Road Trip Essentials

Kids Road Trip Essentials: 70+ Things to Carry on a Road Trip in 2024

Are you ready to hit the road for a family road trip? These road trip essentials will ensure you’ll have everything you need to have a safe, fun road trip. From prep before you leave, supplies to tech, entertainment to snacks, having a fantastic road trip just takes a little planning. Here’s what to pack for a road trip with kids so you’re prepared for any emergency, and have fun along the way.

As a full-time traveling family, we’ve got lots of family road trips under our belt, from 8 weeks coast to coast, to driving down into Baja. We also love National Parks– some of our favorite road trips included Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Many of these products we’ve tried ourselves and recommend from personal experience.

In this post we’ve separated all the gear into categories, so feel free to use the table of contents to skip around. From backseat organizers to headphones and jumper cables to ice packs and coolers, we’ve got the gear we depend on for long family car trips.

This article may contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. All our recommendations are independent and are in no way influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative.

This list of 75+ road trip essentials is long- but don’t worry- at end of this post, you can download a free Checklist of Road Trip Essentials!

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Table of Contents


Family Road Trip Supplies for your Ultimate Long Car Trip

We’ve pulled together a complete guide with everything you need for an epic road trip with kids- from what to prepare ahead of time, to the gear you need to have a fun road trip.

We’ll cover first aid kits and car organizers, as well as the best snacks, cleaning supplies, and kid’s activities to keep everyone happy along the way.

Our two girls in the backseat in their car seats with a lot of stuff around them on a family road trip
Is everyone’s car this messy on a road trip?

Family Road Trip Prep: Things to Do Before You Leave

Planning ahead is as important as what you pack on your road trip! There are some crucial steps to take before you leave to make sure your road trip goes smoothly so you can have the ultimate road trip. A little preplanning goes a long way- when you plan your road trip keep in mind that conditions and closures are changing constantly.

Traveling with kids? We’ve got all the best travel tips for long car trips with kids. We’ve also for the best family travel tips whether you are on a plane, train or in a car.

1. Check Travel Restrictions

Planning ahead is essential, especially in the post-2020 era. Make sure you have your route planned and have double-checked whether the places you are planning to stop are open and whether you need to register in advance.

In the US, states have a changing patchwork of quarantine requirements, make sure you are allowed to cross state borders and check your legal requirements before you leave. The CDC Travel Planner is a good place to start.

Navigating travel restrictions can be tough, we crossed the Canadian border right after the border opened, so we know how stressful it can be!

2. Plan Ahead for National Parks

If you will be visiting three or more National Parks, make sure to get an annual National Parks Pass. These passes are good for one year from purchase. We love adding as many National Parks as we can to our road trip itineraries.

Buy Now: America the Beautiful National Parks Pass

All 4th Graders and their families are eligible for free access to National Parks. Check the Every Kid Outdoors website for details and to get your voucher.


3. Check your Documents

Check your car glovebox for a copy of your car registration, and a current insurance card. Make sure your driver’s license and registration are current and won’t need to be renewed while you are on the road.

4. Get your Car Tuned Up

Before you hit the road, take your car in for a tune-up. Make sure there are no safety issues like worn-out tires, failing wipers, or dirty filters.

Change your oil, check your tire pressure, and top off your wiper fluid so you’re ready to go and won’t have any surprises along the way.

5. Check and Clean Car Seats

Are kids joining you on this adventure? This is a great time to check your kid’s carseats. Dump out the crumbs, and clean out all the dried raisins, and goldfish crackers stuck down in the crevices. Wipe it down and make sure that it’s installed correctly, and that it is adjusted to fit your child correctly.

Renting a car or flying? Consider travel car seats like the Ride Safer Travel Vest (ages 3+), or the Bubblebum booster and Hiccapop booster car seats for ages 4+ and up to 100 pounds.

6. Clean your Car

I like to start a long road trip with a clean car. Pull out the floor mats and spray them down. Vacuum out the interior and wipe down the dashboard. Sure, some sand is going to find its way in, and you’ll end up with a few stray french fries in the backseat.

But for now, it will feel good to start with a clean car instead of staring at that dusty dashboard you’re always planning to get around to wiping.

Bonus points for going through a car wash and getting the outside sparkling clean as well.

