Road trips – we’ve all done them and they can be an amazing experience or a nightmare depending on what you plan out beforehand such as knowing what things to bring on a road trip.
This article is here to help with the latter so that your next overland adventure is as enjoyable as possible.
A road trip is a journey taken by car, bus, or other vehicles along the roads in an area and they are often undertaken for vacation purposes. Some may take place over many days, others only last a few hours, and they may be planned to avoid traffic on highways or freeways at peak times.
Road trips can become more enjoyable when people prepare beforehand with some essential items that will make their travels go smoother.
Here are 25 things you should bring with you on your next road trip so you have everything you need to enjoy it!
QUICK ANSWERS: THINGS TO BRING ON A ROAD TRIP
WHAT TO WEAR ON A ROAD TRIP?
On a lengthy journey, comfort is essential – sweatpants, leggings, tees, and sweatshirts are all excellent choices – add layers in order to put them on or take them off as needed to stay comfortable.
Of course, a factor to consider is whether you’re traveling around a cold or a warm destination, for instance, Bali or Switzerland.
There’s always that one person who wants it colder than everyone else, so layers will allow you to get changed on the road trip.
WHAT NOT TO FORGET ON A ROAD TRIP
Although this list is packed with things to bring on a road trip, you only truly need a few essentials.
Remember your license and registration and other paperwork are always needed but it’s even more essential on a road trip hundreds of kilometers away from home.
In addition, bringing your car manual can be a lifesaver. Needless to say, it will come in handy in case you have any unexpected situation with your car in the middle of nowhere or even a symbol on your car’s dashboard and you have no idea what it could be.
Last but definitely not least, having your car insurance in order as well as roadside assistance supplies is instrumental.
WHAT APPS DO YOU NEED FOR A ROAD TRIP?
There are things you need in order to make a successful road trip.
Road trips can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to prepare for them by getting the right apps for your smartphone to fully enjoy the journey.
These are the apps that will make your road trip more comfortable and convenient, no matter where you go.
These are the most useful apps you can get for your road trip.
Listening to music will bring positive energy, remaining safe only with a VPN will protect your data, and Gasbuddy will show you the nearest stations.
Lastly, Maps.me is a great alternative to Google Maps since it works offline.
TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR A ROAD TRIP
It’s often overlooked, but travel insurance is essential for a road trip.
When you’re on the highway or in the countryside, you never know what might happen. You could get into an accident or your car could break down and that’s just the beginning of the trouble.
If any of this happens, you’ll be glad to have insurance to cover everything from medical expenses to tow truck costs.
Apart from that, they will also back you up in case you get anything stolen which, of course, can happen anywhere and to anyone.
I’ve personally been using Heymondo for a number of years and they covered me all around the world.
Have you got travel insurance for your trip?!
We all know accidents can happen and having Heymondo Insurance will save you thousands of dollars if something goes wrong.
Heymondo offers low-cost Travel Insurance to keep you covered on all your adventures.
BEST BACKPACKS FOR A ROAD TRIP
Backpacks are for more than just hiking enthusiasts, they are also essential things to bring on a road trip.
There are plenty of different types of backpacks to choose from if you’re looking for something lightweight and versatile for your next outing.
If you have a lot of stuff to carry around, this may be the perfect time to invest in one of the bigger packs on this list below. There should be one that is perfect for your needs.
- Nomatic Travel Bag 20L – From $300
The NOMATIC travel bag is perfect for those who are planning a road trip for several days.
It has a sleek, lightweight design and it can fit easily in any suitcase or duffel bag.
With a padded laptop sleeve and plenty of pockets to store your things, you’ll be able to travel worry-free!
- Tortuga Setout – From $179
The Setout travel backpack is used as a carry-on backpack and luggage and it’s perfect for those who want to pack like a pro.
It can hold all your essentials and keep them organized, and the dividers stop everything from getting mixed up and you don’t have to worry about zippers getting caught on anything.
It’s comfortable to carry and has soft, adjustable shoulder straps that conform to your body.
