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The 20 Best Road Trip Tips for Families!

open road with text 20 road trip tips you need to know

The 20 Best Road Trip Tips for Families!

We are a FAN of road trips. Any kind of road trip: long distance road trips, road trips with kids, overnight road trips, road trips to somewhere familiar, road trips to a new destination… I could go on, but you get the idea which is why we decided to spend some to really experiment and test out what the 20 Best Road Trip Tips for Families are! 

I remember always taking road trips to Teton Valley and Jackson Hole as a little girl, and it brings back great memories whenever I get to take a road trip as an adult. We have been on many road trips as a family and our many years of taking road trips together have taught us a few of the do’s and don’ts of family road trip essentials and our favorite road trip hacks.

Our ultimate road trip guide will give you long distance road trip tips, will help you know how to prepare for a family road trip, what to do on long road trips with kids, and how you can make your long drive better and more comfortable on your family road trip.

open two lane road for road trip tips

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20 Best Road Trip Tips for Families

1. Think about entertainment options and PRELOAD THEM ONTO YOUR PHONE because you may lose reception

Listen Linda, good entertainment is essential for everyone involved. You may have a killer playlist on Spotify, but if you don’t download it onto your phone, you’ll be stuck listening to that old, dusty Rod Stewart CD that your father-in-law gave you 15 years ago for ten hours – I mean, Rod is great for awhile, but ten hours is a little much.

Same goes for your children. Make sure that their games, movies, episodes, whatever is downloaded and all ready to go in the chance that you lose reception – because you probably will lose reception.

2. Take regular stops and breaks – don’t drive too far, too fast

How often to stop on a road trip is completely up to you, but we recommend stopping at least once every 3 hours. You know that feeling when your butt goes numb, your ankles start tingling, and you feel like your feet are going to explode out of your shoes? YOU DON’T WANT TO GET THERE. Your road trip is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re not in a rush. Don’t worry about going too fast. Take it easy and stop to go to the bathroom, get some food, or take advantage of that scenic overlook.

3. Consider the scenic route

Lots of times there will be different routes to your destination. You could spend the entire drive on the freeway (which does have its place) or you could take the alternative scenic route. I recommend the latter if the weather conditions are good and you have adequate time. You’ll be amazed by the beauty around you AND a beautiful drive can feel like a short drive.

4. Stop at places that make you happy – shopping, good restaurants, scenic overlooks, etc.

We were headed to Phoenix, Arizona on our last road trip. The total time to our destination was ten hours long. My mom and I knew that we would be passing through Las Vegas about half way through. We decided that we would take advantage of it and stop for a good sit down lunch and to shop for a few hours. So, we probably spent way too long at Caesars Palace mall, but hey, they have a LOT of stores that we don’t have in Utah. We had a blast! It was the perfect thing to get re-energized and break up our road trip.

Take advantage of the things you want to do on the way to your destination! You’ll have fun and it’ll give you the needed break you need from all the long driving.

5. Consider listening to a book

I love blasting music for hours on end just like the next guy, but if you can choose something more productive than why not? My mom and I listened to Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis on our last road trip. (1) it was AMAZING and totally inspirational and, (2) we learned so much! There aren’t many productive things you can do while driving, but listening to a book is one of them.

a library full of books

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6. Play some road trip games

There are some seriously fun games you can play on your road trip that will help pass the time. Consider a game of “I spy”. Some of my favorite road trip games include the alphabet game, the license plate game, name that song,  or a good game of truth or dare (haha but basically just truth or truth because of safety reasons). These games are fun to do with the entire family.

7. Wear loose comfortable clothing – not those high waisted jeans you’ve been dying to wear

Listen, you want to make this road trip as comfortable as possible. You’ll be sitting for a long time. Sweats and sneakers are my go-to outfit while road tripping my way across a country. Have a pillow and blankets on hand in case any of the passengers want to have a nap.

8. SUNGLASSES

The sun can get HARSH at certain times of the day and your eyes will become strained from concentrating on the road, so do everything you can to protect your eyes and just make sure you have sunglasses on hand. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten in my car, assuming my sunglasses were in there, when in reality they weren’t. Don’t make that mistake.

