Essentials for Your Family Summer Road Trip

In just a few short weeks the kids and I will be packing up and starting our road trip South – an eighteen-hour drive to our destination. Road trips can be almost as fun as your final destination; if you are prepared. Preparation is key in almost all things enjoyable, and it’s super important for a road trip. Making sure your vehicle is road-ready, and you have all the essentials packed and ready to go and make the trip memorable!


Start with storage – if you have a van or a big SUV, you probably have plenty of room. If you don’t, or you are traveling with more than 2 or 3 people, investing in a cargo box with roof straps is a good idea.

Driving. GPS, sunglasses, road atlas (for when you are in the areas that the GPS doesn’t work) radar detector. I also bring along headphones; I keep one ear in and one out for when I’m driving at night and everyone else is sleeping.

Riding. Travel pillow, blanket (I like to keep it COLD when I am driving, and the kids like to cover up when they are asleep). Comfy ‘traveling’ clothes (hello yoga pants), passenger window shades. Power inverter, USB car charger, bluetooth, tablets, gaming consoles (my son plays a lot on his DSi), books, book light, travel DVD system and DVD’s.

Snacks. I always pack a small cooler; they have the mesh coolers that can fit just about anywhere. Take your water bottles, travel mugs (for when you stop and fill up for coffee!) quick and easy snacks like nuts, pretzels, popcorn, etc. (this will save you a TON of money. Instead of buying something at every rest stop or gas station – trust me on this one).

Hygiene. OK I am totally weird about making sure I am always fresh and clean; like people think I’m strange. But feeling ‘human’ is important to me when I travel. So bring wet wipes, make sure your toothbrush/toothpaste, deodorant, body sprays, and an extra set of clothes are handy (and not up in your cargo box! Always have an ‘emergency bag’ of everything you might need). If you wear contacts, bring re-wetting drops, an extra case along with saline solutions and your glasses. I have a bag ready for me to take a shower if I want to at a rest stop – it’s unbelievable how much better you will feel after riding or driving in a car all night!

Road Trip Stops. You never know what you might come across -bring a camera (or have your phone ready), binoculars, sunscreen, cash, comfortable shoes (I travel in flip flops – even in the winter. Easy to get off and on), raincoats or ponchos, etc. Always be ready for a spontaneous adventure (sometimes those are the best!)

Just in Case. Be sure you have stuff readily available in case of an emergency; first aid kit, any medications anyone might need (be sure to pack motrin and tylenol as well – and allergy meds if you have any allergy problems), jumper cables, portable jump start (my best purchase ever), flares, duct tape, tire gauge, spare change, water jug, emergency cash or credit card.

Pre-Trip Check-Up. Make sure your vehicle is road-ready! Get an oil change, have your tires checked and rotated, top off all the fluids, check your heat/AC to make sure it’s working properly.

This post is sponsored in part by Junction Auto Sales.

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