The Top 10 Family Road Trip Tips

Planning a family road trip can be a lot of fun as it allows for the chance to make memories and explore new places together. However, without adequate preparation, it can also become a stressful ordeal. Here are 10 essential family road trip tips to make sure that you have a fun, enjoyable stress-free vacation with your family.

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Map the Route

Map on dashboard of car

Early in the planning stages, it’s good to plan the route you’re going to take in detail. Use Google Maps to find the best routes and avoid traffic. This includes adjusting the departure time to the day and time that you expect to leave.

You can then adjust those settings to see how it will affect your drive. Avoiding rush hour or major construction projects can make a big difference in how your drive goes.

Schedule Breaks

Scheduled breaks to stretch, use restrooms, and refuel are a necessary part of your trip. Try to break every two to three hours even if it’s just a brief stop. Research rest areas and landmarks that you can stop at along the way.

Try to familiarize yourself with your route as best you can because you may find that certain stretches of the drive have very few if any rest stops so you’ll want to plan around that. 


Vehicle Maintenance

Make sure that your vehicle is in great condition before you head out on your trip. Have the oil, tires, breaks, and fluids checked as a basic precaution. It may be best to have your car professionally inspected before you leave.

I find it helpful to let the mechanic know that we’re headed out on a road trip so that they can specifically look out for things that need attention.

You can also decide not to take your own vehicle and go with a rental where all of those things will be taken care of so that you don’t worry about maintenance.

If you really want to take your road trips to the next level consider investing in a vehicle specifically for your road trips like these vans from Brooklyn Campervans.

Packing Essentials

Have an emergency kit including a first aid kit, flashlight, blankets, and basic tools. You also should have a spare tire, jumper cables, and extra fluids in your car. This can be a big help in case of a roadside emergency.


Clothing and Gear

clothing, boots, sunglasses, belt, watch

Bring versatile clothing that works for various weather conditions. Layering is a great way to prevent overpacking and keeps you prepared for whatever type of weather that you may face.

Adjust your clothing needs to the activities that you have planned and don’t forget to include different types of footwear if needed. Make sure to bring footwear that is comfortable for the drive.

Entertainment and Activities

To keep everyone entertained, bring different types of activities. Kids will enjoy puzzles, their favorite toys, and coloring activities. Also consider downloading some media onto your device because if you rely on cell service, it may fail you at times depending on where you’re traveling.

With some items on your device, you can be ready during any down time.


Snacks and Drinks

Have plenty of good snacks and drinks packed and easily accessible during your drive. A small cooler will work well in keeping perishables fresh.


Choosing Destinations

Include kids in the planning of your trip. They’ll be happy to help choose the destinations and activities for your vacation. This will help keep everyone engaged and excited about what’s planned.

New York City

Setting Expectations

We find it helpful to go over the itinerary including the time frames for the drive and when we expect to reach the destination. This helps them to know what to expect and reduces frustrations.


Have a Packing System

There are many ways to keep organized when packing, but using packing cubes is one of the best ways. Not only do they save space but they keep your luggage in order and it’s easier to find what you need.

We’ve also designated a specific bag for snacks, devices, clothing, etc. It’s so much easier to find what you’re looking for when you immediately know which bag it’s in.

Daily Essentials

Keep a small bag with just daily essentials such as toiletries, medication, and a change of clothes. Keep it somewhere easy to reach so that you don’t have to unpack everything trying to find what you’re looking for.


Comfortable Seating

Make sure there is plenty of space and enough legroom. Cushions and travel pillows can help to add comfort. For longer road trips consider rotating seats every couple of hours to either take advantage of more space or a different view.

Climate Control

Keep the car at a comfortable temperature. Sunshades are very helpful when there is bright sunlight. Bring light blankets even in the summer in case some get cold because of the air conditioning. 


Seatbelts and Car Seats

Stay buckled up at all times and for younger children use the necessary car seats or booster seats. Before you leave make sure everything and everyone fits comfortably.

Emergency Contacts

Have a list of emergency contacts available. Include roadside assistance, insurance info, local hospitals as well as family and friends. Make sure that you can access the list without cell service.


Stretch and Move

During breaks encourage everyone to get out and move around a bit. Simply walking around can prevent stiffness and keep energy levels up.

Stay Hydrated and Nourished

If you’re driving avoid heavy, greasy food which can make you feel sluggish. Go for something lighter and more nutritious whether it is meals or snacks. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and alert.


Take Photos and Videos

Document your trip with photos and videos. Give the kids devices so that they can record videos and take pics while on the way. This gives them something to do during the drive and is an excellent way to preserve memories.

Make a Travel Journal

Keep a travel journal so that everyone can contribute their thoughts, experiences, and highlights of each day. 

A journal and two pencils


Embrace the Unexpected

Road trips rarely go exactly as we plan them. Traffic delays, detours, unexpected stops, and other challenges happen. If you expect the unexpected and stay positive, it’ll be much easier and become just another part of the story of your journey.

Have Fun!

The journey is just as important as the destination, so use it as a time to bond, have fun, and make the most out of everything that happens.


A well-planned road trip can be a highly enjoyable experience for you and your family. By following these tips, you can be sure that you go heavy on the fun and light on the stress. If you’ve booked a vacation rental as part of your trip, you’ll want to check out our essential guide on what to pack as well as our guide on how to book your accommodations. Safe travels!


  • Jeremiah Pittmon

    Jeremiah Pittmon is a published travel writer and photographer from Cleveland, Ohio. Passionate about exploring the world with his family, he finds inspiration in all types of travel. Through his blog,, and social media channels, he shares captivating experiences and valuable tips for families who love to travel.

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The Top 10 Family Road Trip Tips
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