Skip to Content

Things to Pack for a Road Trip

We love taking long road trips as a family! The worst is forgetting something important so here are 17 essential things to pack for a road trip that will make your journey a lot smoother.

things to pack for a road trip

We head out on an 8 hour, or more, road trip at least once a year with our kids. We’ve gotten pretty good at packing and knowing what we’ll need, but there are always little things that get overlooked. When they do it makes our time more challenging. Here are our road trip blog tips.

Things to Bring On a Road Trip

After a few times of “OH NOs” I wrote down all the things we forgot along the way. I created this list to share with you so I wouldn’t have those uncomfortable moments. 

Here are our top 17 essential things to pack for a road trip.

things to pack for a road trip 3

What Should I Pack for a 8 Day Road Trip

This year we took a really long trip from Southern California, to Sequoia, up to San Francisco, and then home again. THIS is why I do it. My girls.

Showing them new places, spending time together, and broadening their horizons is important to us.

When you travel with kids there’s another element when it comes to road tripping, and packing especially.

  • Tip #1 – Let them pack their backpack initially. Then go back and make sure they have everything.
    • This will give them a sense of autonomy and allow them to bring their favorite and most comfortable clothes.
    • You can’t care about whether they match on a kind of vacation like this.

Tip #2 – Pack a busy bag full of goodies and things for them to do while you’re driving. Each child gets their OWN bag and put a few new trinkets in there they can discover once you’re on your way.

busy bags

Fun Things to Pack on a Road Trip

  • Tip #3 – Bring clothes and shoes you don’t care about.
    • Assume you will throw them away once you get home. lol. We have a “dirty bin” full of clothes that have a small stain on them to use.
    • In it I have last year’s soccer jerseys, summer camp shirts, and hand me downs.
      • When they pack have them choose the majority from this bin. If a massive chocolate sundae happens on the trip it’s no biggie if it’s stained forever.

Vacations are all about having fun with NO worries!

things to pack for a road trip 2

Ok so here are my tips regarding the small things you are sure to forget. First thing first you need a backpack.

Hang your purse in the closet and leave it there. Remember we aren’t going to worry about things being ruined.

If you can find a solar powered backpack (see mine below) you’ll be ahead of the game. That way you’ll always have a place to charge your phone for FREE. Powered by the sun it’s a lifesaver.

things to pack for a road trip

Things to pack for a road trip

  1. Eye drops (lifesaver when we’re traveling)
  2. Nail clippers
  3. Cell phone battery charger (hence the backpack, but if not make sure to bring one)
  4. Cord to charge your cell phone (you think it’s a given but frequently forgotten)
  5. Lip balm (you’ll thank me later)
  6. Sunscreen

Road Trip Checklist for Family

  1. Tweezers (if you’ve never gotten a splinter, you will on vacation)
  2. First aid kit (especially with kids)
  3. Camera (make sure it still works if you haven’t used it in a while)
  4. Extra charged batteries for your camera
  5. Multiple memory cards for your camera
  6. Small portable potty (even if they’re older, there are LONG stretches with no bathrooms)
  7. Motion sickness relief – Medicine or ginger candies can help with the zig zaggy roads
motion sickness tips
  1. Allergy relief (if needed, especially if you’re headed to a wooded area)
  2. Music (unless you have satellite radio in your car the reception won’t always be good)
  3. Toiletries (toothbrush is a must, feminine hygiene products for just in case)
  4. Personal identification and all important car paperwork (registration, proof of insurance, emergency numbers)

I will tell you that I forgot a few of these things on our last trip and it was pretty miserable. When we were outside Sequoia National Park I realized I forgot my toothbrush and eye drops I use regularly.

things to pack on a road trip

Many are so easy thing to throw in your backpack and have with you at all times. If not it can get challenging.

I would never want to miss out on seeing new things on our trips, or see how much my children enjoy their new surroundings.

Hope this list of things to pack for a road trip helps you remember the little things that make your life easier. Pack accordingly for your next road trip and enjoy!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Lauren O'Connor

Wednesday 9th of August 2017

Hi Justine! We did the same trip from SoCal to Sequoia! The kids loved it! As did we. My girls always bring their own backpack with things they'll need for long drives. But of course we forgot bandaids. Lol! As for me there's nothing more essential than eye drops. You have great tips!! Thanks for sharing.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.