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20 Essential Items To Bring on Road Trips

2023 Sep 14th

20 Essential Items To Bring on Road Trips

Posted by David Jones

Thinking of going on a Road Trip?

Anytime you get a chance to get away for a weekend or even a week, take advantage of the opportunity but make sure to have your road trip essentials ready to go. Road trips are always a good way to spend time with the family or explore the wide open spaces of the United States. From National Parks to state parks to historical stops, there are many things to explore and enjoy. Whether your destination is a camping trip in the mountains or enjoying exotic foods along the Atlantic Ocean in Miami, being prepared is a good way to make sure everything goes smoothly.

If you’re planning a driving trip, here are our recommendations for what to take on a road trip:

Top 20 Essential Items to Bring on Your Next Road Trip

If you’re wondering what to bring on a road trip, then here are 20 of the best road trip essentials you should have in your car before you leave home.

1. First Aid Kit

No one plans to get hurt, but being prepared for minor injuries is crucial. A well-stocked first aid kit should include bandages, antiseptics, pain relievers, and essential medication. Also remember to include antihistamines for bug bites and hydrogen peroxide to clean out wounds when you pack for your car road trip.

2. Emergency Roadside Kit

Imagine a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. This kit, complete with a jack, spare tire, jumper cables, and basic tools, can be a life-saver. Another thing to include is a jug of water and emergency leak repair fluids should you overheat or get a radiator leak.

3. GPS and Physical Maps

Technology fails. Always carry physical maps as a backup to your GPS device for foolproof navigation. You can get physical maps at most Welcome Centers at state lines. Even if they don’t have one, they will be able to tell you where you can find one at another rest area.

4. Portable Chargers

A dead phone is useless. Ensure that you have a robust portable charger to keep your devices powered throughout the journey. Don’t forget extra batteries for any of your electronics.

5. Snacks and Drinks

Packing a variety of snacks like trail mix, granola bars, and bottles of water can be a real boon when hunger or thirst strikes. If you’re planning on hiking, then pack some sandwiches like peanut butter and jelly. Make sure that you include twice as much water as you think you need.

6. Wet Wipes and Hand Sanitizer

For those impromptu picnics or simply to freshen up, wet wipes and hand sanitizers are indispensable. Wet wipes come in handy for those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. You also need to pack some extra napkins or paper towels for cleaning up.

7. Reusable Water Bottles

Invest in good-quality reusable water bottles to minimize plastic waste and keep your beverages at the desired temperature. Newer water fountains at many of the rest areas now have a place for you to place your refillable bottles. If you buy plastic, please recycle.

8. Comfort Items

From neck pillows to cozy blankets, comfort items make the difference between a tiresome and a relaxing road trip. If you have kids or pets on your trip with you, make sure you have their favorite stuffed animal or toy.

9. Entertainment

Books, audiobooks, or a well-curated playlist can keep the atmosphere lively and spirited. Most public libraries have books on CD that you can listen to while on your trip. This is one of the must-have long road trip essentials.

10.Camera and Binoculars

Capture the splendor of the landscape and the intricacies of nature with a good camera and a pair of binoculars. You don’t want to miss anything, and sometimes the best way to relive the memories is through your photos. When you get home, curate your photos into a calendar.

11. Cash and Credit Cards

Many places don’t accept cards. Keep a reasonable amount of cash and a mix of credit and debit cards on hand. Make sure that if you carry cash that you lock it into your console or other safe place in your vehicle. The spare tire well in SUVs makes a good place to stash valuables.

12. Personal Identification

Always carry valid ID cards and essential travel documents, both original and photocopy. While you may not think you need your passport, if you plan or driving over the border, you’ll need it to come back into the United States.

13. Flashlight and Batteries

For those unplanned detours or nighttime explorations, flashlights with extra batteries are a must. In addition, if you’re trying to read a physical map, a flashlight and a magnifying glass come in handy.

14. Multifunctional Tools

Items like a Swiss Army knife can be incredibly handy for on-the-go fixes. It’s also nice to have a set of eating utensils. If you don’t want to take the good silverware, most fast food places have sporks and knives to go.

15. Seasonal Gear

Be it sunblock and hats for the summer or extra layers and gloves for the winter, pack according to the season. Don’t forget to pack extra socks and a pair of boots.

16. Umbrella and Raingear

Don’t let rain ruin your plans; be prepared with umbrellas and raincoats.

17. Towels and Washcloths

From impromptu beach trips to cleaning spills, towels and washcloths are universally useful.

18. Spare Clothes

Pack an extra set of clothes for unforeseen circumstances like weather changes or spills. You probably have your bag packed, but even on short day road trips, you should keep spare clothing in the vehicle.

19. Notebooks and Pens

There’s no reason to be bored when you pack along notebooks and pens. Document your thoughts, directions, or simply doodle to keep your creative juices flowing.

20. Pet Supplies

If your furry friend is accompanying you, remember to pack their food, bowls, beds, and other necessities. Bring along something that smells familiar to them, so they won’t feel lost or afraid. Before you leave, make sure that your pet is chipped and it’s recorded with the chip company. It doesn’t take long to lose a pet, and by having them chipped, the sooner you can be reunited.

Other Things to Consider

While the road trip essentials for your car take priority, also think about packing items like insect repellent, a cooler, and a travel-size laundry detergent for extended trips. Other things to consider should include making a plan and mapping out the places you want to see in advance. By planning, you can spend the day enjoying the destination instead of driving around in circles until everyone is irritated. For more car road trip essentials, check out this packing list from HGTV .


The key to an unforgettable road trip lies not just in the destinations you choose but also in capturing all of the memories along the way. With this list of 20 essential must haves for a road trip, you're well-equipped to hit the road with and be ready for anything, especially a great time. Now that you know how to prepare for a road trip, get everyone ready for adventure.