7. Download Offline Maps

If you plan to be driving in areas with lousy cell service, you may want to download some maps ahead of time from Google Maps. This includes National Parks and more remote areas.

The National Park Service app is a great way to easily download park information, including maps, for use offline.

Road Trip Supplies to Stay Safe

These are the gear and supplies you need for safety, from jumper cables to flashlights and a med kit. Check that you’ve got all the gear for a safe trip before you head out.

8. Carjack & Spare Tire

Don’t discover you are missing these right when you need them! These usually come with your car, but double-check before you leave.

9. Jumper Cables

When your kid doesn’t shut the door properly and you return to a dead battery, you’ll be glad to have a good set of jumper cables.

We like these jumper cables because they are heavy-duty and come in a sturdy bag that keeps them neat. I’ve had to use these more than I’d like to admit.

Buy Now: Jumper Cables


20. An Extra Car Key

Keep an extra car key in a purse or day bag that you won’t leave in the car when you stop. This backup plan can save you a lot of headaches (and arguments).


11. Flashlight

Make sure you have a flashlight with good batteries in the main compartment of your car. While it will come in handy for unpacking in the dark, you’ll be really glad to have it if you end up changing a tire at night.

12. First Aid Kit

We keep this First Aid Kit in the back of our car, by the carjack and spare tire.

It has 275 pieces stuffed into a small hard foam shell case that zips closed. We have never had to use it, but if we did, I’m sure it has everything we would need for minor accidents.

Shop Now: First Aid Kit for the Car

13. Single-Use Cold Packs

In addition to our first aid kit, we like to keep a disposable cold pack in the side door pocket. These come in handy in the case of falls, knee scrapes, or general bonks that may need an ice pack.

You squeeze them to activate the cold, then throw them away when they are no longer cold.

Buy Now: Disposable Cold Packs


14. Car Sickness Remedies

Being car sick can be miserable (and so is cleaning up afterward). We bought these Sea Bands and they seem to do the trick. They run small, so get the adult size- these fit my four-year-old! These also come in a handy clear carry case to keep them clean.

E wearing her black Sea Bands waiting for a bus in a green dress.
E wearing her Sea Bands for motion sickness

We have used these bands so many times- and the kids have never gotten sick while wearing them. Make a point to put them on when you hit curvy sections of road, before anyone gets nauseous. These also work for boats!

Ginger gum or ginger-flavored hard candies can also help with motion sickness.

Buy Now: Motion Sickness Sea Bands


15. Sun Lotion & Bug Spray

Don’t forget these road trip essentials! A high SPF sun lotion and some natural bug spray are essential.

We like Off Botanicals– it’s DEET free so I don’t worry about it being in contact with the kids’ skin. You may also want to consider some aloe lotion in case of minor sunburns.

Buy Now: Off Botanicals Natural Bug Spray


16. Cash and Coins

Depending on where you are heading, ATMs may be hard to find. There’s usually one or two at each National Park, but you may need to go out of your way to find them. Have some cash on hand so you don’t have to worry if a restaurant or ice cream parlor is “cash only”.

Coins come in handy for tolls, parking meters, and vending machines. Have you ever been stuck at a toll with no coins?

I have been “that car” on the NJ Turnpike desperately checking under the seat mats for spare quarters. Also, if you plan to do laundry on the road, you will go need a lot of quarters. We recommend getting a roll of quarters from the bank before you leave.

Road Trip Supplies to Minimize Mess

Having these supplies on hand will help minimize those inevitable long car trip messes and keep you all clean, safe, and happy.

17. Hand Sanitizer & Antibacterial Wipes

I put a large pump bottle of hand sanitizer in the front console that everyone can reach, and then carry a small bottle in my day bag for use while out and about.

Antibacterial wipes are handy for wiping down hotel room door handles, sticky restaurant tables, and anything your family is about to touch.

18. Napkins, Tissues, & Wet Wipes

Standard items in my car! Napkins always come in handy (keep a stack in the glove box), some drive-thrus don’t include napkins unless you ask. These are definitely a necessity to carry on a road trip with kids!

I keep tissues in the center console and a small pack in my purse. These replace the toilet paper in the odd Port-a-Potty or gross bathroom that’s lacking supplies. Wet wipes are great for cleaning sticky fingers, minor messes, and even as a quick refresh if you’re sweaty.

