You made a good point when you mentioned that there’s a lot of things to look into before having a road trip to enjoy it fully. Checking several things will ensure that we will be able to enjoy our road trip as it is planned accordingly. Additionally, I suggest to include visiting your car shop before the planned road trip to check the condition of our vehicle. What I usually do is to visit my car at least a week before the said road trip to have my car checked for possible repair and maintenance. This is to avoid experiencing an unexpected car breakdown.
31 Road Trip Essentials
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What to Bring on a Road Trip
Spring break is coming up and so begins the half loved, half hated family road trip! When my husband and I were first married, we found road trips to be relaxing and adventurous. You could hop in the car and drive until you found something wonderful.
Three kids later, road trips are less relaxing and much better planned, but they can still be adventurous! We take a 2-4 hour road trip almost monthly, and a longer one a number of times of year. I can honestly say that we have it down to a science now. Click here for our best family road trip tips!
Our teenagers are even better in the car than our small ones, but they still need entertainment too. If you are planning a first trip with baby here are some other practical tips.
- When thinking of packing for a road trip or a road trip packing list you will first need to figure out who is coming on your road trip and how long it will be.
- Start with road trip necessities first and then move on to things that will make journey easy.
- Your road trip checklist should include things like snacks and entertainment as well as road trip necessities like jumper cables.
- A successful road trip takes preparation but can be so much fun!
Whether you are traveling solo, with your sweetheart or your kids, here is a list of 31 Road Trip Essentials.
Road Trip Essentials for Safety
Gone are the days when you had to pore over maps before a long road trip. Whether your GPS is on your phone or a separate device, a GPS makes your life so much easier. My favorite GPS app is Waze, an app that takes input from other drivers to help you calculate the fastest route.
I have been in the unfortunate situation where my GPS couldn’t find a signal or my phone didn’t have service, and I was really glad I had a map. This is especially important when you are driving in remote areas as the chance of the GPS not working is greater.
These are a must in any safety kit. A dead battery means a prolonged trip and grumpy kids. I recommend this portable one in case your battery dies in a remote location. It works just as well as the regular kind and you aren’t dependent on a good Samaritan passing by.
- POWERFUL & COMPACT CAR JUMP STARTER: With 1600A peak current, DBPOWER DJS90 car jump starter can jump start most 12V vehicles( up to 7.5L Gas & 6.0L diesel...
- 17200mAh VERSATILE POWER SUPPLY: it is more a high-capacity backup power supply than a simple portable jump starter with a 17200mAh battery capacity, 5V/2.1A...
- PRO GRADED FULL PROTECTION:Our DJS90 jump starter is ultrasafe to use with LCD intelligent spray gold clamps with full protection technologies of overcurrent...
This should come standard with your car today, but check out the tire before a long road trip. We found that we had a spare with a hole in it!
Ice scraper and snow broom
Don’t get stuck with only your credit card to scrape ice off your windshield! This one is great because it extends to get the tops of our van.
- Snow Brush and Ice Scraper in One Tool * Solid Aluminum Design! This Snow Brush Will Last Many Winters To Come.
- Telescoping Handle Extends to 24" And Retracts To 17" For Easy Storage
- This Ice Scraping Blade Is STRAIGHT And SHARP! Perfect For Cutting Through Ice Buildup On Your Windshield
First Aid Kit
This is a smart thing to keep in your car all the time. A compact first aid kit should be able to keep you and your passengers well and safe on your trip. If you are road trip packing for a cross country trip you might want to beef up your first aid kit a little bit.
- DESIGNED BY DOCTORS, EMTs & CPR INSTRUCTORS - Universal first aid kit for home or travel first aid kit for car. Emergency kit/ tactical first aid medical kit...
- POCKET-SIZED & PORTABLE - Lightweight small first aid kit (7.5" x 5.2" x 1.5") compact safety kit that holds all emergency first aid kit, bag can be refilled &...
- WILDERNESS ADVENTURER KIT: Perfect backpacking first aid kit survival, first aid kit camping. Ideal for exploring kids first aid kit, or hiking first aid kit...
Road Trip Essentials for Comfort
After safety concerns, this is the most important part of road trip packing. These are the things that make the journey fun instead of just a way of transportation. If you are going on a cross country road trip you will probably want most of these items.
We love Spotify! This app allows us each to make our own playlist of our favorite songs. We swap out playlists during the trip to keep everyone happy and to find new songs to love. If music isn’t your thing you could also download some great road trip podcasts to keep you entertained.
This is one of our favorite ways to stay entertained on a road trip! We pick books the whole family will enjoy and while away the hours listening to some great books. Some of our favorites include: the Harry Potter Books, the Chronicles of Narnia, Michael Vey, and Anne of Green Gables. For more of our favorite road trip books check out our post here. We use Audible to get two new books each month.
Check out our families favorite audiobooks for long road trips!
Right now you can get 2 books for free with a 30 day membership! A perfect amount for a road trip!
