6 Tips to Get Ready for a Family Road Trip

Are you heading on a family road trip this year? One of the best ways to bond as a family is to spend hours in a car together! Learn how to get ready for a family road trip and tips for a smooth car ride with kids!

Best Tips for Preparing for a Road Trip with Kids #family #vacation #travel #traveling

Get Ready for a Family Road Trip

This past week we spent time at the lake and while we were only an hour away from home, we still had to pack up like we were taking a longer road trip.

Is it just my family or does yours also pack a ton of stuff when you have to drive for more than an hour away?! Fortunately, we have our road trip packing techniques down to a pretty well oiled machine. A family vacation is one of the best ways to grow close as family. You create life long memories for your kids when you take them on a trip.

As a mom with young kids, it can be overwhelming to think about taking a long distance road trip with the family. But, once you get through your first road trip, you learn what works and does not work for your family.

Today, I am sharing how we get ready for a family road trip!

1 // Designate a Staging Area in the Home

The biggest task for getting ready for a family road trip is PACKING! This is a huge responsibility and one thing you can not leave until the last minute.

I usually start packing for a trip a week before we leave.

First, I make sure to wash all of the clothes we will need for the trip. Then, once the laundry is done and folded, I start setting aside clothes for the trip. That way someone does not inadvertently wear something we need for the trip!

Once something is packed and ready to go, I put it in our designated area of the home for luggage. We start storing everything in our living room corner. Everyone in the family knows about this spot and they all add things to the pile as the week goes on.

It is great to have a visual of everything that is packed and I can get a sense for what is missing. Plus, when it is time to leave, my family knows exactly where to go to help with hauling stuff to the car.

2 // Decide on a Packing Method and Stick to It

There are several different ways to pack for a family. I know some people prefer to pack all of their family members stuff together while others prefer to pack for each family member individually.

Our family usually packs all of the kids clothes in one suitcase and my husband and I in another suitcase (or two!). There isn’t a right or wrong way to do this as long as you decide on a packing method and stick to it. It makes it a whole lot easier if you have a set method that everyone knows. Then you don’t have the issue of no one knowing where anything is located once you get to your final destination.

These packing cubes are AMAZING! You will not believe how much can fit in one little cube!

We have our road trip packing method pretty routine that we have designated bags for certain items. Everyone knows which bag is our swim bag, which coolers we bring, and the specific suitcases for everyone in the family.

**We also have the kids pack ONE back pack full of whatever they want to bring. We just make sure we know what goes inside (for the little ones at least) because we have been in the situation that a favorite stuffed animal was left behind.

3 //Stock up on Essentials

I was certainly not always as organized for a road trip, but after three kids and miles and miles on the road, I’ve learned a few things.

Some basics you should bring on every family road trip:

  • Paper Towels
  • Plastic Bags – To collect garbage, throw dirty shoes or clothes, etc!
  • Ziploc Bags (so many uses for these!)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Fever and Cold Medicine
  • Baby Wipes – For cleaning hands and quick mess clean up!

You can never have enough plastic bags on a road trip. We use them to collect garbage and throw in dirty shoes or clothes. I also always have paper towels, tissues, baby wipes and band aids in our car! We’ve learned the hard way on not being stocked up on these cars.

4 // Pack Snacks and Meals in Advance

If you want to save time and money, you can make a few snacks and meals ahead of time.

You can cut down on rest stops when you bring your own food. Plus, you never know what kind of food options will be available on your road trip. It does not take a lot of time to organize some of your family’s favorite foods for the trip.

Healthy Snack Ideas for Family Road TripsThis was our road trip haul for our spring trip to Washington, D.C. We usually stay in places that have mini fridges, so the left over cold foods are able to be used throughout the trip.

One of the best road trip inventions is these Snackeez cups. Have you seen them? You fill the bottom with a drink and the top portion with a snack. We have had several of these over the years.

Kids Travel Cups SNACKZ6-2 Snackeez Drink and Snack Holder

We always keep a cooler with drinks and cold food and and then a bag filled with dry goods.

PRO TIP: Keep the snacks and drinks near the front passenger. Then when the kids get hungry, the co-pilot can be in charge of passing out the food.

 

Six // Pack Special Activities to Keep Kids Occupied

While the journey can be just as fun as the destination, sometimes traveling with young kids is more about survival than enjoying the journey’s moments. So, we have come to realize that allowing kids to have all the things to keep them occupied and happy is what is necessary.

The kids end up watching more movies and playing more games on their devices that we would allow in a typical day. But, the kids know this is a travel exception!

How to get organized for a family road trip

The kids being occupied often mean my husband and I can actually catch up and have a conversation or two.

If you are looking for more Screen Free Road Trip Activities check out this post for a TON of ideas!

Fun Ideas for Kids on Road Trips #screenfree #games #family #travel

 

We make sure to have several rest stops along the way so that everyone can stretch their feet. Sometimes we allow them to pick out a treat, if it is a very long road trip.

