63 Road Trip Essentials - What to Bring on a Road Trip Packing List (2024)

Table of Contents
What categories of items are in this roadtrip checklist? How is this roadtrip packing list put together? What to pack for a road trip essentials 1. Spare tire 2. Car manual 3. Drivers license 4. Car registration 5. Emergency kit 6. Road trip insurance Road Trip Tech Essentials 7. Car GPS 8. Go Pro Camera 9. Portable Bluetooth Speaker 10. Digital Camera 11. Dashboard Cam 12. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 13. Charging Cables 14. Maps.me or Google Maps Offline What to bring on a road trip generic items 15. Foldable Water Bottle 16. Hydroflask Waterbottle 17. Dashboard Phone Mount 18. Lifestraw Go Water Bottle 19. Day Pack 20. Flashlight 21. Umbrella 22. Reuseable Shopping Bag 23. Plastic Bags Road Trip Safety Essentials 24. Flat Tire Inflator 25. First Aid Kit 26. Jerry Can Car organization for a road trip 27. Packing Cubes 28. Travel Trash Can 29. Air Mattress Road Trip Snack Ideas 30. Road trip snacks for adults 31. Road trip snack ideas for kids Cold Weather Gear 32. Ice Scraper 33. Snow Shovel Road Trip Luxury Items 34. Travel Coffee Maker 35. Aero Press Coffee Maker 36. 12 Volt Cooler Car Fridge 37. Thermal Bag 38. Kettle 39. Swiss Army Knife Road Trip Comfort Items 40. Yoga Mat 41. Hammock 42. Travel Pillow 43. Camp Chairs 44. Blackout Blinds 45. Blankets and pillows 46. Sunglasses 47. Sunscreen 48. Bug Spray 49. Quick Dry Towel Road Trip Entertainment Things To Pack 50. Binoculars 51. Nintendo Switch 52. Killer Playlist 53. Road Trip Travel Games Family Road Trip Essentials 54. Backseat Butler 55. Pop Up High Chair Hygiene Road Trip Items 56. Female Urinary Device 57. Hand Sanitizer 58. Toilet Roll 59. Toothbrush and Tooth Paste 60. Body Wipes 61. Deodorant 62. Soap/Body Wash 63. A Change of Clothes Conclusion of the ultimate road trip essential packing list

Want the best packing list for road trip essentials? From tech essentials on a road trip to snacks for kids and adults – you’ll know exactly what to pack for a road trip.

Below are 63 items to make a roadtrip better. Since this is a pretty huge post, you can skip to sections with the table of contents above, just click to the section of the post.

So what type of items will you find in this ultimate road trip packing checklist?

What categories of items are in this roadtrip checklist?

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Here is aVERY shortened list of what types of items you’ll find in this post. Chances are, you’re not going to need every single item listed here, but I guarantee you’ll need some of them.

  1. What to pack for a road trip essentials
  2. Road trip technology essentials
  3. Generic items to bring
  4. Safety road trip items
  5. Car organization items
  6. Snak ideas for a roadtrip
  7. Cold weather gear
  8. Luxury items for a roadtrip
  9. Comfort items for a roadtrip
  10. Entertainment items for a road trip
  11. Family essential items
  12. Hygiene road trip items

I specifically left out a clothes packing list when going on a road trip. Why? There are just too many climates and things to consider. This post is already massive, so clothes to take will be coming in a different post.

Make sure to sign up to the Horizon Unknown newsletter to know when that post becomes live.

How is this roadtrip packing list put together?

There are plenty of ways to go on a road trip, and my way of doing a trip will likely be different from others.

That’s why I asked over 30 other travelers to give me their best item to pack in their vehicle before they set out – and I’m glad I did. I’ve done plenty of road tripping, but there are still items below I wouldn’t have thought of.

This list really is the ultimate guide to packing a car for a road trip. I’d love to hear you “must have” item for a road trip – leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

So that’s enough of the introduction, let’s get into it! Here are 63 items you need to pack for your next road trip!

Just to be clear, some links below are affiliate links. If you buy something through these links, well, I earn a small cut – this doesn’t increase the coast for you and is a great way to support this site – I really appreciate it!

What to pack for a road trip essentials

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These are the must-have road trip items. They are important for every road trip.

I know this initial list is quite basic, but it’s worth noting anyway. We are going into everything you need to cover yourself on a road trip.

It’s worth noting these are handy things to make sure are in any rental cars you hire to do a road trip.

1. Spare tire

If you’re going on a road trip, you need a spare tire. The last thing you want is to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with a flat.

2. Car manual

If you need to do basic maintenance, you’ll want the manual to make sure you do it right.

3. Drivers license

I mean, pretty obvious, right? Don’t drive without a license. It’s illegal.

4. Car registration

You should always have this in the car no matter what, fine for no registration can be pretty big.

5. Emergency kit

If your car breaks down, a good emergency kit will be invaluable.

6. Road trip insurance

Whether something goes terribly wrong or something small, these travel insurance stories should make it clear why road trip insurance is important.

Road Trip Tech Essentials

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These are the technological items to help make your road trip easier. Sure, you don’t really need a GPS, you could go the old school way of paper maps and just exploring, getting a little lost and finding your way eventually.

Here are a few road trip tech essentials to help make your journey a little easier.

7. Car GPS

Clara – Petite Capsule

Whether you are traveling with a baby and toddler, as a couple or on your own, an essential item for any road trip is a car GPS. It helps you get to your destination easily, without having to plan and memorise every turn.

What’s great about a car GPS, in particular the Navman Ezy460MT, is that it has free map updates included, so you have all the latest maps at no extra cost.

It also has many handy features for when you are taking a road trip to an unfamiliar or new area. Free live traffic updates help you to make informed decisions about whether you should vary your current route based on traffic congestion and accidents. It takes these incidents into account and calculates your new projected arrival time.

The advanced lane guidance, landmark guidance, spoken directions, and spoken street names are useful features to ensure you stay on route and not miss your turn. Displaying the speed limit on screen is convenient too.

