These items will help you have a seamless experience.

By Katy Kiick Condon and Jennifer Aldrich
Updated March 19, 2021
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More and more people are thankfully receiving their COVID-19 vaccine every day, but we're still not back to normal. But there are still ways to safely enjoy a family vacation, especially if you're driving. To have a stress-free experience, you'll need to prepare before your excursion so you're not frantically running around the morning of your trip. After all, bringing the right stuff can keep the whole family relaxed, happy, and carefree—noble goals, especially in close quarters. Stash favorite snacks in a back seat cooler, break out a new deck of cards, and, whatever you do, don’t forget a pillow. Whether you’re driving a few hours to the beach or crisscrossing the country, these creature comforts will improve the journey, keep the kids from asking, “Are we there yet?” and help you capture the sights. This year's summer vacation might look a bit different than you pictured, but you can still travel in style with fun and nostalgic road trip accessories. Here are a few must-have items to pack for your next adventure.

anthropologie face mask
Credit: Courtesy of Anthropologie

Protective Face Mask

One of the main reasons we'll be driving instead of flying is that you can avoid crowds of strangers by traveling inside a vehicle with just the people you live with. But any road trip longer than a few hours will likely require a stop for a bathroom break, so be sure to pack a mask in the event you need to get out of the car. Of course, you can make your own face mask (our easy sewing instructions will help you get started), but if you'd rather purchase a matching set for the family, there are dozens of options available online. This set from Anthropologie contains three cotton face masks made from gorgeous patterned fabric and comfortable elastic ear bands. You can also double-mask with a surgical face mask underneath your cloth covering.

sol de janeiro hand sanitizer spray
Credit: Courtesy of Sephora

Hand Sanitizer

Another bathroom break essential: Hand sanitizer. You can't always count on the cleanliness of gas stations and rest stops, so come prepared to sanitize your hands after pumping gas or stopping to use the restroom. Be sure to pack a CDC-grade hand sanitizer (that means at least 60% alcohol concentration), such as one of these sanitizers that are currently in stock online. Or, you can opt for hand sanitizer spray for a less-mess option. And don't worry—the rumor that hand sanitizer will catch fire in your car was proven false by the National Fire Prevention Association.

yeti tumbler
Credit: Courtesy of Dick's Sporting Goods

Insulated Tumbler

Don't stress about drinks spilling while you travel. This top-selling tumbler, which comes in 12 colors, has stainless steel to keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold, and the wide, splash-proof lid will help you cut down on potential spills. Plus, it won't sweat or slide around in the cupholder.

travel journal
Credit: Courtesy of Powell's

Travel Journal

The Go! Adventure Journal is a fun interactive diary to keep kids busy capturing memories during your trip. Read the prompts to the kids and record their answers as you ride in the car, or keep them busy by having them write down their own responses. It'll create the perfect souvenir to cherish from your latest family vacation.

backseat cooler
Credit: Courtesy of High Road

Car Cooler

Chill snacks, hold drinks, and keep kids in the back separated. What's not to love? This insulated cooler can easily transport your snacks from the car to the beach, park, or wherever your trip takes you! If you are driving all day, pack lunch in the cooler to cut down on the number of stops you need to make along the way.

neck pillow that reads, happy place
Credit: Courtesy of Ban.Do.

Travel Pillow

Prevent nappers from getting cricks in their necks with this comfy (and cute!) neck pillow. A handy drawstring helps to keep it in position for sleeping, or you can use it to tie onto your carry-on bag. It comes in five gorgeous patterns, so you'll easily be able to find one that matches your style.

red plastic first aid kit with a red cross on the front
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

First Aid Kit

No one likes to be making extra doctor visits if you don't have to, so be sure you're prepared with a first-aid kit before you hit the road. It's a good idea to keep one in the car at all times anyway, so if you don't already have one in the glove box, we recommend this 140-piece kit. Of course, it's no substitute for professional medical care if you do end up with a serious injury, but it will help you easily clean and treat simple cuts, scrapes, and sprains on the road.

go fish game
Credit: Courtesy of Chronicle Books

Go Fish Game

What better way to pass the time while you travel (or enjoy an evening together) than by playing a fun game everyone knows and loves? This classic game (with a fun twist) is perfect for all ages, and if your road-tripping crew is small, bring along one of our favorite two-person card games too.

polaroid camera
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Polaroid Camera

Enjoy moonlighting as a photographer when you hit the road? This Polaroid is a reboot of the original, with a high-quality lens and rechargeable battery. All of the nostalgia with none of the hassle of using a decades-old device. Use it to capture fond memories of time spent together and reminisce about them for years to come.

red box filled with gloves and tire repair tools

Tire Repair Kit

It's a good idea to have a routine maintenance check performed before any long road trip, but you can't always plan for travel inconveniences like a flat tire, so be sure you're prepared before you pull out of the driveway. You can learn how to change a flat tire by watching videos online, and a car servicing kit will help you out while you're on the road. This 75-piece kit can help you change, repair, or patch any kind of tire if the need arises.

Packing the right gear is an easy way to ensure your family's road trip is as smooth as possible. Take away some of the stress of car travel with products that simplify the experience, and of course, make it a fun one!

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