Ultimate Summer Road Trip Packing List includes tips, suggestions and ideas you need!
Before you hit the road this summer, take a look at our Road Trip Packing List and be sure you are prepared for fun and ready to avoid mishaps along the way! Some of the items below contain affiliate links; I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. However, I only promote things that I love and think you will love, too. For more information, please see our Disclosure Policy.
Ultimate Summer Road Trip Packing List
Every year, we head out on the road for fun summer travel! Over the years, we have been to the White Mountains in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut. Of course we travel “home” to Maine often to visit family and friends, always packing our Beach & Boat Tote so we’re prepared for just about anything!
This summer, we are looking forward to our first long road trip to Niagara Falls. The first thing I did after we decided where we were going was to start thinking about the road trip packing list. I hate forgetting things at home. Mr. Juggling Act may not love my lists, but he does appreciate them for the value they bring.
Before you Leave Home
Check to see if you are close to needing an oil change. It’s better to get one a little early, rather than worry about it on the road! Before you leave, also check to make sure these items are all in the car:
✔ License and Registration
✔ Insurance Card
✔ Car Manual
You will want to check your tire pressure. Be sure to have some extra quarters in the car so you can add air if needed at a gas station. Also check your spare tire and windshield wipers and make sure they are all in good condition. Top off your windshield wiper fluid, too.
Roadside Emergency Kit
Nobody wants to have an issue on vacation, but it can happen. Being prepared can make all the difference between a minor setback and a disaster! Make sure you have a Roadside Emergency Kit (like the one pictured below) just in case.
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Technology permeates every facet of our lives now and it is easy to take it for granted. However, sometimes out on the road, you might hit a dead spot or be unable to find a working ATM. Here are some items that may come in handy:
✔ Paper Maps: Cell service isn’t always reliable, especially in more remote areas. Its a good idea to have a paper map as a backup. I love this spiral bound [amazon_textlink asin=’0528019635′ text=’atlas ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’jugactmam-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’af547e55-5ebd-11e8-a8d8-698132f30246′].
✔ Spare Cash: You never know when you’ll need cash at a vending machine or small business and can’t find an ATM!
✔ Quarters: Having a supply of quarters means you can easily pay tolls and parking meters. Plus, if you need to fill a tire with air, you won’t have to try to dig for change.
Packing Your Suitcase
Of course this will vary depending on your climate and destination, but here are some suggestions:
- Pants and Shorts
- Sweatshirt or Hoodie
- Sunhat or Baseball Cap
- Swimsuits (and towels)
- Vitamins and Medications
- Comfortable Walking Shoes and Sandals
Essentials for the Car
It can be tricky to find asprin or a band aid that’s buried in your suitcase. Before we leave home, I put together a caddy that includes items we might want to be able to get to quickly. This goes just behind the driver’s seat so we always know where it’s located.
Flashlight – You never know when a flashlight will come in handy.
Bug Spray and Sunscreen – We’ve been known to hop off the road and take a little mini hike. Having these in the caddy is very helpful.
Tissues and Toilet Paper – Allergies and bathrooms without toilet paper make these items necessary.
Wet Wipes and Hand Sanitizer – for sticky situations and those gas station bathrooms without soap!
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(I am also a huge fan of the Refresh Cooling Body Cloths, which are great for after being in the hot sun for awhile.)
First Aid Kit – I put a mini kit in this tote, then a larger one goes in the center console of my van.
Medications -It’s a good idea to keep a few medications like pain killers, allergy medicine in an easy to reach spot. Here are some of the items I pack:
- Pain killers for adults and kids
- Allergy medication, hydro-cortisone and After Bite
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Hair Ties – I can never have enough hair ties! It doesn’t hurt to have an extra headband or a couple hair clips either!
Sunglasses – I am usually wearing mine in the car, but the kid rarely do, so theirs go in the caddy.
Lip Balm – Cracked lips are never fun.
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Plastic/Garbage Bags – I take a gallon size bag and add another gallon bag, then 2 each quart, sandwich and snack size bags. Then I add 1-2 plastic shopping bags or a trash bag. This helps keep the car tidy. You also have bags for leftover snacks and things. Not only are the garbage or shopping bags good for trash, but they’re also perfect for dirty laundry or wet clothing.
Snacks and Drinks
- Granola Bars
- Fruit Snacks
- Hard Candies
- Crackers and Pretzels
- Water Bottles
- Juice Boxes
- Fresh Fruit
- Cheese Sticks
- Fresh Veggies
We keep some snacks in the caddy I mentioned above. Things that need to stay cold go in a small cooler between the two captain chairs where the kids sit.
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You can read more about my 5 Essentials for your Family Road Trip in this post I wrote previously.
Gadgets and Gear
Cell Phones and Tablets – Obviously you’ll want your cell phone, but as all parents know, having a screen for backup entertainment is definitely a nice thing to have on a long trip!
Chargers – Be sure to grab the chargers for all your devices. You may also want to pick up a back up battery to use when you’re not in the car or near an outlet.
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Camera – There are so many great cameras out now, and choosing one is an individual as you are. Here are a few recommendations for products I like. You might think about picking up some disposable cameras for your kids, too. This is a fun way to have them help document the trip, and you may be surprise what they catch on film! Don’t forget to bring extra batteries, an SD card, and the charger as well.
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Keeping Kids Happy on Road Trips
There are a few things that I find make traveling with kids easier:
✔ Food – It’s great to pack snacks but always remember that kids can’t go as long between meals as adults can. Plan to make pit stops for bathroom breaks and a chance to refuel their little bodies!
✔ Comfort – Travel pillows, a cuddly blanket (yes even when it’s 90 out) and a stuffed animal are great for younger ones.
✔ Fun – Bring along some unexpected games or toys. These help pass the time for kids that don’t care about watching out the window. Crayons, books and devices are great, too.
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You might also like these Travel Activities for the Car or a Plane ideas:
Take a look at these ideas and see if you want to add any of them to your road trip packing list.
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These Road Trip Printables are perfect for keeping the kids entertained during your road trip.
Unplug – Sort Of….
Last summer, we started listening to audiobooks during our road trips. I have an Audible Membership through Amazon and love it! It’s been a great way for Mr. Juggling Act and I to encourage reading, without anyone getting car sick! These are some of the books our family has enjoyed together:
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Road Trip Packing Tips
- Put heavier items on the bottom, and lighter things on the top.
- Place items you’ll frequently need within reach.
- To maximize space, use duffle bags instead of bulky suitcases.
- Put a pop up laundry hamper in the back so ou don’t have to lug dirty clothes in and out of motels.
- Bring a backpack for day trips to hold water bottles, sunscreen, snacks, etc.
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Download Our Summer Road Trip Packing List
Before you start packing, download our road trip packing list HERE!
Our Family Adventures
Take a look at some of our adventures over the last couple of years:
Water and Amusement Parks
- StoryLand – Glen, NH
- Santa’s Village – Jefferson, NH
- Candia Springs Adventure Park – Candia, NH
- Clark’s Trading Post – Lincoln, NH
- LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston
- Winter Fun at Loon Mountain – Lincoln, NH
- The Mt. Washington Auto Road
- The Flume Gorge
- Sabbaday Falls Easy Family Hike
- NH Luxury Camping – White Mountains
- Diana’s Baths
Museums, Aquariums and Zoos
You might also like to check out these posts:
- Summer Essentials: Make your own Beach & Boat Tote
- Where Kids Eat Free in NH
- Family Road Trip Entertainment
- 5 Essentials for your Family Road Trip
- DIY Custom Vacation Memory Box
- Travel Toys – Make Your Own LEGO Kit
- Plan Your Family Vacation Without Going Broke
- How to Get a Free US National Park Pass
- Road Trip Ideas Printable Bucket List