Suggested smart routes based on historical traffic data are nifty to ensure you take the best route for the time of day you are driving during your road trip. Spoken safety alerts, like when you are approaching speed and red light cameras, are beneficial.

A car GPS is more reliable than Google Maps, which may be unavailable due to no mobile signal, or your phone battery dies. It also saves your data. A car GPS is super handy and is a road trip essential.

8. Go Pro Camera

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Campbell & Alya from Stingy Nomads

In the last couple of years, our GoPro became our favorite item to pack for a road trip. New models like GoPro HERO7 and GoPro HERO8 are great for taking both videos and photos.

The stabilization of the camera is amazing, you can attach it to your car using a special car mount and take great footage even if you drive off-road, no shaking or blurring.

The GoPro is great for filming in challenging conditions; strong wind, heavy rain, dusty road, underwater etc. If it gets dirty or dusty you can just rinse it in freshwater.

We used our GoPro7 to take videos and photos on our Namibia road trip and it worked great, especially for filming in the desert where sand can be a big problem if it gets inside the camera. With the GoPro we didn’t have this issue.

We took it on a walk over the sand dunes, on safari drives, filmed in heavy rain, driving through the mud and dust and it never failed. The latest GoPro models are water and dust proof even without a housing.

If it’s covered in sand you can just wash it off. GoPro is a great item to create amazing dynamic videos of a road trip.

9. Portable Bluetooth Speaker

James & Anh from Team AJ Travels

A Bluetooth speaker is one of those items that should be on every road trip packing list, but once you have used one you will never go back to traveling without it!

We use the Bose Soundlink Revolve. It strikes the right balance between quality and size (don’t confuse with the Revolve+ which is way too big). You get thick bass and clear high end sound that is as good as anything I have at home.

I love it so much that when I am not traveling it follows me around the house from the kitchen, to the study, to the balcony depending on what I am doing.

To best explain the importance and versatility of this item I will tell you about our road trip around the south coast of Iceland in a campervan.

During the day the speaker was a far superior option to the campervan speakers where there was no Bluetooth connectivity, and the local radio sounded awful on the van speakers anyway.

This bluetooth speaker even swaps between phones to source the content we wanted, and would have great quality music and podcasts while on the longer legs of the drive.

In the evening after setting in at a camping ground the speaker made for some easy background music while we had an outdoor dinner and a few wines, then as it got dark it was easy to swap over to the laptop and watch a movie before bed in the back of the van.

Even if you are staying in hotels instead of a van, it is always handy to be able to connect to a laptop rather than relying on local TV when settling down for the day.

So no matter where I go this little speaker is worth its weight in gold!

10. Digital Camera

Cath –Travel Around Ireland

One thing we always remember to pack when we’re going on a road trip is our camera. You just never know when you are going to around a corner and go “wow”. And a camera is a must-have for these moments. Our camera of choice is a Canon G7X which has all the capabilities of a DSLR without the heaviness and bulkiness of one.

The Canon G7X is a digital camera which takes great photos and video. It has a 4.2 x zoom lens, can shoot HD video and has WiFi connectivity abilities, meaning you can share great photos directly to your phone ready to upload to Instagram. What makes this better than a phone camera is the fact it can shoot in RAW, the digital version of a film negative, which allows you to process the photo after you get back from your road trip.

And why would you take a digital camera with you, even when you have a phone? This digital camera produces great quality photos and the RAW functionality means you can process them later. Sure, there are phone cameras that produce great pictures too, but I prefer having my photos from a digital camera.

Plus, it’s always good to have a backup if you prefer using your phone and it runs out of power and you forgot to bring your portable power bank!

If you’re wanting to take great pictures, a good camera is an essential road trip item.

11. Dashboard Cam

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Vicky – Day Out in England

It’s sad to say but dashboard cams are always a good idea for a road trip these days. Unfortunately, accidents do happen and so having the security and assurance that there will be a record of any wrongdoing is a good plan. I have a cheapo one and used it on a recent trip to the Isle of Wight. Nothing happened, but it’s good to know it was there if it did.

Dashboard cams start at around £15, and go up into the hundreds. You can get a decent one for around £50 though.

Simply attach to your dashboard and if for any reason you need footage of what’s happened on your road trip, the dashcam will have recorded it.

When you’re buying one look for one with a long battery life so you don’t have to spend time and energy charging it. Also, get a wide angle one, and if you spend a bit more you can get one with a parking monitor too. Check the recording quality and that it has an easy to use mount. You’ll need to buy an SD card on top, and it can help to get one with an app too.

I hope you never need to use the footage, but for an extra piece of mind it could pay to just splash out a bit to get one for your road trip. If you’re in a rental car, don’t forget to pick it up before you leave!

12. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Mario – Rest and Recuperation

really cannot travel without an Amazon Kindle. My mixed feelings are due to the romanticism of a heavy reader.

Like everyone else, I love having a book in my hands, the feeling of the pages being turned, the distinctive smell of paper released. My two-walls-library is a witness to my love for books.
Though, traveling is a whole different thing. You need flexibility and lightness, which are the enemy of a heavy reader. Or at least it was until a few years ago they invented e-books and e-readers. Now all is solved, as I can just carry with me a 200g item that has thousands of books in it.

Ok, no more romanticism. But I do not even have to plan so carefully before leaving for a long trip. I just need to have a couple of books downloaded and then make sure to find a Wi-Fi every now and then to download more.

Ironically, I just binge used my Amazon Kindle Paperwhite during a trip to…the Amazon, orAmazzonia as we call it! I spent three full days on a boat climbing up the Amazon River from Belem to Alter do Chao, where the only thing to do was sleeping or reading in your hammock, with occasional trips to the top deck to see the wonderful view over the river and the forest.

As I had limited space in my backpack, the Kindle Paperwhite was really important. And, in fact, the first item I prepared when packing!