- Victorinox Swiss Army Backpack – From $129
The Victorinox Swiss Army Backpack is a great addition to your road trip – great quality, affordable price, and decent organizational space.
This backpack is good for carrying items on a road trip but it’s also perfect for carrying your laptop and iPad while flying or traveling internationally.
It has lots of storage compartments with lots of room so you can have your items in one compartment with all the cables, power adapters, chargers, earphones, and more.
WHAT YOU SHOULD NOT BRING ON A ROAD TRIP
While I could go ahead and list hundreds of items to bring on a road trip, you should also consider the things that you should not bring along.
Of course, there are obvious ones like massive luggage but let’s go through the ones that we don’t always think about:
- An excessive amount of clothes
- Meals that require a lot of preparation or specific utensils
- Expensive jewelry and other valuable items that you won’t need
- Ultra-modern shoes – stick to sneakers and hiking shoes and leave the high heels at home
- Sophisticated makeup, skincare, beauty creams, or hair products. Take it easy, just bring the essentials!
To sum up, road trips should be easy in terms of equipment, and bringing more valuable items or some that you won’t use will only add some pointless weight to your shoulders and to the car.
HOW TO PLAN YOUR BUDGET FOR A ROAD TRIP?
Before jumping into the essential items to bring on a road trip, let’s go through how you can plan your journey. These are the best ways to plan your budget in advance:
- Book your accommodation in advance
Booking your hotel stay in advance can save you lots of money and it’s often underestimated. Using websites such as Airbnb or Booking.com will help you find the best deals no matter the destination.
- Calculate how much gas you’ll use
As mentioned previously, the Gasbuddy application can help you find the best prices in terms of gas around you. However, if you want to calculate the overall estimated cost of your road trips, Via Michelin is a great platform. From the gas cost to offering hotels on the way and more, give it a try to budget your road trip.
- Plan the activities – National parks and theme parks can be expensive
National parks and theme parks such as Disney World can be pricey. To visit national parks and save some money in the U.S., the National Parks Pass is very cool as it only costs $80 per year and allows you to visit all of them throughout the United States.
For theme parks, it all depends on which one you’re planning to visit but it’s definitely something to add to your expenses.
- Food budget
When on a road trip, you can either choose to stop at an expensive restaurant or cook by yourself with a portable stove. You can also stop at some gas stations and you’ll find snacks and more consistent foods to get you going. As a general rule of thumb, $15 to $30 per day is a good food budget per person.
Of course, there are other factors to consider, but these are the most important ones.
Let’s dive into what to bring on a road trip right now.
25 ESSENTIAL THINGS TO BRING ON A ROAD TRIP
Road trips are the perfect way to see a country. It’s also a great time to bond with friends and family members, or even make new ones on the go!
The only problem is that there are so many things to bring on a road trip. You need snacks, water, electronics, clothes…the list goes on and on.
For this reason, I have created this handy little list of 25 essential items for any successful road trip.
It’s always a pain to pack for any trip because there are so many little things that need to be packed, and they’re always scattered around the house.
Keep it simple with packing cubes – they’re color-coded, durable, and easy to pack up at the end of your trip.
Packing cubes are just one item you can’t forget on your road trip essentials list that will make the experience more convenient and enjoyable.
I personally recommend the DIMJ Packing Cubes for Travel as they’re beautifully designed, they’re affordable, and, lastly, they come in different colors with great quotes, you surely will fall in love with them quickly.
FIRST AID KIT
One thing that you should always have in your car when you are on a road trip is a first aid kit.
You should not leave yourself susceptible to injuries, especially if the injury is due to an accident because it can make the situation worse.
A first-aid kit will provide you with bandages, gauze, painkillers, disinfectants, and much more if needed. You could also bring over-the-counter drugs like aspirin if you feel pain or fever.
The Johnson and Johnson first aid kit is the most complete and affordable first aid kit that you can get.
It contains everything you need to keep you out of trouble, from slight headaches to unexpected injuries in the outdoors. You just can’t go wrong with a first aid kit.
A power bank can charge your devices quickly when there are no power outlets available. It’s also lightweight and small in size so you can take it with you when heading out on a road trip.
