15 Best Long Road Trip Essentials for Working Families

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By Erin
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Heading out for a month or more long road trip? Here is a list of key must have road trip essentials for families you won’t want to forget!

Starting Out – Important Road Trip Essentials to Keep in Mind

This is probably a weird post compared to my normal travel itinerary notes. But honestly, I wish someone had given me a list like this when I first started out on our long cross country road trip. We decided to take six months and explore.

Literally, we lived in Airbnbs and VRBOs from a couple days to months at different locations. Sometimes I would think, are we nuts? We have a six month old baby and keeping track of everything was SUPER crazy. But at the same time, I cherish the memories we made on the road and grew closer as a result of our adventures.

To make things easier, we kept this packing list of road trip essentials so we didn’t forget what we brought. It is amazing how quickly you forget, what belongs to the short-term rental and what is yours especially if you accumulate items as you travel.

I remember I had purchased baby silverware at one of my first rentals because I forgot to pack mine. A couple months into the stay, I was staying at a new Airbnb and they had a multitude of baby silverware. So much so, I almost left ours behind because it was grouped in with the house’s items. We also almost left our scanner at another location because it was put away in their office space. That one would have really hurt…since we absolutely love this device.

Tip: Keep a list of your most critical items. Check your list before leaving, and you will never accidentally leave something behind.

I also realized as we traveled, not all Airbnb or VRBO short-term rentals were of the same caliber. Meaning, some had very worn and even dirty items that I would not use. Others, were perfect and I barely had to use some of my essentials. I am particular about certain supplies, and you maybe that way too.

For example, I won’t move into a short-term rental without having my a printer, scanner, and quality linens. A printer and scanner was necessary for remote work. The linens I probably could have lived without, but it made me more like home. And when you’re away from home for a long time, I found some normalcy made me more content. It’s important to know what your “essentials” are when creating your own list.

Packing for a long road trip is another challenge because you are limited due to the capacity of your vehicle. We were very space challenged especially with a bunch of baby items in tow. It really keeps in check what your non-negotiables TRULY are.

Another thing to keep in mind is to have critical necessities to be able to function in an emergency. Do I sound dramatic? Our very first stop on our journey was Austin, Texas. For those of you living in Texas, you would remember the freeze and power outage that lasted a week in 2021. Living in a short-term rental, we were glad we had enough food and had planned ahead with some basic essentials. The roads were covered in ice, and all the stores in the area were closed.

Tip: Plan ahead with the basic essentials because often furnished rentals may not have flash lights or key emergency items.

Without further delay, here is my top must haves. I have also included links to the items if I thought they were worth recommending to you.

Canva licensed photo - family road trip
Relax with your family by having all your road trip essentials.

Top Must Have Items – Road Trip Essentials

All-In-One Printer

If you’re working, you will need this. It was used all the time. We had an old dinosaur that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend due to it’s size. There is a scanner/copier option on Amazon that would be a all-in-one option that had good reviews if you prefer one device. Here is the link to the HP Office Jet 250. This one looked good for an all-in-one versus separate devices.

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Document Scanner

The Fujitsu ScanSnap is my absolute favorite item, making our lives easier and more efficient on the road. I know this one is costly, but it’s so much better than other models I have bought, and it travels well.

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Medicine Box & First Aid Kit

I carried a little extra of these items since we were traveling with a little one. You will also find that you may want to carry some essentials for you as well, so you don’t have to continue to buy. This first aid kit is great because it has the main items you would need.

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I also carry a baby first aid kit that is a smaller version for my purse or diaper bag for quick use. I listed that below in the baby travel section.

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Rubbermaid Bins

We purchased these bins, and it kept products that leak in check and much easier to quickly load into the car.

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Amazon Fire Stick

We preferred to use YouTube TV so we could keep watching our home cable channels, and also our favorite DVR shows. The Amazon Fire Stick of course is great for many other subscriptions too.

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LED Flash Light

You would be surprised that not all short-term rentals would leave a flash light. But it is truly essential when the power goes out, and we would just carry a couple of them in our car anyway.

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We also carried a couple LED candles as another back up if the power went out. Some rentals will not allow burning candles so these are a good option.

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Personal Hygiene Products

This one could get out of hand with multiple shampoos, face creams, deodorants, sprays, body washes, feminine products, etc. I would keep to what was my standard items and not deviate. I would also NOT purchase more before the next trip to keep quantities to a minimum. It’s important to make sure your items fit in the Rubbermaid containers to avoid a mess.

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Paper Products

I would carry a small supply of paper products because most short-term rentals only give you a starter supply. I would often do Amazon Subscribe and Save and just update my shipping location and save 5-15% off.

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Cold Storage for Food, Spices, and Beverages

This is all personal preference on what you want to bring versus purchase at the destination. I tended to always repack my spices since they were easy to carry. But, we would carry a Igloo cooler especially if it was a short day trip between new locations. This would save on buying all new items like condiments. There are some really nice options for coolers, but we just used something like this that met the basic needs of traveling inside a car.

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Weather Appropriate Clothing

Remember to pack the essentials for the type of weather you will experience over your journey. My husband for example insisted he didn’t need a thick winter coat in Texas. Like I mentioned earlier, we had a freeze and it became apparent we would need to purchase a coat during this trip. On the other hand, I wanted to pack a variety of shoes, purses, and accessories. This was not an ideal plan once I started to pack our car. I had to rethink what my top items were so we would have enough space.

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Travel Jewelry Case

I purchased this one on Amazon and it fit the bill for traveling. It separated my necklaces to prevent them from getting tangled, and it was able to easily fit in a suitcase.

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Bedspread, Blanket and Sheets

This is my personal preference to make our stays more comfortable. Also, with a baby in tow, we wanted to avoid damaging a host or hotels linens. I also would carry a small supply of wash cloths and towels for this same reason.

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Travel Size Umbrella

I can’t tell you the amount of times I will always go to the travel umbrella instead of my bigger, heavier duty option. This travel umbrella takes up a lot less space, and does the job when on the road.

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Travel Kitchen Knife Set

I purchased these Cuisinart knives to travel with soon after my first short-term rental that literally had the WORST knife set. It was like cutting everything with a butter knife. These are great because they come with sleeves, and I could just throw them in a container and not have to cover them. They worked great, and the price was under $20.

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Travel Door Security Alarms

Concerned about security? Check out these door stopper alarms that let you know if there is someone trying to break in. They cause no damage to the door and can be removed easily when needed.

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Hope you enjoyed my best long road trip essentials for working families article. If you are traveling with a baby or toddler like I was, check out my top baby travel essentials for short trips article.

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Authored By: Erin
Welcome to Erin’s Travel Tips, a Florida Travel Website. I specialize in unique family travel destinations, outdoor getaways in Florida and beyond! I’m a proud Floridian who loves a good cup of coffee, boating, and of course, traveling with my family to some of the most interesting places in the world.

1 thought on “15 Best Long Road Trip Essentials for Working Families”

  1. These are all great suggestions. I didn’t know there was even such a thing as that travel jewelry case! I always put my jewelry in reusable sandwich bags haha! I’m definitely going to look into getting one. Thanks!!


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