13. Charging Cables

With all those tech devices for your road tripping adventures, you will need a few charging cables. Make sure you pack your phone charger as well!

You can buy multi connection cables, that have more than one, but a fast charging cable is a great option.

14. Maps.me or Google Maps Offline

With Maps.Me you have to pre-download a location where you’re going and then you can access all the information even when you’re offline.

Google Maps is a pretty good alternative. Read how to make a custom Google Maps Itinerary here.

What to bring on a road trip generic items

Here a list of pretty basic items for a road trip. They are simple things most will take on their road trip, but it’s good to have on a roadtrip checklist, just to be sure they get packed.

15. Foldable Water Bottle

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Tiana Bantis – Passport of Memories

One thing I never go on a road trip without is a reusable water bottle. It’s the perfect way to stay hydrated and reduce your plastic consumption.

I discovered the Vapur water bottle 2 years ago, before my 3 month Europe trip and it was a lifesaver. I love how light and portable it is for being on the go.

It rolls up super small with the help of the carabiner when there’s no water inside. Once you need to refill it just flatten the body out and it will fill all the way up and it doesn’t leak! You can buy it in either 750ml or 1L depending on your activities.

I love that the bottle takes up very little space and can easily fit into a backpack, purse or hang with the handy carabiner. I have brought it on many trips and it doesn’t disappoint!

16. Hydroflask Waterbottle

Oksana & Max from – Drink Tea & Travel

We never leave for a trip abroad or a road trip without our handy Hydroflask bottles. We have been using them for years and there is a lot that we love about them.

First and foremost carrying one reduces the use of single-use plastic water bottles and disposable coffee cups. Making it both a handy reusable water bottle and a warm drink mug.

The products have a double vacuum insulated wall which allows cold liquids to stay cold for up to 12 hours or hot for up to 6 hours. We have left our bottles on the beach, in the hot sun and have come back to cold water.

Plus there is no flavor transfer, so you won’t notice a difference in taste if you have been using the bottle for tea and then switch back to water.

We like to support companies with sustainable practices and who support social responsibility so Hydro Flask really hits the mark.

All bottles are 100% recyclable and they only produce their products at meticulously chosen factories that practice social responsibility, fair labor, and strong ethics. While at the same time contributing to charities like Parks For All.

17. Dashboard Phone Mount

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Emily – Wander Lush

Having driven in dozens of countries – from a jaunt across Spain to afull lap around Oman– there are a few road trip essentials that I can’t live without. My handiest piece of kit is a dashboard mount that I use to hold my mobile phone.

To save money, I always try to avoid hiring a GPS when I travel, and opt to use Google Maps instead. It’s therefore absolutely essential (and in many countries, it’s the law) to have my phone mounted at eye-level for hands-free navigation.

A good phone cradle has a sturdy mount – I prefer the ones that slot into an air-conditioning vent rather than the suction cups that never seem to stick to the windshield properly. An adjustable cradle that will fit any model of phone is also essential.

Running out of juice on the highway is worst-case scenario, and there’s nothing like Google Maps to drain your battery. That’s why I also recommend choosing a mount that has a gap at the bottom so you can plug your phone in and charge while driving (a car adapter is another useful piece of gear for any road trip).

18. Lifestraw Go Water Bottle

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Tammy – Travelling Tam

No matter where in the world you are, the Lifestraw Go water bottle is a must-have product to chuck in the car. With a patented built-in micro-filtration system, this bottle kills 99.9% of all bacteria as you drink. That means you can fill it up with any quality of water you find on your travels – be it from a stream, waterfall, lake or even a dodgy looking roadside puddle – it will be safe (and taste good too).

The Lifestraw Go is ideal for emergency situations or simply instead of bringing or buying countless bottles of water. Just think of all the space it could save you. I’ve used it countless times in countries with unsafe tap water too and it has saved me lots of money, especially at those tourist sites that charge you a premium for bottled water.

The handy carabiner attached at the top is super useful, allowing you to clip it onto your day bag or bike whilst you’re off exploring. The taste of fresh water from a waterfall or stream is hard to beat and to be honest, I now prefer it to anything else!

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly and practical travel product that could potentially save your life, then the Lifestraw is one of the best products on the market that you should definitely invest in for your next road trip.

19. Day Pack

You’ll want to be able to explore places along the way and a day pack means you can be a lot light while taking the essentials with you.

My favorite bags are Osprey – they have a hue range of day trip backpacks.

20. Flashlight

If you plan to be traveling at night, taking a flashlight (also known as a torch) is a great idea.

It doesn’t need to be expensive, just a small one and know where it is incase you’re looking for it in the dark.

21. Umbrella

An umbrella is one of those items you probably should take on every road trip. You’ll be glad you have one when you need it.

There’s nothing worse changing a tire in the rain!

22. Reuseable Shopping Bag

If you’re spending a while on the road, like my 31-day road trip through northern Canada and Alaska, you’ll probably want to buy groceries.

A re-useable shopping bag is a great item to have and also reduces unnecessary waste.

23. Plastic Bags

In saying that, plastic bags are still very handy on a road trip. Having a couple can definitely help the clean up of rubbish in a car or the organization of the small items as well.

You don’t need many, but I always have a few tucked away for when I need them.

Road Trip Safety Essentials

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Every road trip will need some form of safety items, just incase something goes wrong.

Hopefully, you’ll never need to use any of the items below on your trip, butifsomething does happen, you’ll be so glad you have them.

24. Flat Tire Inflator

Sundeep and Bedabrata – Delhi-Fun-Dos

We still shudder by thinking of experience few years back when we had a flat tire in the middle of the jungle and we realized our spare tire was also damaged.

Thankfully it was just a bunch of us friends and we managed somehow. We have learned from that experience and take measures to avoid getting stuck in a situation like that again.

Being travel bloggers, we are always on the move and we don’t start on a road trip without all our gadgets ready to go. Lately, one of the most essential items we keep before starting on a road trip is a car tire inflator.

