Hands up! Who can’t resist hitting the road? That feeling of the sun beaming down and the warm air rushing through your hair, listening to an epic set of tunes and heading of on an epic adventure. Nothing quite beats the feeling of freedom and exceitement you get from a road-trip?!
And if you’re looking to get away on a road trip this year, then this article is going to be right up your street. I’m going to let you in on over 70 essentials for a road trip.
If the past year is anything to go by, you’ll probably be itching to get away and making the most of what’s in your own back-yard again by planning some awesome get-aways by car.
This article covers everything you need to know about packing for a road trip including, gadgets, comfort items, car maintenance essentials and more.
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So, are you ready to hit the road? Grab a brew and let’s find out how many of these road trip essentials you’d not thought of.
What you can expect in this article...
Essentials for a road trip - Your 72 point road trip checklist
No-Brainer Things Needed for a Road Trip
1) Drivers License – Of course, topping the no-brainer section of this road trip essentials list is your drivers ID; don’t leave home without it.
2) Proof of Insurance – Aswell as taking a paper copy of your policy, make sure you save any important numbers to your phone before you leave.
3) Roadside Emergency Kit – Go for one which has at least a warning triangle & high visibility vest and jump leads. Also, in some countries, it’s a legal requirement to have some of these items in your car for emergencies.
4) Trustworthy Navigation Apps – One of the must have road trip items is some sort of reliable navigation system. If I have a phone signal, then Google Maps is perfect. However, outside my phone roaming area my go-to app is always Maps.Me. The app works by downloading a map on to your phone and then working off your phones built-in GPS. Alternatively, you could opt for a dedicated GPS, like this.
5) Phone Mount & Handsfree Kit – A lot of countries are clamping down on mobile phone usage while driving, and rightly so. In my home country of the UK, it’s now illegal and can gain you hefty on-the-spot fines and even driving bans. Stay safe and legal with a hands-free kit
6) Refillable Water Bottle – Everyone knows the importance of keeping hydrated. Rather than buying a new bottle at each stop, these refillable ones with a built-in filter are a great eco-friendly option.
7) Old-Fashioned Paper Map – …or at least some directions printed out. If for whatever reason your Sat Nav/ Phone / GPS/ isn’t working, then have a backup, old-school style..
8) Notepad and Pen – As much as I love storing notes on my phone, sometimes it is just easier to jot something down quick.
9) Car Fridge and Cooler Box – One of the most essential road trip items you’ll need for keeping your food fresh and your drinks chilled in hot weather is some sort of cooler.
If you’re on a short road trip, then one option is to freeze a couple of bottles of water, put them in the cooler box to keep everything inside chilled. For extended road trips, opt for a mini car fridge. These plug into the lighter socket of your car keeping everything super chilled.
10) Sunglasses – Regardless of the time of year, one of the most important things you need for a road trip is to pack a decent pair of polarised sunglasses to stop the glare. ‘I love squinting in the sun’, said no one ever!
11) Travel Pillow – I’m sure you’ve experienced that stiff neck feeling. Let’s face it, sleeping in a car isn’t always the most comfortable experience, solve this with a neck pillow.
12) Foldable Day Bag – Opt for a handy and compact day bag, which are perfect for chucking your water bottle, sunscreen, car keys and other essentials into when you stop off for any impromptu jaunts.
13) Snacks – Road trips always seem to be the perfect time to graze! So make sure you stock up on things that are easy to nibble at. You could for the standard junk-food style snacks, but I prefer something with more nutritional value. Some of my go-to’s are mini granola slices, grapes or berries.
14) Spare Clothes – A no brainer if you’re planning on an extended road trip, but also it’s worthwhile packing a change of clothes in case you get wet or the weather changes.
15) Hat or Cap – Or something appropriate to put on your head if it’s sunny/ wet/hot/cold.
16) Reusable Shopping Bags – Not only great for holding your shopping, but they are also great to put muddy shoes in to keep your car clean. Just pop the bag into the wash, and reuse time and time again.
17) Flashlight or Headtorch – As much as flashlights are great, given a choice, I always opt for a head torch. They’re by far more practical, especially if you need to use your hands to do some nighttime car maintenance, rummaging about in the car to find something or even hiking after dusk.
18) Flip Flops – No one wants to sit about in a pair of cold and soggy shoes. Pack a pair of flip-flops/thongs to slip into if your shoes get wet and muddy.
19) Travel Towel – A great addition to your road trip packing list is a travel towel. Go for the super lightweight microfibre style which dry quickly.
