5 ABSOLUTE must haves for your road trip with kids

So you’ve decided on a family road trip across the states. It’s been a year and a half since the world shut down traveling due to covid. With the uncertainty of when the world would reopen had us doubting booking any vacation that could potentially get cancelled with no refund. So in January 2021, as the new year chimed in, I got the brilliant idea to make a Summer Road Trip! It was unlikely that the states would be closed down for driving through, especially with the prevalence of the covid vaccine being administered.

So for our first venture after lockdown, we drove from California through Nevada, Idaho to Wyoming Grand Tetons and Montana’s Yellowstone National Park to run back-to-back half marathons. Not only was this a new adventure of 24 hours round trip in a car, but with two kids…. age 6 and 3! (I know that was a bold choice to road trip with two little’s still in car seats). Here are 5 absolute must haves for your road trip across the states with kids.

A Rental Car

This one is a Game changer. We own a truck and suv that are both efficient enough to get us across the country, but there are so many perks to renting a car. First the safety and liablity aspect. What If your personal car DID break down? Well, geez now you’re stranded waiting to be towed to the closest auto shop, and then hope they’re able to fix whatever malfunctioned without having to order parts that cost too much money and take several days to arrive. Your trip may be significantly delayed, or even have to miss the half marathon you’re traveling for! Nope, not with a rental car. If by chance your rental does break down, you switch it out for a new one.

Next perk, comfort. Remember when I said I have two young kids? (that occasionally will bicker) Well that’s when a third row seat comes in handy. We can adjust the seats to accommodate all the luggage, separate the kids for a few hours if need be, and very conveniently a single seat with portable toilet for some toddler privacy when we pull to the side of the road every 2 minutes to pee.

Final perk, avoid wear and tear on your own vehicle. Like I mentioned before, our vehicles could make it across the states, but imagine the investment you’re spending on that one trip. It’s usually recommended to change your oil and rotate tires every 7500 miles- avoid the wear and tear. A rental car is an absolute must have for your road trip across the states with kids.

Pocket WiFi for the road trip

Ok, maybe this one is the game changer. It was definitely an absolute must have for our road trip. We first discovered pocket wifi when we traveled to Japan in 2019. Having iPhone’s we were able to text our kid’s iPod’s over wifi across seas without ever coming off airplane mode. That saved us a ton of money not having to use cellular data or international roaming fees. We purchased moxee pocket wifi and then added a prepaid data plan for our two week trip. It was magical and you need this for your road trip with kids. Is your three year old a little fussy? Here kid, watch some Disney+. Is the Passenger seat (i.e. me) tired of starring out the window at the desert? (There’s not a whole lot to see crossing Nevada), just log online and finish our family yearbooks and blog! 🙂

Car Organizers

Did you know the average toddler’s attention span is 12 minutes. Twelve minutes until, “moooooommmmm, there’s nothing to do”. Yes children, there are many things to do. Insert, a car organizer. This trip I came stocked up with kid friendly activities and it definitely came in handy because my son really did ask for something new every 12 minutes!

Cooler with snacks easily accessible

This one is a no brainer for any parent. Bring snacks, duh! If you can carry two cooler’s though, your road trip will be much more enjoyable. Place a small, accessible cooler between the two kids. This will give them a little separation and autonomy ‘choosing’ their own snacks. Load it with goodies they already enjoy at home that keep them full. Our Coho cooler had berries, clementines, turkey, yogurts, turkey, hard boiled eggs, and string cheese. Also bring a large cooler stored with ‘refills’ for the smaller cooler plus necessary extras for the hotel such as milk and condiments.

A back up plan!

Life throws many curve balls. This road trip had been planned 6 months in advance for our family of four plus my mother in law. Unfortunately my mother in law broke her leg a few weeks before the trip and had to cancel. Then we made the road trip across the states and my husband had an emergency come up that he was unable to get out of. That left me to choose a ‘did not start’ or take my kids along with me! Luckily there is a national company with baby gear rentals for your vacation with little ones and I was able to reserve a double BOB stroller. Although I had never trained with a stroller, let alone at 6300 elevation pushing over 100 lbs of kiddos, it was worth the effort. We Finished at 2:45 and this was the most personally fulfilling race in my running career.

What are your must-have travel accessories for a road trip with your kids across the states?

As always, Run Strong; Travel and Eat. Real. Food. -We Run the States


  1. runningtotravel | 17th Jun 21

    Pocket wifi is a game-changer. I discovered it for international travel. Not only is it extremely affordable, it’s reliable and useful in so many instances.

    • werunthestates | 17th Jun 21

      Absolutely! I can’t believe we went so long without one!

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