The holidays are upon us, which means it’s time to load up our cars with seasonal joy to visit family and friends. While some of us revel in hours on the road, it’s no secret that holiday road trips can be tiring and stressful. Whether you’re heading across town or across the country, this road trip essentials guide covers Matador Network’s must-haves to make you, your kiddos, and your car extra comfortable and safe this holiday road tripping season.
Everything You Need for a Winter Family Road Trip
We hope you love the road trip essentials we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.
Road trip essentials for your car
1. Orca Walker Tote
If you’re like us, road trips are synonymous with snacks. That’s why we all need a durable and reliable cooler to keep snacks at the ready. The Orca Walker Tote is a soft-sided cooler that will squeeze into your packed car perfectly. An easy-to-open magnetic handle with a padded shoulder strap makes this a perfect tote to load and carry, while the tough bottom pad, double lined outer material, and ultrasonic RF welding means you don’t have to worry about leakage. With the capability of retaining cold for days, this is the road trip cooler you’ve been looking for.
2. Front Runner Wolf Pack
Keeping your car organized during a road trip will keep you sane. That’s why we’re huge fans of the Front Runner Wolf Pack. These stackable storage containers are perfect for organizing and keeping everything from first aid items to holiday gifts from getting squished. Though this style isn’t waterproof, they are our go-to for trunk organization.
3. Adventure Medical Kits First Aid Medical Kit 2.0
First aid kits are something you don’t always think of until you need it, and though we hope you’ll never need it, we want you to be prepared if you do. With everything from pain medication to elastic bandages, this kit is organized into injury-specific pockets so anyone in your family can give first aid quickly. Other emergency items we recommend include the S.O.L. Fuel Free Rechargeable Lighter, the S.O.L. Survival Blanket, and the Primus Lite Stove.
4. Navigator Seat Buddy
Road trips with kids can be all giggles, but they can also turn your backseat into a disaster area. With everything from an iPad flat strap to webbing loops and options to “build your own” with additional storage solutions like the Kids Pocket Buddy (hello pencil case and drink bottle holder!), these are some of the best seat organizers on the market. They’re easy to use for your kiddos in the backseat and will keep your car as clean as can be (though will probably not protect against goldfish crumbs between seats!).
5. Yakima SkyBox 21 Carbonite Cargo Roof Box
Whether you’re headed to the ski resorts with your family this holiday season or to grandma’s house with five kids, the Yakima SkyBox 21 Roof Box is your answer for creating more space in your vehicle. With 21 cubic feet of extra space, this roof box can fit snowboards and skis up 215 cm long and has ample room for luggage and holiday gifts. You might need a set of Yakima Towers which allow for roof angle adjustments and anchor hook adjustments, but the extra space is 100% worth it. Just make sure you get the proper setup for your specific vehicle!
6. Nokian Hakkapeliitta Winter Tires
Safety is key when driving— and winter can provide a plethora of dangers. From blizzards hindering eyesight to icy roads, we recommend the Nokian Hakkapeliitta tires to keep you and your family safe this winter. This non-studded winter tire provides safety and grip thanks to cryo crystals, which are microscopic crystals embedded through the tire’s tread that act like studs. Another plus? Low rolling resistance means better gas mileage. Safety and save money on gas? Yes, please.
Price: Contact dealer for details
Road trip essentials for adults
7. Outdoor Research Juneau Fleece Jacket
When traveling with a family, it’s best to have layers. Why? Because it seems like one person is always hot and one is always cold. To help you stay at the perfect temperature in the car, we recommend the Outdoor Research Juneau Fleece Jacket. With double-brushed sherpa fleece and a full zip for temperature control, its relaxed fit makes layering easy — so you can stay comfortable when the car temp isn’t to your liking.
Price: From $149.99
8. Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack
Few things are more frustrating than endlessly searching for items in your cluttered bag in the trunk of your packed car. To prevent the classic “take everything out of your bag” moment, we recommend the Cotopaxi Allpa 35. Built in zip storage means that socks, sweaters, and everything else stays organized — even when your car isn’t.
Price: From $170
9. OluKai Slippers
Don’t forget about keeping your feet cozy on your winter road trip! Keeping your feet comfortable will help with soreness for days to come, so that’s why we recommend slipping on a pair of OluKai slippers. With sheepskin shearling lining for that ultra-soft feel and drop-in heel capabilities, these slippers offer both shoe and slide functionality.
Price: From $120
10. Miraflora CBD Recovery Balm
If you’re anything like us, sitting for long periods of time leads to achy backs and cramped legs (hello getting older). Miraflora’s recovery balm disintegrates muscle soreness and promotes joint mobility. When you reach your road trip destination, this is your must-have to ease those achy muscles.
11. Forsake Thatcher Boots
Holiday road trips always lead somewhere — whether they’re the ski resort or the city. That’s why we’re including the Forsake Thatcher Boots. With a waterproof and breathable membrane, these boots are sure to keep your feet dry and warm on your road trip, and at your destination.
Price: From $159.95
Road trip essentials kids
12. Reima Northern Fleece Sweater
Keeping your kids snuggled on a winter road trip is a must, and the Reima Northern Fleece Sweater is the zip-up for the job. With fitted cuffs to help keep away the cold and snug hood in fleece, your kiddos will be the coziest they can be through any winter weather road trip.
13. BUFF Knitted and Fleece Hat
With a PrimaLoft internal fleece-lined headband and knitted construction, this adorable knitted bear hat is sure to be your child’s go-to. Perfect to leave on in the car or when heading out into the winter weather at those all-important road trip pit-stops, this hat will keep your kids warm and comfortable whether they’re in the snow or the backseat.
14. Klean Kanteen Kid Classic Sport Bottle
One of the cutest bottles on the market, the durable Klean Kanteen was designed with your little one in mind. A spill-proof sport cap means the back of your car (and your child) stays dry, and a narrow profile is perfect fit for little hands. And the chip-resistant coat finish makes this bottle will last a long time, all while keeping your kids hydrated.
15. Rumpl Sherpa Fleece Blanket
Snuggling up in the back seat has never felt so good. With a high-pile sherpa fleece for extra warmth, this blanket will help lull your kiddos to sleep on a long drive while keeping them cozy. Even better, after your road trip, it’s perfect for movie nights on the couch.
16. KEEN Kootenay III Waterproof Snow Boots
Pit-stops are a must on the road, and these shoes are perfect to slip on your child’s feet when venturing into the snow to load up on snacks or make the inevitable road trip bathroom break. Both waterproof and breathable, these shoes will prevent wet socks when heading back into the car, and keep your little ones’ feet as happy as can be.