Tips on Planning a Successful Family Road Trip

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Our family loves to go on road trips. We’ve driven from Texas to California in a little over a day and from Texas to New Jersey in a little over a day, in addition to a few other amazing places. In December we plan on driving our entire family, which includes a mom, dad, 3 adult kids, 3 little girls and our grand daughter to New Mexico for a weekend skiing trip. Some people may call us crazy and some may call us brave, but I call us adventurous and not made of money. The cost of flying for our family is ridiculous! When people discover that my family drives everywhere that we travel they always ask me how I manage to survive our trip, so I decided to compile a list of tips on planning a successful family road trip.

Tips on Planning a Successful Family Road Trip

When we travel, my husband is in charge of driving and I am in charge of taming and entertaining the kids; personally, I think I have the harder job! We have been traveling by car for over 20 years and I have learned the best way to make everyone feel like time is passing by quickly is to bring lots and lots of food and snacks! One way I prepare for our trip is to make a list of my girl’s favorite snacks, quick meals and our favorite drinks. Since my husband works in Austin, I love to send him to Randalls with my list of road trip supplies before each trip! Of course I have to send him to the Cookie and Cracker aisle to grab my girl’s favorite Oreo Cookies and Wheat Thins along with Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars and Milky Way Bites that I will be hiding in the front seat for me!

Wheat Thins & Oreos at Randalls

Food and snacks are a necessity for a road trip but so are a lot of other things. Here is my quick list that I have learned over the years on how to plan a successful family road trip:

  • Prepare each child’s designated seat: Before my girls jump into the car, I prepare their space. I make sure that they have their personal pillow, blanket and stuffed animal. In addition, I put everything that they need in their seating area such as coloring books, electronics, snacks, reading books and anything else that they need to keep them busy.
  • Bring a potty: We have a lot of kids and it only makes sense to pack a potty for side of the road emergencies.
  • Make sure to have electronic chargers available: I normally don’t like my girls to be on their electronics all day but when you are traveling 20+ hours, I tend to bend the rules for my sanity.
  • Take care of the driver: This tip is very important. My husband drives the entire trip so I have to make sure he has everything he needs, such as his neck pillow, 2 prepared insulated cups of Major Dickason’s coffee that I prepare right before we leave and plenty of Orbit gum to keep his mouth busy so he stays awake.
  • Provide each child with their own snack bag: Before each road trip, I fill up a personal bag for each child that includes their favorite snacks. This not only saves space in the car but it also prevents me from having to fulfill each child’s constant snack request.
  • Place a grocery bag at the foot of each passenger’s seat: I like a clean car and I hate being the trash collector every time my kids are finished with a snack, so I discovered that placing a grocery bag at the foot of each child’s seat is genius. In addition, the trash bag can double as a car sick bag.
  • Create road trip games: There are so many great road trip games that can keep the kids and adults busy, having fun and laughing. We like to play the license plate game and the alphabet game.
  • Have everyone dress comfortable: I always encourage my kids to wear their pajamas and slip on shoes during road trips. Slip on shoes are perfect for quick stops. My kids like to take off their shoes and if we need to run into a gas station I hate wasting time while they put on their shoes.

Shop for Road Trip Snacks

Passengers need snacks

Pack small snack bags while traveling

drivers need coffee and gum

I always tell my family that when we are together we are making memories. Not all of our memories together are fun, but often times we find ourselves laughing at some of the not so fun memories later in life. When you spend 20+ hours in the car with your family there is no way not to make memories so hopefully these tips on planning a successful family road trip will help you create more good than bad memories. Right now you can enter “The Best Road Trip Ever” sweepstakes. It’s easy! Simply follow the steps on the “The Best Road Trip Ever” page and let us know your favorite unexpected DIY road trip hack or tips for making family travel a breeze. The sweepstakes is really fun.

How do you plan a successful family road trip? Do you have favorite snacks that you like to pack?


  1. I know what you mean about road trips. We often take trips to visit my husband’s family in Mexico and people are surprised that we drive from NC to central Mexico. Thanks for these great tips.

  2. We all love road trip as a family & we used to have one atleast once in a month or two. These are some great tips to plan it better & make it a successful one as well. Having electronic chargers & snacks are so important when you are up for a long trip.

  3. Snacks are the key to a good road trip, at least when I have kids in my vehicle!

  4. Snacks are always a must have when it comes to road trips. My daughter loves Oreos!

  5. My husband normally does the driving too. He’ll only let me drive if he’s tired (and he knows I’ve gotten some sleep). What a great list.

  6. Great tips! We’d for sure go on more road trips if we drove. It’s so hard for us not driving and having such a big family we can’t even carpool haha!

  7. Paula Schuck says

    Road trips are much easier these days with all the devices to keep the kids busy. Snacks are important for any trip. Music is a big one for me. It helps me pass the time.

  8. Ann Bacciaglia says

    Snacks are so important for any road trip. I like the idea of a bag at everyone’s feet for garbage. We like to play licence plate games to pass the time.

  9. I remember road trips with my parents. We got a book and a pillow and were told to be good, which of course we were.

  10. It is all about the snacks! I also make sure to have neck pillows and blankets (for colder weather trips) for when they want to snuggle and get a little shut-eye. The kids usually have their own set of games to play, so my main concern is snacks and drinking water.

  11. These are great tips. My husband and I love to take road trips and do occasionally do so with our adult children ( mostly to Vegas, baby). One thing I have learned it to always take care of the driver like you suggested. Mainly because you need that person happy so that they will stop for bathroom breaks when you need one, LOL.

  12. I haven’t taken a road trip in a while. I honestly don’t like rad trips since I have to be the one driving

  13. Snacks keep not only the kids happy too because when the kids are eating they usually are too busy eating to talk.

  14. A lot of planning goes into all our road trips. I try to plan ahead from the snacks the kids will eat to the devices they will have to keep them entertained.

  15. Food and snacks also keep my kids quiet during road trips, so I make sure bring plenty. Electronic gadgets also help pass the time.

  16. It’s all in the food! Organization helps a lot too!

  17. I like to make smaller bags using ziploc bags. We buy in bulk and everyone gets some smaller bags.

  18. The personal snack bags are a great idea. We can’t take road trips without snacks because everyone gets cranky when they are hungry.

  19. Catherine S says

    These are great tips for a road trip. We plan on doing a road trip to TX from FL next summer. I plan on bring extra Gameboy games and a bunch of fruit and chips for the trip.

  20. These are some great tips and reminders. As we edge out of the the potty training stage throwing a toilet in the back is still a great tip. #client

  21. What some great tips – we don’t really do road trips over here like you do (I guess we just aren’t big enough as a county) but we still stock up on snacks and things to do. x

  22. These are all great tips. Road trips can be so challenging for kids, and snacks definitely help.

  23. Snacks! Snacks are a crucial item of planning for road trips!

  24. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says

    For us it’s all about the snacks. We stock up on lots of them before we leave.

  25. We take a lot of road trips and your tips are spot on. Food is always a life saver in the car!

  26. I admire you tenacity to maintain a family on long haul trips. The longest drives I’ve done were from Little Rock, AR to Baltimore, MD and from Washington, DC to Atlanta.

    Taking care of the driver is priority as well as dressing comfortably. Taking travel snacks is good as well bc stopping for gas station treats can get costly.

  27. Love your tips Amy. We did two long road trips with our girl when she was 1. Now that she is almost 3 and potty trained, I definitely have more to consider for the next time we take a road trip. Not to mention we have a 3 month old too! Oh my.

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