There are many road trip essentials to keep in mind when heading out on the road with your family. Here are some tips.

Family road trips have a tendency to go one of two ways: either an exercise in creating fond memories or an absolute nightmare. Of course, many factors outside of your control can play into that, such as traffic. However, you can plan for what goes on in your immediate environment, right inside your car. Before you take off, make sure you’ve got these road trip essentials taken care of:


Being more organized means each passenger can be more self-sufficient, enjoying themselves however they choose. And creating a specific home for everything makes cleanup a breeze. For kids, seat back organizers are a must. They help keep everything together and within easy reach. Organizing also involves keeping the most necessary items accessible. Consider a backpack to keep all the important documents, wallets, phones, and anything else you might find yourself reaching for at hand. If you find yourself needing more storage space, install a roof rack or box.

Family Fun

Some of the best times on the road are when everyone participates together. Interactive games, joke competitions, even the shared act of listening to a podcast, book on tape, or music album, can create harmony. Be prepared and get everything brainstormed and uploaded before hitting the road to create the perfect environment for group entertainment.

Individual Entertainment

Of course, it would be great if everyone’s tastes lined up all the time, be we all know that’s not the case, and sometimes it’s nice to do your own thing. Electronics like tablets, DVD players, and cell phones are great for this. Don’t forget your chargers, as well. Importantly, you should make sure everyone has a pair of headphones.

Snacks and Messes

To keep everyone smiling, stay on top of the snack situation. Fruits and veggies are great, as are granola bars, beef jerky, and small water bottles. Even if you pack the most car-friendly snacks, there will be clean-up need. Designate a trash bag, stash a bit of fabric wash, air freshener, hand sanitizer, tissues, and other supplies and you should be good to go.


If it’s a particularly long haul, being comfortable can make a huge difference. Wear loose clothes, with an optional layer for warmth. Pack everyone a pillow and blankets to share. Avoid long trips in cars that lack proper climate control.


Last but not least, prepare for emergencies and what ifs. Keep an emergency roadside kit on hand, including jumper cables, tools, and a spare tire. The vehicle should be in good condition before staring off. Pay close attention to your vehicle’s fluid levels and tire wear. Take advantage of available GPS-capable devices to get where you’re going on time, and put together a first aid kit in case of emergencies.

Being prepared for anything increases the chances of turning your long drive in the car into a fond family memory. Keep these road trip essentials in mind next time you and yours set out into the sunset for a true adventure.

Blair Lampe

About the AuthorBlair Lampe

Blair Lampe is a New York-based freelance writer and mechanic.  She travels frequently and on a budget, which she documents on her website TheGreyBeyond.