20) Rain and Wind Proof Jacket – Especially if you’re going anywhere that the weather is changeable ( UK, I’m looking at you!). Keep a lightweight wind and waterproof jacket to hand for all eventualities.
21) Picnic Blanket – These plastic-backed ones stop any moisture from the ground coming through, and roll up with a carry handle.
22) Cash – In notes and coins for small road-side purchases and any parking meters or tolls.
Road Trip Essentials for Gadget Lovers
23) Compact Camera – My go-to compact camera of choice is the Panasonic Lumix TZ series. Right now I love the TZ80 with 30x digital zoom, the big bonus. That age old saying goes that the best camera is the one you have with you. This little compact is small and light enough to fit in my pocket!
24) Portable WiFi – If being connected to the rest of the world ranks high on your list of things to bring on a road trip, then be sure to invest in a portable WiFi device.
25) Car Chargers – Hopefully you’ll keep these in the car as standard, but before you set off, do a quick audit. Check the cables are all working, with the correct fittings for the gadgets you’re taking.
26) Action Camera & Dashboard Mount – If you road trip passes through some epic scenery, you’ going to want to capture the stunning drives. When I did a road trip through the Black Forrest in Germany I used my action camera mounted to the dashboard.
Take a look at this great alternative to a GoPro at a fraction of the price: Akaso EK700 Action Camera
27) Gorilla Pod – Super useful if you’re wanting portraits and there’s no one around to ask to take a photo for you.
28) Portable Bluetooth Speakers – A great addition if you want to add a soundtrack to your whole road-tripping experience.
29) Noise-Cancelling Headphones – For longer road trips, noise-cancelling headphones are revolutionary! They block out the general car noise if you’re wanting to get some sleep and also solve the problem of someone in the car wanting a different soundtrack to anyone else in the car.
30) Binoculars – If you’re driving through national parks, then a pair of binoculars are great for catching glimpses of any wildlife or birds in the distance.
31) Powerbank for day trips – Even though you can charge some items in the car, sometimes there are too many items to charge at once or it charges at the speed of a slug. A high capacity portable power bank with multi sockets is the perfect solution.
32) Swiss Army Knife – Probably still the original and best gadget out there to carry a multitude of useful tools in your pocket.
33) Drone – If you’re documenting your epic road trip, then a drone is the perfect addition to your kit to get stunning aerial shots, the the one pictured here.
Long Road Trip Essentials for Extended and Overnight Road Tripping
34) Pop Up Tent – If you plan to stop overnight somewhere or spontaneously feel like extending your road trip, then a pop-up tent is the quick solution for a no-fuss place to sleep.
35) Mini Inflatable Mattress – The smaller lightweight cousin to a full-on airbed is a mini inflatable mattress. I used one of these for the first time while I was camping during the Inca Trail hike, it was a damn sight more comfortable than foam mats I’ve used before.
36) Sleeping Bag – I keep one of these in my car – as standard! Go for a lightweight one that packs down into its own small carry case.
37) Cosy Blanket or Poncho – Perfect for wrapping up warm overnight. Also, if you’re like me and HATE the cold, a snuggly blanket is a road trip essential if you’re driving with someone who loves to crank the air-con up to full blast!
38) Foldable Chair – Although you could sit on the floor, these foldable padded chairs with a built-in drinks holder are the more comfortable option.
39) Collapsible Water Carrier – One of the must haves for road trips lasting more than a day are collapsible water carriers. They take up minimal space when they are stored, but expand when you fill them.
40) Mini Stove – If you’re miles from civilisation, then be sure to pack a mini stove and cooking set. Use it to boil water for drinking, or to wash in, and to cook some delicious cap food.
41) Slippers or Thick Socks – I hate having cold feet; my feet are frequently like blocks of ice! So, if the nights get chilly, pack a warm pair of slippers or thick socks for using inside the tent.
42) Thermos and Travel Mug – This is a great combo for hot or cold drinks on the go without the chance of spillages.
43) Garbage Bags – I’m sure this doesn’t apply to you, but I hate anyone who litters. If there is nowhere to dispose of it at the time, then take it home with you.
Roadtrip Packing List for Health & Comfort
44) Eco-friendly Wet Wipes – Perfect for a quick body wash, dirty hands, freshening up your face. Opt for eco-friendly ones which decompose after use., or better still, go old-skool and use a flannel.
45) Hand Sanitiser – In pre-covid days, I was an avid user of hand-sanitiser. Now, this is a no brainer!
