Are warm weather and the freedom of the open road calling you for a road trip? Before you head out, make sure you have all the road trip essentials you’ll need for the best road trip possible.
After full-time RVing for over a year and driving over 50,000 miles across the USA, I’ve compiled a list of the top road trip essentials you’ll want to have with you on your next road trip.
These items will help you cruise in comfort while keeping you safe and preparing you for the unexpected. Load up your car with these road trip essentials, and you’ll be ready to hit the road!
Road Trip Essentials
If you like to be as prepared as possible like I do, this handy list of road trip essentials will help you get packed up for a road trip whether you’re going on a weekend getaway or cross-country excursion.
I’m going to break down this extensive list of road trip essentials by organizing them into categories. Go through the items in each category. Or you can go directly to the individual categories by clicking on them below.
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First and foremost, you need to make sure your car is in order and has everything it needs. Check the air pressure for your tires, make sure your windshield wiper blades are in good condition, top off all the fluids, fill up on gas, and be sure to bring the following items.
1. License, Registration & Insurance
These might seem like a no-brainer, but you still want to make sure you have them. Also, check to make sure your registration and insurance are up-to-date and not expired. And if you’re going to be venturing into Canada or Mexico, bring your passport too!
2. Car Manual
Just in case you run into any issues with your car while you’re on the road, keep your car’s owner’s manual in the glovebox to reference if needed.
3. Spare Tire
You never know when you’re going to get a flat tire (knock on wood!) and need a spare. So make sure you have a spare tire in your car. And while you’re at it, make sure it’s in good condition.
In case you run into any car trouble on the road, be sure to have a roadside emergency car kit with jumper cables and other helpful items to get you back on the road.
5. Gas Can
Sometimes gas stations can be few and far between, especially on backroads and in rural areas. Bring a gas can just in case you run out of gas and have to hoof it to the next gas station. You may even want to bring a gas can already full of gas.
If you’re going to be driving in cold weather or over any mountain passes, you’ll want to have snow chains for your tires to be on the safe side. Be sure to get the appropriate ones for the vehicle you’ll be traveling in.
It’s always a good idea to be prepared and carry a snow brush with ice scraper in case you encounter snow or freezing rain.
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Unless you want to just drive wherever the road takes you, you’re going to want some navigation tools for your road trip to get you where you want to go.
Don’t rely on your cell phone for directions because many areas won’t have reception. If your car isn’t equipped with a GPS, get a standalone GPS to help you navigate.
10. Road Atlas
Have a back-up road atlas just in case there are any issues with the GPS. It could also help you find interesting places to check out on your route or off the beaten path.
11. RoadTrippers App
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Some basic tools will help you be prepared for things that could come up when you’re on the road.
12. Tool Kit
We always carry a basic tool kit with us. You never know when you’ll need tools on the road.
A pocket knife multi-tool can also be helpful. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve used the scissors on mine!
A waterproof flashlight is always good to have on hand when you’re on the road. It can also be helpful to have a headlamp to act as a hands-free flashlight. That will really come in handy if you have to change a tire at night.
If you end up needing to build a fire, you’ll be glad you have a lighter with you.
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Medical supplies is a must on a road trip! If someone gets injured, sick, or is in pain, you want to be prepared to help them feel better.
16. First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is one of the most important road trip essentials to have. You never know when someone could get injured, and you want to be able to address their wounds if possible. We’ve used bandages from our first aid kit numerous times and are always glad we have it.
17. Pain Killers
Aches and pains can really put a damper on your road trip. Be prepared with some pain killers to help with headaches, back pain, strains, and more.
Questionable roadside food on a road trip can upset your stomach. If that happens, you’ll be glad you have some Pepto-Bismol (and so will your car companions!). We like the chewable tablets. They’re convenient and easy to carry.
In case anyone ends up having an allergic reaction, it’s good to have Benadryl on hand. Just don’t take Benadryl before driving as it may cause drowsiness.
Coming down with a cold in the middle of your road trip could ruin the entire experience for you. Have some Emergen-C on hand in case you start to feel like you could be getting sick. Or take it anyway as a preventative measure.
You never know when the weather could take a turn for the worst. Be prepared for wet weather with these weather-related items.