19. Stain Stick

You won’t miss it until you really need it! When lunch ends up on your shirt, this stain stick will keep the stain from setting until you can get it washed. We love these Tide Stain Sticks.

20. Laundry Detergent Sheets

If you are going to be doing laundry on the road you need laundry detergent sheets. These look a bit like a dryer sheet but are dehydrated detergent.

They are lightweight, no mess, and won’t spill in the car. You can use them in any machine (HE or regular), or tear off what you need to do laundry in the motel sink. These laundry sheets are a game changer!

Buy Now: Laundry Detergent Sheets


21. Disposable Grocery Bags

Just in case someone is feeling car sick, pack a few disposable grocery bags (check that they don’t have holes). Keep them where you can grab them with little notice. Just in case.

The last time I threw up in a car was on a business trip to China. I unloaded my breakfast into a grocery bag in the back seat while our hosts kept up friendly banter from the front seat and politely ignored my distress. Not my finest moment, but I was really glad to have that grocery bag!

22. Paper Towels

Throw a roll in the back of the car. When that seltzer bottle explodes or a water bottle leaks, you’ll be glad you’re not stuck cleaning up with your stash of napkins! Paper towels can also double as napkins if you run out.

23. Car Trash Holder

There will be trash. Lunch you ate in the car, apple cores, and used tissues… make sure you have somewhere to put it all! A simple grocery bag works but can spill and get kicked around.

We recommend a hangable trash bag that stays put on the back of the seat or sits on the floor in the middle. I don’t know how we existed without this in our car.

This trashcan is waterproof and has mesh pockets for extra storage. Empty it at rest stops and keep your car (reasonably) clean and trash-free.

Buy Now: Car Trash Holder


Comfort Items for a Long Car Trip

A few comfort items will go a long way toward keeping everyone rested and happy on a long car ride. Here are our suggested road trip comfort items, but adjust according to your preferences and how much room you have.

24. Sunblocking Window Shades

The glaring sun can put anyone in a lousy mood. Remember being a kid in the family sedan, sitting in traffic while stuck on the sunny side of the car? I do, and it wasn’t fun. I’m sure I whined a lot.

A good sunshade blocks out the heat and glare without reducing the driver’s visibility much. We’ve tried the suction cup versions, and the pull-down versions- they never seem to stick for long, and then they break.

These static-cling sunshades are the best. They fold up flat (once you master the figure-8 fold), and hold tight when put on the window. When we don’t need them, we fold them up and store them in the door side pocket.

Buy Now: Cling Sunshades for the Car


25. Small Blankets

A small blanket keeps you cozy, warms you up if it’s chilly, and can be balled up into a pillow if needed. We try to keep at least one per kid in the car.

We’ve generally used old fuzzy baby blankets in the car, but I’m tempted by this travel blanket. It has rave reviews, comes with a pouch, and would also be super handy on an airplane.

Buy Now: Perfect Road Trip Travel Blanket


26. Travel Neck Pillow

I love my inflatable neck pillow. It’s saved me on many car trips and airplane rides. I always debate about whether it’s worth the packing space, and then am really glad to have it!

I have an Eagle Creek neck pillow that I’ve had for years. This is the closest inflatable neck pillow that they make now, but I haven’t tried it. It looks like it packs up super small.

Buy Now: Travel Neck Pillow


27. Eye Mask & Earplugs

An eye mask that blocks out the light and adds a bit of weight always helps me sleep. I have the Bucky Blockout Shade, and I love it. It’s got a velcro back so you can adjust it and it holds a set of earplugs as well.

Earplugs in my opinion are less essential, but can definitely come in handy.

Buy Now: Blackout Eye Mask


28. Kid’s Comfort Item and Nightlight

Many small kids have some sort of comfort item they may need to bring with them. Don’t forget these!

We bring a night light when we can. We love this small Black Diamond Moji Camp Light. It is small, recharges via USB, and has lots of color options.

Buy Now: Moji Camp Light


Road Trip Tech and Gear

Having the right gear and tech is necessary for a road trip that is pleasant and drama-free. Here are the road trip essentials that will keep you charged, connected, and on your way.

29. Cartop Storage

Consider whether you need additional secured storage on top of your car. We decided it would be helpful to have additional storage for things we don’t use every day (boxes I’m hauling out to my sister in LA, extra clothes, toys, etc).