You will have an extra battery on the road, so if the car breaks down you won’t have to worry about any communication issues or running out of battery life on your device.
Why should it be part of your road trip essentials list? Simply because you can quickly run out of battery and it will save you from potential hassle on the way.
The best one you can get is the Anker PowerCore+ 26800mAh. It’s a premium portable charger that can power up your laptop, your tablet, and your mobile phone on the go.
You will get 5.5 charges for a Samsung phone and 6.2 charges for an iPhone. Needless to say, that’s some serious travel gear to take with you.
A camera can be a great thing to bring when you go on a road trip. You’ll be able to take countless photos and videos of places you’ve never seen before!
If you’re the type of person who loves capturing pictures and taking in new scenery, then you’ll want to pack your camera in your bag or even purchase one that’s specially designed for outdoor use.
You’ll also want to make sure to bring camera accessories such as a tripod, extra lenses, or ND filters.
These are the best camera accessories and they’re one of the best things to bring on a road trip to take better photos.
RELATED ARTICLE: BEST CAMERAS FOR BLOGGING
The BEST Affordable Camera For Travel
If you’re on the hunt for a professional camera for traveling, check out the Canon G7 X Mark II.
This tiny camera fits in your pocket, captures high-quality photos and videos, and has Wi-Fi so you can instantly transfer to your phone!
It’s not something you think about until your phone dies, but it could make all the difference when traveling long distances.
It would be great to have something tucked away in the glove box or center console that you can pull out to keep your phone charged while driving.
A car charger will also help if your passenger needs to charge their phone, too!
Why should it be on your road trip packing list? Simply because you can charge your devices on the go and that is surely an essential part of traveling peacefully.
I previously mentioned Anker and its powerful portable charger. Well, the best car charger you can get your hands on is also made by Anker.
The Anker Dual USB Car Charger is just the one you need.
It can charge 2 devices at a time with 24W power and much more quickly than a regular charger. Did I mention its sleek and compact design is perfect for a road trip?
TISSUES & HAND SANITIZER
You will want to pack both tissues and hand sanitizer if you’re planning a long car ride, especially if you’re with kids who like to touch things, eat their snacks, and then put their hands in their mouths.
Tissues are essential for wiping off faces and hands, while hand sanitizer is needed when you can’t wash your hands after using the restroom.
While both are often overlooked, they’re two of the things to bring on a long car ride that will be extremely useful to you.
Packing a blanket when you go on a road trip is not only a nice way to stay warm, but can also help you get better sleep by blocking out light.
The best type of blanket for this purpose is lightweight and thin, so it will be easy to fit in your car or backpack without too much bulk or weight.
The Military Wool Blanket from Arcturus is simply the best one on the market you can get your hands on.
For less than $40, it is a world-class wool blanket that will always keep you warm.
It’s big enough for a road trip but also to go camping, to use at a concert, or to have a picnic on the road.
REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
When you are traveling for several hours, it’s recommended that you drink plenty of water per hour to stay hydrated, but that can be tough if you don’t have access to any.
This is why a reusable water bottle is one of the important things to bring on a road trip with you to ensure that you stay hydrated.
In addition, you’ll have some water available if you need to take pills or vitamins to stay healthy or fight jet lag.
The BEST reusable water bottle for travel!
The GRAYL GeoPress is a top-rated reusable water bottle perfect for backpacking, hiking, and traveling.
It allows you to purify water from anywhere and keeps you safe from all waterborne diseases.
Get a GeoPress today and never buy single-use plastic bottles again. Mama Earth will thank you for it!
KINDLE & YOUR FAVORITE E-BOOKS
If you’re an avid reader and plan to take your favorite books with you, I recommend purchasing a Kindle E-reader.
A Kindle is the perfect travel companion instead of packing all your favorite (heavy) books.
Alternatively, you can download the app on your mobile phone or tablet to bring all your favorite books to read on the go.
The Kindle will spice up your trip – read a book, learn a new skill, or listen to your favorite e-book recently purchased. You simply can’t go wrong with such a useful item.