First of all, it hardly takes any space. It is portable and so compact we never feel it occupied much of our boot.

Secondly, it doesn’t require any battery charging or an external power source. We just plug it in the car cigarette lighter slot and switch on the engine.

Even in the state of the puncture, it helps us inflate the tire sufficiently and drive to the nearest tire repair station or a car workshop. It is a complete life savior.

Whether we use it or not, it is a huge comfort to know we are covered and will not be stranded in the middle of a jungle in a flat tire situation again.

25. First Aid Kit

Christina – Honest Travel Stories

Road trips are so much fun, right? There’s nothing but you and the road, maybe your partner in crime is there as well. Maybe you’re traveling with your whole family. Doesn’t really matter, road trips rule and everyone knows it.

But uh, do you ever think about “what if”? I know I’m always thinking about this. Mostly because I’m a bit anxious, but I digress.

Well, for all the “What if”s in the world, I have made a rule to not leave the house for a trip without a first aid kit.

I know I must sound like your grandma now, but it only takes a night spent near the toilet due to some awful food poisoning to start appreciating a first aid kit. And I assume you won’t be road tripping to spend your time only in your car, so you have a chance of getting hurt.

You can either buy a first aid kit or create your own, if you have specific needs. I usually do a combination of both because I feel I need more types of medicine with me, especially if I travel in areas where I am not accustomed with the food or water. But plain old patches and disinfectants can be all you need in most situations.

When I fell and hurt my knee on my trip to Japan I wish I had my first aid kit with me. Instead, I had it in my luggage at the hotel. Don’t be like me, take it with you everywhere you go! And also, change the contents from time to time.

Some of them have an expiration date, and God knows what may happen to you if you take old pills at one point. This would make you need a second aid kit to save you from the first aid one, and that just doesn’t sound like a fun road trip.

A decent first aid kit should be part of every road trip essentials packing list.

26. Jerry Can

Have you ever run out of gas (petrol)? I have and it’s not fun. Especially when you’re on a long road trip and in the middle of nowhere.

I always make sure to take spare fuel with me, and I’m glad I did on my Dempster Highway story. Hopefully, you won’t ever need this spare jerry can, but the peace of mind is worth the extra item.

Car organization for a road trip

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Keeping the care organized during a road trip is so important.

The items listed below will help you keep your road trip vehicle nice and organized.

You’ll be wishing you had a good road trip organization if you break down on a rainy night and not knowing where anything is. Save yourself the trouble with the items below.

27. Packing Cubes

Great for keeping your belongings organized, either in your bag or in the car itself. You can buy packing cubes in a huge variety of sizes, colors and shapes.

28. Travel Trash Can

Ever been on a road trip and all of a sudden the trash has piled up? It’s easy to do and not that pleasant. A travel trash can makes it easy to keep your road trip vehicle clean of garbage.

29. Air Mattress

Unless you have a large and open car, an air mattress won’t be used to sleep inside the car itself. But if you’re planning on visiting friends or family, making sure you have a nice bed to sleep on and be well-rested will improve your road trip.

Road Trip Snack Ideas

Here are a couple of snack ideas – for both adults and kids.

Being hungry (or hangry) on a road trip is a terrible thing. The good news is that it’s usually easy to avoid.

30. Road trip snacks for adults

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Raquel – Meals and Mile Markers

Whenever you’re road tripping, one of the most important things to have handy is a good snack! As someone who loves to eat, I have a few tips on traveling with food. While it may be tempting to buy a pack of individual-sized snack servings, opt for the full-size bag instead.

Not only will this reduce your environmental impact, but it will also prevent the garbage from piling up in the car! The less garbage you have to worry about tossing out, the less stress you’ll have between pit stops.

Another important thing to keep in mind is the sustenance of snack food. While junk food is nice when you need a quick pick-me-up, the granola will fill you up for longer! When eating hearty snacks, you’re more likely to feel satisfied which will prevent “hangry” outbursts whenever you miss a turn or get stuck in traffic.

If you like to start new traditions, a great idea is to make your own snacks before leaving. Find a recipe for breakfast bars, trail mix, or oatmeal cookies that you can prepare ahead of time. If you find the perfect road trip recipe, you can even give it a fun name, such as “Car Trip Cookies” so that you always have a special snack to look forward to whenever you travel!

31. Road trip snack ideas for kids

Neha & Abhishek – Revolving Compass

As a couple of travel bloggers who have been extensively traveling with our two kids, we do a lot of road trips with our kids.

We must accept, traveling with kids needs a lot of preparation if you want to really enjoy your trip to the maximum. Two major aspects of doing road trips with kids include keeping them entertained and their tummy satisfied.

Since a hungry kid means disaster for your trip and two hungry kids means an explosion in the car!

Also, kids tend to gravitate towards junk food available in the roadside shops and cafes if they are hungry and you are not prepared with the right snacks. Which can prove costly for their health when you do a lot of road trips like we do.

So, let us tell you about some of the healthy kid’s snacks for road trips that we always pack on our journeys:

  • Single portions of packed yogurt to replace the cravings for ice creams.
  • small bottles of Buttermilk or homemade milkshake in chiller box to replace the store-bought milkshakes.
  • Homemade Lemonade to keep the kids hydrated, particularly on road trips in summertime.
  • Baby carrots with hummus or dip.
  • Separately packed portions of fruits, whole bananas – the superfood for anytime kids are hungry.
  • Homemade chips with homemade salsa.
  • Granola bars and Multigrain crackers.

With these kinds of snacks, we are able to keep the kids hunger pranks at bay. And also save a lot of time taking lesser pit stops during the road trip.

Cold Weather Gear

This section is for those road tripping in freezing temperatures.

Many places around the world have a cold climate and you should be prepared for the cold weather overnight will bring, especially if you’re from a place that doesn’t get near freezing.

Make sure you dress for the occasion as well. That means, if you’re driving through the Arctic Circle, have warm clothes and extra layers in case you get stuck (or run off the road, as I did in 2017).