What normally happens on our road trips is my husband brings his filled water bottle and the rest of us forget ours and drink all of his water! I told him my New Year’s Resolution is to remember to bring my own filled water bottle with me!
These are our favorite water bottles! They fit into the cup holder and are leak proof for when the kids put them in their backpacks. Click here for prices and more info
These are essential for keeping the peace after you have passed hour 2 or 3 on the road. The kids can watch their movies or listen to their music quietly. My teenagers are big fans of Beats headphones, but for the smaller kids I recommend these Mpow ones. They are much less expensive so you don’t need to worry about little fingers breaking them.
For more awesome headphones check out our post on the Best headphones for Teens.
These are another road trip essential! Especially with kids. If you have been following me for any length of time you will know that this is my favorite travel pillow.
It is fabulous for the car or the plane! It keeps you neck upright and allows you to really get comfy and catch some Zs.
Childrens travel pillows
For younger kids, I prefer these. The wedge nicely into a car seat to keep you little ones sleeping soundly.
For more children’s travel pillows check out our post on the 7 best travel pillows for kids.
My husband loves to keep the temperature very low when driving in the car. Summer or winter, I find I need a blanket. For years we would just grab a blanket from one of the beds. That works just fine, but I really prefer these now. They are compact, and I can keep them with our travel stuff to grab quickly.
This is an umbrella statement for iPods, iPads, iPhones, portable DVD players, Nintendo Switch, or really any hand-held entertainment device. Make sure you grab what you need and make sure they are charged!
Check out the best tablets for toddlers.
Our car has a built in DVD player, which makes the kids really happy. We often put a DVD in when the kids start getting restless. We used portable DVD players when our kids were young, and those worked well too.
Without these, you will get an hour and a half into your road trip and be out of luck! In addition to chargers we also put one of these in the car so everyone can keep their devices charged, and we don’t have fights over whose iPod is dying first.
- 【 4 QC 3.0 Fast Charging Port】6 Port The travel car charger can charge 6 devices simultaneously, With four QC30 Port And two 5V/2.4A Port, Allows Compatible...
- 【 Charging Simultaneously 】This 6-ports USB car charger，comes cigarette lighter plug 3.28ft cable, Ability to provide device charging needs for both front...
- 【 Compatibility】Compatible with all USB devices, for smartphones, Galaxy, Pad, android tablets, power bank,smartwatches, camera, wireless charger, video...
Gone are the days when your only option was “I spy.” There are hundreds of fun games that allow your to all enjoy the trip together.
For our favorite travel games for all ages visit Travel games for all ages.
Regardless of who is going on the trip, these are essential! Spilled food or drinks, sticky fingers, yucky noses and more. I always keep a package in the pouch in the back of the seat.
Cooler with snacks
We like staying in an Airbnb when we travel because we enjoy cooking. I often bring food with us to avoid having to buy everything at our destination. We fill up a cooler with snacks for the trip as well. This cooler is fabulous because it keeps cool while plugged into your car’s 12V DC. You won’t waste space keeping things cool with ice.
- Durable and Portable: Tough hard shell coolers for unmatched insulation power. Whether you're travelling on the road or camping in an RV, camper or minivan,...
- Plugs in Anywhere: The cooler/warmer combo has 2 built in cords - one for standard wall outlets, and one for car power adapters. Both have storage compartments...
- Vast Storage Space: This 48-quart large compact cooler stores about 60 cans of soda or 6 large 2-liter bottle with plenty of space for food & snacks. Portable...
Don’t let the sun get to your beautiful peepers! I would recommend having a pair that just lives in your car so you never forget them.
I make sure to wear sunscreen ever since I read an article that said that the left side of our faces are generally more aged then the right side because of the sun coming in while we are driving. Most car windows don’t protect you from UV rays. I keep it in the car so we have it at all times. My favorite one, Australian Gold, is a mineral sunscreen that works well under makeup and doesn’t sting your eyes.
We have some favorite games in a bag that we keep in the car. We love this scavenger hunt game and this this memory game. It is great to have something to do that the driver can participate in as well!
Want 100 pages of road games for you and your kids? Check out our brand new Travel Games Printable with instant download!
I love to read the history of the place we are going to visit from a guide book. It helps all of us have a little bit more background and understanding of a new place. I also make sure that we have everything planned as well as it can be. My favorite brand of guide books is DK Eyewitness. I find them to be small enough to fit in a tiny bag and complete enough for the average visitor. I also love seeing pictures of places instead of just reading text.
If you don’t get car sick, a great book to read sure passes the time. I also like reading books that take place in our destination!
You will need one or two of these if you have a particularly long road trip so you don’t have trash all over the car. I learned long ago that if you don’t give your kids somewhere easy to throw things, they will throw them on the ground. I also learned that most garbage bags for cars are pretty worthless.
These ones are actually really great and hang right in front of your kids so that it is easy to throw things away. Plus they have water bottle holders and a package for the wet wipes you are sure to need. (see above!)
