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How to Pack for a Road Trip

Road trip season is OFFICIALLY HERE! Are you looking for some new tips and tricks to help you cram everything you need into the car for your next adventure? Here’s my top tips to get you on the road and FAST!

1. Print off my “Ultimate Camping Checklist”

camping checklist

You can download this checklist by signing up for my newsletter (on the right hand sidebar), or right click the picture above and print off that copy!

2. Hunt and Gather

pile of camping gear by the door

Have your family help you gather things from around the house. Pile them in their groups, shelter, clothing, food, activities, etc.

3. Everyone gets their own bag!


Have the children help you and teach them how to be self supported. This means that they have everything they need in their own bags that they can carry. This will help them understand the differences between what they want and what they need, what they can carry (it’s a great confidence builder) and will help reduce the amount of stuff in your car! Quick tip – Keep the things you need to easily grab on the outside pouches, like rain gear, toques, and flashlights.

4. Be organized


Open up all the bins that you’ll be utilizing on your trip and start to organize things into their groups. I LOVE mesh bags for holding everything from utensils to shoes!

5. Stay waterproof

camping gear ready to be loaded into the car

For the essentials that can not wet I highly recommend MEC’s Brooks waterproof bags. (No this is not sponsored!) I love how durable their bags are and how they are 100% waterproof! I keep my tent and sleeping bags in these bags so that if they fall out, or get wet during the trip we always have a warm and dry shelter and sleeping bags to come home to!

6.  Pack Activities for the Kids

20150709_175733259_iOSEntertained children are happy children, which makes for a happier road trip! You can include: search and find books, reading books, sticker books, colouring books, a cookie sheet and magnets (great for colouring or for magnet activities), felts, cards, small toys and games, read along books, ipads, sewing and crafts.

7. Have a PRIZE box


This is the biggest and best advice I can give… Have a prize box. Randomly award your children for good behavior with a small toy or new book to read. Or when things are getting hairy and you need another half hour, tell them they can pick something from the prize box when you arrive. COST SAVING TIP – Keep all of the little items from birthday party goody bags and throw them in the prize box! Or pick up small toys around the house and stash them away for your road trip!

8. Create an “Essentials” Kit


These are things that you need to be able to grab at the reach of a hand. Baby Wipes, Toilet Paper, Hand Sanitizer, sunscreen, bug spray, flashlight, maps… all in one basket that stays at the passengers feet.

9. Stock up on new books


Lonely Planet Kids has a host of amazing books available for road trips! We’ve enjoyed their adventure series and their latest collection is just as amazing. Whether you’re looking for boredom busters that comes with road trip family games, or a road trip journal, or the ultimate travel colouring book, Lonely Planet is THE source for great adventure books!


Trying to decide where you head off on your road trip? Our National Parks are a Canadian treasure that I really hope everyone gets to explore! Canada’s National Parks really are the new 5 star camping experience! Whether you’re looking to book a site and bring your own gear, or go Glamping in Canada’s National Parks, either experience will bring you an unforgettable adventure for the whole family!



I’m a Family Travel Writer based out of beautiful Vancouver, BC. Our family adventures take take us all over BC, Alberta and the Pacific Northwest. You'll regularly see us hiking, biking, snowboarding, wakeboarding, and camping our way around the province. Our passion is recreation and our mission is to explore and protect this beautiful earth of ours.

JamiHow to Pack for a Road Trip


Join the conversation
  • Amanda - June 29, 2016 reply

    I love hearing the same comment over and over again…..”Mom! Its so beautiful!” Three hours later….not so much! But it always makes for a memorable trip.

    Jami - July 17, 2016 reply

    I totally agree… On our latest road trip we heard the same knock knock joke 2500 times! (One for each kilometer we swear!)

  • Christine - July 3, 2016 reply

    I love to listen road tunes and podcasts while driving from point A to B.

    Jami - July 17, 2016 reply

    Great ideas! I need to get into the whole pod casts thing… what’s some of your favorites?

  • Erin Lenko - July 5, 2016 reply

    Family road trips were always part of summer vacation when I was growing up! Visiting new places, stopping at random tourist attractions on the way, not knowing what was around the corner and camping in the family tent trailer were all my favourite things! And now I get to make new family road trip memories with my daughter!!!

  • Dann - July 12, 2016 reply

    To be honest, we don’t like long road trips!! So getting to the destination is our favourite thing…

    Jami - July 17, 2016 reply

    Your honesty is refreshing!

  • Brandee - July 13, 2016 reply

    We LOVE road trips and have been road tripping with our son since he was only a few months old. I love stumbling upon random cool places along the way, checking out places you wouldn’t have imagined were there till you happened upon them. I like singing along to the music, looking for animals and just spending the time together. These are awesome tips!

