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While planning a road trip where kids are involved, packing road trip essentials for kids is often one of the dreaded parts of planning. You wouldn’t want to miss anything or figure quite too late that you didn’t pack an essential item for the journey or that they were not properly packed and so not within reach for immediate grabs. The issue is often how to pack and what to pack and both can prove to be quite tasking and even a little bit mixed up.

To embark on a road trip, either for a vacation or any other reason, many things are considered and put in place to ensure a smooth ride. These include car safety checks, essentials for the car, your personal driver’s license, spare tire, essentials for road stops, entertainment, comfort, and of course travel essentials for the entire family’s travel needs. 

Planning a road trip isn’t an easy feat and it is even more so when there is a kid or kids in tow. Of course, you have to especially consider road trip essentials for kids, away from other plans whatsoever. Keep this compilation of fun road trip activities for kids for your family vacation. 

What are Road Trip Essentials?

Road trip essentials can include anything from snacks and drinks to entertainment and bathroom supplies. When planning your road trip, make sure to pack enough food and drinks to last the length of your trip, as well as any necessary personal hygiene products. It is also a good idea to bring along some games and puzzles to keep the kids entertained, as well as some music or books to read. These road trip necessities are essential to have for a successful family vacation. 

20 Road Trip Essentials for Kids you Must Have in your Car

When it comes to packing your car, be sure to pack enough sunscreen and hats, as well as a first-aid kit. It is also a good idea to pack some extra money in case of emergencies, as well as wipes and sanitizers for the car. Don’t forget your sunglasses! Road trips can be quite sunny and bright, so it is important to protect your eyes from the sun. These road trip necessities are important for long car rides to keep your kids entertained and refreshed. 

Here’s a list of 20 compulsory road trip essentials for kids:

Trunk Organizer 

Truck packed with road trip essentials for kids

Now the first on our list of road trip essentials for kids and entire family embarking on a road trip is a trunk organizer. You need these totes to make life and packing for a road trip much easier for you. The trunk carry-all helps you keep every other essential item you’d be packing for your journey organized and easy to access. You will need them based on the number of people in the car to pack everyone’s things in an organized way. 

They should be purchased based on things you’d need and should come with compartments for different items to fit in. Trust the totes for kids to come extra larger with more compartments because kids often require you to pack extra and more items for their comfort and convenience.

Car Trash Can

car Trash can used as road trip essentials for kids

If you don’t consider getting a trash can for your car, then get ready to have the whole place littered with trash like used napkins, wipes, food crumbs, candy wraps, and other things you can think of. And don’t even think of disposing of them on the road, on your way. 

This is why it is important to never forget a portable garbage bag for your car. And even more important when traveling with kids. Kids can be a little unorganized so when considering road trip essentials for kids, always make car trash can top on the list. 

Toddler Backpack

Kids with a travel backpack, an important road trip essential for kids

I know you’d say it’s just a road trip and everything should go into the tote bags you’ve gotten to pack the kids’ items, but no. Each kid should own his backpack with specific items for each of them properly packed, especially items that are peculiar to each individual. You will know where to get an item for each person and it’s much easier for everyone to grab his or her bag when you make a stop or get to your destination. 

This is away from the general carryall bags or boxes in the trunk. Items in the backpack should preferably be items that would require immediate use while in transit amongst other things. Check out this list of travel bags and pick a list that best fits your needs. 

Wet Wipes and Kleenex 

Face wipes, one of the important road trip essentials for kids

Toddlers and kids can be quite messy so you should never embark on a road trip without packing enough wet wipes and kleenex for when they try to mess up the car. If you don’t want to wipe the car seat with your scarf or have the whole place messed up, especially after they’ve had their snacks and meals, or spills, then packing enough wipes is very essential. And after they’ve washed their hands or used the picnic tables, kleenex and wipes come in handy to prevent wetting the seats and other items in the car.


drink cooler

You will need a cooler for your drinks and other frozen items to prevent defrosting and protect your food items from the heat of the car. Make sure to get a compact cooler and make sure to stock it up with enough fruits, yoghurts, nuts, pretzels, and even dry snacks that need preserving and protection from the heat. The cooler should fit into the car, preferably on the side of the car seats, not the car trunk so that you won’t need to pull over just to access food or water.

