Four Things We Always Bring On Family Road Trips

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We are almost a month out from our first semi-big road trip of the year.

My brother and his family moved to Arizona a couple of years ago, so we try to get out there way as often as we can. This year we decided to go just before summer officially starts, or in other terms before it gets too hot! May, in my opinion, is the best time to go visit the desert.

There are a few benefits to being the youngest in a family of three kids.

Your parents are more relaxed, you have older siblings to play with, and your parents have more experience in parenting. I’m also a lot better about planning our road trips after all these years, and Emmy is very lucky for that!

I now have four things that we always bring with us on road trips. I could even say, we have five things we NEVER go on road trips without.

The first thing is the entertainment. 

I think I speak for all parents when I say that entertainment for our kids is of utmost importance. Not only does it make for a more enjoyable vacation, but having to hear “are we there yet” 5,000 times an hour can flat out ruin a vacation.

We have had an Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet for Emmy for years now and it has been a lifesaver or at least a road trip saver. Her newest one is the Fire HD 7 Kids Edition tablet with an 8” HD Display, 32 GB of storage and a kid-proof case. It is regularly priced at $129.99 and comes with so much- including one year of FreeTime Unlimited. That gives your little one access to 15,000 popular apps and games, videos, books, and educational content from PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, Disney, and more!

Emmy and I browsed through just some of what is now available.

She saw some of her favorite apps, books, and videos, but also tools that she can use to snap some pictures with the camera (vacation memories!) and photo editing/drawing tools. She is really excited to use those on this next road trip.

Of course, I like that she has so many fun and educational apps and tools, but Heather and I really appreciate the parental controls that allow us to set personal limits on app usage and also setting limits where educational apps should be used before other content. If you have more than one child, there are options for setting up different children’s profiles on one tablet.

Because she will be using this in the car where there won’t be wifi access, having FreeTime content available to download and then use on the go without WiFi is HUGE. 

Emmy is so excited that she has started to make an actual, not-on-the-tablet list of all her favorite things on her Fire Kids Edition tablet and why she likes them so that she can reference it once we are on the road. She is a planner like I am!

The second thing we always have with us on road trips is headphones.

If I’m being completely honest, these are for both my benefit and for Emmy. She loves being able to concentrate and headphones help. I just like being able to listen to music without having to compete with her tablet. It is a win-win. The teens like to listen to their own music, so they too have headphones on. Heather and I have actually had some pretty decent conversations over the years on road trips because of headphones. They are the unsung hero of our road trips.

The third thing I wouldn’t dare leave home for a road trip without is snacks.

This goes for both me and the kids. We all need something to snack on while on the road. Ashley and I tend to bring protein bars and rice cakes… but for Emmy, it is all about fresh cut veggies. We call this her road trip fuel because she always has it have it. Peas are her favorite, but carrots, tomatoes, and cucumbers are good too! This doesn’t mean that we don’t stop along the way, but it is nice to have something in between those scheduled stops.

A quick tip- always let the kids pack their own road trip snacks. We have found that this gets them extra excited for the time on the road, and we are almost guaranteed that the kids will like what they pack as opposed to what we pick out for them.

Busy work is the fourth thing we pack for all road trips.

This can be coloring books, sticker pages or a family favorite… a journal and a pencil. With all the traveling we do, different trips can blur into each other and this gives the girls a way to remember each place we visit. Plus, they tend to remember and take note of things that are completely different than what Heather and I do. 

It is fun to look back on the notes they took of our travels and remember different things that they enjoyed.

Are you planning any road trips this summer?

Pete Reese
the authorPete Reese
Pete is a Dad of 3, travel enthusiast, and online entrepreneur who brings the adventure to our lives! He constantly encourages us to take risks and be the best we can be! He loves sharing tips to help others earn an income online so that they too can travel and spend more time with their families.


  • I didn’t know there was a kindle fire for kids! That definitely must help with the long car rides. I wish there was things like this when I was a kid, it really would have helped and I wouldn’t have been able to annoy my mom with asking are we there yet 5,000 times like you mentioned lol!

  • Very smart to split the screen time up with paper and pencil/pen writing. The ability to use your brain without a screen in more important than many of today’s humans realize at every age.

  • SNACKS! always important, but I think entertainment can be done differently such as playing games of I spy and car bingo

  • On long road trips or flights when traveling with children is very important to keep them entertained otherwise the traveling process can get uneasy. Thanks for all the tips and of course for packing healthy snacks.

  • Lovely tips shared. I always have entertainment for the kids. Snacks are important too.

  • Have fun on your trip. It looks like you’re prepared. So many great tips for keeping kids occupied on the road so you can get to your destination quickly, without meltdowns!

    • We like audio books. I let my teens pick so I get some insight into what they are into and the discussions are good. We also listened to ones about where we were going. Ie Canadian astronaut Chris Hatfield’s description of being on the space shuttle Atlantis as we were heading to Cape Canaveral to see the real Atlantis. It was magical.

  • Great tips. Food and entertaining is the only way you can survive a road trip with kids. And if you can have the back of the car just for kids that helps even more :))

  • These are some great tips! I think the kids tablet is amazing, it so awesome Amazon thought about the kids wanting to be like Mum and Dad but made something that is just perfect for the younger people.

  • Lots of great tips here. We never leave home without snacks and lots of books to keep our daughter entertained.

  • Great tips! I really like the idea of taking notes. Nice to look back and read about what you felt and experienced on your trip.

  • entertainment and headphones are essentials! that’s how you keep your kids in check and have some silence in the car! Always have snacks on you too!

  • Healthy snacks on the road is so important. It’s nice to see you’re getting the kids involved by packing their own snacks.

  • I don’t have kids but I bring these three things along because I need them to maintain my sanity on long trips! Glad that they are making technology more kid proof.

  • Headphones are definitely an essential thing on a roadtrip. When a bunch of people are in a small space for hours at a time, it can be a lot. Headphones allow that person to enjoy what they want without bothering anyone else.

  • During traveling, children often look out with curious eyes. But the introvert ones need arrangements for games or readers. Agreed.

  • Snacks on a road trip are a definite must! I miss Arizona and being in the desert – I would love to go back.

  • Those four things definitely work when it comes to being on a road trip. I am sure having the Tablet would be great. Headphones is good. And my daughter always likes to have stuff to write with.

  • I agree that keeping kids entertained while traveling is so important. Headphones are a must have because I don’t want to be distracted by the noise of multiple devices going at once.

  • Yes those are very important for kids, its hard to keep them entertained for long trips. For me it would be snacks! I need access to good snacks =]


  • I don’t have any kids yet but this will always be in the back of my mind for when I do. Or perhaps if we have a friends kid come along for a trip! thanks!

  • I agree that these are definitely all very important things to have on a roadtrip, especially entertainment and snacks! My son is 2 years old, so he’s not quite old enough for head phones, but if he doesn’t have some form of entertainment or a snack he can certainly be a bear! Great tips, thanks for sharing!

  • We are getting ready to take a flight with 3 of our youngest granddaughter’s (15, 12 and 6). Next month we are taking them to Hollywood/LA California! So excited.

    Love the ideas of them packing their own snacks. We will do that the night before we leave (no smelly snacks for the flight though lol). I’m sure they will each have their devices and headphones for the flight. I also like the journal idea.

  • We actually listen to audio books as a family on long car trips. It’s a good way to connect.

  • These five things are really important for all family trips. Packing snacks for kids is such a great idea.

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