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Road Trip Packing List for Families: What to Pack for a Long Car Ride

Posted by Jel Navarro on
Kid looking out from SUV during road trip

Family road trips can be tons of fun --- except for when you hit the three-hour mark. It’s around that time when kids begin asking the dreaded question… Are we there yet?! If Dad’s driving, it’s up to you mamma to keep everyone sane (and happy). The only way to do that is by packing everything the family needs before your epic road trip begins. So let’s get to the good stuff below and tell you all about our road trip packing list for families.

Road trip checklist: things you need to do before the trip

Side mirror view during road trip

We know everyone’s excited to hop in the car for a fun road trip. But you know the drill, everything takes planning, preparation and organization. We think it’s a great idea to answer these questions below (before starting to pack for your family’s road trip):

✓ Have you gotten your car checked recently? This is often overlooked but it shouldn’t be! The last thing you need on your epic road trip adventure is the car breaking down. If you haven’t done so in the last few months, get an oil change, check your tire pressure and make sure the brakes are in tip-top shape… Or better yet, just get an overall checkup from a legit car repair shop or your local dealership. Pro Tip: Make sure to also check up on your spare tire.

✓ Do you have a car emergency kit? Even if you’ve done everything right, accidents can still happen. We recommend having a car emergency kit - it will reduce stress and keep you prepared for the worst. Store it in the trunk of your car so you’re prepared for any emergencies --- like a flat tire or dead battery.

✓ Do you have a copy of your car insurance, registration and manual? Store all these essential documents in a small packing cube. You think you won’t need them but you’ll thank us later when your car’s alarm sets off and you just can’t turn it off!

Our road trip packing list for families

Now we’re on to the fun part… Yes, packing for a road trip doesn’t have to be annoying! With our complete road trip packing list below, you are on for an epic adventure. Here we go!

Mom looking out from car during road trip

Clothes & Shoes

✓ Underwear (Bras, Panties & Briefs)

✓ Socks

✓ Lounge Shirts & Pajamas

✓ Shirts (Short Sleeve & Long Sleeve)

✓ Leggings, Jeans & Shorts

✓ Sweater & Waterproof Jacket

✓ Sneakers / Water Shoes

✓ Hiking Shoes

✓ Comfy Sandals or Flip Flops

This part is pretty basic because it really depends on what your destination is. If it’s more of an outdoor trip, then you’ll need more lightweight clothes plus hiking or running shoes. If it’s a theme park or water park, then obviously you’ll need to bring more casual shirts and swimwear. Tweak this section according to your needs! 

Organize your clothes into clear packing cubes.

For a road trip, it’s easier if you allot one color cube for each member of the family. Then arrange and sort outfits before packing them in cubes. Use a separate duffle bag or soft-shell suitcase for these clothes. They’re more pliable so you can fill them to your heart’s desire. Then store the bags in the trunk of your car (you won’t need them during the car ride).



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✓ Shampoo, Conditioner & Soap - Bring enough for the whole family (or check if your destination will provide)

✓ Toothbrushes & Toothpaste - Bring a travel sized one to save space.

✓ Lotion & Moisturizer - A small travel-size should suffice (unless you're going somewhere very cold & dry, bring extra). 

✓ Sunscreen - Bring a spray-on that is very lightweight and can keep you smelling fresh.

✓ Razors - Bring individual ones for mom and dad.

✓ Deodorant & Deodorant Wipes - You’ll need deodorant wipes especially when you have sweaty pre-teens with you!

✓ Dry Shampoo - You don’t want everybody knowing it’s your third-day hair, right? Enjoy your road trip without the greasy hair!

✓ Feminine Hygiene Essentials - The basics like tampons, pads and some feminine wipes (always be extra prepared).

✓ Hand / Face Wipes, Alcohol & Hand Sanitizer 

✓ Antibacterial Wipes / Spray

✓ Cosmetics / Makeup 

Extra Small packing cube filled with road trip toiletries

EzPacking Tip:  Use an extra small cube as your on-the-go bathroom kit (for each member of the family). Pack mini versions of toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, wipes, sanitizer and tissues. Keep these cubes in each person’s backpack / day pack for easy access when making stops on the road!  

EzPacking Medium Cube snack organization for roadtrip

Food & Drinks

✓ Portable Water Bottle - Opt for one that’s collapsible in order to save some space.

✓ Juice Boxes - Freeze juice boxes the night before your trip so they’ll stay cool while on the road.

✓ Homemade Sandwiches - Choose your fave spread (peanut butter, jam, hazelnut, etc.) and make sandwiches before your trip. They’re a lot healthier than fast food burgers!

✓ Granola Bars - These allergy free Granola Bars are perfect go-to healthy snacks that the whole family will munch on.

✓ Other Non-Sticky Snacks - Good choices are kale chips, crackers and nuts (for those who aren’t allergic). Avoid chocolates, gummies and candies --- unhealthy plus has a tendency to stick to everything inside the car.

