What is the one thing that can make road tripping easier? A road trip checklist! With all that goes into piling everyone into the car for a vacation, having a list to go by is invaluable. Some of the TravelingMoms share their best tips for vehicle prep, what to have in the car, and more!

Need some help making sure the vehicle is ready for travel? Serendipity TMOM Dee Dean offers a road trip checklist full of helpful tips from other TMOMs.

Our family has enjoyed many a road trip together! Photo credit: Denedriane Dean/Serendipity TravelingMom


A Road Trip Checklist for Your Vehicle: Being Prepared Inside and Out

I have a confession to make: I enjoy a good road trip. I always have. There is nothing quite like being together with my family and heading toward a destination that we are excited to visit. The trip is half about the final destination, and half about the fun of getting there!

Now, rolling with my crew of five takes a bit of logistics to pull things off. (Truthfully, it takes a bit of planning even if it’s just me and my hubby or child hitting the open road.) We need to make sure that everyone has what he or she needs to be comfortable in the van. On more than one occasion, we have packed the van, pulled out of the garage, and waved goodbye to the house, only to discover that a family member has forgotten a much needed item.

Most importantly, we need to make sure that the vehicle is road-ready inside and out. There is not much worse than having travel interrupted by a problem with the car, truck or van. Here are a few insightful tips to make sure that all that is ahead is a good time on the road!


Vehicle Prep

Happy vehicle, happy family…or something like that. A great place to start in getting it road ready is to use the advantage of time. Whenever we travel – be it in the summer, or during Thanksgiving and Christmas – I am happiest when we can get the car checked on a few weeks before we actually make the trip.


Candid TravelingMom Patty Holliday recommends a very simple and important place to start: fill up the tires with air. I can attest to the fact that proper air pressure in each tire makes for a safer and smoother ride!

And while we are talking about tires, Rural TravelingMom Amanda Williams explains in more detail how choosing the right tires can make all the difference in a family’s travels on the road.

Under the hood

Under the hood is next on the checklist. Catherine Bennett Kopf, Optimism TravelingMom, offers this helpful tip:

“Making sure the windshield wiper fluid is topped off is my #1 pre-winter road trip tip. Nothing worse than having to drive with your hand out the window, to assist with snow and ice removal after the well’s run dry.”

Need some help making sure the vehicle is ready for travel? Serendipity TMOM Dee Dean offers a road trip checklist full of helpful tips from other TMOMs.

Use time on the front end to check the elements under the hood.
Photo credit: Denedriane Dean/Serendipity TravelingMom

Moreover, it may be a helpful idea to replace the wipers with new ones. Our family had to find an auto supply store in the middle of a long stretch of road in South Carolina, during a torrential downpour, because the wiper blades couldn’t handle the rain. Needless to say, we learned a leasson: it’s best to start off with a fresh pair, especially if foul weather (rain or snow) is a possibility!

And right along with that, an oil check/change is a great move. This really helps to keep a lot of things under the hood to running well.

Harsh Climate Considerations

For those traveling in harsh weather or temperatures, these tips might be helpful:

Being a northeasterner originally, we always had basic emergency car care in the car and checked the car for basic safety function and fluids before anything else. Flares, blankets, jumper cables, backup fluids, snow gear. I lived in a place where if you broke down cells didn’t even work sometimes! You could sit for hours depending on the time of day before someone drove by! ~ Jana Seitzer, Geek TravelingMom

If traveling in the mountains or anywhere there might be snow make sure you have the proper chains for your vehicle. ~ Renee Virata, Quick Weekender TravelingMom


Need some help making sure the vehicle is ready for travel? Serendipity TMOM Dee Dean offers a road trip checklist full of helpful tips from other TMOMs.

Tips for getting your vehicle ready to hit the road!
Photo credit: Denedriane Dean/ Serendipity TravelingMom

Inside the Vehicle

Yes, the interior of the vehicle is where things can get sticky, in every literal sense of the word. More than likely, the road trip will take several hours. Those hours will be happy hours if everyone is as comfortable and as mess -free as possible. Our TravelingMoms offer some tips that will keep sanity in check.

Keeping things tidy

Twins TravelingMom, Sarah Gilliland and I think alike, especially with this recommendation for the inside:  Trash can/bags for all the junk we have! Haha! Also baby wipes for spills and sticky fingers.

Keeping things clean

In a recent interview, TravelingDad Paul Eisenburg spoke with TV star Kevin James about traveling with his family. Kevin hilariously told what it is like to travel with 4 kids who ALL get carsick. Yikes! Both Kevin and Desert TravelingMom Karen Heffren offer this simple solution: Dramamine. Keeps the car puke free.
And for those moments that Dramamine doesn’t catch, Candid TMOM Patty Holliday gives this wisdom:

We pack extra plastic gallon ziplock bags and a roll of paper towels in the car! Throw anything stinky or pukey into those ziplock and seal up. Great idea Patty, especially on the sealing it up part!

Kimberly Tate, Active TravelingMom, makes this recommendation: Always pack some blankets and such just in case. Plus we like to pack towels for the floorboards for snowy and dirty boot feet. That or winter car mats, but we don’t have those.

Need some help making sure the vehicle is ready for travel? Serendipity TMOM Dee Dean offers a road trip checklist full of helpful tips from other TMOMs.

A few travel essentials to have in the trunk, including jumper cables, blankets, and a tire pump. Photo credit: Denedriane Dean/Serendipity TravelingMom

Keeping travel mates happy

Last Minute TravelingMom Jenn Greene gives a hint for parents of tweens and teens who love to travel with devices: Travel with extra chargers. They literally may die if they don’t have power. (From what I’ve experienced, that applies to both the devices AND the teens. There is a little teen angst tied to devices running out of power!)

What can you do when there is not a restroom stop in sight for miles? Road Warrior TMOM Nasreen Stump gives this gem of an option to have onboard:

 Not sure I want credit for this one but I picked up a $.99 potty training mini potty that came with these little bags w absorbent pads to pee into. (It) has come in useful in remote areas when you get lost and have had a liter of water.


My husband and I still joke to this day about an “almost” disaster when it came to directions. We were on our way to a lovely romantic getaway about two hours from our home. We were fairly certain about how to get there, and so we decided to just use our phone GPS. Yeah…no. We got just far enough out in the country that our cell signal dropped and the GPS froze! I was never more thankful for my hubby’s great sense of direction than I was in that moment, and we arrived at the resort without a major hitch.
Long Weekend TravelingMom Kendra Pierson offers a simple remedy for this issue: Print the directions. If you’re traveling in remote wooded areas, cell phone may be spotty and car navigation may not be accurate.

And Road Warrior TravelingMom Nasreen Stump gives this helpful tech-y suggestion: screenshot directions on your phone.

I definitely agree: have a backup in both paper and electronic forms!

Other valuable considerations

What about the times that we are traveling with a multigenerational group? The travel needs of both the very young and the young at heart call for a couple of additional {and vital} considerations.

This is going to sound crazy coming from the fabulously frugal mom, but we always pack to the max and rent a pack n play at the hotel (sometimes they are free). It allows us more room in the car for other stuff like a cooler of food. Hannah Rinaldi, Fabulously Frugal TravelingMom

Such a different perspective when elder care road tripping is the agenda: backup oxygen, nebulizer with meds, lymphedema wraps if flare up occurs. Just as do-able as child details! Christine Tibbetts, Cultural Heritage TravelingMom

Road trips are a blast and are a great way to make amazing memories. Having a checklist will help to make them memorable for the right reasons!

What do you always include on your road trip checklist?