9. Don’t get too close to empty – you don’t know the area and don’t know where the closest gas station in

Just play it safe guys. You don’t know your car as much as you think you do! If you can, be sure to know the area or where the closest gas station is. You don’t want to be worried if you will make it or not to the nearest gas station. Just eliminate the stress and FILL UP before you get to a quarter tank. Don’t question me on this. Just do it!

10. Safety checks

You need to do all the required safety checks BEFORE you head out on your road trip. Make sure the seat belts are working properly, the car seats are correctly strapped in. Have your oil, tire pressure, gas, headlights are all good and ready to go. Make sure your car is registered and you have the correct documentation with car insurance and driver licenses.

11. Road trip safety pack to ALWAYS have in your car

This is sooo important. You NEVER know what can happen on while you are away from home. We recommend you have an emergency pack in your car with first aid items on hand. You should have one in your car always, but especially while on a road trip. You can see our First Aid Kit Checklist for Travel here! 

12. Install Google Maps or Waze… NOT SIRI

In my experience, Siri SUCKS when it comes to directions. Do you remember in The Office when Michael Scott’s GPS told him to turn right straight into the lake and HE DID IT? Yeah, YOU DON’T WANT TO BE MICHAEL SCOTT. The machine doesn’t always know what it is doing! I have found that Google Maps or apps like Waze have been a lot more accurate in explaining traffic times, delays, and detours than Siri. BUT, you may not always have data or reception on your road trip, which leads me to the next tip…

13. Have a backup paper map

This sounds totally old school, but paper road maps are a MUST on a long road trip. Apps and technology can lead you astray, so always double check and consult your paper road map before and during your road trip!

paper map of the united state for a road trip

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14. Two words: CRUISE CONTROL

You’ll be passing a LOT of officers on your road trip and you don’t want to get a ticket. Set your cruise control at the speed limit and just coast there. You will also get better gas mileage when you are traveling at a constant speed.

15. Have a phone charger in your car

This one is pretty straight forward, but you wanna make sure your phone has enough juice to keep your tunes going, your GPS going and you never want to be stranded somewhere, needing help, with a dead cell phone.

16. Carry enough cash!

Some national/state parks only take cash to park and use their facilities. Small bills are preferable. Just have cash on hand. You never know what you will encounter so just be prepared!

17. SNACKS

Snacks, snacks, snacks. Choose things that won’t melt, that aren’t sticky, and that won’t make a mess. Have hand sanitizer and wet wipes on hand. Granola bars, fruit snack, grapes, crackers, trail mix, nuts, pop corn, carrots, apples, cucumbers, bananas, dried mangoes, and shortbread cookie are a few of our favorites,. Nothing quite ruins a roadtrip like a nice bout of HANGER. ALSO, we always have a little plastic grocery sack in the car with us to put all of our used wrappers, napkins, and garbage in. Makes for easy clean up! Make sure that everyone is getting enough water in during the drive. Water bottles can be expensive at gas stations so we always have a case of water in the back of the car at all times during a road trip.

18. Combat drowsy driving!

I ALWAYS get tired after I have been driving for a while. And the last thing that you want is to fall asleep at the wheel and put yourself, your family, and others in danger. So make sure you are well rested. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep in the days leading up to your road trip. Make sure you have easy access to CAFFEINE while you are driving (Also, I tend to get headaches while driving for long periods of time and caffeine doesn’t just help with being tired but it also helps with headaches). Take TURNS driving and allow for some naps. If you start feeling tired, you can suck on something like a sucker or lifesaver, roll down the windows and get some fresh air, or turn up your favorite jams. If you need to, pull over and take a rest, switch drivers or stop for the day.

19. Have fun and roll with it

You will probably encounter construction, traffic, bad weather, detours or even unpaved roads. Last road trip we got a MASSIVE crack in our windshield. I mean, crap happens on the road. The key is to just HAVE fun and expect that something will probably go wrong – that’s a part of EVERY trip. Roll with the punches and have fun while doing it.

