How to Pack for a Road Trip

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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 how to pack for a road trip in a way to get you on the road FAST!

1. Print off my “Ultimate 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 for how to pack for a road trip

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

Coolers and bins ready to go for how to pack for a road trip

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!

Now that you know how to pack for a road trip, are you trying to decide where to go? Check out our favourite road trip locations!

Ultimate BC Road Trips For Families

The New 5 Star Camping Experience – Canadian National Parks

Vancouver Island Road Trip

Roadtripin’ Through the Canadian Badlands

About The Author
Jami Savage
Jami Savage
Jami Savage is one of the top Family Travel Writers in Canada, and has been featured on CTV and Vancouver Sun, and more. Go here to read our families story about how we went from backyard adventurers to world travelers, and how you can do the same. If you want to send Jami a quick message, visit her contact page here.
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  1. 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!!

    • 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!)

  2. 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!!

    • 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 [email protected] so I can get you your prize! Thank you to Rain Coast Books for sponsoring this great give away!

      • 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. 🙂

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

    • 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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!!!

  11. 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.


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Jami Savage

Full Time Travel Writer, Mom who is passionate about empowering and educating travelers on how you can use your own tourism dollars as a catalyst for positive change worldwide. Click here to learn more about us, our family, and how we lead an adventure filled life!

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