The Road Trip Essentials And Gear You Need For Your Next Family Vacation

Family road trips are meant to be adventures, but don't let having the wrong gear drag you down. Here's a list of the essentials to put your mind at ease.

by Amos Kwon
Collage of a travelling bag, an ice box, and a pivot vac

According to the AAA, 41.9 million people will hit the road for the Fourth Of July, holiday and as soon as you get on the highway, you’re going to realize you’re stuck behind 39.4 million of them. Fortunately, the car ride will be a piece of cake, because you’ve already stocked up on all these road trip essentials, gear, and accessories to keep your kids happily occupied in the backseat like the well-behaved little humans they are. Wait… you didn’t stock up on all these yet? That’s cool — they sell earplugs at the gas station.

BRICA i-Hide Car Seat Organizer With Tablet Viewer

When you were a kid on long road trips, you had a Sony Walkman with sponge headphones to pass the time. Your kid has a high-resolution touchscreen containing hours of video, games, and music, all secured to the back of your seat with an organizer that holds toys, snacks, a water bottle, and anything else they might need. Basically, you had a cabinet radio; your kid has a multiplex with stadium seating. Life isn’t fair.

Buy Now $25

Yada Car Baby Monitor

For parents who obsessively check the nursery baby monitor despite the fact that the kid is 50 feet away and clearing sleeping soundly, Yada’s car version of the same device has a camera that mounts on the headrest and a screen that mounts to the dash or windshield. It helps avoid sketchy neck craning or mirror adjusting at 75 mph, and is a perfect tech solve for sibling mayhem.

Buy Now $112

Bobble Water Bottle

Tap water in the wild tends to taste… weird. Bobble bottles include their own carbon filter to remove chlorine and other funky-tasting particulates while you drink, so even a gas station bathroom tap will taste as clean as whatever they’re trying to sell you from their cooler. Each filter equals 300 of those disposable bottles, so buy one for everyone in the car.

Buy Now $12

Star Kids Snack and Play Travel Tray

This activity tray has near-universal compatibility with car seats, strollers, and booster seats, plus it’s nylon fabric is long-lasting and the whole thing folds up, so it’s easy to store. That’s not to mention the cup holder and pouch on the side for markers and colored pencils. If you have one of those magical kids who only needs a flat surface and paper and crayons to be happy, this thing is the greatest road trip essential of all time.

Buy Now $28

Black And Decker 20V MAX Pivot Vac

If your car tends to accumulate a small landfill worth of food and detritus within the first 150 yards of your driveway, bring a fully charged 20V Max with you. The road trip essential has a high-powered motor with cyclonic action, which keeps the filter clear and the suction strong, but the pivoting nozzle means it’s small enough to stow away under a seat or in a trunk.

Buy Now $71

Diono Seat Belt Pillow

Remember that time you had the brilliant idea to duct-tape a pillow around the shoulder strap of your seat belt so you could pass out cold comfortably while sitting upright in a car? Someone just did that, but way better.

Buy Now $9

Rhino Rack Sunseeker Awning

Rest stops are for suckers. Rhino Rack’s 8-foot awning mounts easily to most roof racks and provides 54-square feet of shade and shelter wherever you want it. Sure, it doesn’t include vending machines or bathrooms, but you have plenty of snacks because you’re a well-prepared road tripper, and it’s time the kids discover the joy of making like the bears do: in the woods.

Buy Now $342

Bushnell H2O Waterproof/Fogproof Binoculars

Any road trip worth its gas is going to pass a few viewpoints, and since you can now turn those viewpoints into the world’s best rest stops (see above), make sure to maximize your downtime with these binocs. They’re nearly kid-proof and powerful enough to absorb their attention nearly as well as the tablet hanging from the back seat.

Buy Now $94

Yeti Roadie 20 Quart Cooler

Yeti coolers will keep ice solid after 48 hours in 90-degree weather, which is why hunters and fishermen swear by them to keep their catch and kills from stinking to high heaven on long trips. They’ll keep whatever drinks and snacks you need cold no matter how much sun they get in the back of your car, and they’re true road trip essentials.

Buy Now $200

PopYum Bottles

Feeding your baby on the road slows down the trip. For parents that don’t want to pull over every time their baby’s hungry, PopYum is a nice shortcut. It’s made in five parts, with formula in its top compartment and breast milk or water in the bottom part. Then, you press the button in the middle of the bottle, shake it, and it mixes together. Now, it’s time to eat.

Buy Now $15

Travel John Jr.

This is exactly what it sounds like: your wildest dreams coming true. Yes, with the Travel John Jr. you won’t have to desperately hunt for a rest stop as soon as your kid says they have to go to the bathroom right now, or worse, find a spot on the side of the road. It’s essentially a disposable bag with absorbent (and odorless) gel on the inside. When you reach your destination, just toss it in the trash.

Buy Now $10

Yaket Ice

It doesn’t look like much, but it’s beauty is in its simplicity. To keep water or baby bottles cold in the car, just wrap the band around them. There, you have a six-pack. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to use the Yaket Ice to keep adult beverages at cold, as well. After all, you deserve a cool drink after the long drive.

Buy Now $30