EzPacking Tip: We all know how much kids like their “own” things and sometimes are not so great at sharing... Pack separate snacks for each kid in the family. Make sure everyone gets the same amount so there’s no fighting.

You can use an extra small packing cube for storing snacks and drinks for each of your kiddos. Designate pink for your girly toddler and royal blue for your son. This food pouch should be within reach of each kid during the entire road trip! Don’t forget their matching water bottles (too cute).

How to Pack for a road trip with kids

Kiddie headphones perfect for the car - featuring Kennedy from The Traveling Child blog. Check her out for more awesome travel deals for families!

Kids’ Entertainment

✓ Toy Travel Tray - Go for a toy travel tray that attaches to any car seat and acts as a table (with high edges to keep toys from falling). A must for road trips!

✓ Lego Case - Legos are still the best travel toys, hands down! They keep babies, toddlers, little girls and little boys entertained. We love this lego case from ModFamily because it already has base plates, so stack away kiddos!

✓ Creativity Kit - Make your own drawing creativity kit at home. Fill it up with pencils, washable crayons and lots of papers. Also, print a road trip scavenger hunt - very old school but works for keeping the little ones busy.  

✓ Other Toys - Matchbox cars, dolls, rattles (for the baby)... Pack a few of your kid’s favorite toys. Pro Tip: Release one toy at a time over the course of the car ride, which will keep them excited about each toy’s reveal.

✓ Electronics - A road trip is all about bonding with the family. But if mom and dad want some peace and quiet, they deserve it. Download your kid’s favorite shows and apps before the trip. Pack along some kiddie headphones because you deserve some silence from the kids too. You can also buy a headrest mount for watching movies and shows so the kids can watch their shows without having to hold the ipad or tablet.

✓ Music Playlists - Create different music playlists for your epic road trip! It’s easy to do so nowadays using music streaming sites (like Spotify). Let the kids join in on the fun of creating playlists. Don’t forget to add some old-school classics (your kids might even enjoy them) and of course some upbeat songs to liven up the trip. 

First aid kit for family road trip

    First Aid / Health

    ✓ Motion Sickness Medicine - If your kids aren’t used to long car rides, better have some motion sickness relief ready.

    ✓ Cold and Cough Relief - It’s very easy to pass on colds and coughs from one person to another (or from one kid to another)… So make sure to bring along a few doses of cold and cough medicine!

    ✓ Pain Reliever - You never know when the next sore throat or fever wil arisel!  Always have a pain reliever on hand, like this Children’s Motrin!

    ✓ Other Medications - Pack any other medications you might need like prescription, allergy or diarrhea-relief.

    ✓ Tweezers, Bug Repellent and Itch-Relief Cream - A must for outdoor destinations.

    ✓ Bandages, Gauze Pads and Medical Tape 

     Alcohol and Antibacterial Ointment 

    EzPacking Tip: Make your own DIY First Aid Kit with the things you specifically need during the road trip. If you’re in the middle of nowhere, you’ll be thankful to have packed these items if an emergency happens!   

    Baby sleeping on car seat during road trip


    ✓ Car Seat - Keep kids safe while on the road, all the time!

    ✓ NapUp for Kids - This brilliant idea stop your kids heads from bopping back and forth. So bad for their necks! Simply pull down when you see your child dozing off. 

    ✓ Mini Flashlight - Your emergency kit should have its own bigger flashlight. But keep a mini flashlight close to you just in case. 

    ✓ Google Maps / GPS Navigation - This is very handy if you’re not familiar with the destination you’re going to. 

    ✓ Map - You could either use your phone as a map or buy a paper map. We recommend having both options --- in case your cell phone stops working or there isn’t good reception, you’ll need an alternate option! 

    ✓ Locator Beacon - Just in case you might be planning an off roading day, best to have your own locator beacon for true emergency situations. Must be activated with the NOAA before your road trip! 

    ✓ Multi-Port Car Charger - Bring a multi-port car charger that works for both Apple and Android devices. 

    ✓ Portable Charger - So you can charge your devices without plugging them in the car port! Charge it overnight before your trip.

    ✓ Car Emergency Kit - Worth mentioning again, bring your own car emergency kit with all the possible tools you’d need in case of a vehicle breakdown. 

    EzPacking Tip: Don’t take safety for granted especially during a road trip. Charge all your smartphones before the trip so there’s no fights about who gets the charger. Invest in the safety items above so you won’t freak out when you actually need them!

    Car interior during road trip

    Items to Keep the Car Clean 

    ✓ Vomit / Trash Bags - We hope you never get to use them but vomit bags are lifesavers when someone needs to really let it all out. They’re sturdier than plastic, has an absorbent bottom and can be easily disposed of.

     Microfiber Cloth - When you just want to get rid of dust (which easily accumulates in the car), microfiber cloths are your best friend. 

    ✓ Carpet and Upholstery Wipes - A long road trip means lots of crumbs, goo and dirt. Pack some carpet and upholstery wipes (very inexpensive) which you can use to keep the interiors clear during driving breaks. 

