Any links in this post to a merchant may contain an affiliate link, which means that if you click on that link and then buy something, I may earn a commission from it. However, all opinions in this link are 100% mine and 100% honest. If I didn't believe in a particular product, I wouldn't recommend it to you.
Do you love the idea of a road trip with your family, but cringe at the thought of your family whining, complaining and wanting to stop every half hour? It doesn’t have to be like this. With these simple steps, you can learn to pack for road trips like a pro. Then, you will have everything your family needs right when they need it. This will let you curb the whining and eliminate the unnecessary stop. Read on to find out how.
Step #1: Think It Through
First, you have to think through your trip so you will know what to prepare for and how to pack.
Think about what you will need while actually at your destination. But also think about what you may need while in the car.
And consider what you might need if something goes wrong.
When thinking about your time in the car, take into account how long it will take, whether you will be stopping for the night along the way, and what time of day you will be traveling.
Also, reflect on whether you will be eating on the go or stopping for meals.
Step #2: Pack It Up
Once you have thought about the logistics of your road trip and what you will need, it’s time to pack it all up.
Instead of packing everything in one or two big suitcases, try using several smaller bags. Pack each bag with related items and for a specific purpose.
If you are going to be stopping for the night during your journey, pack an overnight bag that contains 1 change of clothes for each person in the family.
Then, when you stop, you can just unload one or two bags instead of taking everything out of the car.
If you will be starting the trip at night, put your kids in their pajamas before you start.
I always pack one or two suitcases with our clothes. If we will be spending the night along the way, I pack another bag with clothes to wear on day 2 of the drive.
I pack yet another bag with all of our toiletries. The benefit of putting all of the toiletries in a separate bag is that if something spills, it won’t ruin your clothes or electronics.
I also pack a bag of toys for my son to play with in the car and another one with snacks. Additionally, I pack a “just in case” bag with things like a flashlight, paper towels, trash bags, wet wipes, etc.
I also throw a pillow and blanket for each person into the car.
Step #3: Load The Car
The last step in packing for road trips like a pro is loading the car so you can reach everything you need when you need it.
Packing the car is similar to putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Pack the largest items on the bottom. You also want to load the bags that you won’t need until you are at your final destination in the car first.
Suitcases with things that you will only need when stopped can be loaded into the trunk or cargo area of your car.
Things that you may need while actually moving, should be put in the passenger compartment. Preferably, you want to put the bags near the person who is most likely to be getting into them.
In our car, I put the large suitcases of clothes in the back cargo area. I put our toiletries bag, overnight duffel, and camera bag on top of that.
My purse, pillow, and laptop go in the front seat with me. In the back seat next to my son, I put his toy bag and pillow.
The just-in-case bag and snack bag then sit in the backseat floorboard on the opposite side of the car from my son. Our phones, along with my husband’s wallet, sunglasses and ipod, go in the front console.
This makes it easy to get to what we need when we need it. If someone gets hungry, I can reach into the back and grab a snack.
My son can grab his toys when he wants them. My husband can get to his music when he’s ready.
Once we stop for the night, I only have to pull out 2 bags. Then, when we arrive at our final location, I unload the entire car.
Other Tips to Pack for Road Trips Like a Pro
Here are a few other tips and things to pack to improve your road trip experience:
-Be ready for messes and mishaps which may happen along the way by packing trash bags, paper towels, tissues, and wet wipes.
-Bring extra batteries and chargers to keep all of your gadgets working.
-If you have small kids, it’s also a good idea to bring a spill-proof cup for them.
-For babies and toddlers, stash a change of clothes in an easy to reach place in case of a diaper mishap.
-If you have multiple kids, consider packing each child their own toy/activity bag. This will eliminate many fights in the car.
-If your kids tend to fight over snacks, pack each of them their own snack box to prevent arguments over who gets the last cookie.
-Before leaving, check the weather for your route to see if you need to pack any special weather-related items.
-If you have a child that is prone to car sickness, see our tips for handling that on road trips.
Road trips can be a lot of fun for the whole family. They are a great way to spend some quality time with the ones you love most.
Packing the car the right way can make your trip much easier. The above steps and tips are simple to follow and can eliminate many problems that come with road trips.
Think through your whole trip. Pack your items in several bags instead of one or two. Put the bags where they will be easy to reach when you need them. Plan for the unexpected and be prepared.
With these tips, you too can pack for road trips like a pro.
For more road trip tips, see our ultimate guide to family road trips, how to save time on road trips, how to have a successful road trip with kids, safety road trip tips, and the best snacks for road trips.
P.S. Need help finding the best places to go on your family vacations? My Ultimate USA Bucket List for Families will instantly give you 60 of the best vacation destinations for families in the United States! Get it for FREE in the box below and start planning your next trip today! Plus, as a bonus, you will receive my weekly email newsletter full of family trip tips and inspiration!