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Everything You Need to Pack for Summer Road Trips

Updated: Feb 16

We are so glad you have loved our kids packing list printable, but guess what? Moms need them too! On our last road trip to Yellowstone and the Tetons, I, THANKFULLY, went with an ultra prepared friend who was prepared at every turn with ALL THE THINGS. So, while she did what she does best (take care of everyone), I did what I do best (make lists).

Jen Martin Family Summer Vacation With Kids

Here are the items that I think are super nice to have on hand for most summer trips taken in the car. If you are car camping... the list will obviously grow by a few miles, but this is for the typical family trip/outing (and in addition to any clothing and toiletries packed per person). You can see my free printable kids packing list to make sure your kiddos get all their items packed for summer trips.

I like to separate items by those that need to be accessible while in the car, our adventuring items, and items that can be packed away and in the back. Here are my 3 lists:

  • Water bottles for each family member. I like to fill them up with ice and make sure the outside is labeled with each person's name. Costco often has some good options as well. My water bottle requirements are:

  • fits in a cup holder

  • dishwasher safe

  • has a straw

  • insulated

  • doesn't break the bank

  • Cooler with snacks and food.

  • Paper goods for eating on the go (and avoiding dishes wherever you are staying) as well as sandwich and gallon sized plastic bags.

  • Trash bag for each family member (I use plastic grocery sacks because of the handles), I love these car hooks for keeping the trash sack and things like headphones off the floor.

  • Car activities: audiobooks, activity books, prepackaged activities/games/treats to give kids throughout trip. Here are all the links to some of my favorite fun kid activities from amazon (just click on the picture).

  • Audiobooks. They have become our favorite thing to do as a family on a road trip. I have a running list of great audiobooks and a few weeks before each trip I put a handful on hold through Libby. When the day of our road trip arrives we see which ones are available to us and just go with it.

  • Barf bags. Have you seen these? They are amazing... and so useful.

  • Hair ties, brush, and spray bottle.

  • Chargers for every device plus headphones/air pods.

  • Extra set of clothes, jackets, hat, sunglasses for each family member.

  • At least one towel (am I the only one whose children get completely drenched if there is even a little bit of water?). I love these super compact microfiber towels because they take up almost no space.

  • Extra garbage sacks for wet items.

  • Trip-appropriate bags: fanny pack, waterproof phone holder, backpack, etc.

  • Walkie talkies: these are super fun for kids exploring, but also super handy if you are caravanning in areas where phone reception isn't great.

  • Sunscreen

  • Bug spray

  • Baby powder (I love using this on sandy kids).

  • First Aid kit, scissors, tweezers, wipes, towel, tissues, feminine hygiene supplies.

  • Personal fans, I LOVE these neck fans.


(in addition to clothes and toiletries)

  • Bug bite thing (if you haven't tried this need to!) and anti-itch roller.

  • Aloe

  • Melatonin

  • Games

  • Laundry bag big enough to accommodate all dirty clothes. I love this 2 pack because then you can separate lights and darks while vacationing.

  • Depending on the VRBO/cabin: bedding and towels.

  • Outdoor toys (frisbee, football, games, etc.), water toys (goggles, life vests, etc), trip appropriate activities.

EXTRA TIP 1: If staying in different hotels/places on different nights, pack bags according to location instead of according to family member. This way you will only have one bag to take in with you.


EXTRA TIP 2: If going somewhere crowded and you have a runner, a wanderer, or just 4 kids and one husband to keep track of, try getting brightly colored shirts for everyone. When you are all in the same color it is easy to track everyone down at a glance.


EXTRA TIP 3: On your way home from your trip, start a list on your phone (I use iPhone Notes) of things that were either really fun or "things I wish I would have known". Then next year when you go to pack and plan a similar trip, you can avoid making the same mistakes and/or remember the things that were totally worth it. I have a separate list for camping, amusement parks, each holiday, cabin trips, family reunions, and more. It helps so much to never be somewhere and think, "I can't believe I did the same thing/forgot the same thing last year!"

Here are all the items linked in this post (besides the car activity ideas). Just click on the picture and you will have access to all these items.

Happy road tripping. I hope these lists help your trip go smoothly and allow you to to reset while make the most memories possible.

xo Jennifer Martin

Jen is the founder of Reset Your Nest, a Professional Home Organizing Business in Utah (servicing Salt Lake City, Park City, Ogden, Alpine, Highland, Mapleton, and St. George). She loves creating order and systems out of chaos and is known for bringing a beautiful aesthetic as well as easy to maintain function to any space. She shares her tips and tricks on Instagram @reset_your_nest.

Click Here to Schedule Your Free Virtual Consultation With Reset Your Nest

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