46) Toilet Kit – I learnt fairly early on in my travels, that carrying my own little toilet kit was a lifesaver; some loo roll, wet wipes and hand sanitiser in a little easy-to-grab pouch. Regardless of your travel style, this always ranks as one of the best travel hacks for comfort! (internal link)
47) Chapstick – The mix of sun, air-con and wind never bodes well for the delicate skin on your lips. Plus chapped lips never look good on anyone!
48) First Aid Kit – It’s always useful to keep a small basic first aid kit, for small cuts, grazes, blisters and bug bites. Be sure to pack plasters/ band-aids, antiseptic wipes, a small bandage and antihistamine gel.
49) Medication – Don’t forget any essential medication, such as travel sickness pills and paracetamol for any unexpected headaches.
50) Mosquito or Bug Spray – A no brainer, especially if you’re stopping anywhere bugs are going to be…which is probably most places in my case! I love using citronella based repellants, they are less harsh on my skin compared to the bug sprays containing DEET.
51) Sun Screen – Especially if you’re road tripping in a convertible!
52) Overnight Toiletries – Take compact versions of all your daily essentials. These reusable mini silicone travel bottles are perfect to decant your cosmetics into. It’s also to keep them in a cute toiletry bag like this with a hook, so you don’t have to put your stuff on a dirty surface.
Fun Essentials for Road Trips
53) Pack of playing cards – Everyone hates tailbacks and standstills, however, IF you’re faced with one, then playing a game is a great way to pass the time.
54) An Epic Playlist – Whatever you’re prefered genre, you can either make your own, or the lazy option is to use a premade playlist on Spotify.
55) Kindle or eBooks – If you’ve got a loooonnnngggg journey ahead then a road trip is a great time to get stuck into a new novels.
Road Trip Necessities for Winter
56) Shovel for Snow – hopefully, you will never need to use this, but IF your car gets snowed in, you’ll be thankful for bringing one of these.
57) Thick Blankets – Although these are useful all year round, it’s a good idea to carry some extra blankets if you’re road tripping in winter or any cold climate.
58) A Thermos of Soup – Before you set off, fill a large Thermos with a hearty and warming soup.
59) Screen Deicer/ Scraper – Wheather you prefer to use a chemical-based deicer (which isn’t great for the environment) or a screen scraper, either certainly beats scraping the windscreen with a credit card *voice of experience here!*
60) Snow Chains – If you’re planning a trip that involves snow, then ideally you’d be going in a car (eg 4×4) that can handle the weather. If not then carry snow chains with you. In some destinations, this is a legal requirement during the snow season.
61) Emergency Foil Blankets – If you do happen to get stranded, then keep some Emergency Foil Blankets in the car for this. It can be a life-saver if you’re stuck in the cold with no-one available to help.
Pre-Road Trip Car Maintenance
62) Car’s Manual – Do you even know where it is? Ideally, it’s somewhere in the car. If not, try to find a digital version of it in case you have a minor problem and you’re miles from civilisation.
63) Oil – Check the levels and fill this up before you leave.
64) Coolant – Check the levels and fill this up before you leave
65) Breaks – Check at least a week before leaving and if needed, replace brake pads.
66) Lights – Check at least a week before leaving and broken bulbs.
67) Screenwash – Check the levels and fill this up before you leave.
68) Tyre Pressure & Depth – Check the tread on the tyres, and the pressure at least a week before leaving.
69) Spare Tyre (and tools to change it) – It’s also worth checking it’s in a useable condition before you leave.
70) Breakdown Cover – Store the policy and the important contact numbers on your phone before setting off.
71) UV Window Shade – If you’re driving in a particularly bright or sunny country, then you might want to consider fitting a UV window shade.
72) Jumper Cables – Another important item that falls into car essentials for a road trip, is a set of Jumper Cables just in case your car battery dies and you need to get jump-started – don’t rely on someone else to have a set.
No-Brainer Things Needed for a Road Trip
Wow! That’s a pretty comprehensive list of stuff to pack for your road trip. If you’ve made it to the end of this monster of an article, well done!
Wherever you’re journey takes you, whether it’s a planned road trip, or a spontaneous thing, this road trip essentials packing list will help you have the best trip ever.
For more fantastic travel hacks, check out this page here. where you’ll find information on saving money for travel, how to pack like a pro and more!
Don’t forget to download THIS list of over 70 essential road trip items to view offline. You can get it straight to your mailbox by clicking here.
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