Family car journey essentials – what to pack for road trips!

Family car journey essentials – what to pack for road trips!
By Karen Derbyshire
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Family car journey essentials – what to pack for road trips!

We are huge fans of family road trips and I could not be happier that Lily loves heading off on adventures in the car as much as I do.

I also tend to pack more for a weekend in England than I would for a week abroad, and my excuse is that I'm usually driving solo with Lily, so I always feel it is better to over-prepare than under-pack.

Lists are my best friend when it comes to packing for our road trips, but I thought I'd put together a list of some of the essentials we have permanently stashed in our car, whether we're heading off for a daytrip or a week-long adventure.

1. Blankets
Blankets have always been a staple in our car. They're handy for curling up in if Lily fancies a nap as well as reassuring to have in case we break down in the winter.


She even cosies up in them on a frosty school run and they've often been whipped out for extra layers when we are camping, as well as for seating on the beach or for picnics when we needed!

Our favourite is definitely the Kelty Bestie Blanket (gifted) as it is so warm and cosy, and wraps up small into its own storage bag so it can be kept neatly in the car for when we need it.

2. First Aid Kit
Lily is a huge fan of exploring, which often means scraped knees or grazed elbows.

We have a little first aid kit with plasters, anti-sting cream, antiseptic cream and a few other essentials, just in case we need it. I’ve also a mini bottle of suncream for when the sun decides to unexpectedly poke its head out!

A novelty plaster can also often sort a smile on any tearful face after a little accident, when you most need it on a day out :)

  1. Food & Drink
    This goes without saying, everyone loves a snack and I admit that I overpack snacks to be able to dish out when needed. I tend to head for fruit jellies treats, veggie straws, cereal bars or fruit/veg sticks, or pack her a little packed lunch for when we are heading out for the day.


Thankfully she doesn’t seem to be so reliant on snacks as when she was younger, but a little pot of snacks are still handy for emergencies!


She gets very excited about having her packed lunch box, so I’m now weaning myself overpacking the food – although it was handy as a distraction on the time we broke down!


Always remember to take plenty of water, especially in hot weather, as you don’t know if you will break down or will be able to refill your bottles when you get back. Leakproof drinks bottles are an essential for travelling with kids – you can find a great range at Little Trekkers: https://www.littletrekkers.co.uk/equipment-and-gear/lunch-boxes-flasks


Reusable cups are also always a must-have for us, as this mummy always needs her coffee fix, they are amazing on campsites – and I otherwise wouldn’t get to drink them while they’re still hot!

4. Potty
Lily is well beyond potty training now, but there's never a worse sound than "Mummy, I need a wee-wee" when you're cruising down an A-road in the middle of nowhere.

We have a cheeky potty in the boot for little road-side emergencies, as well as for 2am in a tent on dark, windy campsites, when you really don't want to brave the downpour!

  1. Activities bag
    I have a permanent stash of activities for our trips, so Lily and I always know she has plenty to do. Our stash bag includes outdoor toys such as a ball (which she loves to use to make conversation with other kids on campsites) and velcro ball game, as well as pens, cards, books, colouring and puzzles.

    In the car she likes to lean on a hard book to do some drawing, and I find she happily sits to do this while I’m putting up the tent on camping trips too, so plain paper and pens in a solid pencil case are great.


She also has her binoculars stashed away in there for when we find somewhere fun to stop off along the way!


  1. Recycling bin

I don’t mean a full swing-top bin, just some kind of box or bag for all your recycling as I find you can rarely access recycling bins when you’re out!


  1. Reusable wipes

From sudden spillages and ice cream faces to sandy toes and campsite cleaning, reusable wipes are always stashed in the car. They generally have a bamboo base so are really soft and can easily be washed when you get home. They take up less room than packs of wipes, are cheaper in the long run, and also much better for the environment.


I also find some tissues/a roll of toilet roll is handy for those little stop-offs!

  1. Spare shoes

I’ve a car boot organiser which have my shopping bags in one side and shoes in the other side. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of my boot is a mess and usually packed with stuff, but you never know when you’ll need spare shoes.


We have our walking boots, wellies and flip flops in there, so when we go out we know we are prepared for whatever we come across. She also had the incident where a surprise wave went over her trainers, 30 seconds after arriving at a beach in mid-winter, so an urgent change was needed otherwise she would have probably been quite grumpy with cold, wet feet for the rest of the trip!


Don’t forget to check out the Little Trekkers range of footwear here: https://www.littletrekkers.co.uk/footwear


  1. Waterproofs

As above, you never know what you’re going to come across when you get there and (as cliché it is to talk about the weather), it can be very unpredictable!


Don’t forget to check out the Little Trekkers range of waterproofs here: https://www.littletrekkers.co.uk/clothing


  1. Chargers

I use my mobile as a satnav, but it does drain the battery quite quickly, so I do need to remember my chargers. I’ve a multisocket USB car charger that keeps my phone alive – particularly as campsites or remote places often have bad signal, so it tends to drain the battery.

3 months ago