We also wanted to be able to see out the back (fingers crossed on that one), and not worry about looking overly “packed” when we stop somewhere for a day.

Make sure you measure your car- the larger cargo boxes would not have fit on mine. We opted for the Thule 614 Pulse Medium- we chose to buy it from L.L. Bean because they had the best deal on shipping. Be sure to order early- delivery time might be 4-6 weeks or longer.

Buy Now: Car Top Storage


30. Navigation App/GPS

A navigation app is essential! My car has built-in GPS, but it hasn’t been updated (I haven’t wanted to spring for the updated CD), so I almost always rely on my cell phone apps. I prefer Google Maps, but there are many Waze fans out there!

31. Car Charger Adapter

Since I’m relying on my cell phone for navigation, I need to keep it charged. While the middle console of my car has USB ports, I found they weren’t strong enough to keep my phone charged when traveling through low-service areas.

An adapter in my cigarette lighter port provides a much better charge. We use this car charger adapter to keep two phones plugged in at the same time. This is so lightweight and easy to carry, it has served us well on international road trips as well as on US cross-country road trips.

Buy Now: Car Charger Adapter


32. Charging Cords & Power Banks

Make sure you have enough charging cords, wall adapters, and power banks to keep all your technology up and running. I carry this portable charging bank in my purse or day bag so I never have to worry about my cell phone running out of juice.

You may also want a multi-port charger that can handle all your devices at the end of each day. This one also comes with a set of international adapters. After a long drive, you don’t want to be competing over the few outlets in the hotel room!

Buy Now: Multi-port Charger


33. Windshield Mount Phone Holder

I used to recommend a magnetic car mount that clips onto the air vent-we’ve recently upgraded to a windshield (or dashboard) car mount phone holder, and it’s a much more robust solution.

We installed this holder in the middle, under the rearview mirror. It’s a much more secure hold, the arm is adjustable in multiple directions, and it puts the phone in a better sightline for driving. We can both see the phone at the same time, and it no longer blocks the a/c vent. Perfect for using Google Maps while driving.

Buy Now: Windshield Mount Phone Holder


34. Camera & Accessories

Most of the time I use my cell phone as my camera, but when I really want to get the best shots I bring along my Canon Rebel.

It gives me a lot more control over my photos, and always helps us capture the best family photos. Make sure you have extra memory cards, a battery charger, and any other accessories you may need.

Buy Now: Canon Rebel DSLR Camera


35. iPad or Tablet for Entertainment

Whether you have kids who need to tune out for a while in the back seat or are just looking to entertain yourself in the evenings, an iPad or tablet lets you stay entertained, in touch, and able to make any travel arrangements you need to while on the road. Our kids use iPads for school- they have lots of educational apps on them.

Since we have expensive technology in little hands, a good iPad case is essential. We were using these brightly colored, ultra-sturdy cases to protect them, but it’s a bit bulky for carrying around and doesn’t protect the face of the iPad. We’ve switched to these cases, that cover the front as well as protect the body of the iPad.

Buy Now: iPad


36. Headphones

We all need a little quiet- when my kids are on their tablets, good headphones are essential. They can each listen to their own program, without bothering each other. And we can have an actual conversation in the front seat! With the advent of remote schooling, we’ve tried several pairs of kid’s headphones.

For older kids that can handle Bluetooth and wireless, we like these super cute Lil Gadgets headphones. For our younger child, we stick with this simpler plug-in pair of JLab JBuddies. Both have microphones and have held up well with extended use.

Road Trip Entertainment

Keeping everyone entertained on a long car trip is important for everyone’s sanity! Here are our best road trip activities to keep all members of the family happily occupied in the car.

37. Make a Playlist (or three)

Having some go-to playlists helps keep the fun times rolling. Try creating themes- upbeat playlists for getting going in the morning, playlists for singing along, and instrumental playlists for quiet times, or calming down in the evening.

38. Audio Books or Podcasts

 We have some stories on audio albums that the kids love to listen to: Sesame Street Fairytales is a favorite. On a long car ride, you’re going to want more than a few stories in rotation.

Check your local library for audio sources you can “check out”, or start a 30-day trial on Audible.com. Maybe the whole family is ready to listen to the Harry Potter series? We also want to check out the Molly of Denali podcast.

