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Whether you're a road trip rookie or a seasoned vacation veteran, we've put together the ultimate family road trip checklist to make your journey even more enjoyable.

Imagine: you're cruising along an idyllic coastal road. Sea on your right; mountains on your left. The family playlist is serving up gold. The kids are too awed to argue. You sip your cold-brew coffee; feel the endorphins surge.

If you could bottle family road trip vibes, you'd retire tomorrow. But there's a catch.

You need to plan. And plan well. A successful family road trip requires meticulous preparation and careful research. From suitable snacks to backup maps, you need to consider every eventuality. 

Sound daunting? It needn't. We've put together the ultimate family road trip checklist, packed with practical insights. 

So, whether you're an eager road trip rookie or a seasoned vacation veteran, we've got you.

How to Plan for a Family Road Trip

And it's true. The success of any family road trip hinges on planning. Fail to plan and you're going to hit (figurative) roadblocks. 

So, before you start curating your playlist, it's wise to set aside an evening to plot everything out. It doesn't need to be too formal. You're planning a road trip, not a shuttle launch. 

Our advice? Fire up the espresso machine, break out your notebook, and ask yourself:

  • What's our destination? (Or destinations.)
  • What essentials do we need beforehand?
  • Is the car road trip ready?

And so on. Before you know it, you'll have a strong road trip plan (itinerary, if you're fancy). 

Stuck for ideas? Don't worry. We'll set your wheels spinning. Let's start with a non-negotiable, eh?


Adventuring requires energy; especially if you're handling the driving duties.

That said, it’s wise to avoid the most obvious (read: tempting) treats such as sugary or starchy foods. The last thing you need is a sugar crash as you’re navigating a particularly tricky stretch of coastal road. Or worse, a sugar-induced tantrum in the backseat.

Sidenote: it’s good road trip etiquette to avoid overly fragrant foods. 

So, if sugary and pungent is out, what's in? How do you fuel yourself? 

Well, you might opt for:

  • Cereal/granola bars
  • Trail mix
  • Fruit
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts

The key is balance. You want to stay energised, without risking a crash. You want to feel full, but not sluggish. 

A Note on Eating and Driving

It goes without saying, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the potential dangers of eating and driving. 

It's not illegal to do so*, but anything that draws your attention from the road poses obvious safety risks. 

Your best bet? Pull over at regular intervals and fuel yourself up, as you would your car. It'll also offer you an opportunity to stretch your legs, fill your lungs, and, if needed, empty your bladder.

*You can receive points on your license for eating whilst driving. Better to avoid it altogether. 


Question: do you have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the roads? 

Answer: No, you don't. Nobody does. (No matter what your dad says.

As such, it's crucial to pack an old-school paper map for your journey. You might not even use it, but as amazing as GPS is, it relies on battery. And batteries can drain. 

So, to avoid standing at the roadside, trying to navigate by the stars, pack maps. And plenty of them.

It might be ol' faithful, the UK Road Atlas. It might be a printout of your intended route. You might go whole-hog and pick up some ordinance survey maps. It doesn't matter. Just don’t leave your navigation entirely up to tech. 


Apps have irrevocably changed the family road trip landscape.

Gone are the days of relying on assumed knowledge or hearsay from well-meaning locals. Nowadays, the information you need is at your fingertips.

Frequently lost? Intuitive maps are your friend. Under-caffeinated? Use a coffee shop finder. Overtired? Install a hotel locator. And that's without mentioning the all-important in-car entertainment.*

There are apps for campers, electric vehicle users, budding travel bloggers, avid stargazers - you name it. No matter how specific your road trip needs, there's an app that'll help. You have but to search. 

*More on that later.

Emergency Essentials

Dead batteries. Deflated tires. Torrid weather. You can't avoid the unexpected, but you can lessen its impact by planning for it. (There's a reason your parents hoarded so many blankets in the boot of the car.)

So, engage your inner survivalist and jot down any potential road trip-disrupting scenarios. Then, conjure up practical solutions. Here's a neat little formula: 

Problem: Flat battery.

Solution: Battery-powered jump starter.

Problem: Deflated tires

Solution: Spare tire. Tire change kit.

Problem: Torrid weather. 

Solution: Waterproof clothes. Blankets. Flask of hot tea.

You should also include:

  • Blankets
  • Torches
  • Food & water
  • Shovel
  • Oil
  • First aid kit
  • Phone chargers
  • Fire extinguisher

The more prepared you are, the safer you are. The safer you are, the more relaxed you are. The more relaxed you are, the smoother your family road trip will be.


So, you're safe, fed, and prepared for any eventuality. But you're not quite ready to hit the road. You've got in-car entertainment to consider. 

You see, family road trips can be revitalising, soul-nourishing experiences. But they can also be long. And let's be honest, not every stretch of your journey will be awe-inspiring. For every Snowdon National Park, there's a Strathclyde Motorway Services. 

But you needn't resign yourself to staring at passing road signs and doom-scrolling. Oh, no. We live in the digital age. And entertainment is plentiful. 

You might lose yourself in a family-friendly audiobook. You might enjoy a little karaoke with a well-curated playlist. You might even use the time to learn a new language. 

Aiming for a digital detox? Then bust out some time-honoured favourites. Twenty questions. I-spy. The memory game. Each is a stone-cold classic. Each is perfect for keeping minds occupied as you wind towards your next destination.

So, whether you’re heading for remote highlands or seeking sandy beaches, preparedness is key for a safe, enjoyable family road trip. 

Need more road trip inspiration? Check out our blog. Specifically, How to Create the Best Road Trip Playlist and The Best Seaside Towns for a UK Family Road Trip.