Bring a compact windproof travel umbrella so you don’t get caught out in the rain.
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Keep your electronics charged and ready to go with these electronic road trip essentials.
23. USB Car Charger
Make sure your phone never runs out of battery power with a USB car charger.
A portable phone charger is a must-have item for a road trip, so you can charge your phone on the go if needed. I personally tend to take entirely too many photos with my phone and can drain the battery pretty quickly.
Having a portable phone charger is so handy to have on hand! You can also get a hard travel case for the portable phone charger to carry it with the charger cables.
You’re going to want to document your amazing road trip adventure, so be sure to bring a camera along as well as the following camera accessories.
25. Travel Camera
I love using this camera for traveling and hiking! It’s small and lightweight but produces high-quality images, perfect for road trips.
Use a small, lightweight tripod that’s easy to pack and carry so you can get photos of yourself without having to take selfies.
27. Camera Remote
Use a camera remote in conjunction with a tripod to snap photos during your road trip adventures.
Bring extra camera batteries with a charger to keep your camera photo-ready. You don’t want your camera to die during any picture-worthy moments on your road trip.
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Take care of yourself and travel in comfort with these self care road trip essential items.
29. Seat Cushion
If you get lower back pain, a seat cushion will help immensely during long car rides.
30. Back Cushion
Lumbar support with a back cushion is also helpful for extended drives, especially if you suffer from back pain.
31. Packable Blanket
Have a packable blanket on hand in case you get cold, want to snuggle up during the drive, or want to have a picnic somewhere.
32. Travel Towels
Microfiber travel towels are quick-drying and lightweight yet absorbent, perfect if you’re planning on visiting a beach, lake, or river and want to take a dip!
34. Dry Shampoo
Dry shampoo is my BFF for everyday life but even more so when I’m traveling! Freshen your hair in-between washes with these travel-size dry shampoo sprays.
Sunscreen is a must anytime you travel but especially on a road trip when the sun will be blasting you through your car windows as you’re driving.
36. Hand Sanitizer
You never know what you’re touching on a road trip when you stop at gas stations, rest areas, restaurants, etc. Keep your hands clean with some hand sanitizer.
37. Insect Repellant
Depending on where you’ll be traveling, you might want to carry some easy-to-apply insect repellant wipes with you to avoid bug bites.
38. Tide To Go
These Tide To Go instant stain remover pens sure do come in handy! I always have one in the car and in my purse. You’ll be glad you have one if you happen to make a mess when you’re drinking or eating in your car.
Tissues always come in handy. Be sure to keep a box in your car.
40. Toilet Paper
You never know when nature will call. Be prepared with a roll or two of toilet paper in case you come across a restroom that’s out of toilet paper. You’ll also be thrilled to have T.P. if you have to go on the side of the road or in the woods.
One of the best things about a road trip is being able to bring your fur-babies with you! Bring these items to take care of them on the road.
41. Pet Travel Bag
Pack everything for your pet with a handy pet travel bag. Multiple compartments can hold food, treats, toys, a blanket, a leash, a harness, waste bags, and more. Plus, it comes with collapsible food and water bowls perfect for traveling.
42. Pet Water Bottle
A pet water bottle makes it super easy for your pet to get a drink of water while you’re traveling.
Be prepared for any medical needs your pet may have on the road with a pet first aid kit.
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Here are a few extra items to help out on your road trip.
Bringing your own snacks will help cut down on travel costs for your road trip. It will also help keep you fed to avoid getting the “hanger” when you’re driving.
Use a leakproof and collapsible cooler to pack your snacks and keep beverages cold.
46. Tote Bag
An empty tote bag that folds up for easy storage will be useful. Use it to carry your towels or other items you may need to take with you on outings during your road trip.
47. Cash / Coins
Bring some cash and coins for any toll roads and/or cash-only places you happen to come across. A roll of quarters can really come in handy for tolls.
Wrapping Up Road Trip Essentials
Whether you’re road-tripping on the highways or the backroads, there are certain items you’ll want to have with you for a safe, comfortable, and all-around enjoyable trip.
With this thorough list of road trip essentials, you’ll be ready to hit the road and have the time of your life on an amazing road trip! Are there any road trip items you like to travel with? Share them in the comments below!
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