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The Ultimate Packing List: Things to Pack for a Holiday Road Trip

The Ultimate Packing List: Things to Pack for a Holiday Road Trip

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Driving home for the holidays? You won’t want to forget any of these packing essentials for a holiday road trip this winter. Scroll down for all the info!
This holiday road trip essentials post was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Are you planning a holiday road trip this year? That’s exciting!

It’s the most magical time of year, and a road trip will only make that season even more merry and bright.

I mean, what a great excuse to crank the Christmas carols!

To ensure that you get there on time, you need to be sure to have certain things in the car during your holiday road trip. You don’t want to be caught unprepared.

Here’s a look at things to remember to pack this season while on a holiday road trip.

How to Pack for a Holiday Road Trip

Don’t Forget the Ice scraper

If you’re headed to or traveling through a wintery area, don’t be caught without an ice scraper.

Don't forget to bring an ice scraper for your holiday road trip!

Traveling with iced-over windows can be detrimental to the completion and enjoyment of your trip. Catch my drift?

Make sure every window of your vehicle is free from ice buildup before setting out.

Many people head to snowy and icy areas to experience a white Christmas, so make sure you come prepared!

Emergency Kit

Being prepared is never a bad idea, so be sure to have a car emergency kit on board during your holiday road trip.

When on a holiday road trip, it's best to be ready. So pack a car emergency kit with you!

Emergency kits should include jumper cables, a tire jack, roadside flares, antifreeze, extra blankets, two quarts of oil, a car battery charger, a towing strap, a tool kit, and first-aid supplies.

Being caught without an emergency kit can be dangerous. 

Read more: How to Prepare a First Aid Kit for Kids for Any Trip

Spare Tire, Anyone?

Does your family vehicle not have a spare tire on board?

Just imagine getting stranded with a flat tire and not having a backup. Not only are you stuck, but you’re putting your family in a dangerous situation you could have avoided.

I’m sure that’s not the kind of family road trip I want to be in.

Don’t Forget the Snow Tires

Are you planning on driving in the mountains with a good chance of snow? Consider putting on snow tires to help with traction.

Even if you’re simply going somewhere notorious for snow, a set of snow tires is not a bad way to go.

Heading into the mountains for a white Christmas guarantees you need snow tires!

Shovel, Just in Case!

If you slide off the road and get stuck in the snow, you won’t be going anywhere.

You'll never know how much snow there'll be on the road during your holiday road trip, so it's best to bring a snow shovel just in case!

If this happens at a mile marker with no travelers, it might be hours before you can get pulled out. You never know when you’ll have to dig your way out of a snowy situation. 

Kitty Litter

If you slide off the road and have no traction to get back on the road, kitty litter has never been more helpful. It might even serve a greater purpose for rescuing stranded travelers than getting peed on.

Bringing your pets along? This lightweight kitty litter is best for your holiday road trip if you're planning to bring your fur baby!

Kitty litter provides the grit needed for your car’s wheels to catch any type of traction.

Gloves, Hats, and Scarves

If your vehicle breaks down in a winter wonderland, it’s going to get cold. And fast.

Keep yourself warm during your holiday road trip.

Make sure your entire family has the gloves, hats, and scarves needed in case you have to set out on foot because there is no cell service.

You can even bring your favorite holiday-themed warm winter wear.

Don’t Forget the Extra Cash

Having extra cash on hand isn’t a bad idea, also.

Not only will you pay for gas and tolls this way, but you never know when a circumstance comes up that you need extra money.

You might even run into a holiday charity donation jar if you want to give a couple of bucks. Last-minute gift shopping may also be a possibility!

Bring Healthy Snacks With You!

Stay away from convenience stores, which will rob you of snacks and treats that you can get at the grocery store for a fraction of the price.

Save time and money when you pack your own food for your holiday road trip. It's healthier that way, too!

You can also get several healthier snacks this way, which keeps you from having to stop as often.

You’ll be enjoying plenty of unhealthy foods over the holidays, so it’s a good idea to bring healthy snacks with you this time!


It would be a good idea to bring a cooler full of water and drinks for your family.

Just be sure to keep an eye on how much liquid your children are drinking, so that you don’t have to stop every half hour.

Necessary Medicine

Don’t forget the pain reliever, allergy medicine or any other prescriptions a family member may be on.

Little baby brother crying at the top of his lungs can even give momma a headache. 

Don’t Forget the Kleenex

Have you ever been in the car with a running nose and had no form of tissue in sight? Talk about miserable and avoidable.

It's best to have some Kleenex during your holiday road trip because if there's one thing we know about the winter, it's that there will be some sneezing and blowing of nose along the way.

Be sure to have a travel-size pack of Kleenex to blow your nose.

Yes, Entertainment is Necessary

Whether you have an iPad, iPhone, or i-whatever, be sure to have some movies or shows ready for the kids. Also, be sure to have a full battery when you head off.

Do you what's worse than grumpy kids on a holiday road trip? Forgetting to bring entertainment for them!

Have your children pack extra toys or figurines to keep them busy. This will prevent you from hearing “I’m bored” or “When are we going to get there?” more often than necessary.

Check out these travel toys for toddlers, travel books for kids, and other baby travel essentials that are perfect for a holiday road trip.

Charger Cables

Make sure you have charger cables for all your devices and phones to keep the entertainment going throughout the trip.

Holiday Movies Galore

Another great festive idea is to have holiday movies playing in the backseat. Elf, The Santa Clause, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer are just to name a few classics.

Blankets and Pillows

You can’t be totally prepared for a holiday road trip without your pillow and blanket.

At some point, your eyes will be so heavy from boredom that you can’t stay awake. Make sure that you’re more comfortable with your pillow and blanket.

Bring an Atlas With You!

Even if you and the horse know the way to grandmother’s house, you never know what roadblocks you might encounter.

You won’t want to be stranded if your phone dies or you lose cell reception.

Be sure to have an updated GPS or atlas on hand to keep you from getting lost.

Holiday Tunes Playlist

Some time beforehand, set up an iTunes playlist that your whole family will enjoy.

Not only will this help pass the time quicker, but keep the driver more alert while jamming with the family. We love singing holiday songs in the car, during road trips!

Chewing Gum

Not only will chewing gum help with bad breath, but it will help keep your children busy.

Sometimes, kids just need a little something to do to keep them busy and occupied.

Winter Road Trip Packing List Wrap-Up

You need to be sure to pack these things when heading out on a holiday road trip this year.

If you’re a pro at traveling on a road trip during the holidays, tell us other things to include while packing that might not have made this list.

Looking for more road trip and travel tips? Check out these tips on how to stay healthy during your holiday travel, how to survive travel with little kids, and what other travel items to have (or gift to someone)!

Not sure where to go? Here are a few suggestions on holiday destinations, whether you drive or fly:

Warm Winter Destinations in the United States
Fun Christmas Destinations in the United States
Winter Weekend Getaways from Seattle

Holiday Road Trip packing list featured by top US travel blogger, Marcie in Mommyland

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Thursday 16th of January 2020

Hello Marcie, In USA, I am going to road trip usually in 2-3 months with my boyfriend. It was an amazing experience. The list of things for road trip is perfect. Thank You.


Monday 6th of July 2020

I hope you have a great trip!

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