20. Check the weather before you leave and prepare accordingly 

We had GREAT weather on our latest road trip from Utah to Arizona and back… well, we had great weather most of the time. We had two hours of bad weather. And when I say bad weather, I mean like heavy patchy fog, torrential rain, blizzard conditions all wrapped up with a massive lightning storm. NOT. KIDDING. And honestly, it was terrifying. I mean, we just assumed that because it was May there wouldn’t be snow. BUT YOU CAN’T ASSUME ANYTHING ABOUT THE WEATHER IN UTAH (or anywhere else for that matter). It’s straight bipolar, man. We didn’t check the weather before we departed and had we known what the weather was like, we would have stayed another night until the weather cleared up. Don’t make the same mistake we did. Check the weather and be smart about it!

We hope you use all of our tips and have the BEST road trip with your family! Please comment and tell us any of your favorite road trip tips. To see what my mom and I did on our last road trip to Arizona, click here.

Love you all and happy road tripping!

Love, Sav

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20 Best Road Trip Tips for Families

10 Comments
  • noel
    Posted at 10:19h, 16 June Reply

    I love road trips and these are all fantastic tips – I think you pretty much covered the gamut of everything necessary so this is a great way to be prepared and have a well planned journey.

  • Anda
    Posted at 13:16h, 16 June Reply

    Very useful advice! We love taking road trips and apply many of these tips. I think it’s particularly important to stop often enough and stretch your legs. We prefer listening to music, rather than a book.

  • Rhonda Albom
    Posted at 15:46h, 16 June Reply

    These are good tips and ones that I would follow on any road trip. When my kids were younger, entertainment was paramount and it transitioned as they got older from toys to videos to ‘on the road’ games.

  • Thomas Bourlet
    Posted at 03:22h, 17 June Reply

    Snacks, snacks and more snacks. Not even for the kids, that’s just for me haha. I like the idea of audio books, I used to love listening to book cassettes when I was a kid, I need to start listening to the equivalent as an adult

  • Jean
    Posted at 05:52h, 18 June Reply

    In my day there was no phones and us young folk were expected to read a book or sleep on road trips! Oh how times have changed. Great tips for the modern day family

  • Stacey
    Posted at 11:24h, 18 June Reply

    I love road trips, it’s especially fun with the right people. I second preparing the entertainment options, it’s really helpful when the road trip is pretty long. One of the biggest benefits of a road trip is that sometimes you’d find places that you’d admire or places that you’ve been wanting to see. Another tip I’d like to add for those who love photography and have DSLR or other cameras that only use plug outlet (with no USB cord), get that adapter to charge the camera :) Thanks for mentioning Girl, Stop Apologizing! Now I’m checking that out.

  • Tom
    Posted at 11:59h, 18 June Reply

    I’m a big fan of road trips too, though I don’t have a wife and kids to do one with. However, these are some great tips and when I’m a bit older I will be putting some of these tips to good use!

  • Kathleen
    Posted at 18:48h, 18 June Reply

    Such great tips! We have always taken road trips with our kids, some quite long. Now our kids are grown and we still take them because we really enjoy the. We always have books to listen to and loads of snacks. I don’t drink caffeine because it messes with my heart, but I have found that sucking on peanut M&Ms helps me loads. It almost the only time I eat them. My daughter and I are getting ready to take a road trip and I just bought a new map book because you never know when you won’t have reception.

  • Shreya Saha
    Posted at 20:23h, 18 June Reply

    Having a paper map is always very useful even though there are Google Maps, yes certainly not Siri. Also, I liked the tips of keeping entertainment ready, also road trip games, and more. I would like to consider these while planning my upcoming road trip with family this December.

  • Ami Bhat
    Posted at 01:40h, 21 June Reply

    One of the most important thing that people forget is to pre-test your emergency and breakdown kit. I have known of many who are stuck coz they have not checked the air in the spare or have left their toolkit home. Fabulous list you have put down. Cheers

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