32. Ice Scraper

If you’ve spent time in a cold climate, you likely know the joys of a frosted windscreen. You don’t want to drive a car with frost impeding your view as it’s super dangerous. Make sure you have one of these to be ready if you need it.

33. Snow Shovel

A snow shovel is important if you get bogged down in snow and need to dig yourself out. You can also get a regular shovel to help with getting stuck in dirt as well. It doesn’t need to be very big, but it’ll be handy when you need it.

Road Trip Luxury Items

These items below are items you couldprobably live without. I say probably as I can’t really function without coffee – that’s why there are two different methods of making coffee on a road trip.

But these items increase the quality of a road trip for some.

34. Travel Coffee Maker

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Amber Hoffman – Food And Drink Destinations
For the coffee addict who travels often, having that most important first cup can be a challenge. Where’s the nearest coffee shop? Does the hotel or Airbnb have a coffee maker?

Thankfully, there is a simple and easy way to ensure fresh, hot coffee no matter where you are traveling. There are a variety of options for making coffee on the go, but a simple pour-over is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to travel with a portable coffee maker.

Long before the era of Nespresso capsules, coffee was made using a paper filter, hot water, and coffee. Commonly referred to as the “pour over” method, there has been a resurgence of this method by baristas in coffee shops around the world.

Many coffee experts claim the pour-over method creates stronger and more vibrant coffee flavors and aromas. One thing is certain, this is the perfect coffee making method for traveling, so long as you can boil water.

Available in a variety of materials including ceramic and plastic, the main component of the pour-over is the cone-shaped paper filter holder. Making coffee is easy, simply by placing a paper filter in the holder, adding coffee and slowing pouring hot water over the ground coffee.

All three components are light enough for traveling and can easily be purchased at supermarkets while traveling. There are even all-in-one travel coffee makers that include a built-in filter and an insulated coffee cup.

Regardless of which version you decide to take traveling, the coffee lover will never miss out on having fresh coffee every morning when on the road.

35. Aero Press Coffee Maker

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Paul Healy – Anywhere We Roam

There’s nothing better than an awesome road trip. The freedom, the adventure, new landscapes; the wind through our receding hairlines. It’s an experience that can only be enhanced by one thing: a top-quality cup of coffee.

The best way to achieve that is with an AeroPress coffee maker – the perfect companion to groggy mornings, and an essential item to take on a road trip.

The AeroPress is a simple and ingenious coffee maker that uses trapped air to force coffee through a filter under high pressure. Comprising a chamber and plunger, ground coffee and water patiently wait in the chamber ready to be brewed to perfection by the plunger. The result is a road trip-ready coffee that’s smooth and rich.

Optimized for traveling, AeroPress is portable, lightweight and super easy to clean – just give it a quick rinse and you’re good to go. This makes it the ideal way to get a great cup of coffee while you’re on the road.

Since there is minimal waste except for a tiny paper filter and ground coffee, this makes it an eco-friendly way to make coffee. The only thing you need is the ability to boil water and your favorite ground beans.

To kick start a great day, the AeroPress is one of the best things to take on a road trip.

36. 12 Volt Cooler Car Fridge

Jan Robinson – Budget Travel Talk

Car Fridges are handy for picnics, road trips, and camping. My Engel Brand chest fridge was my Dad’s original and is over 30 years old. It just won’t die. There is a retro-looking chest fridge and it looks exactly like the original, but with the added advantage of modern advances.

There are many brands available and some features to look out for are LED interior light, durable case, tie down points, digital temperature and thermostat, battery monitor, auto-switching between 240 and 12 volt with leads for both, fixed and optionally removable lid hinges, the weight of unit. A 40-liter capacity Engel fridge weighs 24 kg.

Travel bags for the fridge can be purchased separately. Why would I need a travel bag, you might ask. The answer is travel bags prevent scratches and bumps and have a storage pocket for cords.

My favorite reason is that when disconnected from all power sources, like when free camping or boondocking overnight, the bag helps maintain fridge temperature. Most people leave the fridge in the bag as it is possible to access the fridge whilst it sits snugly in the bag.

While we have a fridge in our caravan (camping trailer) it is convenient to have a smaller fridge in the car whilst traveling between destinations or for trips without the van. When exploring country roads for the day, we love the convenience of lunch and drinks being easily accessible from the back seat.

A car chest fridge can be used as either a fridge or freezer and is a general all-round useful item to have.

37. Thermal Bag

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Sheila –Dicas de Paris

A thermal bag is something indispensable for my road trips. Road trips are my favorite kind of travel. Every year we take on the wheels at least two times.

Living in Europe gives me this kind of opportunity. Crossing France, from north to south. Going from The Netherlands to Croatia (and back!). Stopping by small vineyards enjoying some unknown wine. What else can one wish for on a road trip?

I try to make my road trip as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. Going on a long route, sometimes I want to stop and enjoy the landscape. I like to do my resting pauses in more picturesque and charming places. I prefer to avoid gas stations, with a terrible smell and bad food.

I always have a thermal bag with snacks, fruits, and food according to my dietary needs. I like to avoid excess sugar consumption and food poisoning on the road. The thermal bag gives me the freedom to stop wherever I want. I can eat healthier, and not worry about where can I have my meal next. And if we cannot stop, the food is just there.

A thermal bag is my go-to for any road trip I make. Long or short, I will certainly have it under my seat.

38. Kettle

Ruma Dey Baidya – Holiday Story

This happens almost every time that early morning you wake up in a hotel or in a road trip vehicle. You really need a cup of tea or coffee to start a day, but at that time of day, nobody is there to serve you. This is where a kettle can be a lifesaver for you. Especially When you have a small baby with you, it makes travel much more comfortable.

A small electric cup takes up very little space in your vehicle. This mug consumes a less amount of electricity so it’s easy to use wherever you go. You can use a kettle for a range of different things. Of course, you can use it for boiling water and boiling milk for your kids, but also a small meal like noodles and a boiled egg. PRetty shady when you have limited space to cook in.

