The Ultimate Family Road Trip Prep List (No Stress – Happy Kids)

Inside this post: Simple tips to make your next road trip with kids more enjoyable so you can have an awesome, low-stress family vacation.

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Do you love summer as much as I do?

As we leave the winter (long Canadian winter) behind us, Camping, Road Trips and family fun are all ahead of us. Such an exciting time!

In our family, we take long road trips to see family in different places far far away from us and Summertime is the best time to travel. Winter is not very safe to travel since we are up in Canada and the snow and ice on the highways can be dangerous.

You can understand how happy our family is when the snow melts and the summer weather comes around.

Summer is always full of adventure, fun and excitement. As well as a much-needed break from the school year. Learning in a classroom is great, but learning on the road doesn’t even feel like learning, does it?

The only challenge about road tripping in the summer months is the organization, the planning and the packing of the whole family, usually all done by MOM. I’m super lucky to have been at this for years, and it doesn’t take me very long to pack the family for a trip.

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Preparing For Your Road Trip With Kids

It takes a lot of planning and organizing to get ready for a long road trip. However, no amount of planning and organizing is going to stop the questions ” Are We There Yet?” and “Where Are Your Shoes, I Have To Pee!”, but hey, we do our best and try to minimize the chaos that could happen throughout the journey.

There are a few key things you need to get all organized and prepared for your trip:

  • Get Your Car Organized 
  • Get Maintenance On The Car 
  • Prepare Snacks
  • Keep The Kids Busy In The Car
  • Prepare Easy Access “Go Bag”
  • Prepare Emergency Kit
  • Plan Route and Stops
  • Prepare Playlist

Get Your Car Organized

Organizing your vehicle will make your road trip much easier. We use this organizer between the children’s seats that hold select snacks and toys for the kids to grab themselves. It has 3 compartments to keep everything pretty organized.

You can also get the back of the seat organizer like this one. The only reason we opted to not use an organizer like this is that we plopped our Ipads on the back of the seats for easy viewing. You might be super lucky and have built-in screens in your vehicle for the kids to watch shows, and an organizer like this may not work for you either. But hey, it’s good to look at all the options for keeping your car organized. Amazon is full of organizers for the car:

If you have children who are constantly dropping things on the floor, a portable travel tray may be a good idea for you.

If you are planning on mounting your iPad to the back of the chair, this organizer might be for you.

No matter how you choose to organize your car, it’s always a good idea to keep some snacks and games accessible to kids at all times.

When you pack the car, pack up your items the night before you leave. This can help your family leave on time, or if you’re travelling early in the morning, it will make your life easier in general.

Get Maintenance On The Car

It is very important to get someone who knows cars, to insect your vehicle before you go on a long road trip.

  • Make sure you:
  • Check your oil
  • Check lights
  • Ensure Air Conditioning is working
  • Change the air filter
  • Check tire pressure
  • Check breaks
  • Ensure wipers are working
  • Top up washer fluid / have extra in the car

Follow these maintenance tips and the travel portion of your road trip should be smooth sailing!

Prepare Snacks

Road trip snacks are very important and should not be left to gas station options. Not only will all the snacks at gas stations be overpriced, most of the time they have many unhealthy junk food options and not much else.

The car organizer we used has a built-in cooler, so packing healthy snacks was a breeze.

Snack Ideas For CoolerHard Boiled Eggs
Cheese Cubes
Cut Up Veggies
Fresh Fruits

Non-Cooler Snack IdeasTrail Mix
Apple Sauce Pouches
Pretzels
Raisins
Cheese Strings
Cookies / Crackers
PBJ Sandwiches
Beef Jerky

Don’t forget drinks! Water is always a great choice for travel, or juice boxes if your kids are allowed to have them.
Mommy ALWAYS gets carbonated water for trips.

Mommy’s Must Have

Keeping The Kids Busy In The Car

There are a few things you can do to keep the kids busy in the car. If you don’t mind the kids making a mess in the backseat, then you may have more options than we normally use. Personally, I prefer to not do, busy bags or multi peace toys in the car. Because of this, we opt-in for loads of screen time, and I’m ok with that.

Activities For The Kids

Screen Time

Prepare Easy Access “Go Bag”

I always strive to have a small, easy-access bag that goes in the trunk of the car but is the first accessible thing to us when we open the back.

What’s In My Go Bag

  • Spare Change Of Clothes For Each Child
  • Spare Fruit Snacks Just In Case
  • Chargers For Devices
  • Sunscreen / Hats / Bug Spray
  • Small First Aid Kit 
  • Tylenol (kids and adults)
  • Gravol
  • Plastic Bags
  • Extra Water

My go bag is super easy to access, I can’t stress that enough. If we have a car sickness incident, the go bag should help get us out of a jam in less than 5 minutes. Extra water should be used to clean anything gross and put into plastic bags. Easy, fast clean up can help us get back on the road in no time.

If your child does get sick on the trip, give them some Gravol to help easy the tummy.

Prepare Emergency Kit

I have this emergency kit. It has everything we need in case of trouble. I’ll usually take a look inside the kit before a trip and make sure everything is still working and if we need to add anything to it before we leave.

Plan Your Route And Your Stops

Let your kids know that the trip is going to be a long one. Make sure you give frequent updates to the family so everyone is aware of how much longer the trip is going to be. Hopefully, that can eliminate the need for “Are We There Yet?”

You may know your destination, but planning your route can help you be prepared for unexpected stops as well. You will know the road ahead of time and can be better prepared for an emergency stop.

You can use apps like Roadtrippers or OnTheWay to plan your adventure.

Make sure to check the weather before you leave as well. The Weather Channel Trip Planner can help you with this.

Prepare Playlist

Nothing says road trip like a good playlist. Create your perfect road trip playlist by mixing in songs your children will like, your passengers will enjoy and some the driver will like as well.

We planned our playlist on Spotify . It was great because we got a month free subscription and were able to download all of our favourite tunes. There were some pre-made road trip playlists that we downloaded as well as many children’s song options.

It took us a while to prepare our playlist, so make sure you start downloading those songs well ahead of time!

“You Don’t Have To Be Rich To Travel Well.”- Eugene Fodor


Needless To Say, Planning A Road Trip Does Take Some Work, But Practice Makes Perfect! Enjoy The Summer With Your Family And Go Create Some Memories That Will Last A Lifetime.

tiredmomsupermom

Elizabeth is a mom of 2 and has a passion for helping children reach their human potential. She enjoys helping parents raise confident and healthy kids by explaining how to handle situations using positive parenting.

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5 Comments

  1. We have a possible 24 hour trip to Zambia this December. I’m saving this to prepare.

  2. Trish says:

    Yes! Snacks are a must lol, my kids eat all day everyday. We’ve recently invested in DVD players ($89) and it’s made our car rides much more bearable

  3. Meredith says:

    I always dread car time with kids, but it’s not so bad with food prep. Great tips. I love your go bag!

  4. Love these tips! We’re always going on road trips and it’s definitely more complicated with kids! Thank you!

  5. Such great tips! Preparation is key, we just took a 12 Hour Rd. trip with a newborn that was rough LOL

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