Updated: The podcast Grandpa’s Globe by Purple Rocket is a hit with our kids, we are also trying Stories Podcast, Earth Ranger, and Live from Mount Olympus. Eat Your Spanish and What Will She Do Next are new favorites!

39. Card Games

A standard deck of cards can provide hours of entertainment. We also have fun with UNO, and Spot It!, both games are great for families because they are accessible for all ages. I also hear great things about SushiGo, we are thinking of trying it out.

*Update- we looove SushiGo! It’s a new type of card game for us, so it took a round of play for us to “get” how it works. It’s great because my 4-year-old can play, but my 6-year-old really likes it (and if I make her keep score she’s practicing her math skills!)

Buy Now: Sushi Go Card Game


40. Download Movies or Shows

We all need a little downtime sometimes! Download some favorite movies and shows to a tablet before you leave. The kids can have a little screen time in the car, even without WiFi, and you can binge a show in the hotel when there’s nothing on TV.

41. Coloring Book and Crayons

Coloring books can keep our kids entertained for quite a while. Crayons are great because they don’t dry out, and won’t mark up my seats if misused. However, be forewarned that crayons left in a hot car become a useless block of melted mess.

42. Activities Books

Grab some activity books at the dollar store before you leave. Mad Libs are fun for the whole car. Tic tac toe, maze books, and word searches are also fun. Crossword puzzles can be read out loud so the whole car can participate.

43. Songs to Sing

Make a list of songs that you can sing together (and perhaps a cheat sheet of lyrics!). A little preparation will save you from endless verses of 99 bottles of beer on the wall!

44. Play Classic Road Trip Games

These games are classic for a reason- they work! “I Spy” can be played anywhere and is a favorite in our family.

You can play the License Plate Game- either count how many different state plates each person spots, or check off each state on a list until you find them all!

S holding up the sheets where she track the license plates we found on our road trip.
We eventually found them all!

There are also two versions of the alphabet game- one where you recite “I’m going on a trip and I’m taking an Anteater” (or anything that starts with A), then the next person repeats the list, adding the next letter.

The second version is where you try to spot each letter of the alphabet (at the beginning of a word), in order, looking out the window.

45. Vinyl Stickers or Gel window stickers

Vinyl stickers are re-stickable, so they can be stuck to windows and car seats without damaging the car. You can also find gel window stickers, usually themed around holidays. These can be great entertainment both in cars and on planes.

46. Binoculars

Binoculars turn everything into an adventure! We got our kids these binoculars because they love to play camping (and I was worried mine would get broken).

They adore them and use them all the time- even when there’s really nothing to look at.

Buy Now: Kids Binoculars


47. Frisbee or Ball

A frisbee or ball to kick around helps everyone stretch their legs and get the wiggles out at rest stops.


48. Guitar or Ukelele

If you can play it, bring it! An instrument is a great way to get everyone singing along and lighten the mood when you are stuck in traffic.

Road Trip Snacks and Supplies

Nothing is more important on a road trip than having a lot of road trip snacks! (Ok, maybe safety, but for general sanity and overall road trip happiness- snacks are a huge part of the equation!)

49. Water

Load up on water! Whether it’s bottled or in a thermos, make sure you have enough to drink in case taps are unavailable (or smelly) on your trip.

50. Reusable Water Bottles

We like to each have our own refillable water bottles. The kids love their Camelbaks with fun designs, though my oldest needed an extra-large bottle (she’s our water-drinking champ!).

51. Snacks

Snacks are definitely a road trip essential! We like to pack a variety of healthy snacks and some treats to keep the mood up on a long drive. The goal is to minimize possible mess in the back seat as well. Though the odd crushed goldfish is inevitable. Apple sauce pouches, crackers, pretzels, trail mix, and those cups of little mini cookies make our list.

52. Picnic blanket

A no-mess picnic blanket is a great way to take a rest stop anywhere. Plus picnics are fun! We keep our zip-close, easy-to-carry picnic blanket in the back of the car all the time. We have this blanket, it has lasted us years!

It has a thicker bottom that doesn’t let moisture through easily, so you can put it on damp grass without worrying about it, and it also doubles as a warm blanket as needed.