I travel with my baby when she was 8 months old. During travel, an electric kettle on a road trip helped prepare food and drink for myself and my young baby. This kind of electric kettle comes in a range of sizes and capacities.

For even more minimalistic road trip packing, you can buy a handheld electric heating mug to keep your coffee hot.

39. Swiss Army Knife

Not really an essential for road trips, but can be incredibly handy. These multi tools can be used for so many things.

A Swiss Army Knife can be a little pricey, but you often get what you pay for. Even a cheaper version of these multi tools can help in a huge variety of situations.

Road Trip Comfort Items

These are items that help you relax during a road trip. If you’ve been driving long days, you’ll want to sit and relax at times.

Here are some items to help you chill out when road-tripping the globe.

40. Yoga Mat

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Meg Atteberry – Fox In The Forest

When it comes to camping out of your car, you’re able to bring a few handy extras. One thing that I never leave home without is a yoga mat. But here’s the catch, I’m no yogini. It turns out that a yoga mat has many uses for camping.

You can stretch, sunbath, or even have a padded spot for your pup to relax. While I’m camping in the desert, I love to use my yoga mat to stretch after a long day of hiking and climbing.

As an avid hiker, it’s important to keep my knees in tip-top shape, and having my yoga mat by my side lets me engage in physical therapy exercises without getting too dirty. It especially comes in handy at a trailhead, where you might want to do some cooldown stretching post-hike.

Another easy thing to do with your yoga mat is to create a little seating area. Simply lay down a folded yoga mat in front of a cooler. You can lean against the cooler and use the yoga mat as a small pad against the ground. The result is a camp-friendly alternative to your normal camping chair.

The great part about using a yoga mat is that it keeps the dirt off of your clothes. This is great for a road trip, where you won’t have access to laundry for weeks on end.

It’s easy to clean, simply wipe down your yoga mat with a little water if it gets covered in dirt. Overall, the versatility of a yoga mat makes it a must-have camping accessory you can’t live without!

41. Hammock

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Ciaran and Maria – Maptrekking

Why Hammocks you ask? They can turn a great view into a day of relaxation that you will never forget, and I’ll explain how.

Picture this, the drive has been long so far. The hunger begins to rise and all you want to do is relax for an hour with something to eat. What better way than to gently rock back and forth with food in hand and an unforgettable view.

This is what happened to me on our last trip to Albania. During a hike, I wanted to rest and relax for an hour before continuing. Sitting on a rock with a sandwich didn’t tickle my fancy, especially since a large group of tourists was roaming around taking photos. I just wanted a moment alone.

I walked only meters into the tree line, away from everyone, and saw two perfect trees with a viewpoint in between. I knew I needed to set it up. It’s so easy to assemble. Wrap the harness around the tree on one end and secure with the safety hooks provided.

Then do the same on the other side. Push down on the hammock to make sure pressure won’t make the wraps slide and cautiously sit into it. Enjoy your relaxed lunch with the best seat around.

42. Travel Pillow

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Anna – Expert World Travel

I was very excited to see a whole bunch of companies experiment with neck pillows over the last few years.

Some on Kickstarter, some bigger companies, but all with fun and useful ideas to solve the “painful neck while sleeping sitting up” problem. If you have this problem, then you know how horrible it can be! I have always suffered from neck pain when traveling.

I fall asleep for a few hours on a fun road trip, or even on a plane, only to take up with a sharp pain or even a headache. Although I saw and tried a lot of solutions to this problem, none ever really solved it. Until I discovered the Ostrich Travel Pillow.

Specifically, the GO model. They have other wacky and useful designs, but this one really worked for me. This travel pillow solves two really big parts of the problem.

First, it keeps your head far more upright when you drift off to sleep. So much so, that you wake up without neck pain.

Second, it is also super soft and comfortable, so does not stop you from falling asleep in the first place.

Oh, and one other thing I loved about this pillow is that it rolls down to a reasonable size and comes with its own bag. So, it’s easy to bit in your day pack or maybe even a big purse. That way you can take it almost anywhere.

Just not to the office! I have used this pillow on so many different road and plane trips. Sometimes falling asleep for 5-6 hours at a time. That has never happened to me before. And I could never travel without it.

43. Camp Chairs

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Allan and Emma – MY RIG Adventures

One of the basic and essential road trip items is the humble Camp Chair. They’re super easy to fold up and throw in the boot and serve you well, so don’t forget to pack one for each Road Trip member!

Want to pull up on the side of the road for a leg stretch and some lunch? No need to wait until you find a Rest Area with picnic tables, you can pull up anywhere that’s safe and use your trusty Camp Chairs to relax with a sandwich.

Tired after a long day of driving and exploring? Pull out the Camp Chairs and arrange them under a beautiful starry night and take a minute to unwind and be thankful for the great day you’ve just had. Met some other cool Road Trippers and want to warm up around the camp fire, sharing travel stories and adventures?

No worries, it’s BYO chairs, so you’re already sorted. And don’t forget easing yourself into a new day on the road with a quiet morning cuppa, looking out across whatever beautiful location you’ve found yourself in.

Sitting on a cold or wet ground just won’t cut it. Luckily you’ve got a cozy Camp Chair. As you can see, those trusty Camp Chairs will serve multiple purposes, which is a prerequisite for many on their road trip packing list.

They’ll not only be an outdoor living chair, but a lounge and dining room chair as well. They come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, so there’s always a perfect chair to suit the individual.Make sure you bring them on your road trip!

44. Blackout Blinds

This is one I never thought about. Until I road tripped around Iceland for a few weeks. During my visit, the sky never got dark. Not once. It was an eerie, gloomy sky but only once the windows were blocked with clothes could I get a good nights rest.

Fast forward a few years, and my partner and I made custom blackout blinds for our Canada and Alaska road trip. If you have trouble sleeping through light hours, these may be a great benefit for you.

