It’s a bad feeling to be a few hours into a road trip only to realize you left something behind that would make time in the car perfect. But you can’t do more than make a note for next time and hope that the family won’t complain.
If you’re piling the family into the car for a cross-country drive, there are a few core items you truly just won’t want to forget. Instead of leaving you to figure it out, we’ve compiled a convenient go-to list of essential items for that upcoming road trip.
Don’t leave home without your trusty atlas as you prepare to travel across the country. Why? Even with maps on your device, there’s no guarantee that your connectivity will be strong when you need it most. Also, with a glance, you’ll easily get a sense of the big picture of your surroundings and be able to reference various routes to consider should there be construction or traffic.
PORTABLE PHONE CHARGER
You’ll be capturing scenic views to post on Instagram and documenting the LOL car moments which will be forever embedded in family lore. Don’t be caught with a dying battery!
The whole car suffers if someone experiences nausea. Remember motion sickness tablets for those who have the less-ideal seats in the car or if the route is a hilly one with twists and turns.
Maximize your stops and be prepared to help jumpy kids get their energy out quickly. Stash frisbees, balls, hula-hoops, and jump-ropes for kids (and parents!). If you have room in your trunk, a mini-trampoline with a fold-out handle is perfect for antsy preschoolers.
LIGHT UP THE DARK
To get your daily mileage in, some days will require driving in the dark. Equipped with a carabiner, these comical kid-friendly flashlights attach to backpacks and bookbags to maintain peace in the back seat.
Try this crowd-pleasing homemade trail mix of Chex Mix cereal, Cheerios, Cheddar Goldfish or Cheez-its, pretzels, and nuts. Divide into small Ziploc bags for each person in the car. Don’t forget healthy hardboiled eggs, apples, and celery sticks to keep tummies happy in between meals. For sweet treats, pull out hard candies which will last awhile—like lemon balls, jolly ranchers and cinnamon balls. Seems simple, but these treats will help when boredom sets in.
BOOKS AND ACTIVITY WORKBOOKS
Ensure younger kids have a customized collection of their favorite books to easily snag, plus activity workbooks which contain travel trivia, crossword puzzles, dot-to-dot, mazes, and more.
RIDE IN COMFORT
Cozy blankets, socks, and favorite pillows are a must. For those who are prone to backaches, take an inflatable lumbar cushion to soften your seat or place just right in the crook of your back.
There are those odd times when out of town that meals are off kilter, the family is zapped, and moods are souring. Enter the energy bar, which offers a whole lot more than a brief sugar high. The IQBAR is tasty and healthy—and psst, my family’s favorite flavor is Peanut Butter Chip.
Keep a soft cooler full of sparkling water to add zest to the trip and help the hours speed by.
Make things easier when you arrive. Keep the trash collected in one place while on a long road trip. Keep a couple of bags hand or get fancy with this hanging trash bag.
AUDIO BOOKS AND PODCASTS
In advance, gather a few audiobooks and podcasts suitable for any mood and every pair of ears in the car.
ENCOURAGE NEW HOBBIES
A long ride provides undistracted time to try something new such as knitting, using this beginner’s knitting kit. Or surprise the restless children with these handy-dandy building blocks that keep pieces in place when traveling.