The essential road trip packing list with kids

The essential road trip packing list with kids

There’s nothing just like the lure of the open highway to present you itchy ft – however tempting although it’s to simply leap within the automobile and go, for a visit to recollect, don’t set off with out studying my highway journey packing listing with youngsters first.

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Driving will be an effective way to discover as a household: my daughter ventured down the Pacific Coast Freeway earlier than she turned 4 and most just lately fitted in a Lake Michigan highway journey, though there’s a lot extra highway journey inspiration to be discovered, from Route 66 and the American Midwest to Eire and a drive alongside the Nice West Means in England.

So whether or not you’re beginning gradual and staying near dwelling or lastly ticking off your bucket listing journey, this household highway journey packing listing is filled with ideas, highway journey necessities to recollect, concepts of what to pack and extra recommendation to keep away from being requested ‘Are we practically there but?’ earlier than you get 5 minutes from dwelling.

Automobile Necessities

Whenever you get within the automobile for a highway journey, there’s lots that may are available in helpful (as a result of it’s simpler than stopping one million occasions to seize the belongings you forgot!) however earlier than don’t neglect the necessities that you actually need to have with you for a highway journey with youngsters.

So step one on this household highway journey packing listing is these belongings you completely shouldn’t neglect to make your journey extra snug, secure, and enjoyable.

For extra recommendations on planning a highway journey with youngsters, take a look at my prime ideas

Automobile seat

You probably have young children, it goes with out saying that you simply’ll want a automobile seat that’s applicable for his or her age, top, and weight.

If you happen to’re planning a household highway journey overseas and wish to take your individual automobile seat, make sure that it complies with native legislation – in any other case you’re most likely restricted to hiring one alongside together with your automobile.

Booster seats

For older kids who not want full automobile seats, however usually are not but tall sufficient to sit down in a seat with a seatbelt.

Excessive-back booster seats are the most suitable choice however should you’re on the lookout for choices which take much less area, take a look at the MiFold booster seat and Bubblebum inflatable booster seat

A retro vintage style toy car - my tips on the essentials to pack for a road trip with kids


Whether or not you like to make use of a separate satnav, Google Maps or one other app in your telephone, having GPS system to present instructions is fairly properly important should you’re unfamiliar with the world you’re visiting – and helpful even should you’ve visited earlier than.


Even if in case you have a GPS system, it’s at all times a good suggestion to have a map of the world you might be visiting, in case your GPS system fails otherwise you lose reception.

If you happen to don’t wish to purchase a e-book of maps for a single journey, think about printing out instructions as a back-up, however should you’re planning a protracted highway journey, a map of the world is nice to have at hand.

Snacks and drinks

Having snacks and drinks out there on your youngsters (and your self!) will assist to maintain everybody blissful in your highway journey – take a look at my ideas for the very best highway journey snacks for teenagers

It’s at all times plan to have a spare reusable water bottle at hand as properly – there’s nothing extra depressing than being thirsty and having a protracted drive forward.

Actions for teenagers

I’ve received a complete put up on the very best highway journey actions for teenagers, with over 50 concepts of the way to entertain everybody on a protracted drive.

Run out of time to plan? Carry alongside some fidget toys as a straightforward resolution – small, quiet they usually gained’t make a multitude!

First-aid package

Nobody likes to suppose you’ll want a first-aid package, however from sudden teething to minor accidents in addition to journey illness or sickness, it pays to have one at hand within the automobile.

Take a look at my important first help guidelines for concepts on what you want for your loved ones travels

A retro style tin marked first aid case surrounded by medicine and bandages - my essential child first aid kit should be among the things to pack for a road trip with kids

Emergency provides

Similar to the primary help package, it’s a good suggestion to hope for the very best however plan for the sudden, so at all times hold some emergency provides in your automobile, equivalent to a flashlight, a whistle, and a blanket.

Some nations additionally require you to have a selected breakdown package – should you’re driving in Europe, test this listing earlier than you set off. However you might wish to hold some helpful objects like jumper cables (leap leads) tucked away as properly.

Spare tire

Though it’s not a authorized requirement in lots of nations (though it’s in Spain, curiously!), having a spare tyre in your automobile – and one which’s highway authorized – is certainly plan in case you get a flat throughout your journey.

Automobile insurance coverage

In contrast to the spare tire, it’s a authorized requirement to have automobile insurance coverage – ensure you’ve received any needed paperwork earlier than you set off in your highway journey.

If you happen to’re driving overseas, test your insurance coverage covers you there, or that you simply’ve received appropriate cowl for any rental automobile.

Important paperwork

It goes with out saying to ensure you have your driver’s license (and that it hasn’t unexpectedly expired) – however ensure you even have some other paperwork you want (scroll down for extra ideas).