There are several benefits to bringing an umbrella on a road trip.
Firstly, it can help you avoid the harsh rays of the sun. In addition, it will provide shelter during sudden downpours that might happen while on the road.
Umbrellas are great to have when traveling and they don’t take up much space which is a great advantage.
Listening to music is one of the best ways to pass the time when on a road trip.
It also helps you get through some tough traffic jams and long hours in the car, but it’s important to be safe while you’re doing so.
Make sure your volume level does not exceed 85 decibels, otherwise, you could damage your hearing.
Needless to say, headphones go hand-in-hand with your playlist and you will want to download Spotify before leaving.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is the most recent, comfortable, and premium Alexa-certified noise-canceling headphones you can get.
With up to 20 hours of battery life, a sleek design, and high-quality sound at any level, you just can’t go wrong with Bose.
PORTABLE MUSIC SPEAKER
Road trips can be such a great time with family and friends, and it’s always nice to have a portable music speaker to play some music when you’re taking breaks or stopping for a picnic.
The UE Boom is a really great invention that allows you to connect your smartphone and play your favorite playlist with good sounds.
Why is it one of the things to bring on a road trip? Because you’ll have more fun, you can listen to a podcast, and this will certainly be a conversation starter with your friends.
You might not need cell service or data while you drive, but there are plenty of reasons to get connected when you stop and a mobile hotspot will help you stay connected when you have no network.
Websites like Google Maps can provide turn-by-turn navigation and information about gas stations, restaurants, and attractions with the tap of a finger.
Plus, your phone is more than just for talking anymore! A mobile hotspot can help you stay in touch with loved ones during your travels and give you access to the internet anytime, anywhere.
Glocalme is the perfect mobile hotspot wherever you are in the world. It is a compact device that uses a virtual SIM card and that will get you connected on the road.
While it isn’t the most affordable device, it is simply a great addition to any travel plan – back home or abroad on the other side of the world.
You should always bring sunglasses on a road trip as you’ll need them to protect your eyes from the sun’s rays and take in spectacular scenery.
If you want to avoid headaches, blurry vision, or any other problems that might arise, don’t forget your sunglasses!
EMERGENCY CAR KIT
It’s important to pack your emergency car kit before you embark on your next road trip.
Your car is one of the most important things you need to be prepared for when you’re traveling, especially if something were to happen.
It’s necessary to have all the right tools and equipment with you so that everything goes smoothly and everyone makes it back home safely.
Bring jumper cables, flashing lights, a reflective triangle sign, and a safety hammer. While nothing will probably happen, it is not impossible, and preventing the issue can be a lifesaver.
The HAIPHAIK Emergency Roadside Toolkit is exactly what you need. It includes everything you need for a ridiculously affordable price tag such as;
- A multi-function shovel
- Advanced jumper cables (11.8 feet)
- Some useful tire repair tools
- A traction rope
- A survival whistle
- And much more
In plain words, an emergency kit is one of the useful things to bring on a long car ride no matter the destination.
TRAVEL NECK PILLOW
Another one of the best items to bring on a road trip is a travel neck pillow.
Travel neck pillows are designed to be used in any position and for long periods of time. They provide comfort and relief from tension and pain by keeping your head and neck straight and aligning your spine.
This also helps keep blood flowing to the brain, which is important during long car rides. If you’re feeling stiff or sore after a car ride, try using a travel neck pillow next time!
It’s important to have some spare change on the road when you are driving for several reasons. It never hurts to be prepared in case there are any emergencies or you encounter a car accident.
You need to keep your phone charged, your gas tank full, and some money for food. Imagine stopping at a gas station and not being able to pay with your credit card, some spare cash will definitely save the day.
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PROTECTIVE FLOOR MATS
Road trips are great, but they can be messy. There’s no telling what kind of dirt you’ll find on the ground or how much mud will splash up on your car.
And the worst part is that it’s hard to keep track of all those grimy little footprints with tiny grits of sand stuck in them. So protect yourself by carrying some quality floor mats.
The Motor Trend FlexTough is the coolest, most rugged, and most durable floor mat you can get for your car.
