30 Absolute Crucial Road Trip Essentials You Need To Be Packing

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. 

We’ve perfected this road trip packing list for countless trips – from Alaska to Utah, the Pacific Coast Coast to the Olympics in Washington.

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!

Planning A Trip?
Make Sure To Read These Posts For More Road Trip Essentials:

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Getting Around The Pacific Northwest By Car

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!

1. Snacks

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. Good Navigation Apps

Have you ever lost your way, and lost cell service at the same time? It’s a jarring experience – one we don’t like to be in! Before any journey now, one of our most important road trip essentials is downloading a navigation app, especially one with offline features.

Currently, we’re loving The Dyrt and their new road trip planner feature! It helps us plan out stops like the best places to get gas, camping along our route, and it can even work offline.

We also recently upgraded to The Dyrt Pro Membership to find places to stay near some hot springs in Idaho, and it was so helpful to have these maps downloaded offline to look on the go! Try their pro membership free for 30-days when using our code MANDAGIES!

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.

5. Chapstick

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.

8. Sunglasses

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!

10. Slippers

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.

11. Pillow

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.

We own two of these super comfy neck pillows (one on the driver side and the other on the passenger) and we actually use them as pillows for a clever car camping hack too.

12. Headphones

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.

13. Clothes/Shoes

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!

14. Hat

Stylish and functional, make sure you have something to cover your eyes and protect your skin on an extra sunny day.


Road Trip Essentials - Downloaded Podcasts

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.

18. Candy

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 includes some combination of Sour Patch Kids and something chocolate!

19. Gum

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!

5-Gallon Portable Water Jug

21. Water Bottle

A hydrated driver is a happy driver! Easy, go-to water bottles here, here, and here. Need a LOT of water for your road trip? Try this 5-gallon foldable water cube for easy water transportation.

The Essential Road Trip Packing Checklist - TheMandagies.com

22. Thermos

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.

Our favorite universal tote is this one, which has carried all sorts of things for us! You can also find our favorite adventure bag picks in this post.


24. Duct Tape

Duct Tape seems to be the fix for everything.

Road Trip Essentials - Headlamp

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!

27. Batteries

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

Things like oil and antifreeze are a must. If you’re taking a winter road trip, make sure to read our winter emergency car kit of essential items to keep in your car during cold weather!

Road Trip Essentials For Winter Travel - TheMandagies.com

Did we miss anything? What are YOUR road trip essentials? Let us know in the comments!


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Follow our Road Trip Board on Pinterest for some inspiration for other road trip essentials!

Packing for an adventure on the road? Don't leave the house without this road trip essentials list! We're sharing everything from slippers to playlists to the best drink carrier! You're not going to want to miss these road trip must haves. #roadtrip #road #list #photography #ontheroad #instagram #packinglist #checklist #vanlife #road #travel #USA

Packing for an adventure on the road? Don't leave the house without this road trip essentials list! We're sharing everything from slippers to playlists to the best drink carrier! You're not going to want to miss these road trip must haves. #roadtrip #road #list #photography #ontheroad #instagram #packinglist #checklist #vanlife #road #travel #USA
Curious about what your should put on your next road trip packing list? In this post, we're sharing 30 road trip essentials you MUST bring, including everything from snacks to safety! Save this pin and download our printable list too! #roadtrip #packinglist #tripplanning #USA #roadtripping