Surviving A Family Road Trip To The Beach + Free Printable Packing List

This summer I’m taking 4 road trips with my family — 2 to the beach and 2 to our hometowns. We just finished our first trip to the beach and I learned that there are a few essential items for surviving a road trip with family.

Surviving a Family Road Trip to the Beach |

The Essential Argument

Remember that beautiful day you vowed to “honor and cherish ’til death or road trip do us part“? Oh, you didn’t take the same vows I did?

My husband and I don’t argue often (which is odd since I’m world-renowned for being an irascible bi$*h fairy), but there’s something about being in a cramped car for 7 hours that drives us to bicker a bit more than usual.

On our first day at the beach, my husband over-poured my cup with wine. (SIDE NOTE: This man’s goal in life seems to be to get me drunk, but alcohol just makes me sleepy.)  Anyway, as we’re leaving the beach, he makes some snide remark that makes me snap. I can’t remember what he said, but err’body knows you don’t joke with sleepy winos.

After I snapped, a fatal silence fell in the car all the way back to the hotel.  Those 15 minutes felt like eternity.  Once back in the room, we stewed in silence for 33 more minutes (yes, I counted).  Then he closed the bedroom door, which sealed the deal: we were officially in argument mode.

Now if we were at home, I’d ignore this, but we were hundreds of miles from home and the silent treatment would have ruined the rest of the trip.

So, after realizing that I’d miss a bunch of great beach back rubs if I kept this up, I sighed and went into the room to apologize.  Once I saw his crinkled brow soften into a smile, I felt relieved.

Now, what does this have to do with you?

Well, looking back on it, I feel like our trip was kinda split into 2 parts — “Before the Argument” and “After the Argument” and I think it was a good necessary split.  Before the argument, we were tense from the long road trip and being in a new place, but after the argument, our mood was more relaxed, more familiar.

Lesson learned for road trips:  Be prepared for a bit of tension after the long drive and be more gentle with your family.

The Essential Location

Our resort was awesome with pools, hot tub, playground, golf course, bike trail, and guided activities, but it was a 15-minute drive from the beach. That was a pain!  We had to lug a bunch of stuff into the car and no one wants to get back in the car after just making a 7-hour long ride. So, for our next beach trip, the “essential location” will have to be a beachfront hotel.

The Essential Tools

I’ve got a bad case of Busy Mommy Memory, so it’s best for me to have a checklist when packing.  There are tons of checklists out there, but most of them only mention basics.  So I created one with all of those little helpful things that I wish I remembered on trips through the years.  I even added a new trick (new to me at least) about using talcum powder to brush sand from your skin.  If you click on the image below, you’ll be able to download the free printable packing checklist to use for your next trip.

road trip beach packing list |

Click image to open pdf document

What are some of your “essentials” when taking a road trip or going to the beach?


  1. jeannajustfine says:

    This was a funny post! And even funnier cause I live 5 minutes away from the beach and when I saw the title im like yeahhh, its tough driving to the beach (or anywhere) cause the kids fight and make mommy want to snap. then I saw 7 hours…7hours?!?!?! yeahhhh NO! I would not do that. You are a brave, brave woman! You deserve the wine and more! :)

  2. Erin says:

    I like to drive as early as possible so the kids are sleeping and I don’t have to mess with extra stops. I grew up in a family where the only stops that were made was when it was time to get gas. Thats it! Plus I’m a worse case scenario packer…full on first aid kit. Full set of tools for any type of car emergency…it’s crazy!

  3. Joy Candrian says:

    I’ve taken a lot of road trips – while driving, try listening to a family friendly book on CD together…bring treats that go along with the book or play games as you travel…I spy was a favorite with my children. You list is a good idea. I’ve also heard that baby powder helps remove the sand quick & easily. I’ll be trying this on my next beach trip.

  4. Elise Cohen Ho says:

    This was such a fun post. My kids are teens so we must have activities that are age appropriate. We do not worry too much about what we have to carry but the sunscreen and the after sun care are two big essentials.

  5. Amanda @TheMommyMix says:

    Thanks for the list! I used to love the long drives when my son would fall asleep halfway through but now the “Are we there yet?” every 5 minutes drives me insane and it keeps my toddler awake who hates being in the car seat for too long. By the time we get to our destination I need a whole bottle of wine, nevermind a glass :)

  6. Jessica says:

    Whenever we vacation near the beach we always make sure to stay somewhere near the actual beach. It can be such a pain when you find a hotel ways away because the parking and congestion. Here in FL our beaches are like that all year round!

  7. Kungphoo says:

    We try and stay as close as possible to the beach, we do not want to haul anything we dont have to and get the car full of sand.. With that being said.. we must have chairs to sit on.. i do not like unnecessary sand..

  8. sjbraun says:

    I had to laugh at your “surviving” verbiage — our family — now with 3 teen girls — has “survived” some trips like this! The checklist is so handy. Thank you!

  9. actingmyage87 says:

    I will be printing off your checklist soon even though I don’t think we are going to the beach this year. Our little ones are too little. However we are going to the zoo this weekend which is about an hour and a half drive.

  10. meganekubasch says:

    Haha this is my first visit to your blog and I love this post. You and I have a very similar sense of humor, and I love your comment about how your husband is always trying to get you to drink, even though it just makes you sleepy (haha same here). And I love the print out, I will definitely be using this in the future. We just completed a 14 hour cross-country move, and this would have been extremely useful. Stopping in from the Blogging it Forward Facebook group :)

  11. Hannah says:

    I love your insight about the before and after the argument! What a good reminder to accept the tension and be quick to resolve it! Thanks for sharing your story…made me smile!

  12. Farrah says:

    These are great tips. My husband drives me batty when we travel. I try to organize everything ahead of time and then he has no idea what’s going on even then. 😛

  13. Danielle says:

    These are great tips. I have gone on long car trips with each of my parents separately and my child. I can tell you that each was very different. I slept the entire time on the trip with my mom so we didn’t get into a fight. My dad slept the entire time on our trip from Washington to Oklahoma but that was because he had just come back from Aruba and flew out just to ride with me to Oklahoma.

  14. Mama's Happy Hive says:

    LOL! You have such a fun sense of humor. I always smile when I read your posts! Great tips and I enjoyed the argument story too! :)

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