     Disposable Paper Mats - Kids’ muddy feet plus a road trip is not the best match! Use disposable carpet covers in case it’s raining outside and your kiddos muddy feet in the car is the only option! Pro Tip: Place a few carpet covers in the backseat pockets for easy access. 

    ✓ Cupcake Liners for Cup Holders - Don’t you hate it when soda or sticky drinks spill in your car’s cup holder? They take forever to clean. Avoid this road trip mishap by using cupcake liners! 

    ✓ Car Trash Bags - These are a must for the car! Leak proof and attachable to the headrests car trash cans are perfect for a road trip. Voila, instant (and cute) garbage bin for your road trip! 

    EzPacking Tip: A messy car just gets on our nerves! Store all your car-cleaning essentials in a small cube. During gas station breaks, dispose of the contents of your garbage bin so trash won’t accumulate. Let the kiddos help in cleaning the car… You know they love being given adult responsibilities.

    Woman using blanket during road trip


    ✓ Neck Pillows - Hopefully, there will be lots of sleeping during your road trip. To ensure that, bring one neck pillow (or just a pillow) for every member of the family.

    ✓ Kids Portable Potty - If you have a toddler or small kid traveling with you, it’s better to just bring your own portable potty. You know that when toddlers have to pee (or poop), they really have to and you shouldn’t stop them. Dispose off their dirty secrets easily by removing the liner/plastic. 

    ✓ Blanket - It can get a little chilly with the AC on in the car, so bring an extra blanket for warming up, for glaring windows, or as an extra comfort at your final destination. 

    ✓ Sunglasses - Always bring an extra pair of sunglasses for the road! 

    EzPacking Tip: When everyone’s comfy, everyone’s happy (especially mommy). So make sure that you pack these extra items. While they aren’t totally necessary, they can make a world of difference while you’re on the road. 

    Three road trip essentials you can’t forget

    Family enjoying road trip by the beach

    Before you hit the road, make sure you have these three road trip essentials with you:

    ✓ Car Emergency Kit - Yup, third time’s the charm! Just want to make sure you don’t forget it. Here’s how we recommend you make your DIY emergency kit.

    ✓ Packing Cubes - They help keep everything separated and organized. Pack your medications (or snacks) in an extra small cube, your kid’s entertaining items in a small cube and your clothes in a medium cube or a large cube. This packing cube set of 12 items is perfect for families. Everyone will get a few cubes. You’re all good to go!

    ✓ Snacks on Snacks - When tummies are fully satisfied, you’re on your way to an epic road trip already!

    Tips on Road Trip Safety During COVID-19 Outbreak

    Here are some health safety tips that you need to keep in mind while on the road. You should know how to protect yourself and others during the entire trip.

    Packing and Sanitizing

    ✔️ Pack up on hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, sanitizing spray, face masks, disposable gloves, and a thermometer.

    ✔️ Bring important health insurance records or documents with you.

    ✔️ Reduce the need to go into rest tops and risk contact with others by packing your own snacks and drinks.

    Small cube as snack pack

    ✔️ Do not touch your face after handling cash, credit, and debit cards. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that touching a surface or object that has the virus on it it can be a source of virus transmission or a way for coronavirus to spread.

    On the Road

    ✔️ Roll down the windows to get airflow throughout the car. It decreases the amount of time that virus particles could linger in the air.

    ✔️ Share a vehicle with your immediate household or family only. Those that you don't live with and have had outside contact should be tested before going on the trip with you.

    Packing cubes for road trip

    Dining / Pit Stop

    ✔️ Consider drive-through or curbside pick-up when buying meals. Or better yet, cook your own meals whenever possible.

    ✔️ If you do need to stop in a rest stop or a gas station, avoid touching any surfaces, especially the toilet.

    ✔️ Wear gloves to safely pump gas, use number pads, touch screens at gas stations, open doorknobs / handles and other products inside a convenience store. But don't forget to wash your hands or sanitize after. 

    ✔️ Opt for a contactless, cashless payment options if available. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that dirty bills may possibly be spreading the coronavirus. However, If using paper money and coins cannot be helped, place the money on the counter rather than handing them over directly.

    ✔️ When dining in, sanitize the table and other utensils before touching or using them. It would be better if you're bringing your own cutlery and reusable straw.

    ✔️ Always sanitize hands before reentering the car whenever and wherever you go out.

    hygiene kit in a black circle pouch


    ✔️ When staying at hotels, be sure to sanitize, clean and disinfect all contact surfaces.

    ✔️ Wipe toilet and bathroom fixtures, TV remote, telephone, and lamp switches.

    ✔️ Those who are camping should follow the usual COVID-19 precautions such as frequent handwashing for 20 seconds, avoid touching your face, observe social distancing, and always wear a face mask when in a crowd.

    Discount code for EzPacking's clear packing cubes

    Hooray, you made it to the end! We hope you feel better about what to pack for your road trip now. Your whole family is bound to enjoy this journey you’ve planned and organized. Good luck and happy road trippin’!

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