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Family Road Trip Packing Checklist

| May 29, 2013 | 6 Comments

I always seem to bring everything except the kitchen sink when I go on a family trip, so it’s a good thing we have a van. I am probably not the only mom that does this, right? I bring a cooler for the beverages, another one for the snacks and one more for the breakfasts.  I’m on holidays so I hate getting up early to have to go for breakfast before 9 am and the kids don’t mind because they eat in bed while watching TV.  My husband and I really enjoy sleeping in while being on vacation.  Now that’s a great trip!

I must not forget the medicine gym bag that is packed with a first aid supply kit, over the counter medication for colds, allergies and pain, sunscreen and sunburn lotions.  No we are not going to a jungle in Africa.  I haven’t figure out yet that we can always stop by a drug store to get what we need.

Can you tell that I am very organized (yes, I over do it) so I thought I would share my family road trip packing tips to help you prepare for your upcoming summer adventures.

Before I pack, I always write a checklist of what to bring on a family road trip. This way you focus on what you need to bring, especially the last minute items on the day of the departure like your child’s favorite plush toy.


Make sure the vehicle is full of gas, it’s cleaned (who want to sit in a smelly car for 6 hours) and you have plenty of windshield washer fluid.


I avoid anything sticky, gooey or that may melt in the car (like chocolate). As a matter of fact, I don’t pack the sugar-loaded treats all together since they only trigger unwanted backseat bouncing.  Fruits and veggies are a terrific choice and can be stored in individual containers or zipper bags so you each have your own.  I would avoid bananas since they bruise easily.  Peanut butter on crackers or a bagel, cereal and mixed nuts are my family’s favourites.


Bring small plastic grocery bags that you can attach to a door handle or I have a small plastic container on the floor of the van to dispose of snacks. A box of tissue, a roll of paper towels, sanitizer wipes and a bottle of hand sanitizer should be kept within arm’s reach. From spills, sticky hands to car sickness, you never know when they might come in handy.


Let’s face it, when a boy says, “I have to go to the bathroom – now!” pulling off onto the side of the road isn’t that big of deal. But when a girl says it, and you can’t exit the highway until another 50 KM now that’s a different story.  I recommend bringing, for the little ones in training pants, a little training potty, a tub of disinfecting wipes, toilet paper and a box of zipped bags.


The famous words “Are we there yet?” Kids need to be entertained on the road. We bring along interactive games, flash cards, their favourite CD’s/DVD’s and new books or toys to pique their interest.  We also play what I call travelling games like count how many black cars, cows or trucks you see on the road or what do you see that’s green?


Some other things to check off your list might include a cell phone, a GPS and road maps.  Give the tourism office of your destination a call or email and ask to mail you the events & activities brochure, hotel accommodations guide, map and coupons.  Afterwards, as a family, you can decide what we would like to see.  I also bring a list of addresses, phone numbers and maps of hotels & tourist attractions that we will be visiting with us.  Don’t be like me, remember, even if you forget the sunscreen or anything else, you can always buy the item on the road. The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy this special time as a family.


Packing Checklist

  • Passports (if travelling outside Canada)
  • Updated maps or navigation system (When traveling, it’s worth it to upgrade to the latest software.)
  • Small cooler for upfront and larger cooler in the back filled with refill items
  • First-aid kit (with motion sickness relievers)
  • Road-side emergency kit (including water bottles)
  • Tricks and treats bag (new games, toys, snacks and any other magical distractions)
  • Wet wipes, paper towels or napkins and a bottle of hand sanitizer
  • Trash bags
  • Flashlight
  • Sunscreen & sunburn lotions
  • Cell phone and DVD player charger
  • Camera, video camera and batteries
  • Pillows and Blankets
  • Toilet paper
  • Training potty (if you’re kids are in that stage)
  • Laundry bag for dirty clothes
  • Laundry detergent & stain remover
  • Rolls of quarters (laundry, video games)

Have a great trip!

Photo credit: Phil W Shirley / / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: lyzadanger / / CC BY-NC-SA


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Category: Family, Living, Travel

About the Author ()

Lyne is happily married and has two teenagers: a 16 year old son and a 20 year old daughter. She is a Certified Infant Massage Instructor (CIMI), Certified Professional Wedding Consultant, and an Event Planner. It has always been her dream to create a website dedicated just for Moms since her children were young. Thus, after 10 years, she finally accomplished it, and the Ottawa Mommy Club was born in May 2011. She is also the Queen B of the BConnected Conference, Canada's Digital Influencer and social media Conference in Ottawa. She coordinated the Annual Infant Information Day/Early Years Expo for the City of Ottawa for 8 years. She was also the co-chair of the Navan for Kraft Hockeyville 2009-2011 committee that organized five community events within 6 months, and helped Navan reach the top 10 finalists in Canada. In April 2011, she received the Mayor's City Builder Award. Author's website.

Comments (6)

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  1. Family road trips are stressful for some, but they can also strengthen family relationships, providing the trips are well-prepared and organised.

  2. Joder says:

    This is a great list to have as traveling is always so stressful! I always end up forgetting something no matter how organized/meticulous I am.

  3. Stephanie Thompson says:

    Thought I would stop by and see what your list consist of because I do the same pack everything but the kitchen sink. Looks like you have it down to the necessities so I will save and go by it for our next trip to see how it works for us. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Natalie Diaz says:

    I made a mistake last time while I had gone to a road trip with my family and now I am quite attentive about the same. This post is gonna help me to to tally the things or belongings those I really need during the road trip.

  5. Debbie White Beattie says:

    This is a very thorough list and I can say that you’ve thought of just about everything. I love the picture of your car packed full!!!

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