Family Road Trip Essentials – What to Do & Pack for a Great Road Trip

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Road Trip Essentials Last week, my hubby, daughter and I went on a great road trip from Los Angeles to Albuquerque, New Mexico. (See our fun little family road trip video below)

We’re evidently not the only ones hitting the road this summer.  With gas prices so low this year, (AAA reports that travelers hitting the road will pay the lowest summer gas prices since 2005), more travelers than ever are hitting the road.

If you’re hitting the road with your family, you want to make sure you’ve got everything you need.  We got you covered.  Here’s your Ultimate Family Road Trip Checklist and Packing List.14533913873_0d5025b02d_z

2-4 Weeks Before You Go On a Trip

  • Ensure that your car battery is in good conditioning
  • Check your vehicle’s engine oil level and its color
  • Check the vehicle’s coolant
  • Get any major repairs done to the vehicle
  • If you don’t have a car or will be driving a rental car, make a reservation to rent one.

1 Week Before You Go On a Trip

  • Check the tire pressure
  • Check the vehicle’s air filter
  • Buy a road atlas or free maps from AAA if you’re a member
  • Buy snacks and first aid kit supplies
  • Check your Vehicle’s Load Capacity

1 Day Before the Trip

  • Check GPS for travel suggestions and traffic or detour warnings
  • Prepare a map as a backup
  • Keep your mobile phone fully charged in case of emergency
  • Check your car insurance policy and carry the valid proof of insurance in the car
  • Pack all the items you will need from the Ultimate Road Trip Packing List for Families (below)

The Ultimate Road Trip Packing List for Families:

Health & Safety

  • Bandaids in various sizes
  • First Aid kit
  • Flushable wet wipes
  • Extra Diapers (if necessary)
  • Benadryl for surprise allergies in new places
  • A bucket with several plastic grocery bags tucked inside for surprise “travel tummy” scenarios
  • Sunblock
  • Children’s Tylenol
  • Tylenol or other headache medicine for adults
  • Heartburn meds for adults
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tweezers
  • Large scissors and/or Seat Belt Cutting Tool

General Organization:

  • Change of clothes for each kid, easily accessible in case of spills or sickness
  • Pens & Paper
  • Sunglasses by each kids’ seat
  • Window shades for babies
  • Travel pillows
  • Blankets (for when you can’t agree on air conditioning levels, or for impromptu picnics at rest areas)
  • Diaper/pull ups for all kids up through age 5 just in case
  • Umbrellas
  • Car Phone chargers
  • Auxiliary Cables
  • Towel: can be used as seat cover, cleaning tool, picnic blanket, and more
  • Slippers: more comfy than shoes for a long drive
  • Cash in varying denominations
  • Coins for tolls
  • Batteries &/or chargers for any devices you bring


  • Bags for garbage
  • Re-usable water bottles
  • Individually packaged, crumb-free snacks (e.g., bite-sized goldfish crackers)
  • Hard to bruise fruits (e.g., apples, berries) and/or fruit roll-ups or fruit leathers
  • Trail Mix


  • Playlist of family music (you can find great playlists on Pandora or Spotify)
  • Headphones for each kid
  • iPad or other tablet with movies & educational games
  • External battery charger for digital devices
  • Audio books that are good for the whole family (e.g., Harry Potter or Narnia)
  • Swimsuits and towels for the whole family in one easy to grab tote bag
  • Jump ropes and balls for exercise breaks at rest stops

Monick HalmMonick Paul Halm is the Chief Creative Officer at the Checklist Mom.  She has made it her mission to empower women and moms to thrive in their lives, families, and careers.  She’s a busy mom and stepmom of 3, certified life and career coach, author, speaker, and real estate investor.  She’s a wearer of many hats, and juggler of many duties and loves connecting with our moms.  You can connect with her on the Checklist Mom Facebook Page and on twitter as @thereikicoach.

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