert you to unique attractions and things to see along the way.

 

road-trip-packing-list-kid-and-dog-and-suitcases-in-car
Photo credit: @ Natty88/depositphotos.com

 

 

Road Trip Packing List

Now that you are ready to plan your road trip, let's get you packed!  While generally speaking, packing for your trip will be dependent on where you go, there are some extra things you will need for a successful road trip. Here are our recommendations for a complete packing list for your next road trip.

 

 

Essentials For  A Road Trip: The Car

  • Driver's License
  • Roadside Assistance or AAA card
  • Car Registration
  • Rental Agreement (if applicable)
  • Car Manual
  • Car Essentials (spare tire, jumping cables, scrapers, tire pressure guage)
  • Spare Key
  • Roadside Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Flashlight
  • Car Seats (If you are traveling with little ones, check out this review of the best portable car seats.)
  • Sunshades for windows
  • Travel pillow and blanket (lovey for kids)
  • Umbrella
  • Trashbags
  • Freezer Bags (in the event of carsickness, they can be used)
  • Cell Phone Holder
  • Pen and Paper
  • Paper towels and Disinfectant wipes (in case of spills/carsickness)
  • Wet wipes for hands
  • During Covid, PPE Kit:
    • Extra Masks
    • Gloves
    • Hand Sanitizer
    • Extra Disinfectant Wipes

 


 

Essentials For  A Road Trip: Food and Meals

  • Portable Snacks
    • Granola Bars
    • Single Serving Snacks like Pretzels/Chips
    • Hummus (in cooler)
    • Cheese and Crackers (in cooler)
    • Muffins
    • Energy Bars
    • Single Serving Cereal
    • Single Serving Nuts/Seeds
    • Fruit
    • Vegetables
    • Mini Almond Butter Packs
    • Boiled Eggs (in cooler)
    • String Cheese (in cooler)
    • Trail Mix
  • Refillable Coffee Mugs
  • Refillable Water Bottles
  • Cooler
  • Portable Meals
    • Pasta Salad
    • Sandwiches
    • Wraps
    • Egg Sandwiches
    • Burritos
    • Salad
  • Disposable Cutlery
  • Napkins
  • Sandwich Bags For Storing Leftovers

 


 

 

Essentials For  A Road Trip: Your Suitcase/Your Trip

  • Suitcase with Compression Bags to Maximize Space
  • Toiletries
    • Shampoo/Conditioner
    • Body Wash/Lotion
    • Deodorant
    • Hair Brush/Hair Products
    • Makeup
    • Razor
    • Toothbrush/Toothpaste/Floss
  • Jewelry
  • Sunglasses
  • Hats
  • Clothes (shirts, shorts, pants)
  • Pajamas
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Sweatshirt
  • Rain Jacket/Light Jacket/Windbreakers
  • Trip Specific Needs
    • Sheets/Bedding/Towels
    • For Hiking
      • Backpacks for Hiking
      • Shoes/Boots
      • Socks
      • Pants
      • Layers
    • For Camping
      • Tent
      • Sleeping Bag
      • Portable Grill
      • Smore's Kit
      • Lantern
      • Pillow
      • Camping Equipment
    • For Dude Ranch
      • Hats
      • Cowboy Boots
      • Jeans
      • Riding Gloves
      • Socks
    • Beach Trip
      • Swimsuits
      • Beach Clothes/Coverups
      • Towels
      • Goggles/Snorkel Gear
      • Water shoes/Flip Flops
      • Beach Gear (buckets, noodles, floaties, wagon, canopy/umbrella, etc.)
    • For Ski Trips
      • Layers
      • Gloves
      • Socks
      • Balaclava
      • Ski Gear (skis, helmet, poles, jackets, pants, boots, gloves, hot pockets)
  • Camera
  • Binoculars

 


 

BVWK Tip
If you are planning to change hotels or locations often during your road trip, here's a tip we did on our road trip in Ireland.

Pack individual outfits in freezer bags (I love the IKEA ones because they are extra large) inside your suitcase, including top, bottoms, underwear, and socks, and have a portable duffle bag. This way, rather than bringing in your whole suitcase in each night, you just grab your outfit pack, toiletries, and pajamas and put them in the duffle minimizing how much you have to bring into your accommodations each night!  The ziplock also makes a great bag for dirty laundry to bring back to your suitcase.

 

Essentials For  A Road Trip: Electronics

  • Cell Phone
  • Ipads/Tablets
  • Computers
  • Portable Charger for Car
  • Chargers for Your Electronics
  • Download the Road Tripper App (get $5 off with the code BTR5QTP)

 


 

Essentials For  A Road Trip: Entertainment

 

BVWK Tip
I recommend giving kids their own backpack/road trip kids complete with their activity pack, sketchbook/pencils, clipboard, headphones, books, electronic for Audible, water bottle, and snack bag. This way kids can be completely independent during the road trip. It is like a carry-on for kids, but for the car!

 


 

Essentials For  A Road Trip: Money and Travel Documents

  • Cash
  • Credit Cards
  • Traveler's Checks (if applicable)
  • Coins for the car for tolls/laundry
  • Travel Wallet
  • Travel Purse
  • Portable Safe
  • Travel Documents/ID
  • Contact Information For House/Petsitters
  • Travel Itinerary (Flight Details, Hotel/Accommodation Details, Tour Information and Contacts)

 


 

Essentials For a Road Trip: Health and Safety

  • Health Insurance Cards
  • Traveler's Insurance Information
  • First Aid Kit For the Car
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Medicine Pack
    • Essential Medicines and Prescriptions
    • Contacts/Glasses
    • Allergy Medicines
    • Motion Sickness Medicines
    • Thermometer
    • Pain Relievers for Adults and Kids and Dispenser
    • Upset Stomach Medication
  • PPE Cleaning Pack
    • Masks
    • Sanitizer Portable
    • Sanitizer For Car
    • Disinfectant Wipes
    • Gloves

 


 

Final Thought About Road Trip Packing List

 

road-trip-packing-list-family-ready-to-go
Photo credit: Vera_Petrunina/iStock by Getty

 

Packing for a road trip can feel overwhelming, but this handy road trip packing list will help you plan.  While each road trip is different, planning ahead for road trip essentials and packing efficiently will make your family road trip vacation go much smoother.  Use this road trip packing list to make your packing easier, so you can keep your eyes on the road making lasting memories with your family.

 

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Emma | 6th Aug 20

    I love the tip about the outfits in freezer bags! I have never thought of packing everything individual before. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Hailey | 2nd Sep 20

    You thought of everything! Thank you haha. I always forget something. Definitely printing this for my next road trip!

    • Keri | 2nd Sep 20

      Awesome, Hailey, so glad it is helpful!

  3. Donna Garrison | 2nd Sep 20

    Anything to make my life easier is awesome, as I am the designated packer of all things travel, including for road trips. I agree that the outfit in a bag idea is genius. I am trying to use less plastic in my life, and I am thinking that i could use packing cubes instead.

    • Keri | 2nd Sep 20

      Thanks, Donna. Yes, the compression packing bags I mentioned above are excellent for this purpose! They kept our clothes super organized on our recent three week, 2500 mile, road trip!

  4. Jenny Bhatia | 3rd Sep 20

    Keri, the freezer bag tip is a total NINJA tip. Why didn’t I think of that? Often we stay a couple of days here and a couple of days there, why drag around that big suitcase? I love this tip.

    • Keri | 3rd Sep 20

      Thanks, Jenny! It is one of my favorite tips!

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