2016 Toyota Avalon
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Helpful Family Road Trip Essentials

Anytime is the perfect time for a family road trip. My family usually road trips from Nor Cal to So Cal at least 2-3 times a year, and there are some essentials (besides a great car seat) that we simply could not drive without. Keep reading for my list of family road trip essentials!

Updated Oct. 2022

2016 Toyota Avalon - perfect for family road trips!

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Tips for a Stress Free Long Family Car Ride

I know, I know. I can’t guarantee a stress free family road trip, but I CAN give some of my best tips that I have learned over the years for a successful family road trip!

A lot of my best family road trip tips circle around the items mentioned in this post, but let me share the best tip of all.

Ready?

Bring out the tablet. Yes, the tablet. Not only does a trusty Kindle Fire HD 10 limit stress at home during the most chaotic times of the year (like the holidays), but it can make car trips so much easier. It has a fantastic battery life and you can pick and choose which educational apps or shows are on it for your littles. A win-win, really. Check it out here.

Family Road Trip Essentials

There are a few things you need for an EASY and mostly stress-free road trip with the kids in tow. They include:

  • snacks
  • leak proof water bottles
  • kick mats
  • entertainment
  • a car organizer
  • portable travel size first aid
  • & drink trays

Keep reading for more about these family road trip essentials!

1. Snacks

Though it’s important to stop the car to let the kiddos stretch, use the potty, or get a diaper change every few hours of your trip, they may need a snack between stops too. Reusable snack bags and containers are fantastic for this because you can use them and then clean and refill them later and a great family road trip must-have. Preschool-aged kids may want to hold their own lunch bag with snacks (at least mine does), too, so be prepared to pack a little bag.

2. Leak-Proof Water Bottles

Kids (and parents) need to keep hydrated, but drink containers don’t always end up resting upright in a cup holder. Babies drop their bottles, toddlers forcefully throw them, and sometimes mom and dad’s sharp turns cause them to fling across the car. Check out Simple Modern Kids Water Bottles for a sort of safer spill-proof water bottle.

3. Kick Mats

If your kids are forward-facing, you may want a kick mat on the back of your seat. When kids get anxious during a long drive, the seats can take a bit of a beating, and a mat like these kick mats are a great way to be sure your seat stays free of mud, streaks, nicks, and scuffs. These are family road trips essential for any and all car trips with the kids!

4. Entertainment

It’s always a blessing when the kids fall asleep for a good portion of the trip, but the rest of the time they’re sitting there kinda bored. Pack some lightweight and thin paper books (the kind that bends easily), some coloring activities or activity kits, and soft toys. Depending on your child’s age and level of responsibility you could bring one of those over-the-lap tables for the kiddo to build Legos in the car, use a Water Wow! or play with dough, too. Keep the kiddos entertained with family car games like I Spy, children’s music CDs, and some movies, or educational games on a tablet.

Have movies on your headrest? Awesome! You can also put your tablet (my secret family road trip essential) in a clear pencil case then hand it from the seat for a makeshift tablet holder/TV in the car. Headphones are great so the kiddo can hear what they’re doing and the parents can chat or listen to their own tunes, but be sure to get cordless to avoid any strangulation that could occur in an accident or if the kiddo fell asleep a certain way with the cord around their neck. It’s also important to get children’s headphones that limit the sound to what’s safe for little ears.

5. A Car Organizer

Whether it’s upfront or safely secured to the back seat, a car organizer makes long drives a bit more bearable. This car organizer for the backseat comes with hooks for soft toys, slots for water bottles, and sections for books and coloring activities (or a favorite stuffed toy).

6. Portable First Aid

First aid is always a must when traveling by car. Safer than sorry! This kit is a great starter kit for a car first aid kit and a must for your family road trips.

7. My Travel Tray
This is a lifesaver for snacking kids! the My Travel Tray fits easily into almost all cup holders and offers someplace for them to store their snacks while eating in the car without taking the cup holder away. Shop it from Target here!

I hope you found some great help by reading through this list of family road trip essentials. They should help make your upcoming family road trip so much easier and much less stressful!

To shop even more road trip essentials for families, check out my Amazon Storefront here!

If you loved this post, I think you’d love these ones too:

Where to Board Your Pet While On Vacation

3-Day Family Vacation to SF with Littles and a Big Kid

6 Tips for Preventing Outdoor Injuries

family road trip must haves

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2 Comments

  1. Great post! I love that headrest! My kiddos could really use this on those long roadtrips. Hate to see their little heads hang low when they fall asleep. Having something like this would be perfect. 🙂