- ALL-IN-ONE SEAT BACK CLEANING SOLUTION – hanging car trash bag, tissue holder and car storage organizer keeps cars, trucks and SUV's neat and clean
- LARGE COVERED TRASH BIN - 2.5 gallon leakproof car garbage can with lid features High Road’s exclusive StuffTop lid, to keep trash and odors contained while...
- OFF-THE-FLOOR CAR ORGANIZATION – tissue holder fits all sized tissue boxes, 3 mesh storage pockets keep wipe containers, sanitizer, bottles and cleaning...
Road Trip Essentials for Kids
Here is an entire post dedicated to Road Trips with Kids!
Car sick bags
Car sick bags are the greatest invention! They have saved us numerous times. We keep them in the glove compartment for easy access. They don’t leak and are easy to tie off and throw out.
- CONVENIENT AND EASY TO USE: This disposable vomit bags have a big opening rim that fits perfectly in the mouth area. Very easy to wrap up and dispose after...
- SECURE AND SEALED: With its closure system - twist, and secure bag into a notched ring that helps to seal odors, perfect barf bags for travel motion
- COST-EFFECTIVE: Our blue emesis bag will keep vomit away from all over your clothes, car seat, carpet saving you from paying for cleaning services. This is a...
Easily accessible change of clothes
You don’t want to have to haul the big suitcase out of the trunk if your kids spill things all over or if you stop for a break and it’s chilly. I always pack one change of clothes for everyone is a small bag and place it within easy reach. It’s also great for multi-day road trips, so I don’t every have to pull out the big suitcase for a quick night in a hotel.
We always bring a few inexpensive toys to pull out on trips. Sometimes it’s a card game, a word search, a yo-yo, etc. We bring out something new every hour or two to give the kids something to look forward to. We also tie it to getting along with each other, so if they are fighting, they don’t get a toy that hour. It works wonders for your sanity.
These fabulous inventions allow kids to have space to color, draw, play cards, drive cars, eat a snack and more. It even has a cup holder! This particular one fits most car seats, which helps keep toys in view and not on the floor. It also works after your kids have transitioned to a booster.
For more tips on road trips with the kids click here
Road Trip Essentials for when you arrive
We love to take our bikes with us on every road trip! We rarely ride our bikes at home, but there is something fabulous about biking in a new place. We take 5 bikes with us every time we go to Prince Edward Island and we use this one.
We did have to have a hitch added to our van, but it has been well worth it !
If you are taking a road trip in the summer, you will probably need beach toys. Help your kids build some sand castles.
This is my favorite beach chair! It is lightweight to carry, reclines fully, and has held up for years.
A lot of hotels don’t offer beach towels, so we always bring our own. Check to see if your accommodations have them before you depart. If you don’t have lots of room, you can invest in some Turkish beach towels that fold down to almost nothing.
This set is small enough that you can even pack them in your carry on!
- ✅ Beach Towel Set including 2 chair bands with Carolina Quality: The traditional design of these beach towels makes them stand out from other towels on the...
- ✅ Fast Drying & Sand Free: Whether you’re coming out of the water or just lying in the sun, you won’t have to wait long for your towel to dry. The sand...
- ✅ Do It All With a Turkish Towel: A Turkish towel is the versatile friend you always wanted by your side. Whether you're using it as a beach blanket, a...
Cookware you will need
When we travel I bring my Instant Pot, a few good cooking knives, and measuring spoons. In my experience most Airbnbs don’t have those things, and I use them all the time. Sometimes the rental listing will let you know if it is has well-stocked kitchen. If so you won’t need to bring these things, but better safe then sorry.
With this list you will be in great shape to have a super road trip! I am sure there are things that you use that I haven’t thought of, so leave me a comment and let me know what your must-have items are.
Here is a list of our favorite travel items if you need more ideas!
What to pack for a fall road trip?
Most everything we have already mentioned will work for a fall road trip. You may need to exchange your beach chairs for camp chairs and your bathing suit for sweaters, but your fall road trip will be much the same as a spring or summer one.
The few extra things I always pack for our fall road trips are:
A Heavy Waterproof Blanket
A heavy waterproof blanket is a must if you are planning a fall road trip. You have a warm dry place to sit at all times, and if you have mechanical problems you have a little bit more warmth. I love this particular blanket because it rolls up to be very tiny, making it really easy to keep this essential on hand.
This is the one thing I am most guilty of forgetting! An Umbrella can save a vacation when it is raining. They are small, cheap and easy to bring along. Don’t be like me!
A Cozy Scarf
An oversized cozy scarf is an essential when you are on a fall road trip. It can double as a blanket for a little one, it can beef up the warmth factor on a thin jacket and it can make a great lap blanket for the road. This is my favorite type, they are so big and soft.
If you are planning on a Fall Road Trip check out our favorite fall destinations!
What Should I Pack In Our Suitcases?
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Last update on 2023-05-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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