Ever since the United States highway system was established, the road trip has been a family past-time. From Route 66 to epic cross-country journeys, families have tried to balance the joys of seeing the country with the not-as-pleasant realities of car travel. This road trip gifts guide will make family road trips a little easier and more fun for the loved ones in your life!
We have taken a lot of family and mother-daughter road trips, including our 3,600 mile long trip through the midwest this summer. With all this experience, we have found some travel products that make our time on the road easier, more organized, and more fun.
From stocking stuffers to more specialty splurges, I hope you find this gift guide for road trips useful!
Road Trip Gifts
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Need ideas to start your road trip planning? Of course I have plenty of ideas on this website for road trips. But for even more, I love flipping through books like National Geographic’s 50 States, 5000 Ideas.
Kids can also get involved in the planning with National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas. Plus, there are games and activities to keep them busy on the trip.
When it comes to road trips, safety is the first concern. In addition to a membership to a road side assistance service like AAA, I recommend always keeping an emergency kit in the car. There are many options available but I like this one because it includes: jumper cables, air compressor for flat tires, warning reflectors, a flashlight headlamps, a first aid kit, and other essentials.
I can’t even count the number of times the Melissa & Doug Travel Bingo game has helped make the miles go by on family road trips. We love this game so much that I have even created some optional road trip bingo game boards for more variety!
If you love getting off the highway and finding good local eats, Road Food: An Eater’s Guide to More Than 1,000 of the Best Local Hot Spots and Hidden Gems Across America is a must have to leave in the car on road trips. We have found some yummy gems in this book, including an off-the-beaten path sausage joint in Delaware.
A fun way to break up road trips is with stops and funny and absurd road side attractions. This summer we saw a giant bison and cow in North Dakota, and the famous Wall Drug store in South Dakota. This guide of 125 Wacky Roadside Attractions will give you ideas and sure to produce some backseat giggles along the way.
One of the biggest challenges on a long distance road trip is keeping the car from becoming a complete disaster zone. A good seat back organizer like this one from Hello Little Monsters is essential. It has multiple pocket sizes, a water bottle holder, and even a removable Velcro-wallet.
I am a big fan of games that come in handy carrying cases to make sure all the pieces stay together. This magnetic tanagrams set from Melissa & Doug goes a set further with its magnetic game board and pieces. This was a family favorite of ours when Hannah was younger.
When we are road tripping, we like it when our water stays cold and our coffee stays hot. This insulated stainless steel tumbler from Yeti is a great gift for anyone that spends a lot of time in the car. It is tapered to fit all cup holders and the easy-slide opening makes it easy to sip on the go.
If your kids are going to fight in the car, you might as well give them something to be competitive about. Spot it! On the Road is small and easy to pack with its metal carrying case but can provide hours of game play.
Let’s face it, these days most family road trips rely on at least some screen time to pass the miles. The more screen time you have, the more battery life you use. Instead of fighting over the car charger, let everyone charge up with this USB charging hub.
When Hannah was little, we carried Wikki Stix with us on airplanes, restaurants, and road trips. These bendable wax-coated sticks can result in countless creations, with a little imagination thrown in. This traveling case of Wikki Stix is perfect for a road trip. Just don’t leave it in the hot sun or the wax will melt!
For those that like to take long road trips or enjoy car camping, a personal car fridge is the best invention! I at least like to bring a cooler on car trips, but this mini-fridge will keep drinks and snacks cold on summer car trips. You can even store leftovers to cut down on your restaurant budget.
Long car rides mean kicking off the shoes and getting comfortable. They also mean snacks and road food. You know what all that means? A stinky car! Try a travel-size essential oil diffuser to eliminate those smells.
What better way to get in the road trip mood than some family road trip t-shirts. You can make up custom shirts but there are also so many fun designs to choose from. Now that Hannah has outgrown our “Girl’s Only Road Trip” t-shirts, we need to find some new ones for our next adventure.
Snack wrappers, tissues, wipes, take out bags…road trips generate a lot of garbage. Contain the trash with a pop-up travel trash can. I like that this one by Rubbermaid also has a flip-top lid for easy opening and closing.
What would make a nicer stocking stuffer, gift topper, or hostess gift for a road trip lover than this cute custom ornament?
Families can track their road trip travels and adventures with this fun scratch off map poster. There are even stickers for state flags and landmarks.
If your family car doesn’t have a built-in navigation system or Apple CarPlay, you will need a good phone car mount. This way, the driver won’t get distracted with looking down at their phone for maps and directions. This one fits into the air vent to stay out of your field of vision by blocking windshield space.
I am a huge believer in audiobooks for family road trips (check out this list of some of our favorite family audiobooks.) If you know a family that takes a lot of road trips or spends a lot of time in the car, they will definitely appreciate a subscription to Audible.
These triangular crayons are great for a road trip or the plane because they won’t easily roll off of a tray table or lap desk. They are great for letting your little artists document their trips and create masterpieces from the trip.
Maybe your artist needs a little help on their creations. If so, this Scratch and Sketch book of National Parks and Landmarks is the perfect solution! Just scratch off the black to reveal beautiful scenes.
When you need to lighten the mood, there is nothing like Mad Libs or these Funny Fill-in books from National Geographic to get everyone laughing. I love the road trip and National Parks versions because they are more relevant to the setting.
A great way to get everyone excited about a special trip, like a road trip to Disney, is with a customized trip organizer. You can pack this with road trip snacks, games/toys, or small gifts to keep everyone occupied on the road.
A customized road trip map makes a heart-felt gift and becomes a family heirloom. They can be customized with family name, road trip stops, and states visited.
I hope this gives you some new and unique ideas to buy for the road tripping family on your list!
Looking for more travel gift ideas?
Looking for family road trip ideas?
- Midwest road trip
- New England road trip
- Northeast road trip
- Civil Rights road trip
- Virginia road trip
- California coast road trip
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