    Jami - July 17, 2016 reply

    I couldn’t agree more… some of my favorite memories are stops that weren’t scheduled!

  • Tracy Tee - July 13, 2016 reply

    I always keep a bunch of items (books, pencil crayons, crafts) that the kids have never seen before and when they seem to be done with being in the car I can whip them with excitement. We can usually manage to get an hour or more of driving in with the excitement of something new!

    Jami - July 17, 2016 reply

    Sounds like my version of the prize box! Great minds?

  • Betty - July 13, 2016 reply

    Getting the chance to see things I would miss if I flew like wild life, singing silly songs (dead skunk is a fav of the boys), being able to actually stop and smell the flowers and sharing memories with my grandkids

    Jami - July 17, 2016 reply

    DEAD SKUNK? I know a LOT of songs but I need to know this one… do tell!

  • Chelsea Foster - July 13, 2016 reply

    My favourite thing about our family road trips is all the snacks. We always find new snacks for road trips and I love driving down the road talking with the kids kids and enjoying these snacks. Some of the kids are also getting old enough that they will put together their own snack to share with the family.

    Jami - July 17, 2016 reply

    Have you seen any of those dollar store or craft containers that people are using for snacks? Best idea ever!

  • Kristine - July 13, 2016 reply

    My favourite thing is getting to somewhere new to explore everyday.

    Jami - July 17, 2016 reply

    I agree, I love that every day is something NEW, and every time I go somewhere I find more places to explore!

  • Tara - July 13, 2016 reply

    My favorite thing about road trips is making new memories with my family.

    Jami - July 17, 2016 reply

    Yes Tara, couldn’t agree more!

  • Lana - July 13, 2016 reply

    My favourite thing is finding awesome roadside dives to eat at on a road trip. Nom nom.

  • Shari S - July 13, 2016 reply

    Love family road trips! We’ve done a lot with our wee ones over the years. I love being able to stop at all the little spots along the way for added memory making and fun. Often my best memories are the ones created along the way!

    Jami - July 17, 2016 reply

    I couldn’t agree more… our family loves road trips and it’s for all those moments that can only happen on the road!

  • Lise - July 13, 2016 reply

    The talks…about everything!

    Jami - July 17, 2016 reply

    Don’t the most random questions come up?

  • Tanya - July 13, 2016 reply

    I’ve always loved visiting new places on road trips, discovering awesome playgrounds, new splash parks, and new beaches. As a family we like to discover new bike trails too.

    Jami - July 17, 2016 reply

    Yes, I love making the stops fun and entertaining for the kids, and also burning them out so that they don’t mind being in the car for a few more hours! Any special places you recommend for biking trails? We’re just getting into that!

  • Sue - July 13, 2016 reply

    I love the feeling the early morning has when we start out, and all the sights we’ll see.

    Jami - July 17, 2016 reply

    Couldn’t agree more… every morning is filled with such excitement and anticipation of the unknown…

  • Michelle I - July 14, 2016 reply

    The beautiful scenery and singing in hhe car with my kids. ??

    Jami - July 17, 2016 reply

    The singing is definitely the fun part. My husband wasn’t so into it so we had to teach him this year… FUN!

  • Tara Gauthier - July 14, 2016 reply

    My favorite thing about road trips is the little stops we make along the way, some of them are planned and some not but we always find neat little destinations along the way to explore!

    Jami - July 17, 2016 reply

    Absolutely LOVE the unexpected finds. It’s like treasure hunting for adults!

  • Tessa - July 14, 2016 reply

    My favourite thing about road trips is the time we get to spend just with our family, away from home, and all the impromptu stops we make sling the way, to explore something new. Everyone’s relaxed and excited and we love making a road trip playlist for us all to sing to!!

    Jami - July 17, 2016 reply

    Tessa! I couldn’t agree more. The time with your core is so important and conversations that could only happen in a long car ride happen. CONGRATULATIONS you have WON the Prize Pack!!! Please email me at so I can get you your prize! Thank you to Rain Coast Books for sponsoring this great give away!

    Tessa - July 19, 2016 reply

    oh yay!! Thanks so much to you and Rain Coast Books – my kids are going to LOVE this and the timing is perfect as we are heading out in a few weeks to go camping. I’ve just emailed you. 🙂

  • Candice Spain - July 14, 2016 reply

    For us, it’s about seeing new areas, species of plants and animals, and getting all the amazing questions!! It’s always an adventure of learning!!

    Jami - July 17, 2016 reply

    The animals are definitely one of the best parts… have you done any travelling in our National Parks? Animal central and amazing educational programs that align with the local flora and fauna. (Stay tuned for more blogs coming up on those trips!)

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