45. Blankets and pillows

Depending on where you plan on sleeping, bringing your own blankets and pillows might be a must. Whether you’re sleeping in the back of your car or at a friends place, it’s good to have the basics of sleeping comfort to help you sleep better.

46. Sunglasses

If you’ve tried driving while constantly squinted, you probably know how fun it is. Not at all. On top of that, it also makes it so you can’t see the road as well, so it can be pretty dangerous.

A good pair of sunglasses will make your drive more enjoyable and safer at the same time.

47. Sunscreen

If you burn under the sun easy, sunscreen is likely something you shouldn’t overlook. Painfully red skin can really ruin a few days of your road trip and cause you to have less enjoyment out of that.

Plus, sunburn is typically bad for you and your skin. If you’re going swimming, you can get coral friendly sunscreen with oils that don’t damage the fragile ecosystem.

48. Bug Spray

I hate mosquitos. Does anyone like them? I doubt it. Bug spray is an item for almost every road trip.

If you haven’t tried doing something outside while being ravaged by a plague of mozzies (Australian slang), then you’re lucky and you really don’t want to experience it.

49. Quick Dry Towel

The reason a quick-dry towel is here is that I hate traveling with wet towels. A towel is a pretty common item, but a quick dry version is what I suggest taking.

I’ve stayed in many hostels during my travels and there have been so many times my towel didn’t completely dry, making my bag moist for ages. So I always made a point to travel with a microfiber, quick-drying towel.

Road Trip Entertainment Things To Pack

Leisure road trips are all about having fun, right? So you need to pack those items that help you enjoy your road trip how you want to.

People’s definitions of ‘leisure’ will vary greatly. But here are some common entertainment road trip items.

50. Binoculars

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Erin – Sol Salute

If you’re going on a road trip through any nature or wildlife-filled destination, like any national park, for example, I highly recommend packing a pair ofhigh-quality travel binoculars. After investing a good pair of Celestron binoculars for a safari in South Africa we are hooked and never travel without them.

We were able to spot wildlife we otherwise would have missed on game drives in South Africa and when whale watching to spot orcas in the distance in Patagonia. We also put our binoculars to good use on hikes in national parks for bird watching, wildlife and to look ahead on the trail.

Gone are the days of the bulky binocular. Modern lenses and prisms allow for much more compact models without losing quality, but actually, offer a much crisper image with good vision in low light conditions. While binoculars will vary in size depending on the magnification (which effects lens size and weight), many fit in your pocket or the cup holder of your car.

Two of the best brands of binoculars are Bushnell and Celestron. Both offer excellent glass at a range of prices. Nikon,unsurprisingly, also makes high-qualitybinoculars.

Whether you spent a lot on the best of the best or search for a more budget-friendly pair, you’ll appreciate the benefits of traveling with a pair of binoculars.

51. Nintendo Switch

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Mark – Voga Tech

Complete your travel time with Nintendo Switch. Its construction and purpose make it ideal for use when traveling. Long trips and waiting at airports or hotels can be a bit boring, which is why the Nintendo Switches console is ideal fun. Also, if you travel with children, they will be pleased and you can shorten the travel and waiting times with one of the favorite games.

With the Nintendo Switch, make sure you bring along the accessories that come with it. For transporting the Nintendo Switch you need to provide the original suitcase if you do not have one you can use some of the well-protected top pockets on your backpack or suitcase.

When traveling by plane or by car they can be very noisy and the sound coming from Nintendo Switches can disturb your traveling companions. So be sure to bring agaming headset for your Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo Switch battery lasts 3-7 hours, so you might want to bring an external battery as well. Since some of the trips take a long time, extra battery life will be of great importance to you, as it will extend the life of your Nintendo Switch console.

In the United States, FAA rules govern what kind and size batteries you can bring on a commercial flight. In July 2017 the TSA updated its screening procedures. All electronics larger than a smartphone need to go into a bin, not stay in your bag.

52. Killer Playlist

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Melissa – Queensland Camping

Once you’ve got all the essentials packed for your road trip, don’t forget to prepare yourself a killer playlist for the ride! Nothing makes a road trip better belting out the lyrics to your favorite songs as you cruise on down the highway.

I recommend that at least a few days to the week before getting out your favorite music streaming platform such as Spotify or download it from Amazon and start making your playlist. Having all your songs on a playlist will mean no fumbling around searching for songs while you’re on the road.

Don’t be selfish either this isn’t all about you. Consult everyone who is coming along on the road trip and find out what their favorite songs and artists are too. Everyone will have a way better time on the road trip if everyone is hearing their favorite songs as well as yours.

Do you need some inspiration for your road trip playlist? According to Spotify some of the classic road trip songs includeGo Your Own Wayby Fleetwood Mac,American Pieby Don McLean orJack & Dianefrom John Mellencamp.

Now go and prepare your own killer playlist and don’t forget that the louder you sing along, the more memorable the road trip will be!

While not a physical item, many road trip checklists list this as a must have!

53. Road Trip Travel Games

Helen – Venture Up North

Sometimes, no matter how amazing the scenery, you just need a little break from driving to sit back and re-charge your batteries. I don’t know about you, but I find there’s no better way to do that than to challenge your fellow roadies to a quick travel game.

My personal favorites are Bananagrams and Uno. Both games are small enough to fit in the glove compartment of your car and pack away nicely into your backpack at the end of the journey. There’s also little chance of losing fiddly game pieces as Bananagrams comes with its own little zip-up banana-shaped bag (very on brand) and Uno…. well Uno is a card game so just make sure you keep all the cards together in a pack and you’ll be golden.

Both games are handy for keeping your brain switched on during your break from driving. Bananagrams, in particular, is a fast-paced game. Players are competing to be named ‘Top Banana’ by being the first one to get rid of their letter tiles (only real words allowed please!). Uno, on the other hand, is great fun if there’s a group of you playing.