If you happen to’re driving overseas, this could possibly be something from an Worldwide Driver’s Allow to journey insurance coverage.

How you can make the automobile journey snug

Whether or not you’re in your individual automobile or a rental, automobile rides will be something however snug – and uncomfortable youngsters (or adults!) are sad ones.

From sensible necessities to concepts for leisure, this household highway journey packing guidelines is simply what you’ll want to make sure that the entire household is as snug as attainable alongside the route! 

Transportable DVD participant

In case your youngsters get bored simply, a conveyable DVD participant is usually a lifesaver on a protracted automobile journey.

If your loved ones suffers from journey illness, audio books is usually a good various: a subscription from Audible is my prime suggestion!

iPad or pill

In case your youngsters get to make use of a pill as you journey, make sure that it’s charged and any apps or content material you need are already downloaded earlier than you set off.

Flatlay of colourful stationery including pens, markers, highlighters, notebook and more - from dot to dot books to drawing and playing with a spirograph, packing pens is among my top road trip activities for kids

Coloring books and crayons

These are at all times a basic technique to hold youngsters entertained, they usually don’t take up an excessive amount of area in your automobile. Washable crayons and washable markers are at all times plan although!

For my full set of highway journey actions for teenagers, take a look at this listing

Video games and puzzles

With a number of alternative, these are at all times a enjoyable technique to cross the time on a protracted automobile trip, whether or not you select household video games, conventional automobile video games or one thing for the youngsters alone.

Take a look at a few of my concepts for toddler journey toys and for age 5+

Journey pillow and blanket

Journey pillows and blankets are nice to have, whether or not you’re hoping your youngsters nap and sleep, or just wish to make them extra snug alongside the best way,

You can too get some nice seatbelt pillows for teenagers to make it comfier to relaxation their heads on lengthy drives – in addition to these easy seatbelt pillows, youthful youngsters will love these plush animal variations or the animal-themed Yondi neck pillow.

Reminiscence foam pillow

If you need extra assist than a journey pillow, a reminiscence foam pillow might help hold youngsters extra snug, together with smaller sizes which might be helpful for highway journeys.

Automobile organizer

Having a automobile organizer will be useful for storing all the snacks, drinks, toys, and different objects you’ll want to deliver in your journey, in addition to for security causes.

I’ve received a Diono Journey Pal which has area for bottles and room to retailer books, video games, tablets and extra.

Transportable speaker

A transportable speaker will be an effective way to maintain everybody within the again entertained (or headphones should you desire to not be!)


should you’re touring with multiple youngster, headphones is usually a useful technique to hold them from combating over what to take heed to.

For youthful youngsters, youngster headphones with a quantity limiter are possibility when you may’t see in the event that they’re turning the sound up and up and up…

Goldfish crackers spill out from a child's purple snack cup - choosing the best road trip snacks for kids


it’s at all times a good suggestion to have loads of snacks and drinks out there for everybody, whether or not you’re on the lookout for one thing simple, one thing to assist youngsters with movement illness, one thing for choosy eaters or wholesome choices.

I do know I’ve stated it earlier than, however you may’t have too many snacks!

Take a look at my ideas for the very best highway journey snacks for teenagers

Chewing gum

In case your youngsters (otherwise you) are affected by ear ache on lengthy automobile rides, chewing gum is usually a good resolution as soon as they’re sufficiently old. Ensure you have one thing to place the gum into as soon as your youngsters are completed.

Trash baggage

Ever received out of your automobile on the finish of a highway journey and sighed on the mess left behind? (In fact you’ve gotten, all of us have).

So having some spare baggage out there will be useful for conserving your automobile clear alongside the best way.

Important documentation for a highway journey with youngsters 

Along with your driver’s license and registration, there are just a few different issues you must make sure that to deliver with you in your journey

Automobile insurance coverage data

In case of an accident, you’ll have to have your automobile insurance coverage data out there.

Worldwide documentation

If you happen to’re travelling abroad, ensure you have an Worldwide Drivers Allow if it’s wanted, or some other required data for the vacation spot, together with journey insurance coverage.

If you happen to’re renting a automobile overseas, some nations might have proof of insurance coverage or official affirmation that you simply don’t have factors in your driving license, for instance.

Roadside help particulars

if in case you have roadside help, like an AAA membership within the US, Inexperienced Flag, RAC or the AA within the UK, ensure you have your particulars at hand, simply in case.

Emergency contact data

It’s at all times a good suggestion to have any helpful contact data with you in case of an emergency – once more, should you’re travelling overseas, ensure you know the related numbers and that your telephone will work.

