Road Trip Tips:
How to Plan a Successful Day Out
(+ FREE PACKING LIST)

Are you one of those “Need to Plan Ahead”- type of people? Then, you are in Great Company!!! ? 

I, personally, don’t like to start a road trip or plan a full-day of activities without knowing that I’m fully prepared for ‘almost’ anything.

I stress the word: Almost!

That’s why the following Road Trip tips will help anyone have a successful outing. 

Although, I love the thought of taking the kids Apple-Picking and on other day-long adventures, I love being prepared EVEN MORE.


How Should you Prepare for a Road/Day Trip?


This is a great time to incorporate the whole family in the prepping aspect of going on an outing.

Hudson Valley day trips and outings are typically a day full of Family-Fun. Because of this, the whole family should chip in with helping to plan the trip.

By doing this, you’re not only making them a part of the process, but you’re also teaching them valuable life lessons they will need for the future when they have their own families. 


Road Trip Tip #1:


I’m gonna let you in on a little secret…

When I start planning, I don’t just use one list.

For road/day trips that are longer, I use several lists in order to better organize myself. Here are some examples of lists you can incorporate in your planning:

List #1: Items for the Car/First Aid Kit
List #2: Food Items 


Road Trip Tip #2:


Start by having your children help in cleaning out the car of the non-essential items.

Typical items that are typically left in cars, include:

  • the folding chairs you use for soccer
  • the mounds of reusable shopping bags you have in the trunk
  • any garbage that has been left behind.

You want it to be a clean slate before you introduce more things into the car.


How Should I Prepare for a longer Road Trip?
One that may take several days?


The rules really change if you are planning a trip that will take longer than your average day trip. During these longer trips, one must be prepared for more activities.

Packing clothes and additional toiletry items may be overwhelming for some people. That’s why I also use and re-use a packing list of essentials. (free download – no sign-up required)

Packing List Freebie

Keep these lists handy and laminate them for multi uses. That way you can always have them on hand and not run into the problem of forgetting an essential item, especially when you’re having an outing with your children.


What should I have before a Family Road Trip?


Road Trip Tip #3: 


Keep the garbage contained: Use a large plastic container or pail from the dollar store as a trash can.

Put a plastic shopping bag inside as a liner and you can easily dump out the garbage and replace the liner at a rest stop or at your destination.

Road Trip Tips with map and ruler

Road Trip Tip #4:


Buy a shower caddy from the Dollar Store, so each child can have a place to store their own snacks.

There is no confusion about who eats what and it minimizes the fighting for the ‘last one’ of an item. They can also keep wrappers and empty containers on one side of the caddy and eliminates mess in the car. 

If you need 2 or more shower caddies, buy the shower caddies in the same color, Label them with a Sharpie so that there is no confusion, especially during longer car rides.

Woman with notebook

Road Trip Tip #5:


Download and update any essential apps you need for the trip.

Cell service while driving can be inconsistent, so it’s always a good idea to have everything downloaded and updated before you leave the house

Also, don’t forget to back up your photos before you begin your road trip. This will clear up your phone in order to make enough space for the new photos & videos you’ll be capturing on your outing and for any new apps you download for your trip.


Road Trip Tip #6:


These iPhone apps are necessary for a successful road trip:

Accuweather: This App helps you keep track of the weather not only for each day but also by the hour. This can be helpful when taking longer car trips. 

Accuweather App

iExit: This App helps you decide where to stop while traveling. The summary will show you which stop is ahead and what is at each exit (restaurant, gas, rest stops).

iExit App for road trips

Google Maps: I use this App every day when navigating my way from one place to another. I like that it now offers an ‘Alerts only’ option so that you can keep the App running in the background when knowing the route and it will alert you only if there’s traffic and when wanting to re-route you.

Google Map app for road trips

How do you organize the kids for a Road Trip?


Road Trip Tip #7:


Ask each person/child (over the age of 5) to grab a reusable shopping bag or one of their own backpacks and pack things that they think they will need personally.

Try not to edit what they take with them. That way the Road trip with be more successful. Less arguing = More fun.

