10 Things We Bring on Every Family Road Trip
Updated: Feb 26, 2020
We love #FamilyTravel and there are a few things we try to never leave home without when we go on a #FamilyRoadTrip. In fact, we've forgotten a few of these things from time to time and we missed them dearly and sometimes had to re-buy the item that was left behind. We want to give you our must-have checklist (free download below) so you don't leave home without these 10 important items. Throughout this post, there will be links to Amazon. If you shop through these links it will cost you nothing extra but it could give us a small commission to be able to keep bringing you great #FamilyTravelBlogs. Thanks! Also, sometimes on a mobile device the links won't be clickable but you can find the same 10 Essential Road Trip Items on our shopping page.
# 1 - Water Bottles for Everyone
Bringing your own water is a great way to #SaveMoneyOnTravel because you won't constantly be buying bottled water or other drinks. We fill up our water bottles before we leave on day trips, week-long trips or on our way to the park. We use our water bottles every day! It's sad when we accidentally leave one behind because our water bottles are almost like family members, LOL! My most important feature of a water bottle is simplicity. I don't like them to have a lot of separate little pieces to wash. The water bottles below seem to pass my no-hassle washing test and they aren't crazy expensive so they are win-win. For more water bottle choices please see my amazon search for: Wide Mouth Water Bottles
#2 - Medicine & First Aid
You definitely need to bring all of your essential prescription medications for yourself and your kids on a trip. But we always bring a general pain reliever/fever reducer on every trip as well. Our kids tend to get growing pains on active days and it almost always happens on trips. On a recent trip, we had forgotten the pain reliever and had to buy it at a gas station for double the price. Ouch! Don't forget this must-have item on your next trip. #TravelTip: I have a mini first aid kit (just like the one below) in my purse at all times with Band-Aids and Neosporin because we have 4 boys, LOL! It might be one of the best $1 items I've ever bought because we use it all the time. The mini first aid kit below comes with Band-Aids and you'll have to buy the Neosporin separate. The small tube of Neosporin fits perfectly inside the kit if you curl up the back flap a little. You'll be the mom hero at the park too when a kid gets a scrape and you have a Band-Aid. For more options of first aid kits that are perfect for traveling click here: Travel First Aid Kits
#3 - Electronics & Headphones
We try to mix it up a bit between electronics and non-electronic activities in the car. But on long car rides the electronic type of toys seem to work best. Our kids love the Nintendo DS and their favorite game is Super Smash Bros. They can also play together on road trips too which is nice. Our kids also like their tablets and the kindle fire seems to be the best deal. We bought a bump proof cover which has worked well. We also bring along a power strip or 2 power strips on every trip so that we can charge all of our devices overnight. #TravelTip: All of our kids travel with a good set of headphones so they don't bug each other with excess noise in the car. You can check out more headphone choices here: Headphones for Kids
#4 - Non-Electronic Toys
Our youngest son likes the reusable sticker books from Doug and Melissa. We have the jungle/farm/safari book and he likes to create and re-create the scenes with the animals over and over. The dress up book for girls looks really fun as well. One of our older sons really loves to solve puzzle cubes and he recommends this type of cube. It is called a "speed cube" because it has the cut corners and is faster to rotate. Rand McNally has put out a road trip atlas for kids with lots of fun car games and puzzles that can keep kids busy for hours on the road. There are many great games and entertainment options for traveling. You can even buy a prepacked activity bag for kids like the one below. For more travel activity ideas please see this search result for Kids Favorite Games for Travel
#5 - Loads of Snacks
We pack a lot of snacks before we leave so that we don't have to pay higher prices for gas station snacks along the way. Packing your own food is a great way to #SaveMoneyOnTravel These are some of our favorite non-perishable snacks that go along with us on every trip. The ultimate snack care package below seems like a great deal. I'm going to order it for our next trip and then I'll post a review of it here so look for that soon. You might be surprised at the great selection of Travel Snacks by Amazon
#6 - Fresh Food & Cold Drinks
