Post Summary: Road Trip Essentials To Put On Your Next Packing list
So, you want the freedom of the open road, with nowhere to go but onward.
But what the heck do you need to pack?
Berty and I always find ourselves on the road (our Instagram pretty much consists of road trip pictures!), so we created a list of road trip essentials to minimize stops, keep us entertained and save us money along the way.
If you are in the beginning stages (or dreaming up your next destination!) this post provides a great list to get you started, along with other road trip tips along the way!
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Make Sure To Read These Posts For More Road Trip Essentials:
30 Necessary Road Trip Essentials You Must Be Packing
Note: This post contains affiliate links of seriously cool items we love. Any purchase of things we recommend here will help us fund our next epic road trip to share with you all!
Ever been with a hangry passenger? Snacks absolutely need to be on your road trip packing list, especially if you want to save money while you travel. Make sure to bring a good mix of healthy foods like baby carrots, apples, nuts, and crackers.
Bring a mix of sweet and salty things, but also indulge in some junk food as well. Need meal tips? Read our post full of easy camping meals.
2. Garbage Bags
Garbage bags may not seem like a road trip essential, but they are useful for a lot of different occasions. You can use them for general garbage cleanup, bring them along a hiking trail to pick up trash on the path, or even store wet clothes after a dip in a roadside hot springs in Idaho!
Pack more than a few, and bonus if they are reusable and eco-friendly like these ones!
3. Kleenex / Hankerchief
If you are feeling under the weather, Kleenex can prevent further germs from infecting your other car mates too. Looking for a sustainable option? Try to purchase a few bandanas instead, and washing them with the rest of your clothes on laundry day!
4. Emergen-C / Vitamin C Tablets
Speaking of sickness, in addition to packing lots of vitamin C rich foods, Emergen-C or an electrolyte drink mix/tablets can be a great way to support your immune system and overall health on a long road trip. We like to add these items on our road trip packing list because they usually come in a tablet or dry form, which is easy to store and carry.
Sometimes air conditioners can dry out the inside of the car. Add chapstick to your road trip essentials to help! We like buying from the brand Burt’s Bees, because they have lots of flavor options and are made with natural ingredients!
6. Car games/cards for delays or waits
If you are waiting, say, for a ferry or a traffic issue to clear, it’s always nice to fall back on classic card games (just not the driver!) or classic road trip questions to keep spirits up and your mind off the delays! Have kids? Download these free printable games and puzzles to keep them busy!
7. Headache Medication
Sitting in the car for long periods of time can take a toll. Ibuprofen, Advil, or other similar headache medication can be a great addition to any packing list because this over-the-counter product not only can relieve headaches but reduce fevers too.
Driving into the sunset can seem romantic, but not when you’re staring straight into the bright lights for hours on end. Save your vision and protect your eyes with these road trip must-haves!
9. Car Chargers
Berty and I have loads of tech we use on a regular basis during long road trips. To make sure our batteries are charged we have this car adapter to use when we’re driving from place to place. We’ve had it for years and we love that it not only has USB ports but regular ones for bigger items like laptops!
For me, I like to take off my shoes and get comfy on long road trips. We absolutely love the Ember Mocs made by Teva, because they have a collapsible heel. You can easily slip them on and off, or lift up the back for a little more grip on your foot.
When putting together your road trip packing list, bring a pillow for those times when it’s not your turn to drive. A pillow is also useful for when you need some quick shut-eye at rest stops to regain your energy and stay alert on the road.
Headphones are excellent road trip essentials for those times you need to have a little bit of space to yourself. These noise-canceling ones from Bose are a little pricey, but worth every penny for peace and quiet. Alternatively, you could purchase wireless ones, that easily fit in your pocket and take up very little space.
Don’t forget to account for enough clothes on your road trip packing list. Pack enough for the number of days you will be gone, or pack less and plan forr stops at a laundr0-mat. On any given trip, we recommend no more than 3 pairs of shoes and always pack more socks and underwear than you need. Find our PNW Packing List here!
Stylish and functional, make sure you have something to cover your eyes and protect your skin on an extra sunny day.
15. Audio Choices (Road Trip Podcasts, Playlists + More)
Entertainment is one of the most important road trip necessities!
Download playlists on Spotify so you can listen to them offline. We also highly recommend audiobooks too so that you can “read” while you drive. We listened to 20 hours of Ready Player One on our road trip around Vancouver Island, and we couldn’t wait for long stints in the car!
Want to learn new things? We have a list of the best road trip podcasts to check out, ranging from true crime to The Office recaps!
16. Little Bluetooth Speakers
Bluetooth Speakers are helpful in case you reach certain areas with poor reception, but still want to listen to music. We own this one!
17. A Cozy Blanket
Whether it’s cold at your destination or the air conditioning is too much to handle, a blanket is an easy go-to comfort on a long drive. You can also use it as a privacy screen if you are sleeping in your car.
It’s okay to have your favorite indulgences on your road trip packing list! That little burst of sugar will give you energy for the long drive ahead. Our favorites are gas station candy, which include some combination of Sour Patch Kids and something chocolate!
Studies show that chewing gum can help you concentrate on the task in front of you. So grab your favorite flavor and get driving!
20. Paper Directions/ Road Trip Apps
Berty and I constantly lose service when driving on remote roads to find free camping spots. Make sure to screenshot the route on your phone, or track it on a map with a pencil in case you go out of cell range. Have a smartphone? Download these essential road trip apps to make your life easier!
21. Water Bottle
Ask at gas stations and convenience stores if you can fill your thermos with coffee instead of using their disposable cups. This reduces YOUR waste and probably does a better job of holding your hot beverage. I’ve got my eye on this Stanley thermos as my next purchase.
23. Empty Tote
Bringing an empty tote is an excellent addition to your road trip checklist for its many uses. Pack a tote full of food and have a roadside picnic or bring it with you to a local farmer’s market to pick up goodies.
24. Duct Tape
Duct Tape seems to be the fix for everything.
25. Flashlight /Headlamps
It’s important to bring extra lighting for camping, night adventures, and emergencies alike! Pick up a few of these inexpensive headlamps from Petzl for keeping in your car to see at night.
26. First Aid Kit
A simple first-aid kit will do. Make sure to keep it in your car, even on short weekend trips!
Make a list of items that may need a battery change on your journey and have a few extras of those on hand.
28. Proof of Insurance/ID
A driver’s license is a no-brainer as far as road trip essentials go, but make sure you have a hard copy of your proof of insurance too! In addition, make sure your tabs won’t expire during your trip and you’ve got the proper registration forms.
29. Jumper Cables
Jumper cables are one of those things on your road trip list you hope to never use! They can save you from being stranded, but you can always help out a buddy who is stuck too. Here’s a video on how to do it properly.
30. Car Fluids
Need some USA Road Trip Ideas? Click on the map to discover where you should travel next!
Did we miss anything? What are YOUR road trip essentials? Let us know in the comments!
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