When packing for a road trip, it’s easy to want to take everything but the kitchen sink. If you’re a family, the amount of stuff to pack can be overwhelming. So how can you pack smart? Here's a checklist of what to pack when going on a long road trip.
Essential Road Trip Items
Let's start with the essential items you shouldn’t leave home without:
Important documents. Vehicle registration, IDs, insurance document, and travel and accommodation booking confirmations.
First aid kit. You should keep one in your car at all times anyway.
Pack for the weather. Umbrellas, rain ponchos, boots, and warm coats for winter. Sunscreen, sun hats, swimwear, and sunglasses for summer.
A drawstring laundry bag. Laundry piles up quickly if you’re traveling as a family.
Enough diapers and wet wipes. The last thing you want is to run out and have to drive for miles with a smelly baby.
Travel cooler bags. To keep drinks and perishables cold.
Plastic plates, cups, and utensils. A must-have if you plan to have roadside picnics and want to avoid messy hands touching car surfaces.
Plenty of water. Staying hydrated is essential.
Towels. Paper and cloth!
Medication. Headache pills, antihistamines, nausea and diarrhea pills, and chronic medication.
You’ll be spending several hours a day on the road, so plan for comfort.
Comfortable clothes and shoes. Pack light breathable clothing that’s wrinkle-free. Make sure you are able to layer your clothing. Everyone has a different AC temperature preference. If it’s too cool, you can put a sweater on.
Travel pillows. To help you catch a few z’s while on the road, especially if you plan to travel at night.
Travel trash can. Rather than dump trash all over the car or in a shopping bag, buy a travel trash can. Many are leak-proof and have a cover or drawstring top that prevents things from falling out.
Blankets. They make the kids' naps in the backseat more comfortable, and should you break down at night or when it's cold, you can keep warm while waiting for roadside assistance.
For the Kids
Snacks. To prevent the kids from becoming “hangry."
Travel games. Good old-fashioned car games are still a fun way to keep kids entertained on a long drive.
Music and audio storybooks. For younger kids, singing along and listening to stories can keep them entertained for hours.
Power banks. Nothing leads to cranky teens faster than dead smartphones.
Backpacks/daypacks. If you expect rain, pack a waterproof bag cover to keep the contents in your bag dry.
Walking or hiking shoes. Invest in good quality walking and hiking shoes that are waterproof and breathable. They are worth it to keep your feet properly supported and comfortable.
Water bottles. Being far away from rest stops or amenities without water can lead to dehydration.
Bug spray/mosquito repellant. If you plan to camp, you don’t want to be eaten alive by bugs.
Solar-powered camping lanterns. Many also feature an SOS red flashing light for emergencies.
Last, but not least, before you hit the road, make sure you have some essential safety items.
Tire jack. Also make sure to check that the spare tire is properly inflated.
Jumper cables. To avoid a flat battery while on the road, have your battery checked as part of your pre-trip check-up.
Mini fire extinguisher. You could have an electrical fire in your car or the sparks from your campsite fire could set the surrounding grass alight. You never know!
Emergency kit. Your emergency kit should include a flashlight, snow scraper, utility knife, flares, gloves, a reflective triangle warning sign, hydration tablets, snacks, and a spare cell phone.
With your car prepped and packed, you’re ready to explore what this vast land has to offer. Remember, drive safely — follow the speed limit, take plenty of breaks, and keep your wits about by practicing defensive driving.