Post Road Trip Organization

All good things must come to an end and that means you come home from a trip sooner or later. Be sure to check out my post on things I do immediately after I come home from a trip!

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Road trips are family memories in the making, so the good and the bad are all part of the fun! How do you get organized for family road trips?

More Family Travel Posts You May Enjoy:

Spring Break Trip to Washington, DC

Niagara Falls with Kids

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29 Comments

  1. July 9, 2018 / 11:04 am

    I love those Snackeez cups and wish they had been around when my kids were little! Guess I’ll have to get them for road trips with my grandson. Great tips!

  2. July 10, 2018 / 7:31 am

    These are fabulous tips! Thanks so much for the ideas for this.

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      July 11, 2018 / 8:24 pm

      Your welcome Shan!

  3. July 10, 2018 / 7:38 am

    I also prefer packing ahead of time and have a designated spot in the house. It makes packing so much easier!

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      July 11, 2018 / 8:23 pm

      The designated spot really helps us! We have forgotten less stuff by using this process.

  4. July 10, 2018 / 7:44 am

    Great tips and I love the sound of those cups! My nieces and nephew could really use those, I think. My family always let us take a backpack of things we wanted when we were traveling by car too – and I pretty much do the same thing now just with more “grown up” accessories. LOL 🙂

    -Lauren

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      July 11, 2018 / 8:22 pm

      I pack my own grown up back pack too!! We all need a bag of our own “stuff”.

  5. July 10, 2018 / 8:29 am

    We have a road trip coming up! The hardest thing for me is that we usually pack individual suitcases, but then we have to drag everything in to each hotel we stay at. It would be better if we could pack by the day or something!

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      July 11, 2018 / 8:20 pm

      I’ve seen that idea of packing everyone’s stuff in one suitcase for each day or a few days. I wonder if it would be easier?!

  6. Rebecca
    July 10, 2018 / 9:16 am

    I remember road trips w/ the littles. It was a week of planning just to pack. Now we travel in only carry-on luggage and take minimal items as adults. So quick. Nice read and organization tips.

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      July 11, 2018 / 8:19 pm

      Yes I am always starting a week in advance. The preparation is sometimes just as long as the actual trip:)

  7. July 10, 2018 / 11:00 am

    I have 4 littles and it is such a CHORE to pack for a trip! Even just a day trip! This is a really great list of suggestions! Thanks for sharing.

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      July 11, 2018 / 8:19 pm

      I totally agree that day trips can often require just as much stuff. Especially when a trip to the pool or beach is involved!

  8. July 10, 2018 / 11:58 am

    Fabulous tips – and we might be going on a trip in September so I will be saving this to reread as we get closer to that date.

    I also like to keep a stash of items always ready to go in a bag (napkins, plates, tablecloth, etc). One less thing for me to prep (especially for day trips).

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      July 11, 2018 / 8:18 pm

      That is a GREAT idea to have a stash of paper products in a bag! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Kimberly
    July 10, 2018 / 12:22 pm

    Great tips! I am always the one to pack the night before our trip and forget something haha.

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      July 11, 2018 / 8:18 pm

      Oh yes there is so much stuff to pack that inevitably something always gets forgotten!

  10. July 10, 2018 / 12:26 pm

    Such great tips! Road tripping with kids is no joke! Make ahead snacks are definitely a life saver!

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      July 11, 2018 / 8:17 pm

      It really is no joke! It is certainly more like a trip than a relaxing vacation..ha!

  11. July 10, 2018 / 12:40 pm

    I LOVE the idea to pack some healthy snacks in there. That is definitely something I plan to do. I always have all of the salty things but zero fruits and veggies.

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      July 11, 2018 / 8:17 pm

      I have a hungry captive audience so it’s easier to get them to agree to the healthy stuff:)

  12. July 10, 2018 / 1:41 pm

    These are some really good tips for road trips! I’m the worst about getting everything organized to go anywhere and I invariably always forget something! Those Snackeez cups are the BOMB, by the way! I see some of those arriving at my door ASAP!

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      July 11, 2018 / 8:16 pm

      Yes the Snackeez cups are pretty amazing! Certainly keeps my car a little cleaner on long trips:)

  13. July 10, 2018 / 8:42 pm

    All of these are great. The snack prep is a must, stopping to grab snacks are so expensive. I like the idea of having one spot as the designated area.

  14. July 11, 2018 / 7:50 am

    We just went on a large family vacation of 24 people last month. These are great tips! I totally agree with stocking up and planning early!

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      July 11, 2018 / 8:14 pm

      Wow that is quite a vacation!! I can only imagine how much planning was required.

  15. August 1, 2018 / 1:45 am

    Hi, These are some really good tips for road trips! Road tripping with kids is no joke! Make ahead snacks are definitely a life saver! I have 2 little’s and it is such a chore to pack for a trip! Even just a day trip! This is a really great list of suggestions! Thanks for sharing.

  16. August 13, 2018 / 5:52 pm

    I love all these tips (especially the snacks, first aid, and snackeez) and will be putting them to use next month when we travel!!!!

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