It’s pretty much a requirement that summer means family road trip season. Lucky for you, we’re experts at the road trip game and know what to pack, where to go, how to get there and all the snacks to bring along with you. Leave the planning to us—you’ll find everything you need right here!
What to Pack
Gear to Bring with You
Set yourself up for success by organizing your car with everything you need within reach so you don't have to pull over to hand out snacks. Make sure you have enough charging ports to keep everyone's devices juiced up, prepare yourself for car sickness and spills, have a designated spot for trash and make sure everyone has a device for when you need some quiet time. We've got all our road trip recs right here.
Best Snacks for Traveling
There's nothing worse than a car covered in crumbs. Think about options that would allow your car to be as crumb free as possible when you are heading out on a road trip. A lot of our favorite snacks come in individual packages that are great for bringing along in the car. If you have older kids, a mini cooler for each kid is fun way to stash snacks. Bonus: no fighting over Cheez-Its!
Snacks to stay away from when on a road trip: dairy products, anything that will smell if spilled, things that must be kept frozen, a large container of small pieces (like a Tupperware of Goldfish) and anything that could make a huge mess.
Things to Do While Road Tripping
Keep Those Kids Busy
There's nothing worse than when the "are we there yet?" questioning begins and you're only 30 minutes from home. With a little planning ahead, you'll be totally prepared for your journey.
- Download some podcasts that the whole family will love.
- Make a kids playlist and let them play DJ by choosing the next song.
- Pick some audiobooks and read along with them.
- Get out an old-school map and have them follow along on the journey.
- How many American flags can you spot along the way? Games like this will make the journey part of the fun.
Car Games & Toys We Love
A new game or toys is a fun way to get a few more hours out of your road trip before another pit stop. Look for games that are magnetized and don't have a ton of little pieces. This list has loads of great options for games to bring along on your next road trip.
Roadside Oddities Worth a Stop
While you're en route to your destination, keep the journey interesting by mapping out some roadside oddities along the way. Whether it's a giant dog made into an inn in Idaho or a graveyard of Cadillacs in Texas, the kids will love these weird and wild stops.
The Most Picturesque Routes to Get You There
Nobody likes to spend hours on end driving through cornfields. These picturesque routes will take you over Colorado mountains, up the California coast, back in time on Mackinac Island and through the massive sandbox of White Sands National Monument.
Where to Go
The One Thing You Need to Do in Every State
Not sure what destination to choose for your next road trip? Get some inspiration from this list that has our favorite thing to do in every state. From rivers that are perfect for fishing and rafting, to waterfalls you just have to see, this list has them all.
National & State Parks
Our country is full of amazing national parks with massive Redwood trees, sand dunes for days and canyons so big you can't see across. These are ideal destinations for a family road trip, especially if you have a 4th grader who can get you in for free. These under-the-radar national parks are the perfect option for the busier summer months. Or, check out a state park instead—they are just as beautiful and often easier to access.
Stay in a Unique Vacation Rental
Whether you have a little railfan in your crew, or you want an out-of-this-world overnight adventure in a space ship, we've got the perfect unique vacation rental for you.
- These lighthouses you can rent are the best way to see our nation's coastline.
- All aboard a train car where your engineers can bed down for the night.
- Channel your Swiss Family Robinson dreams and spend the night in a treehouse.
- Go full-out zen and book a night in a yurt.
- Gather eggs and meet the cows at these family farmstays.
- Go tiny, SUPER tiny, in these itty bitty rentals.
- Live like royalty in these castles fit for your family.
Want to go really wild? This list has everything from a spaceship to a pirate ship to a Navajo earth house that you can rent.
Travel Based on Your Kid's Interests
A fun way to plan your next family vacation is to think about your child's interests.
- Does your little one love dinosaurs? Then take them to see Dino Land and Dinosaur National Monument.
- Obsessed with trains? A train vacation or an overnight in a train car is totally up your alley.
- Little readers will love these trips based on favorite books.
Make It a Theme Park Vacation
Theme parks are a fun road trip destination for many families. Little ones will love LEGOLAND California and it's perfectly-sized rides for tykes. Disneyland is another Southern California favorite for families. We've got loads of tips on how to save on your next Disney World trip, and the best way to tackle the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.
Learn a Little about Our Country
Don't tell the kids, but a road trip is a great way to get in a little extra education about our country. From trips that will make your kids smarter to places to visit to learn about race in America, there are tons of destinations where we can all learn a little bit about the world around us. You can even focus on women's history by visiting the Sacajawea Center, Helen Keller's birthplace and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park.
Alternative Means of Transport
Take an RV Trip
Ditch the minivan and rent an RV for your next family vacation. It's easier than ever to do this with rental companies that can set it all up for you and even plan your itinerary. Many families are giving roadschooling a try with kids doing remote learning this year.
These RV parks have all the perks your family will want like water slides, ziplines, fishing derbies, amusement parks and all the stargazing you've ever wanted.
Campervans Are the Rad Way to Travel
If you are not quite ready to venture into the land of RV travel, consider a campervan instead. Smaller and easier to drive, campervans are a fun way to see the country with the kids. Best of all you don't need an RV campsite as they can be parked at a regular-size site.
Feature photo: iStock