Reusable Silicone Sandwich Bag

sandwich enjoyed during road travel

When kids are involved, avoid and be more mindful of the family’s plastic consumption and that is why reusable silicone sandwich bags are necessary. To store your snacks and foods before packing them in a cooler or food pack, properly pack them in these food bags. They come in different fun colors and patterns, pick the attractive ones, and remember kids love colorful things.

Hand Sanitizer 

hand sanitizer used as disinfectant for road trip

Carry along hand sanitizer to keep them safe from germs they might have picked on while touching the car seats or anything else when you make a stop or step out for some air. Before they have anything into their mouth,  to their stomach, using hand sanitizers will prevent them from packing germs alongside their foods to a large extent and help prevent sickness or emergency stomach upset on the journey. 


Best cheap vlogging cameras to buy

Your kids would enjoy spending some time clicking away at objects they feel are catchy enough to make it to the list of photos they capture while on the journey. It could be a landmark, images, or objects they see out the window or when you make various stops, or even while anyone acts in ways they feel the moment should be captured. A camera is one of the road trip essentials for kids to carry along on a journey to help keep a memory for the family to look back on after the trip. 

Here is a list of cheap vlogging cameras for you and your kids. It is important to protect the camera from external damages, check out these travel cases for camera and select a suitable pack for your camera size. 

Games and Other Activities

Road trip essentials for kids: alphabet games

There are various activities that kids should engage in while on a road trip. While some cannot be packed as they are abstract games, others are physical printable card games and items.

Car games for kids include License Plate Games, I-Spy, 20 Questions, and The Alphabet Game. You should add Scavenger Hunt Card Games and be sure to shop and pack them ahead of the car trip. You can pack a football for outdoor play at an open field or park during an impromptu picnic.

Organize a kid-friendly playlist and their favorite movies ahead of the journey. Your kids should not be found looking for what to cure boredom, while on the trip.

Kids’ Tablet/Gadgets

Road trip essentials for kids: Kids reading tablet

Kids love their tablets and gadgets even if we would love to reduce their screen time while on a trip or vacation. It’s one thing to keep them engaged with card games and I-Spy but those alone might not sustain them. They’ll always need their tablets to have their fun watching their favorite shows and listening to audiobooks, which in turn also gives the adults in the car some breathing space to have their moments. This leads you right to the next on the list of road trip essentials for kids.

Bluetooth Kids’ Headphones

Road trip essentials for kids: kids headphone

You will still be distracted when your kids decide they want to focus on their tablets without headphones, and there will be a juxtaposition of sounds if all your kids have to listen to their favorite shows on their tablets at the same time without headphones. Therefore you need to purchase kid-friendly Bluetooth headphones to save everyone that stress and keep them in their different worlds. 

Coloring Books, Crayons, and Sketch Pads

road trip essentials for kids: coloring tools

Coloring and painting are some of the fun things to do on a road trip for kids. So you should pack them and preferably go for the magnetic items and mess-free markers that would not allow them to make a mess of other things in the car or litter the car with objects. Save yourself the worry of keeping an eye on them while they color away or create magic on their pads. 

Grocery Store Trash Bags/Buckets

Road trip essentials for kids: trash bags

These are for motion sickness. Kids can be quite a handful and you should always save up your grocery store trash bags for these moments like air or road trips as they come in handy. Trash bags and buckets will help in cases of motion sickness with the kids to have their messes right there and save the car from getting messed up, stuffy, or you having to stop at different intervals for them to relieve themselves, which can be quite stressful for a road trip. Buckets and trash bags are definitely road trip essentials for kids.

Extra Clothes

Road trip essentials for kids

I know you’ve packed extra clothes for when you get to your destination in the tote bag in the car trunk but you should consider packing extra clothes into the kids’ backpacks for emergency clothes change. They will need those and it can be as a result of having the other one soiled or a change in temperature in the environment you might be driving through, that would require different wear. 

