Planning an exciting family road trip for the holidays? You’ll want to pack some essential items before you go. Road trips can create fun family memories that last a lifetime, especially when you’re all excited about holiday activities. Still, the thought of making sure you have everything you need can feel overwhelming — especially when you’re making the trip with kids. Crème de la Crème put together this checklist of items to make your holiday road trip easier and more enjoyable to get you started.

Snacks and Drinks

A car drives down a snowy road during the holidays

black car on road between trees covered with snow during daytime” used with permission via Unsplash by yapici

First things first. If you’re going to be driving for any extended period (and even if you’re just making a quick trip!), you want to make sure you’re well-stocked on snacks and drinks. The kids will inevitably get cranky from time to time while you’re out on the road, and you don’t want to make things worse by having tired and hungry kiddos in tow. Plus, in case of car trouble or other emergencies, you always want to have some extra food and water with you. Fill up some reusable water bottles before you hit the road so you’re prepared.

Don’t get too stressed with a bit of extra snacking while you’re on the go, and let food be fun for the day while you’re driving. You can still find healthy yet tasty snacks to pack for the ride! Snacks are a great way to keep the kids (and yourself) happy when you’re in the car for hours. At the same time, planning ahead and packing snacks means you won’t have to make extra stops along the way, making it easier to save time and ensure the snacks you have are not all junk food.

Some ideas for road trip snacks to pack include:

  • Cereal, crackers, and puffs: These treats are easy to stash in reusable containers. Options to consider include Cheerios, Chex, whole grain crackers, veggie straws, snap pea crisps, soft-baked chickpeas, cheese crackers, and coconut chips.
  • Fruits and vegetables: You can pack produce for the road, too. Some less messy options include blueberries, applesauce pouches, bananas, raisins, dried fruits like apples, clementines, mini bell peppers or cucumbers, and baby carrots.
  • Lunches and proteins: Need to get closer to a real meal when you’re on the road? Simple ideas to round out road trip snacks include sandwiches, diced or shredded chicken, chia pouches, Babybel cheese, string cheese, and yogurt pouches or tubes. You might also make overnight oats with yogurt and berries the night before your trip, then pack to enjoy during your drive.
  • Muffins: If you’re into baking, you can make healthy muffins to pack for the whole family. You can find recipes for blueberry banana muffins, chocolate protein muffins, and more depending on everyone’s tastes, then dice up as needed as you go.
  • Snack bars: Easy to pack and generally less messy, snack bars are a road trip essential. Try mini Larabars, Kashi cereal bars, Kind breakfast bars, or even homemade granola bars if you’re feeling inspired to try your hand at a recipe.

Car Safety Essentials

Whether you’re driving through wintry weather on the way to your holiday destination or not, you want to have some safety supplies on hand in case of emergencies. Before you get going, make sure to have standard maintenance and check-ups done on your vehicle. Check tires and fluid levels, and tell your mechanic if you’re heading into winter conditions if you don’t live in the same climate so they can make sure your car is prepared.

Then, make sure you have:

  • De-icer windshield fluid
  • Flares
  • Flashlights and/or headlamps
  • Ice scraper
  • Jumper cables and/or a battery pack car jumper
  • Pocket knife
  • Shovel and sand (or inexpensive kitty litter) in case you get stuck
  • Spare tire
  • Tire chains for driving over mountain passes or snowy roads

In case you get stuck or stranded, you’ll also want to have some supplies to keep warm, such as:

  • Blankets
  • Boots
  • Gloves
  • Hats
  • Hot packs
  • Scarves

Some other useful items to have on hand include:

  • First aid kit
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Membership and discount cards
  • Paper towels
  • Phone navigation/GPS devices
  • Road maps (they’re a great backup if your electronic tools fail, plus they can keep kids entertained in a pinch)
  • Tissues
  • Wet wipes

Finally, don’t forget to bring:

  • Driver’s license
  • Insurance cards
  • Wallet, including cash and credit cards

Technology and Entertainment

Some technology is essential to have on hand in case of emergencies, including cell phones, portable battery packs so you know you have enough battery life on a phone to get help if something happens to your car, and charging cables and/or USB plugs.

But you might also want to pack some technology to keep kids entertained during long trips. Non-tech options also work great for fun on the go. Some entertainment ideas to pack include:

  • Books: Check out some holiday books from your local library before you start your trip. You’ll get the kids into the seasonal spirit, all while giving them something to keep their mind off the long drive.
  • Coloring and writing supplies: Coloring and writing can provide a soothing activity, and it’s easy to find a place to stash some paper and crayons in your vehicle.
  • DVD player or tablet: Some extra screen time might be a worthwhile compromise during a road trip, which can be stressful for young kids and adults alike. Streaming a favorite movie or TV show can help kids feel calm and occupied.
  • Music playlist: Make a playlist of your favorite holiday songs or other tunes before you pull out of the driveway, then enjoy a classic family sing-a-long.

That wraps up Crème de la Crème’s checklist for your next holiday road trip. Does your family have a game you love to play while you’re on the road or a form of entertainment we missed? How about a must-have snack that’s equal parts healthy and tasty, but not at all messy? If you have some road trip tips to share with other families, drop us a line. We’re always looking for recommendations to share.