Must Have Essentials for Every Road Trip

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With a few road trips under our belt, I’ve definitely collected my own list of hits and misses for our time in the car! None of these are crafty, life-hack-type things. These are legit, go online and buy them because if you’re reading this, you’re like me and you either don’t have time to craft, don’t have the skills to craft, don’t care enough to craft, or all of the above!  Here are a few of my favorite road trip survival items…

Kid’s Amazon Fire

Fire Tablet

I know what you’re thinking, there she goes putting up the screen time first! But let’s be real, at one point or another the tablets are going to have to be broken out! And a few years ago I scoured far and wide trying to find our old-school versions of travel games like Sorry and Connect Four only to find that there is really no market for them anymore because they’ve all been turned into apps! What has the world come to?

We do make the kids wait a while before they’re allowed to take them out of the backpacks.  They have to play some form of a car game, work in an activity book, and a few other things before we have screen time.

The boys love the Kids Amazon Fire. Do yourself a favor and go ahead and buy the whole package with the kid-proof case and throw some kid-proof headphones in while you’re at it! What I like about the package is that it comes with some preloaded apps, 2-year protection (because kids happen), and the case has saved Luke’s tablet on many occasions! It really is kid-proof!

If you find yourself on a road trip without proper entertainment, you wind up with 6 hours of this! In our defense, this was not supposed to be an actual road trip! It was a massive standby fail that found us driving from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas after spending a few days visiting my brother & his family. Poor guy!!! When that inevitable meltdown does come from someone, remember to keep your eye on the prize! Whether it’s laughing through it like in the video above or keeping the picture of your destination in your mind like below, just remember to keep your cool and go with the flow! The kids (and you) can only handle so much.

Non-Electronic Activities


Stock up on good games to take in the car! My kids are now to an age where things like BINGO and Tick-Tac-Toe just aren’t going to cut it. We look for games that provide the right mix of wildly immature giggles and competition. I’m currently loving Shotgun by the makers of the “What do you Meme?” games! It provides all kinds of fun, silly ways to win points in the car!

I also LOVE a good activity book! They’re perfect for not only road trips but we use them on summer breaks, weekends, at family events, at the doctor, or in a restaurant. The list is ever-changing of which ones we like based on the kids’ age and interests. See below for some of our current favorites!

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Both boys love trivia and maps.  It’s something we have inherited from my mom! Neither my mom, nor myself can remember what we did yesterday, but our heads are full of random, useless trivia of places or history. Before we go anywhere I go pick up the guidebooks for that place and study up (nerd)! We also pick up great kid’s maps, like the National Geographic Road Trip Atlas!

During the drive, I’m the one pointing out the window saying “Hey guys! That field over there is where this totally random battle between cowboys and Indians happened!” I’ll tell them the story, and get their imaginations going enough to start a whole conversation about what we would do if we were alive during that time. I also get them both a roadmap.

Coolers & Containers

Bring a Cooler
When you don’t bring the little cooler!

Yep…I said coolerS. See above, don’t they look comfy? Nope!  I’ve found now that the boys are bigger & spreading out a bit more that it works a whole lot better for us when we have 2 coolers. I keep a smaller one in the back seat where I can easily grab it with just enough drinks in there to get us until the next break. I now keep a larger one in the trunk that has drinks to refill the smaller cooler, and whatever fridge items I’m bringing with us for the trip.

Car organizer
Our Favorite organizer

In my 10 years of parenting, I have tried ALL THE BACK SEAT ORGANIZERS! I have spent a small fortune on them only finding the same result of smashed snacks, and junk all over the floor time and again.  We tried the over-the-seat ones when we drove to Colorado – one ripped two hours out of town when Landry couldn’t get his toy unstuck. We tried lap desks and they went unused. I tried getting all Pinterest-y and using pencil boxes, lunch boxes, and cute colorful bins only to have the pencil box of legos dumped everywhere, and the crayons spill under the seat forever imprinting a rainbow in the back of Matt’s car! This car organizer is the one that works the best.

Other Essentials

Years ago my father-in-law told me to always pack gallon baggies when we travel. I can’t tell you how useful that tip has been over the years. I keep a whole box of them in the quick grab, snack bag when we are on the road. I have used them in all kinds of situations like saving leftover snacks, throwing wet clothes into after a spill, a place to put markers or crayons after we rip the box, bathing suits on the return trip if they didn’t have time to dry out, a place to keep “treasures” (rocks) we find at parks & rest stops, and more!

Don’t forget the cheap sunglasses and flip-flops.  I keep a bag with an extra pair of cheap sunglasses for me, super cheap glasses for the boys, and a couple of pairs of flip-flops.  Everyone kicks their shoes off in our car, and the sunglasses go on and off. It never fails that when it’s time to get out of the car for a potty break we are missing a shoe, or it’s too bright and the sunglasses are buried somewhere. Keeping a bag handy of the cheap-o ones has made life a thousand times easier when we’re just running in for a quick stop!

It’s probably a given but you’ll want to bring a bunch of snacks! Just play the guessing game and bring an assortment of all the snacks in your pantry because if you bring the Goldfish but not the Teddy Grahams, they’re gonna want the Teddy Grahams! Also, bring cash for when they want the snack at the gas station that you didn’t bring! It’s not worth the fight!

My husband also keeps an emergency kit handy. Among the bizarre random things he brings, he, of course, has the jumper cables, and flashlight (anytime we have gotten a flat tire with the kids in the car it has been in the dark).

Finally, don’t forget the pillows and blankets. Not that I get to sleep in the car anymore as the mama, but having my soft blanket and a pillow to at least lean on the door with goes a long way in my comfort factor when we are traveling a long distance. You may even get lucky and the kids will sleep. Mine finally do wear themselves out for a little bit…then wake up with plenty of energy, totally amped up to finally be there!

Make sure there is time at the end of the day to get the sillies out!

Like what you saw in this post? Is there anything I missed? Comment and let me know!

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