It’s a great way of learning responsibility and they can’t be upset when something gets left behind because they are responsible for their own items.


How do you keep kids busy while on a Road Trip?


Fun Ideas for Long Road Trips


Have your children ever made their own edible snack necklace?  It is such a fun activity.

What’s better than adding cheerios-type cereals and pretzels to a long string???

Cheerios to keep little hands busy on a road trip

DIYmamablog  wrote a great blog post about making the Necklaces. This is sure to be a big hit with the kiddies.
You can read the post by clicking this link: Snack Necklace

Another fun activity is to create an I-Spy Bottle. Collect little trinkets, add them to a wide-mouthed bottle, add rice and hot glue gun the lid shut. Then, create a checklist (either with a picture of the items or text) and have the kids cross off each item they find.

Living Chic on the Cheap has a great tutorial on her blog showing you how to make an I-Spy Bottle!
You can read the blog post by clicking this link: Make Your Own I-Spy Bottles

Road Trip Printables are great way to keep you child/children busy on any type of car trip. You don’t have to plan a long road trip in order to enjoy car games and activities.

Trust me, road trip car games are not only for the children in your life. Adults can also enjoy the games as much as the kids do.


Road Trip Tips regarding food


Packing healthy snacks from home is a great alternative than stopping for unhealthy and expensive snacks on the road, especially for a Day Trip.

Road Trip Snacks

Road Trip Tip #8


I am also a firm believer that everyone should have their own stash of snacks. It could be the same snacks as everyone else but portioned out in Ziploc bags or containers. This way you don’t run into the problem, for instance, of a child who loves popcorn eating the whole big bag on the trip and not leaving any for others.

Trust me, I’ve lived it. 

Some ‘Not’ Road Trip Friendly Snacks Include:

  • Bananas (too slimy)
  • Muffins (too crumbly)
  • Watermelon (too juicy)
  • Juice Boxes (too messy)
  • Crunchy granola bars (too crumbly)

Snacks should, ideally, include items from a variety of food groups:

Some examples are:

  • Proteins – cheese, sliced turkey
  • Fruits/Vegetables – including dried fruit (raisins, etc), fruit purees (applesauce, fruit pouches), individual salads
  • Carbs – crackers, pretzels, rice cakes, popcorn

What Should you NOT do on a Road Trip?


Road Trip Tip #9


Don’t underestimate your budget. Keep your budget in mind during the road trip.

It’s easy to get carried away buying snack foods, fast foods and other knick-knacks in the excitement of being on a road trip.

A great tip would be to buy small trinkets at the dollar store before the trip. Use these trinkets as rewards during the trip, as it will save you a lot of money.

Looking up at trees in the Hudson Valley NY

Road Trip Tip #10


Don’t rely on one GPS Service.

Although I recommend Google Maps as my go-to GPS Service, it is always good to check on another app, like WAZE, to confirm you are on the quickest or more scenic route.


Road Trip Tip #11


Don’t overdose on Bad Fast Food.

An extension of filling the car with healthy snack, sandwiches are always good to make ahead of time and bring to eat on the way. Save your budget on eating something once you are at your destination.

Woman writing in journal

Last Piece of Advice


When it comes to planning a ‘Successful’ Road/Day Trip, the most essential part is to plan ahead and be organized.

That may mean having lists made up ahead of time or using a printable, like the ones that I offer for free. Even planning snacks can make for a more pleasant trip out of the house.

After that’s all done, you can then enjoy a wonderful outing either on your own, with your significant other and/or with your family.

Essentials for an Successful Road Trip

  • This Picnic Blanket not only folds up and can be stored anywhere, even under your car seats, it has a waterproof lining in case you find a spot to sit that may be a little wet.
  • Small Picnic Basket – You can never go wrong with packing lunch for a road trip. This Picnic Basket is super light and so stylish. It’s one of my favorite items.
  • Refillable Water Bottles – I can’t leave the house without water and these bottles can keep beverages cold for hours.
  • Rain Ponchos – You never know when rain is going to try and ruin your day, but with these ponchos, you will not have to worry. Lightweight and super portable.



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