If you’re trying to find the best Family Road Trip tips, you are in the right place. You’ll find packing lists, food hacks, and clothes organization ideas for your next long car trip.
I’ve compiled all my Road Trip Posts together into an Ultimate Road Trip Guide Post that you can read here.
As a large family, most of our trips have been the road trip style. Buying plane tickets for 6-plus people is just ridiculous – so we drive.
And, you know what? We’ve had so much fun doing it. It can be awfully hard, but we’ve been at it since our kiddos were little so we’ve learned a lot. I’m here today to share our Top Ten Tips with you.
I want you to enjoy the best time possible, so read along and see what you can learn, too.
This post contains affiliate links. This supports my family and allows me to keep providing you with great resources. You can trust that I only promote products I love or would use myself. Read my full disclosure for more details.
Our Top Ten Family Road Trip Tips
1. Reduce What You’re Bringing
There are lots of lists and suggestions about what to bring on your trip. The reality is, it is very hard for someone else to decide what you should bring. So, as you read those lists and start thinking about all the extras that sound like a great idea, ask yourself one question.
Do I NEED it?
Actually N. E. E. D it?
Can you do without it, or buy one down the road if you decide you absolutely have to have it?
Many things you can do without for a week or two. All our belongings became very cumbersome after a few episodes of unloading, packing, loading, etc., every single time we checked into a different motel.
2. Grab a Road Trip Packing List
It’s a good idea to get some advice from experienced road trippers before your trip. Take a look at these packing lists, then look back at #1 above before you actually pack everything. Use your list as a guideline that needs some editing. Check out the lists below.
The Art of Simple – Family Road Trip Packing List
Burlap & Denim – Family Packing List (big button at bottom)
Inkwell Press – Travel Planning Checklists
Hot Beauty Health – Road Trip Planning Checklist
You’ll notice that most of these lists are very long. As you look through the one you choose, decide on which things you actually need and highlight them. That way you won’t be putting everything in your car.
3. Packing the Kids Car Activities
Read the post about Super Fun Road Trip Activities for Kids – where you’ll see how we packed the kid’s activities and get all kinds of details about some great activities to bring along.
You will save yourself from a lot of frustration if your kids can keep track of their own stuff. Constantly handing them stuff within the car, or trying to figure out where it is will drive you bonkers.
Here are 2 back-seat systems that will keep everything within reach for your kids.
We also put all of the community games, activities and audio CDs in one plastic tote for easy sharing. You can read Fun Road Trip Activities for Kids to see what we packed.
4. Pack Efficiently
We all know that square or rectangular items pack much better than round ones. Most suitcases are kinda rectangular, but they’re also a bit rounded, and then there are those wheels that really get in the way. There is a solution for that.
One of the best things we did was pack into plastic totes. We used plastic totes for all kinds of packing. We had these separate plastic totes:
5. What to Do With Dirty Clothes?
Dirty clothes tend to take up a lot of space because, well … they’re dirty and kinda gross, so people tend to just throw them in a bag instead of folding them tightly. I know, folding them all up would sometimes be a bit gross. One way to deal with dirty clothes is to use these amazing reusable space bags. Just throw them all in and roll it up tight. Now it fits in a compact space until you do laundry or get home.
6. Keep the Kids Entertained
If you don’t have some fun stuff packed up for the kids you’re going to go crazy. But, if you pack the wrong stuff you’ll end up with lost pieces and toys that just sit on the car floor. Read all about Super Fun Road Trip Activities for Kids to see what the winners were for us.
7. Eating on the Road
While it may be nice to occasionally eat out, eating every single meal in the drive-thru is not a good idea. There are so many meals you can make at a rest area or in your hotel room. Learn how to pack a Hotel Room Cooking Box, so you have just what you need. And, get lots of ideas for Hotel Room Meals for Your Instant Pot here. Even if you don’t pack your Instant Pot, you can make a lot of your own Easy Road Trip Meal Ideas for Families.
Be sure that everyone has a nice refillable insulated water bottle, too. You can fill up waters at a rest area or bring a big jug along. Don’t give the kids juice and soda because they’ll drink a lot more than they need and you know that means lots of inconvenient stops.
8. Lots of Snacks for Kids
When your kids start to get cranky, and believe me, they will, it’s nice to have some fun snacks for the road. Think of things that they don’t get to eat at home. Also keep in mind that you probably don’t want to pick things that are sticky, wet, and messy. Here are some great ideas:
9. Use Your Rest Areas
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten is to use your rest area time to run the kids like crazy. If you think about it, they’ve been sitting for hours – so don’t make them sit any longer to eat.
Let them run around and play while you make up your lunch, snack, or dinner, then let them eat it when you start your drive again. If it’s something messy, go ahead and let them eat it after playing. We always pack a few things for rest area games:
10. Don’t Do Too Much in One Day
You may be tempted to travel 400+ miles in a day, but odds are, it will be way too much. If your kids are all older, you may be able to pull it off, but if you really want to enjoy your time, think “Less is More.”
Our favorite times on a road trip are usually when we’re hanging out in our motel room. We like to have relaxing meals, enjoy some time at the pool, and even play cards together in the room.
And, when you make it back home, use all your fun photos to make this great DIY Travel Map:
I really hope you use these ideas to have a great time on your next family road trip. You have the potential to make some great and lasting memories with the people you love the most in this world. Use it wisely.
Remember, your destination is not the most important part of your trip. Your time together in the car can be just as much fun by using it for conversation, games, story-telling and listening to Audio Books.
Get Your Travel Cooking Box Checklist
Join my newsletter for more tips and resources. You'll get this FREE checklist as a Thank You, along with the PASSWORD to my Resource Library full of printables. Use this checklist to set up your own Hotel Room Cooking Box.