They’re available in gray, brown, and black, you can trim them to adjust to your car, they’re weather-resistant, and they’re made of premium rubber that will last forever. What else could you ever want?
It’s never fun driving during bad weather, but it’s not so bad when you have a rain jacket to help keep you dry and warm while you drive through the rain.
You’ll be able to stay partly dry when stopping for a snack, to see a local attraction, or simply to visit a little town on the way.
The best rain jackets I have come across for men and women are the North Face waterproof rain jackets with a breathable mesh lining and adjustable hood that can be tucked away inside the collar.
You might not necessarily think much about it, but there are some things that you absolutely need when taking a road trip and they will make your travel experience go more smoothly and less stressful.
Here are the essential toiletries I recommend:
- Nail clippers
- Hand sanitizer
- Shampoo and body wash
- Light makeup and skincare
- Hairbrush and dry shampoo
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, and mini mouthwash
- Medications such as paracetamol and multi-vitamins
There are some items that may be needed for your personal needs but these are the road trip necessities to bring with you.
STOVE, GAS, & COOKING PACK
It can be difficult to find food on the road, let alone find a kitchen or stove with which to cook.
A portable gas stove is a perfect solution you need for this problem – it’s lightweight and easy to pack away when not in use, so you’ll always have the convenience of finding your favorite foods wherever you are.
The best one I could ever recommend is the GasOne.
It is portable enough to comfortably store it in your trunk, it’s incredibly safe, and it comes at a great price as well, making it the best stove for a road trip under $100.
UV WINDOW SHADES
You should always be mindful of the sun’s UV rays when you’re on a road trip.
The last thing you want is to get burned by the sun for hours on end while driving, so make sure to bring along window shades that will protect your skin from getting fried!
For this reason, UV window shades are surely one of the most useful things to bring on a long car ride.
If you’re on the road and your car breaks down, you want to be able to get back on the road as quickly as possible and with as little trouble as possible.
A spare tire can help keep that from happening and ensure that your journey is safe and secure.
A spare tire is considered one of the road trip necessities to save you from some serious trouble, especially when you’re in the middle of nowhere.
When you’re on the road, it’s much easier to stop at a gas station or convenience store and pick up whatever snack food catches your eye – that is, until you get hungry.
That’s where having snacks in your car come in handy. Make sure your car is stocked with healthy snacks like fruit, granola bars, or trail mix so you can avoid making impulsive decisions at gas stations.
YOUR FAVORITE PLAYLIST
Music is an essential part of the car ride experience. There are few things that can make a road trip feel complete, but it’s often not possible to find the right music for every occasion.
Bring your favorite playlist on your next long drive to ensure you’re in good company and your mood is just right.
MORE PRODUCT GUIDES
If you are planning a road trip or an international adventure, be sure to check out these other product guides that will make your life easier abroad:
- 9 Best Canon Travel Lenses
- Best Camera Gear For Travel
- 9 Must-Have Camera Accessories For Photographers
- Best Affordable Camera For Landscape Photography
- Best Travel Accessories For Any Trip
FINAL THOUGHTS – ROAD TRIP ESSENTIALS LIST
Road trips are a great way to spend time with your family and friends, but they can be challenging if you don’t plan ahead.
Whether or not you’re taking the whole clan on an adventure across state lines, it’s important to have some basic supplies.
These are the 25 most essential things to bring on a road trip – from entertaining items such as a music speaker or a kindle to more important ones like a first aid kit or an emergency car kit, you’ll be properly ready for an awesome adventure.
If you have any questions, be sure to leave a comment at the bottom of this post and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
For a quicker response, be sure to join Jonny Melon’s Travel Tribe on Facebook and post your questions or recommendations to our awesome community.
TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or it’s your first trip overseas, here are some useful travel resources to help you kick-start your next adventure!
Search and book accommodation worldwide.
Compare and book cheap flights to anywhere.
Find tickets, tours, and experiences around the world.
Book buses, trains, and transfers online in advance.
Search all rental cars in your next destination.
Need travel insurance for your next trip?
THANKS FOR READING
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