Food and Water

Road trip essentials for kids: snacks

There’s nothing like a family road trip to bring back memories of laughter and happiness. But planning a food-centric road trip can be daunting, especially if you’re dealing with picky eaters or children who are afraid of strange food. Fear not! Here are some essentials for food travel with kids that will make your journey a lot smoother.

Plan Ahead: Make a grocery list and pack accordingly. This will help to minimize stress and make sure that everyone is fed.

Pack Some Fresh Produce: Always pack some fruits and vegetables to snack on, as well as for meals. This will keep your kids hydrated and their tummies happy.

Prepare Some Snacks: Pack some snacks such as trail mix, fruit bars, and healthy cookies. These will keep the little ones happy while you’re on the go.

For the water bottles, always opt for insulated water bottles even for their juice, to avoid spillage.  Avoid filling up the bottles each time unless you want to keep making stops for bathroom trips at short intervals.

First Aid Kit

Road trip essentials for kids: first aid box

Never embark on a road trip without a travel first aid kit. This is non-negotiable. I know your kids may be healthy and sound at the start of the trip but we know how unpredictable these kids can be. The kit should contain at least pain relievers, allergy medicine, sunscreen, Q-tips, cotton balls, and every other emergency medical item specific to your kids. You wouldn’t want to be looking for the next hospital to make a stop when your kid complains of a headache, stomach upset, or develops a fever or allergy.

Stuffed Animals and Comfort Items

Pack items that your kids love to cuddle and are familiar with, from home. It could be their stuffed animals, toys, or even pillows that they love to hug and find solace in. It helps them relax and feel at home while on the long road trip and reduces the chances of them getting fatigued.

Blankets and Pillows

Road trip essentials for kids: Pillows

You don’t know what the weather looks like in the next town you’d be driving through or if you’re traveling late or at dawn, you need blankets to keep warm. Some kids love to sleep on pillows even on road trips in the car. If your kid is one of those, then packing pillows alongside the blankets is one of the road trip essentials for kids, when on any journey at all.

Blankets also come in handy in the case where you have to make a stop for a picnic.

Toiletries and Towels

Road trip essentials for kids: toiletries and towels

Pack your kids’ toiletries and towels and this goes for all trips, not just road trips. You might not find the toiletries peculiar to them at your destination or even if you do, that’s an extra expense. Of course, you don’t even need to be told to pack their toiletries. 

Extra diapers for infants and toddlers cannot be overemphasized.

Towels are even more useful when impromptu stops are made and they get to have fun and get messy in a way that Kleenex and wipes wouldn’t remedy. And towels are safer options to get them clean and back to feeling great again to continue the journey. You can check out this list of travel bags for toiletries to help you keep an organised list in a bag. 


sunset 1283872 640

Sunglasses will not only shield your kids from the sun if you’re headed where you’ll be outdoors a great deal but will make them feel and look chic and grown-up. And every kid wants to look grown-up and chic! They will surely want to pose for some pictures looking this way. So pack up some sunglasses for those kids, they are important for any journey. 


Do not forget to pack a lot of patience and tolerance for yourself! Okay, so I read that somewhere and I think I can’t agree less. You’ll need a lot of that to handle a bunch of rowdy beings on a road trip, therefore it’s one of the road trip essentials for kids that you should never forget at home. Save this list of road trip essentials for kids for your next family vacation. 

Don’t forget to go with extra cash and your cards because kids will always demand extra items that you’d discover only when you’ve embarked on the journey. You can’t be too sure that you’ve packed everything for the trip. 

Make sure you know the roads and route well or get a map. You wouldn’t want to stay stuck on an unknown road with kids in tow, and frustration to accompany them. Remember to pack your own items too, and don’t allow the road trip essentials for kids to make you forget to pack up for yourself. Do not forget to pack up the car’s needs as well because if you or the car breaks down, the journey may get as frustrating as when you’ve not packed enough essentials for the kids.

Hi there! I'm Enema OJ, a travel enthusiast who loves exploring new places and experiencing different cultures. Through my blog and social media, I share travel tips and experiences with a focus on responsible and sustainable tourism. Apart from traveling for the most part of the year, I enjoy doing search engine optimization and other digital marketing activities like content writing and blogging. Let's connect and inspire each other to have our own adventures!

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