road trip ideas

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12+ Road Trip Essentials: The Ultimate List Of Things To Pack For A Road Trip

12+ Road Trip Essentials: The Ultimate List Of Things To Pack For A Road Trip

Whether you’re headed out west to the Highway One Classic or opting in for a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, there are road trip essentials that are a must-have for every journey.

We’ve rounded up a no-nonsense list of necessary essentials that you’ll want to make sure and pack along your next trip.

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Top Road Trip Essentials to Pack for Your Next Trip


A map or GPS is an essential item when going on a road trip. Something for navigation will help you ensure that you don’t get lost and find your way to your destination.

There are various maps and GPS devices available, so be sure to choose the one that best suits your needs.

GPS is essential when traveling to remote or unfamiliar locations. While cell phone service may be available in some areas, it is not guaranteed, and in more rural areas, there is often no service at all.

Paper maps can be used as a backup to GPS if needed, but make sure you also bring a way to charge your phone in case of emergencies.

It is also important to remember that if your phone runs out of battery or dies for any reason, you will lose all access to directions and navigation.

Water Bottle

It is essential to stay hydrated when on a road trip; this means bringing along plenty of water and making sure to drink regularly.

Dehydration can lead to fatigue, dizziness, and even serious health problems, so it is essential to take precautions. A water bottle is a must-have for any road trip.

Most importantly, you can avoid using disposable plastic cups on your road trip by bringing along your own reusable water bottle.

Not only does this help reduce waste, but it’ll also save you a few bucks in the long run.

Road Trip Snacks

Having snacks for your road trip won’t only cut back on any “hangry” passengers, but they can also help save money and time.

Instead of having to pull over often to fill the belly, you can comfortably continue your journey, only stopping when absolutely necessary. 

It’s also a good idea to pack a tote full of picnic-style foods in the event you’d like to pull over at a state park and enjoy the scenery over a simple, quick meal. Below are a few ideas for snacks to pack:

  • Individual packs of crackers
  • Fresh fruit (apples, bananas, oranges, etc.)
  • Nuts and berries
  • Fresh vegetables (baby carrots, sliced celery, cherry tomatoes, etc.)
  • Jugs of water (with reusable cups)

Coffee Mug

A coffee mug is essential for any road trip. Unless you’re stuck in traffic or have a flat tire, stopping at a gas station for coffee is often the worst part of the journey.

Make your road trip more pleasant by packing your favorite coffee mug and filling it up with some deliciousness before you hit the open road.

When hitting the open road, make sure to pack your Zojirushi stainless steel travel mug. This mug will keep your drinks hot for up to six hours, so you can stay refreshed and energized all day long.

The thermal carafe is also slim and fits in most car cup holders, making it easy to bring with you on the go.

Travel Apps

As our world becomes more technologically advanced, we no longer have to depend solely on the bulky paper maps that we’d usually keep in the glove compartment.

While these still aren’t a bad idea to have on hand, you can now fill your phone with even more convenient traveling apps.

If you haven’t done so already, check out the following apps to use for your next road trip:

  • Roadtrippers: This app is available on both iOS and Android. It allows you to plan up to 150 stops, coordinate with others, and find places to stop along the way.
  • Google Maps: While this is most likely already on your phone, you’ll want to take full advantage of all it has to offer, from finding gas stations to local attractions nearby.
  • GasBuddy: Never question gas prices again. This app not only finds gas stations close to you but will also help you compare prices and get the most gas for your buck.
  • Airbnb: Need a quick place to stay? The Airbnb app will help you find a place in almost any location effortlessly.

Immune-Boosting Resources

If you’ve traveled enough, then you may have already encountered changes in your immune system, depending on where you’re going.

Often, changes in climate, altitude, and activities can cause changes that our bodies aren’t always prepared for.

To help prepare for your road trip ahead, consider packing vitamin C-rich foods and beverages to snack on along the way.

You can also purchase vitamin C tablets or drink mix packets to have on hand as well. Not to mention, these won’t take up much packing space at all.

Electronics And Phone Chargers

From iPads and eReaders to car chargers and headphones, having a few key electronics can help make the trip a bit more pleasant for everyone.

Remember to charge up every device, download any necessary music, books, and the like, and have the chargers in a convenient place.

You don’t want to use up extra battery trying to download apps on the road, and in most cases, you’ll need wifi to download certain things.

Also, if you will have multiple electronics and chargers, consider labeling them and using carrying cases to keep everything separate and organized for each passenger. 

Car Games

Having a few car games is a must if you have kids in tow. Whether you choose to do, I Spy or look for different license plates to see how many different states you can collect, playing car games can make the trip go a bit faster.

Below are a few games to jot down and play on your next road trip:

  • Would You Rather? 
  • 20 Questions
  • Name That Tune
  • Team Story Telling
  • Cows on My Side
  • I Spy First

Comforting Essentials

boho campervan rentals

Things can get pretty uncomfortable when sitting in a vehicle for an extended amount of time. To help make the trip more pleasant, consider having these essentials on hand:

  • Small throw blanket
  • Travel pillow
  • Extra clothing (in the event you need to change along the way)
  • Essential oils (energizing scents)
  • Proper footwear

Emergency Kits

first aid kit

These are essential for personal use and the vehicle you’re traveling in. For your vehicle, your emergency kit should include jumper cables, reflector lights, tire gauge, flashlight (and extra batteries), and a multipurpose tool (or tool kit) at the bare minimum.

personal emergency kit should have a small bottle of water, first aid supplies (bandaids, ointment, mesh wrap, etc.), sanitation supplies, medications, emergency contact info, and extra batteries.

Of course, you’ll want to consider your family and who’s traveling with you. In some cases, you may need to pack additional emergency kit items to accommodate having babies on board, people with disabilities, and so on.

Tool Kit

roadside kit

A well-stocked tool kit is a vital part of any road trip. You never know when you might need to make a quick repair, and having the right tools on hand can save the day.

Ensure your tool kit includes everything from a basic wrench set to a tire iron, jack, and jumper cables.

Bringing along a basic tool kit can help you fix common issues and safely get back on your way. Additionally, packing supplies like extra oil and coolant can prevent costly repairs down the road.

Trash Can

A travel trash can is a great way to keep your car clean while on a road trip. They are collapsible and take up very little space when not in use.

They also attach to just about anywhere inside your car, including the back seat.

A trash bin allows you to easily throw away any garbage or waste without having to stop the car and search for a place to dispose of it properly.

Other Road Trip Essentials for Traveling

Besides the suggestions mentioned above, you’ll want to make sure to pack enough clothes for your trip. The general rule of thumb is to pack at least one outfit per day, an extra fit or two for changing, and more socks and underwear than needed.

You can pack a little more than what’s needed if you won’t have access to a washer and dryer or less if you do.

Other essentials you may need are hats, sunglasses, lip balm, insect repellent, and gear for enjoying specific activities.

The overall idea is to always be prepared for both your trip and the destination. If you’re traveling to a new place, it’s also a good idea to become familiar with the area and pack anything necessary to be comfortable. 

Final Thoughts For Your Road Trip Essentials

This isn’t an exhausted list, but it is packed with essentials you won’t want to travel without. Use our tips and suggestions to help you prepare for your next road trip with ease. What would you like to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.

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