Clearly these games aren’t safe to play whilst driving (please don’t try!) but there are plenty of games that are. To keep it lively, have a go at The Human Jukebox (hum that tune!), 21 Questions (you have 21 questions to guess e.g. the country or the famous person) or The Alphabet Category Game (choose a category e.g. fruit and ask everyone in the car to take it in turns to name a fruit beginning with ‘A.’

The first person to struggle to name something loses that round and the game continues with the letter ‘B’). These games are a great way to keep everyone in the car entertained on those long, winding and never-ending roads. Have fun!

Family Road Trip Essentials

Going on a family road trip? It can be a little chaotic at times, no doubt. Below are a few items to make your road tripping family enjoy their adventure more.

54. Backseat Butler

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Stephanie – Consistently Curious

If you open your car door and an entire Target snack aisle falls out, it is time to get organized. Chaos in the car sneaks up on you. It starts with a few harmless wrappers on the floor, a book, or two left on the seat that slowly transforms into a toy tornado and the need for a hazmat suit. I know because I was there.

Then we discovered the Backseat Butler by J.L.Childress.

Friends, this item needs to be on every baby registry and every car transporting a child. This organizer not only contains the toys, books, and snacks but is has cupholders! If it doesn’t fit in the organizer then it doesn’t come in the car.

There are even side pockets that are great for crayons and wipes. In addition to an easily accessible front zipper pocket that is easy to reach that is perfect for snacks and go-to items.

Having an organized car while traveling will make your trip go a whole lot smoother. This has been one of our road trip staples that we never leave home without.

55. Pop Up High Chair

Tori – Tori-Leigh

In addition to the typical diaper bag essentials and toys, a pop up high chair is a must for a family road trip. While it’s not on every mom’s radar, it will certainly make any trip with young children easier.

A pop up high chair is an easy, inexpensive, and lightweight way to guarantee young children have a place to sit safely and securely. Perfect for indoor and outdoor use, you’ll be surprised at how useful this simple item actually is.

If we’re camping or staying in a hotel, I can easily feed my baby without sitting him on the floor or my lap. It also comes in handy when stopping at a restaurant that doesn’t have highchairs or pulling over at a rest stop.

Aside from snacking, the chair is ideal for playtime and tinkering. I love that I can let my younger child play, knowing he’s secure in his chair, while I pack or tend to my other kid.

Most pop up highchairs assemble and break down in seconds, making them ideal for road trips with multiple stops. They’re easy to wipe clean on the go, as well.

Built for family travel, a pop up high chair is certainly a game changer for anyone embarking on aroad trip with babies or toddlers.

Hygiene Road Trip Items

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Hygenic road trip items are important. You have to stay healthy when adventuring in general and road tripping is no different.

56. Female Urinary Device

Bhushavali – My Travelogue

As a woman, one of the biggest problems while traveling is… peeing! The natural necessity of sitting down to pee is really problematic when traveling to off-beat locations or road-trips where bathrooms aren’t common or clean!

Personally, I’ve used unclean public toilets and peed beneath trees & behind shrubs while trekking or trail walking. It’s uncomfortable but not a deal-breaker.

When I was pregnant and in the first trimester, I was traveling & needed to use a public toilet and it was just so dirty! I used it but I was so freaked out for the next couple of days that I might get an infection. Anyways, the next day I ordered a FUD (Female Urinary Device).

It basically is a funnel-shaped thing made of silicon, which will help a woman to pee like a man! So the whole issue of having the ‘sit-down’ to pee is avoidable.

It is cheap, it’s tiny and foldable (like a menstrual cup) and I have a zippered plastic pouch to store it. Today I just wonder, how did I ever travel before that without a FUD.

57. Hand Sanitizer

If you’re adventuring away from civilization (where a lot of road trips go), you might find a lack of running water. But there will always be germs and hand sanitizer will be a handy item before eating or just general hygiene.

You can get little easy-to-access bottles on clips that make it so clean hands are never far away.

58. Toilet Roll

I mean, do I really need to go into this one? Don’t get stuck in the middle of nowhere without a spare roll of toilet paper. It’s a pretty good way to ruin your day.

59. Toothbrush and Tooth Paste

Basic hygiene items again. It’s another one that doesn’t really need an explanation, but it’s good to have on your checklist anyway.

60. Body Wipes

If you don’t have access to a shower, things can get pretty smelly pretty fast. A quick wipe down with body wiper/baby wipes will have you feeling refreshed. It’s a bit of strange tip, but always takes me back to my Wild Atlantic Way road trip in Ireland. That’s when I first discovered my love for baby wipe during a long road trip.

61. Deodorant

Whether we like to admit it or not, we all smell. It’s just a fact of being human. Being stuck in close quarters can be a lot easier managed if body odor isn’t wafting around the vehicle at all times.

62. Soap/Body Wash

You might not always have access to running water, a shower or even a bucket to dump over yourself, but when you do get a chance to wash yourself, a basic bar of soap will be a great addition to your road trip bag.

63. A Change of Clothes

While there isn’t a specific clothing list in this post, taking enough clothes to always have a clean set is pretty important. Putting on a clean shirt always feels better than a musty 3-day old, sweaty top.

Conclusion of the ultimate road trip essential packing list

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That’s it! You’re pretty well set to take off on your road trip with all those road trip essentials listed above!

Wherever you’re hitting the open road, make sure you pack your essential road trip gear and you’ll have a great time. Exploring a new destination with a vehicle is one of my favorite ways to travel.

You should have a solid list of what to pack for a road trip, from entertainment to safety items, snacks and everything in between!

Did I miss something? Do you have any questions on what to pack for a road trip coming up? Drop me a comment below and I’ll get back to you – I answer every single comment.

I hope this list helped you plan your next road trip – please share this to social media and subscribe to Horizon Unknown’s newsletter to get more great travel tips.

Don’t forget to pick up your free roadtrip checklist PDF!


As always, thanks for reading!

Happy and safe travels,

Ben – Horizon Unknown

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