A family road trip is one of the most enjoyable ways to spend quality time with your nearest and dearest, but such a break can be truly testing if you forget to pack something important.

Whether you're planning a UK road holiday, or a jaunt on the continent, consider packing these useful, entertaining and plain-old essential items.


Driving essentials:
  • Driving licence(s)
  • Insurance documents
  • Breakdown cover details
  • Passports
  • The correct currency for your destination. Even if you plan on using ATMs overseas, it's a good idea to have a small amount of local cash ready for tolls, or in case your card doesn't work at the petrol station.
  • Debit and credit cards with back-up payment sources

First aid

A first aid kit is essential, rather than merely useful. Pack a good quality first aid kit in case of bumps or cuts. We all know how accident-prone young children (and even some adults) can be.

  • It's also a good idea to pack ice spray or a cold pack to reduce any swelling
  • Plasters
  • Pain relief tablets such as ibuprofen or paracetamol
  • Disinfectant for cuts and bruises
  • Anti-mosquito spray - check to see if your destination has a lot of mosquitoes. Aside from the minor possibility of being infected by a mosquito-borne virus, these tiny insects can cause a lot of itching, which will only detract from your holiday.
  • Sunblock - pack plenty to prevent sunburn

Entertainment and technology

We all have our particular ways to pass the time, but here are a few winning ideas.

  • Download or pack your children's favourite DVD movies, plus a few they haven't seen - and don’t forget something to play them on!
  • Take along a battery pack so you don't run out of juice half-way through your Despicable Me
  • Remember to load your GPS system with all applicable maps. If you're relying on your smart-phone for navigation, download off-line maps from Maps.me, or use Google Maps’ off-line map feature.
  • Camera equipment with plenty of memory cards to capture the highlights of your time on the road.
  • Double-check you have all the chargers for your devices.

Essentials for road trips with kids

By their very nature, road trips take a long time, so it's important your children have comfortable car seats and boosters, appropriate to their size/age. Choose seats with good head support.

Pack some old-school things for the kids to enjoy - such as colouring books, crayons, games and puzzles. With limited space, choose smaller items if possible. Many games are available in magnetised versions, which will help prevent losing pieces down the back of the car seat or on the floor.

For younger kids, pack plenty of nappies and wipes, as well as any effective quiet toys.Taking a few sickness bags is also a good idea, particularly for winding stretches of road.

And pack a few toys for playing outside on the beach or in parks etc. Frisbees and blow-up balls don't take up much space and are sure to keep everyone entertained for hours.

Entertainment for the grown-ups

When travelling with children, it’s easy to forget to pack entertainment for you and any other adults in the car. Consider sorting out a road-trip playlist, and download audiobooks, novels and any digital devices needed to enjoy them on.

Of course, you should be able to pick up any items you forget, but you’ll have more time to enjoy your family road trip if you do a little preparation first.

Clothes, blankets, snacks and water

These items may be obvious, but are worth double-checking. If you’re travelling in summer months, pack plenty of water in case you get stuck in a traffic jam - such as on the way to the Channel Tunnel.