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How to Plan The Perfect Family Camping Road Trip

It’s summertime and you’re thinking about where to take your next family vacation…

Your list includes fun at Disneyland, relaxing at the beach, sightseeing in the city, or a good old-fashioned family camping trip to the woods.

But why do you only have to choose one?

Hit the road with your family instead this summer. A family camping road trip is an awesome way to explore a variety of places and enjoy time in the great outdoors.

Here’s what you need to know to plan a family camping road trip this summer.

Why Camp on Your Family Road Trip?

Girls reading a map in the back of a car.

Here are a few of the big perks to taking a camping road trip with your family instead of the typical single-destination vacation:

  • Educational – Stop at historic sites and museums to add a little learning to your trip.
  • Saves Money – Campgrounds are very cost effective compared to hotels. You can even cook your meals at the campsite and save on meals at restaurant.
  • Your Options Are Endless – This country has a lot to offer. Stay close to home or travel cross country as your time and budget allows.
  • Enjoy the Journey – A road trip will teach your children to enjoy all the things along the way rather than just racing to the destination.
  • Bring the Comforts of Home – On a road trip, you don’t need to worry about airline luggage restrictions. Bring a few more outfits and your favorite bottle of shampoo.
  • Change Plans Mid Trip – Spontaneity is key to a fun family road trip…you can stay put for an extra day or move to a new campsite early if you get bored.

These are just a few reasons why we love family camping road trips!

How to Plan a Successful Family Camping Road Trip

Family bicycling in a field.

Of course, you can still be spontaneous and change plans as you go, but making a basic plan is key to an enjoyable family road trip.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Length of Trip – Start by deciding how long you’ll be gone. This will help you figure out how far you can travel and how many campgrounds you need to stop at.
  • Determine Your Route – Choose a general region you want to visit and slowly narrow down the stops to make along the way. I like to use Google Maps to determine about how long it will take to get from one destination to the next.
  • Find Campsites – Now, it’s time to nail down campgrounds. Look for campsites that aren’t more than an hour from your driving route. In the summer, it’s smart to make all your camping reservations in advance.
  • Stay at a Motel – Just because it’s a camping road trip, doesn’t mean you can’t stay at a hotel every once in a while. In fact, your family will appreciate the occasional motel room even more after all that camping!
  • Make a Meal Plan – Plan out meals (especially snacks!) before leaving on your trip. Make-ahead meals are awesome for road trips. And don’t forget to bring your cooler!

When planning your family road trip, it’s fun to get your kids involved and ask for their opinions and ideas on where to stop and where to camp.

What to Bring on Your Family Camping Road Trip

The right gear is super important for an enjoyable family camping trip – especially when you’re also on a road trip!

Our family camping checklist is a great place to start, but consider the following items as well:

  • First-Aid Kit – A first-aid kit is very important for both the car and to have for any bumps and bruises that happen at the campsite.
  • Jump Starter & Air Compressor – A portable jump starter is invaluable anytime you travel a long way in a car. Better yet, find a model with a built-in air compressor to help pump up your tires in case you get a flat!
  • Car Emergency Kit – In addition to a spare tire and the tools to change it, a basic car emergency kit with a flashlight, reflective triangles, and a multi-purpose tool is extremely important to have on a long car drive.

These important items will help keep your family safe and secure if an emergency comes up on your road trip.

How to Keep Your Kids Entertained on a Road Trip

Kids playing on a tablet on a family road trip.

“Are we there yet?”

It’s a question that parents dread. So stay off this constant question with some fun activities to enjoy on your journey.

  • Audiobooks – We love to download kid-friendly audiobooks out from our local library (with the OverDrive app) to enjoy on our drive.
  • Travel Games – Travel-size versions of popular board games are widely available now. You can also find on-the-go versions of most card games.
  • Road Trip Games – There are a lot of fun road trip games you can play in the car that allow you to interact with the world outside. Our family’s favorite is license plate bingo.

Obviously, these road trip game suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg for what you can play on your trip.

Once you get to your campsite, check out our list of the best camping activities to help your kids stay entertained.

Here Are 3 Great Family Road Trip Routes to Consider

North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

The United States has so much to offer in terms of road trip destinations.

Not only are their countless national parks and historic sites, but cities, theme parks, beaches, and so much more are great to add to your road trip route.

Here are three of our favorite family road trip routes for you to consider:

  • New England – Cape Cod and Boston up to Acadia National Park in Maine is an excellent family road trip route that can be completed in just a few days or savored over a week or more.
  • Southwest – One of the most quintessential American road trips, a drive through the southwest boasts miles of open road, stunning rock formations, and stories of the old west. Santa Fe, the Grand Canyon, and the wonderful national parks of Utah are only a few of the must-see destinations along this route.
  • Pacific Northwest – Stop in Seattle and Portable for city fun, but don’t forget to check out Olympic, North Cascade, and Mount Rainier national parks. You can even swing over to Montana to check out Glacier and Yellowstone national parks.

What’s so awesome about taking a road trip in the United States is that literally every region has amazing sites to offer for the inquisitive eye.

Have a Great Family Road Trip!

Road trips have a special place in American culture – add camping into the mix and it’s even better.

Family camping across the country is a great way to introduce your children to the natural wonders, historic sites, and diverse cultures our country has to offer.

Although a family road trip is fun in a car, it’s even better in an RV! Check out our guide to renting an RV and use our RV rental tool to find the perfect rig for your trip.


Saturday 25th of November 2017

My boys are all grown up now and on their way to college but when they were in school we used to go camping quite often. Reading your blog brought back the memories of the hours of planning and preparation that went into any of our camping trips. Really enjoyed reading your article and will definitely look forward to planning my next road trip with my family.

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Monday 3rd of April 2017

[…] as well! Before you know it, your kids will be begging to pack the car and go for a weekend camping trip completely […]

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Tuesday 21st of March 2017

I love road trips and they can indeed be educational! Great work, Cait!