Buy Now: Road Trip Picnic Blanket



53. Coolers with Ice Packs

You’ll need a small soft cooler bag with ice packs to keep perishables cold and accessible. These super-slim ice packs save space in your coolers.

You may also want a larger cooler for the trunk- it’s great for cold drinks, but essential for milk, yogurt, and any other breakfast supplies you decide to bring along.

Buy Now: 70 qt Road Trip Cooler


54. Snack Containers

You’ll need containers to hold all those delicious road trip snacks. We’ve tried a lot of versions over the years, we like these Rubbermaid snack containers.


55. Cutlery Set & Bottle Opener

Ohhh the hours I have spent trying to open a bottle of wine without a bottle opener! Many YouTube videos later (with a shoe? Really?) I just barely managed. But I learned it’s always better to be prepared!

A cutlery set means you can grab some coleslaw or potato salad for a picnic and not worry about how you are going to eat it. It also means cutting that delicious donut into equal pieces to share.

We got two sets of metal travel utensil sets– they are absolutely beautiful. At 9 oz per set, they are not as lightweight as I would like, but feel great and hold up well.

Our forks were confiscated going through an airport in Peru (who saw that coming?) so we’ll have to get another set. (We had removed the knives before heading to the airport).

We also picked up a bamboo set in one of the national park stores that won’t set off metal detectors.

Shop Now: Metal Travel Cutlery Set

56. Breakfast Supplies

A good breakfast helps everyone start the day in a good mood! We like to pack breakfast supplies so that when the kids are up early they have something they can eat before we have showered, dressed, and are ready to head out.

Instant oatmeal cups are a great choice- you just add hot water from the room’s coffee maker and you’ve got a healthy, hot breakfast. We also sometimes opt for cereal with milk, or fruit and yogurt.

Road Trip Gear: Easy Access Items

There are some items that you’ll want to have within fairly easy reach inside your car. That may mean in the trunk of the car, but not buried deep at the back underneath three suitcases and four jackets.

57. Daypack

Your daypack may be the same as a purse or it may be a backpack ready for a day’s outing. Your packing list for your day pack should include a mini set of first-aid items, such as band-aids, ibuprofen, and hand sanitizer.

58. An Extra Set of Clothes

An easy-to-reach set of clothes is essential if traveling with kids. Whether they don’t make it to the potty in time or manage to squirt an entire applesauce pouch all over themselves, the faster you can reach a towel and a dry set of clothes, the better.

It doesn’t hurt to be prepared in case pee/sauce/ketchup/chocolate ends up all over your clothes as well. It happens.

59. Backseat Travel Organizer

My kids manage to drop things into the farthest corners of the backseat. I end up stretching my “Octo-Mom arms” to try and reach it all. A good travel organizer should minimize this.

A middle organizer works best for us with two kids in the back seat who often share things (books, coloring supplies). It also acts as a barrier between two kids who tend to squabble a lot!

You can buckle this into the middle space so it doesn’t go sliding around. The front net pockets are perfect for holding their masks when not in use.

Buy Now: Backseat Car Organizer

60. Car Seat Tray or Lap Desk

I haven’t used an organizer tray that attaches to the car seat like this one, but some people swear by them. I can see this being more useful for a single child. The advantage is it is both an organizer and a desk all in one.

We got the kids these awesome lap desks from LapGear instead of a full-on attached tray- they love them. They are great for using on the couch as well as in the car and give kids a flat surface to use when drawing, writing, or even using an iPad.

They are reasonably lightweight, easy to carry and come in a variety of cute animal characters.

We got the “Lil’Kids” version, which holds an 11.6″ laptop, you can also get the “Kids” version which is larger and holds up to a 15″ laptop.

These go right over the arms of their car seats- they work on both the forward-facing toddler seat and the high-back booster seat.

Buy Now: Kids Lap Desk


61. Swimsuits, Towels, and Wet Bag

It’s always good to be able to grab swim things if the opportunity to use them arises. The wet bag also comes in handy for spilled on, stained, or wet clothing. We’ve been using wet bags since the kids were in cloth diapers, and can’t live without them!

They are also great for when you are leaving a hotel and everyone’s swimsuit is still damp from the day before. Throw them in the wet bag and they won’t get anything else damp during your travels.

