The Ultimate Family Road Trip Essentials List

The Ultimate Family Road Trip Essentials Packing List - Click to get the list!


We took our first long family road trip to Colorado from Wisconsin this spring! Our truck was full with my husband and dad in the front seats, and my mom, Evie, and me in the back row. Taking a toddler on a long car ride means making sure we were prepared for anything… and we were! Here’s my ultimate family road trip essentials list…

Car Essentials

  • Back Seat Car Organizer | This was a must-have from Cozy Greens! I packed this organizer with all the essentials ready to grab as needed. 
  • Window Shades | We used two UV-safety sun shades made by Cozy Greens. They are cool because they static cling to the windows so they were quick and easy to put on or pull off as needed. 
  • Navigation | We used an old school Garmin because who wants to use your phone when you want to do other fun things on your phone!? 
  • Flashlight | When it got dark it was nice to have a flashlight for reading or just finding things without turning on the overhead lights. 
  • Plastic Bags | I had a stash of grocery plastic bags in the trunk and in reachable distance. We used these for garbage and for any dirty clothes we changed Evie out of. She is a newly potty-trained toddler! 
  • Paper Towel | These were perfect to have for quick clean-up of spilled beverages or dirty hands.


  • Carseat Travel Table | This was a lifesaver! Evie loved the ZoomKIT activity system so that she could color, draw, or snack with a nice platform in front of her. I stocked the inside with the stickers, coloring books, markers, and crayons that the kit came with and then extra stuff I had to keep her entertained. 
  • iPad | A must for Evie. She was able to play games, use her favorite apps, watch cartoons, or have books read to her. Sooo nice when the parents needed a nap or break from entertaining. 
  • Portable DVD Player | This one is old-school, but it was nice because we got to bring a few of the DVDs we owned rather than needing the digital copy downloaded onto our iPad. 
  • Games We brought TableTopics with us! These are fun question cards that are meant to be conversation starters. We played the Road Trip and What Do You Think versions and actually learned a lot about each other… or the answers were just funny! I learned that my dad’s all-time favorite trip was to Costa Rica, which was a trip we took together last year. I would have guessed it was one of the many fishing trips he’s taken. 
  • Books | I actually got a lot of reading done in the car while Evie slept or played on the iPad. If you need a good book suggestion, check out my book club
  • Chargers | Duh! But so easily forgotten. 


  • Neck Pillow | I love these because they take up less space than a bed pillow and they really work for sleeping while sitting up.
  • Stuffed Animal | We accidentally packed Evie’s bunny in the trunk and she kept begging for her “baby” until we were able to pull over and get it for her. 
  • Light Blankets | Great to have since each person prefers a different temperature, especially when snoozing. 

Personal Products

  • Pull-ups  | Evie was JUST starting to potty train, so we brought pull-up diapers that looked different enough from her regular diapers and called them “Colorado undies”. She latched right on to that and still felt like a big girl wearing them!
  • Easy-on Shoes | We brought our favorite pull-on shoes for Evie, her Crocs rain boots. That way it was easy to put them on for potty or food breaks or take them off in the car. 
  • First Aid Items | Medicine, tissues, band-aids, hand sanitizer, or a full car kit.
  • Travel Potty Chair | Evie was a rockstar and only had to go potty when we stopped, but we brought the portable potty chair just in case there was no where to stop.
  • Extra clothes | We kept one extra outfit for Evie in the backseat organizer, so that if she had an accident we didn’t have to dig out her luggage to find extra clothes. 
  • Sunglasses | A must-have for the entire family. I love these little girl sunglasses

Food & Drink

  • Insulated Water Bottles | We brought a couple toddler versions to keep Evie’s milk cold. 
  • Cooler | Pack it with water, drinks, string cheese, cut veggies, summer sausage or other refrigerated snacks. It will keep costs down when stopping at gas stations along the way. 
  • Snack Bag | Pack it with crackers, popcorn, trail mix, goldfish, candy, granola bars, apples, dried fruit, and any other favorites. We kept a few snacks up front with us and the rest in a bag in the trunk that was accessible when we stopped.

Whew! It takes a lot to have a successful family road trip, but if you stay organized and are prepared for everything, you’ll have a lot fewer headaches in the end! I’d love to hear if I missed anything that would make your list!?

2 thoughts on “The Ultimate Family Road Trip Essentials List

  1. Great, comprehensive list! I always forget things like paper towels and plastic grocery bags. And I never thought to bring a flashlight, but that’d be super helpful to leave in the car so I might have to make that purchase. This is a great list to make a checklist off of for packing as well 😊

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *