Road Trip Ready: 6 Essentials to Pack When You’re Driving

Road Trip Tips

Summer is the perfect time for vacations with the family. Whether you’re going to the beach, the amusement park, or to visit family in another state, there’s lots of fun to be had. The biggest challenge can be keeping everyone happy in the car while you drive there and back! Over the years, I’ve found a system that works for us and keeps our spirits up when we have to be on the road for hours at a time. Each person packs his or her own bag, filling it with six items from a special checklist I created, then we all have everything we need: something to read, something to make, something to learn, something to play, something to eat, and something to drink. It works like a charm! Take a look…

Road Trip Packing

Something to Read

One of the best ways to pass time, provided that you don’t get carsick, is by reading something you enjoy! Each family member should choose something that her or she considers pleasure reading. I know I, for one, rarely get the time at home to sit down with a good book, so a road trip is a perfect opportunity to dive into something I’ve been wanting to read. Here are some options.

  • a novel
  • a favorite magazine or two
  • a comic book
  • a how-to book
  • a picture book
  • a graphic novel
  • a biography

Something to Make

As the Artsy Mama, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that everyone should bring something to create! Each person can choose a project to pack in his or her bag and work on during the trip. Of course, being in the car limits the scope of your craftiness, but there are definitely portable options for all ages, like…

  • Crochet or knitting
  • Embroidery
  • Weaving
  • Coloring
  • Drawing
  • Hand Lettering
  • Journaling
  • Small kids’ craft kids {with foam shapes, stickers, etc.}

Whatever you choose, keeping your project supplies together in a plastic container will help ensure that nothing gets lost. Hmm, there’s that really cool hand lettering workbook again. That sure looks irresistible, right? 😉

Something to Learn

One great way to pass time while riding in the car is to spend it learning something new. Of course, our goal is keeping everyone’s spirits up, so instead of bringing a bunch of math textbooks, each person gets to choose something her or she finds interesting.

  • US State Flashcards
  • Math flashcards or workbook
  • Small globe
  • Biography/autobiography of a favorite historical figure, athlete, or celebrity
  • US Presidents flashcards
  • Science workbook
  • Instructional audiobook
  • How-to/DIY book

It can also be an unforgettable experience to learn a new language together as a family by listening to a CD or audiobook while you drive. Our family is currently working on learning Mandarin Chinese so we can speak to our adopted son in his native language when we meet him this fall.

Something to Play

Everyone loves to play a good game, and it’s a great way to pass time while on the road! Let each family member choose a portable game for his or her bag…something that doesn’t require a board or lots of small pieces is ideal. It could be store-bought, or it could be homemade too. There are lots of great sites where you can download and print out simple games, or you can create your own version. Here are a few ideas.

  • I Spy
  • Travel Bingo
  • Simple Card Games
  • Pass the Pig
  • Alphabet Games
  • Guess Who
  • Twenty Questions
  • License Plate Game

The games can be independent, two-player, or something for the whole family to play at once; the specifics are up to you, the key is just to have fun!

Something to Eat

It’s always a good idea to be prepared with snacks for when hunger strikes…as it inevitably will. Snyders-Lance snack packs are perfect on-the-go snacks for any occasion, including summer road trips, beach weekends, picnics, outdoor concerts, team sports, and more. The single-serve sizes allow each of us to choose two or three of our favorites and toss them in our own individual bags instead of having to all agree on just one snack. Each pack features a variety of choices from the Snyder’s-Lance family of brands that both kids and adults will love; there’s something for everyone.

Snyders-Lance snack packs are available online and in-store at major retailers. You can choose from the Premium Variety, Non-GMO Variety, Small Batch Kettle Chip Variety, and Gluten Free Variety. No matter which one you pick, you can feel good about giving your family great tasting, better-for-you ingredients.

Our family keeps the Non-GMO Variety on hand, which includes Late July® Nacho Chipotle Tortilla Chips, Kettle Brand® Sea Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips, and hubby’s favorite, Cape Cod® 40% Reduced Fat Original Potato Chips. He’s a sucker for kettle cooked chips, and these have 40% reduced fat, so he feels good about snacking on them too. This pack also includes my own favorite, Snyder’s of Hanover® Mini Pretzels. We live less than an hour from where the Snyder’s snacks are made, so I grew up eating these pretzels and I’m convinced this brand is the best in the world…they’re always crisp and perfectly salted, and the bite size minis are just right for on-the-go snacking. They’re Little Crafter approved too; I have to make sure he packs his own so he doesn’t end up stealing mine! We also like the Premium Variety snack pack, which includes Late July® Nacho Chipotle Tortilla Chips, Snyder’s of Hanover® Honey Mustard & Onion Pretzel Pieces, Kettle Brand® Backyard Barbeque® Potato Chips, and hubby’s favorite, Cape Cod® 40% Reduced Fat Original Potato Chips.

Something to Drink

It’s important to stay hydrated, but at the same time, you don’t want to have to make a pit stop every five minutes! We find that it’s best to fill one thermos or other non-spill insulated cup for with ice water for each person before leaving home. That way, we don’t have to worry about any trash, like bottles, boxes, or cans, and our water stays nice and cold for hours. If we’re on an especially long trip, we can refill them as necessary along the route since you can get ice and water at any hotel or gas station.

So there you have it! The six “must-haves” for any road trip. You’ll notice that while my bag looks decidedly different from Little Crafter’s, both of us have everything we’ll need to make the drive more enjoyable.

Here’s a copy of my checklist to make sure that each person remembers to bring all six essential items! Feel free to save the image and print it out, or download the printable file here. When you’re ready to take your own road trip, just print one copy of the list for each adult and child in your family.

What do you think? What are some of your favorite tips for road trip success?

Road Trip Ready: Free Printable Road Trip Checklist

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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