Shop Now: Wet Bag


Road Trip Gear for Infants and Toddlers

Infants and toddlers present their own challenges when taking a long car trip- they may sleep through much of it, but they can also be fussy and hard to keep sitting for long stretches of time. Make sure to schedule frequent breaks where your little ones can run around. Here are the most important long car ride essentials just for infants and toddlers.

62. Diaper Changing Pad

Chances are you will be changing diapers in the back of the car, on the grass, and in some pretty sketchy bathrooms. A good, easy-to-wipe changing pad makes this all ok. We love our Skip Hop Changing Station– it’s easy to grab when you don’t need the whole diaper bag. It’s lasted us through two kids with no problems.

Buy Now: Travel Baby Changing Station


63. Extra Diapers & Formula

You will go through more than you think, and these are the last things you want to run out of! If you are heading towards a destination, you can have some sent ahead. When we visit my in-laws, we have Amazon deliver a pack of diapers and wipes before we arrive, then we only have to pack enough for the car ride over.


64. Travel Bassinet

For the smallest travelers, this travel bassinet from trusted brand Munchkin folds up easily and gives you a place to safely put your infant down either during a picnic, at the beach, or in a hotel room while you unpack. At less than 3 pounds, with mesh sides, you’ll know you always have a clean, safe space for your littlest one to nap.

Buy Now: Travel Baby Bassinet


65. Snack Holder

These snack catchers are perfect for little hands. They hold goldfish, dry cereal, raisins, or other snacks. The clear middle lets you see what’s left inside, but nothing spills when they drop it or wave it around.

66. Toddler Bowls and Spoons

Don’t forget unbreakable bowls and spoons for your toddler! You’ll need them for breakfasts and lunches. We love these spoons that alert you if something is too hot.

Buy Now: Heat Responsive Toddler Spoons


67. Sippy Cup

A good sippy cup keeps little travelers hydrated, and your back seat dry. This Munchkin Sippy Cup with a handle has worked well for both of our kids. These have survived many car trips and many hours of daycare!


68. Pacifier Clip

One of our daughters got really attached to her Wubbanub Pacifier- which meant every time she dropped it she’d scream, and I’d be reaching back around to get it for her. Thankfully, we wised up and got a pacifier clip!

Shop Now: Pacifier Clips


Road Trip Necessities: Don’t Forget Your Personal Items!

Before you head out the door, double-check for your most important personal items. These road trip essentials are the things we leave behind at the last minute, and then have to come sprinting back for! I like to write myself a quick list of items to check for at the last minute that I can’t pack ahead of time.

69. Wallet or Purse

Take out anything you won’t need on your trip- library cards, etc. That way if you lose it, you will have fewer items to replace. It’s a good idea to keep a backup copy of credit card numbers and the 800 number to call if the card is lost. This can sometimes be done through the bank app if you have it on your phone.


70. Cell Phone

I’d be lost without my phone- it’s my camera, my contact book, my map, and even my bank. We’d be turning around if I left it on the counter!


71. Sunglasses

Sunglasses are such a pain to replace on the road! They are available in tons of places, but I can never find a pair I like in a pinch. I just got a new pair of Knockaround Sport sunglasses- in this exciting Icy Blue/Moonshine!

They are really lightweight and have a soft grip on the nose. Waker got the Rubberized Navy which is quite dark and has a softer texture to it. We both like them so far!

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FAQ: Family Road Trip Essentials

What are Some Family Road Trip Essentials for Winter Road Trips?

If you are taking a road trip in the winter, make sure you have plenty of emergency supplies. Food, water, blankets, a first aid kit, and a flashlight are essential safety gear. Make sure to top up your gas tank before heading into remote areas, and always check the weather forecast for storms before departing.

What are Some Road Trip Essentials for Summer Road Trips?

If you are taking a road trip in the summer, make sure to stock up on water and snacks! You’ll also want to make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and bug spray. A great summer road trip playlist is also a family road trip necessity!

There You Have It: Family Road Trip Essentials

Everything you need for a family road trip! We’ve covered everything from being prepared with emergency supplies to the best kids road trip games and snacks, to supplies and tech gear to pack for long cross-country road trips.

Don’t forget to download the Road Trip Essentials Checklist for your full list of things to pack for a road trip.

Don’t miss our full section of family road trip posts including our family road trip through the American Northwest.

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