We try to always bring fresh food snacks as well as the non-perishable stuff. Things like fruits, cheeses, yogurt, and snacking vegetables are always great to bring. But when you bring fresh items you need to keep them cool and we love these large soft-sided coolers. The soft sides make them easier to cram into tight spaces and they can also be folded up super small when they aren't being used. The cooler totes with large handles are easy to carry but the backpack type would be even easier and they could be taken into amusement parks and on hikes as well. Below are our top picks for great cooler bags and backpacks. If your family prefers a different style of cooler you can check out more choices here: Best Travel Coolers
#7 - Pool Stuff
No matter where we are traveling we will almost always stop at a hotel along the way. When we stop at a hotel our kids consider it a must to go swimming. #TravelTip: I pack one bag with all of our swimsuits and pool toys. That way I only have to bring the swim bag with us on the nights we are at a hotel with a pool. If we aren't swimming on a certain travel day I leave the swim bag in the car. All of the items in our swim bag have to be as small as possible. So we don't bring huge inflatable stuff. We do bring a set of diving toys and goggles for everyone. The pack of diving toys below is a great deal! Sunscreen is also a must on a trip even if we aren't going to a pool because we almost always will be spending time outside on any trip. Lastly, we bring a life vest for our little guy but if you have older kids who swim well you can skip that. I have a great travel hack for drying swimsuits faster that you can check out on our Las Vegas blog or on our YouTube Channel. You can also find more Great Pool Toys on Amazon
#8 - Movies
We have a DVD player in our minivan so watching movies is a staple of car-time entertainment. But even if you don't have a movie player built into your vehicle the small travel side DVD players would be a good investment if you are going to spend time on the road. If you've seen our Disney blogs you can tell that we are huge #DisneyFans so most of our movie picks are from Disney. We've found some movies have great re-watch-ability and here are a few of our favorites. #TravelTip: we put some of our favorite movies in a travel case like the one below and leave them in there so they are easy to grab when we are packing up for a trip. Occasionally we will trade out some of the movies but in general, our travel movies stay the same. Find a great selection of Movies for Kids by Disney by clicking that blue link to Amazon.
#9 - Sleeping Cots & Sleeping Bags
We have a couple of sleeping cots that we travel with depending on what hotels we are staying at or if we are staying with friends or relatives and need extra sleeping spots. We invested in a nice full-size camping cot that our oldest son usually sleeps on and we have a toddler cot that our youngest can sleep on. We bring sleeping bags for the kids sleeping on cots but the sleeping bags are also useful for pillows or blankets in the car while we are driving. For great deals on Sleeping Bags for Kids be sure to check out the link to Amazon.
#10 - Great Camera
It's common today for people to only take photos on their phones. I agree that technology has come a long way but in my opinion a phone photo just isn't as good as a photo from a DSLR camera. Yes, a DSLR is bulky and sometimes not convenient to carry around but in my opinion, the better photos are worth it. I have the Canon Rebel DSLR and it's a great entry level DSLR camera. It takes great still photos and great videos too. Of course, you'll want a quality case for your camera as well. #TravelTip: You should get a camera bag big enough that you can put essentials in it and you won't have to carry a purse and a camera bag. On site seeing days I will often leave my purse at the hotel and put a little cash, a credit card, and my license in my camera bag. If you do this just don't lose that camera bag! For more options for quality cameras check out this link to Amazon: DSLR Cameras
There you have our top 10 things that we try not to forget or leave behind on our family adventures. If you enjoyed reading this blog please pin it to Pinterest by hovering over the image below and clicking the red "Pin It" button in the upper left corner. Thanks!
Free Packing List
Please download our FREE Road Trip Essentials checklist below. I've left some blank spaces for you to add your own must-haves along with our 10 essentials. Also, be sure to check out our 10 Things to Bring to Disneyland or Disney World blog. In that blog I add 10 things to this 10 Essentials list. All 20 items are good to bring when you are sightseeing in a city, visiting a national park, spending a day at a museum, going to an amusement park, etc. Happy family traveling to you!
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