Stack of various travel maps on a open map background - packing paper maps is useful in an emergency if you're planning a road trip with kids

Map and instructions

If you happen to’re touring to a brand new space, it’s be useful to have a map of the world with you, together with an old school paper map in case GPS or reception fails.

It’s additionally value printing out instructions to your vacation spot or lodging should you’re not aware of the world – having a string of landmarks to look out for might help should you’re asking for assist, or to avoid wasting you looking avenue names on a map.

All the time, at all times, at all times let somebody know the place you’re going and what time you suppose you’ll be there too, for added safety.

Clothes and toiletries for a highway journey with youngsters 

For sure, clothes and toiletries are vital for highway journeys too! However it’s not simply what you pack in your toiletry bag, it’s the way you pack it…

If you happen to’re stopping for a single evening alongside the best way to your last vacation spot, attempt to hold a separate small bag filled with in a single day necessities reasonably than having to unpack all the baggage.

Take a look at my recommendations on clothes and toiletries to think about for a highway journey with youngsters or for a extra in-depth packing listing, take a look at my 23-page journey planner.

A change of garments for everybody

It goes with out saying that you simply’ll have spare garments packed, but it surely’s a good suggestion to have a change of garments for everybody within the automobile (or very simply accessible) in case of spills or accidents.

Place the additional pair of clothes in a resealable bag, so it’s each simple to seize if wanted and means you’ve gotten one thing to place the dirty garments in while you change. 

Midsection of young woman packing suitcase on bed - my tips on what to pack for a road trip with kids


If you happen to’re touring throughout the summer time otherwise you’re going to be close to any our bodies of water (that are secure to swim in), swimsuits is usually a lifesaver to interrupt up a protracted journey.

Even should you don’t plan on swimming, it may be value bringing a swimsuit (and towel) with you for sudden stops or additional pool time.

Solar hats and sun shades

Really easy to neglect while you’re centered on the massive issues, however solar hats and sun shades are some of the necessary issues you may deliver on a household highway journey.

It’s not only for the vacation spot both, though for summer time breaks, they’ll be important to guard everybody from the solar. On vibrant days, you’ll probably need sun shades within the automobile for throughout the journey too.

Rain jackets

If you happen to’re hitting the highway when there’s rain forecast, don’t neglect your raincoat – and that is one you actually do wish to have at hand contained in the automobile (you’ll be grateful while you don’t should race spherical to fish it out within the pouring rain!)

Heat clothes/layers

On the identical be aware, ensure you pack clothes for cool climate, whether or not that’s additional layers, scarves or heat clothes out there for everybody within the automobile when you attain the vacation spot.

Until you’re heading someplace with assured solar, higher to be ready so dressing in layers is at all times plan when the forecast is promising solar, cloud and rain!

Snug footwear

Having a snug pair of footwear is at all times a good suggestion for lengthy automobile journeys – ideally ones that are simple to tug on and take off as wanted, so any fast breaks aren’t delayed by gradual shoelace tieing.

Silver cosmetics bag with various bottles and tubes of beauty products and toiletries poking out of the top - my essential list if you're packing for a road trip with kids


When you can often cease and decide up necessities alongside the best way, there’s no enjoyable making an enormous detour simply to purchase toothpaste.

Even should you’re planning to replenish on on a regular basis objects later within the journey, if in case you have explicit merchandise on your youngsters’ delicate pores and skin or your individual favorite manufacturers, it’s value ensuring you’ve packed sufficient for the entire journey.

And for shorter breaks, it makes life simpler to pack every thing you want on a day by day or common foundation – from shampoo and conditioner to deodorant – in addition to any extras like cures for journey illness.

Having a roll of bathroom paper is at all times plan too, even should you don’t count on to wish it, in addition to having hand sanitizer within the automobile. Higher ready than sorry!

Leisure concepts for a highway journey with youngsters

Taking a highway journey with youngsters is usually a nice bonding expertise for the entire household, making some unbelievable recollections and likewise be a complete lot of enjoyable!

However it can be a bit difficult to maintain everybody blissful and entertained throughout these lengthy automobile rides. Listed here are some leisure concepts to make your subsequent highway journey packing listing with youngsters full – or take a look at my full listing of greater than 50 of the very best highway journey actions for teenagers. 

Audio Books/podcasts

Obtain some audiobooks for the youngsters to take heed to throughout the drive – that is higher than books or motion pictures in the event that they undergo from journey illness too. In addition to their favorite tales, you may take a look at non-fiction titles so they might be taught one thing new whereas additionally passing the time.

We’ve got a subscription to Audible which has been a lifesaver on automobile journeys lengthy and quick. However you too can pack CDs of audio books or obtain them through different apps.

Podcasts are additionally a fantastic concept – perhaps stockpile the episodes so you may have a particular highway journey podcast listening session, if there’s one thing the entire household enjoys, particularly should you’re travelling with older youngsters. In any other case you too can discover some nice child-friendly podcasts to obtain for youthful ones to take heed to as you drive.

Video games

Carry alongside some moveable video games that everybody can get pleasure from, particularly if in case you have siblings who’ll play within the again as you drive.

Journey variations of basic video games like Monopoly or Scrabble are at all times well-liked, should you don’t fancy attempting one thing new.


You probably have a conveyable DVD participant, deliver alongside among the household’s best-loved motion pictures to look at for a spot of downtime. This may be an effective way to chill out and unwind after a protracted day of driving as properly.

Boy smiling with headphones on while sitting in the back of a car - the best road trip activities for kids, including audio books and music


Make certain to deliver alongside some enjoyable music for the automobile trip, each to entertain and assist hold everybody’s vitality up.

You may stick together with your best-loved tunes or singalong favorites, however for some added enjoyable make a playlist that hyperlinks to your vacation spot, so everytime you hear the observe once more, it’ll take you straight again to your loved ones journey.

One phrase of warning: you want extra songs on there than you suppose, otherwise you’ll find yourself listening to the identical ones again and again and over…


Drawing or puzzle books and crayons/markers are at all times a success with youngsters, with a number of totally different choices to assist them keep occupied throughout the drive and likewise create some paintings impressed by the journey as a memento.

Lap books/exercise books

You probably have young children, then lap books is usually a lifesaver, with quite a lot of actions to maintain toddlers and young children busy – every thing from lift-the-flap pages to different hands-on enjoyable.

Necessities for highway journeys with infants & toddlers

Infants and younger kids is usually a handful at the very best of occasions, so the very last thing you wish to do is be caught within the automobile with them for hours on finish with out being ready.

If you happen to’re fortunate, after they’re youthful, they’ll nap when you set off: planning your drive round naptime and bedtime is at all times plan too.

However you may’t at all times depend on little ones to sleep while you want them to, so here’s a listing of important objects you must ensure you have in your automobile earlier than setting off on a highway journey with infants and toddlers.

Transportable Potty – as dad and mom know, younger kids usually have hassle holding it in for lengthy durations of time, so a conveyable potty is a must have on any highway journey. For sure, plan loads of breaks to attempt to keep away from any emergency stops!

Diaper/nappy altering necessities – ensure you have loads of nappies/diapers, wipes, baggage and cream packed and simply accessible.

Loads of child toys – seize just a few teething toys to assist hold little ones distracted throughout the drive. In case your child is teething, hold the primary help package shut at hand as properly.

How you can get every thing organized within the automobile for a highway journey

When you’ve received all of your necessities, from paperwork to packing, take a bit of additional time to get organized earlier than your highway journey with your loved ones.

Woman looking at a travel packing list in a notebook - you can never have too many lists when planning a road trip with kids

Planning a highway journey with your loved ones shouldn’t cease at plotting the vacation spot into your route map, so listed here are just a few ideas that will help you get began:

Preserve an inventory – from notes of what you’ve received to take to what you’ve received to type out, a planning listing (or lists!) will assist make sure you don’t neglect something necessary. Take a look at my downloadable household journey planner for concepts of every thing you may want on your journey – out there in vibrant colours and extra impartial shades

Pack an in a single day bag – embody objects equivalent to a change of garments, toiletries, and any drugs you might want.

Packing cubes are your pal – you possibly can break up everybody’s belongings up so every particular person has their very own packing dice, or divide them up so you’ve gotten every thing you want per day. Because the journey goes on, it’ll be simpler than always unpacking and repacking.

Pack a cooler/cool bag – that is important for lengthy drives. Fill it with snacks and drinks to maintain everybody fuelled up.

Set up your automobile – make sure that every thing has a spot so it doesn’t find yourself scattered all around the automobile. Use automobile organizers to maintain issues in place within the again, or small baggage for these ‘simply in case’ back-ups.

Depart room for everybody – you may need crammed in all of the packing, however being squashed into a good area gained’t be a fantastic begin to your journey. In order you pack up the automobile, take into accout everybody else that’s touring with you and go away sufficient legroom.

Whenever you’re planning a protracted highway journey, there’s at all times lots to bear in mind, so the following tips are supposed as a place to begin that will help you ensure you’re ready for a highway journey with your loved ones.

Take a look at a few of my different posts for extra concepts of planning a highway journey with youngsters, learn how to hold youngsters entertained on a highway journey, highway journey snacks, in addition to journey checklists.

*First printed 2022, final up to date 2024*

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