Knowing what to bring on a road trip is essential for a successful journey. But with so many potential items to bring, what should you include on your road trip packing list?
To help you out, we’ve compiled 75 road trip essentials and created a convenient road trip checklist PDF that you can download below:
Ready to start packing? Here's a breakdown by category of the items you'll likely need and a brief explanation of why they're essential for any road trip list:
Important Road Trip Items
The below items should be top priorities for any road trip:
1) Valid Driver's License
Before you hit the road, double-check that your license is still valid and up-to-date.
2) Vehicle Registration
Along with a valid driver's license, you'll also need to make sure your vehicle registration is up-to-date. Keep it in your glove compartment in case you need to grab it quickly.
3) Car Insurance Information
No road trip packing list is complete without car insurance information! If your provider has an app, download it so you always have a convenient way of accessing your policy details.
4) Maintenance Checkup
Ensure that all necessary maintenance is up to date before you embark on your road trip. This includes checking the oil level, examining brakes and tires, ensuring the car battery is in good condition, and topping off any other necessary fluids.
5) Extra Car Key
Keep an extra key to your car with you in case you're locked out or lose your primary key.
6) Car Manual
When available, keep the car manual with you in case of any issues. You may be able to troubleshoot some minor issues by referring to it.
7) Toll Transponder
When wondering what to take on a road trip, chances are a toll transponder doesn't always come to mind! But if your route includes any toll roads, make sure to order the necessary transponders in advance, as this can help you save time and money at the tolls.
Cash is an essential road trip item that can't be overlooked or understated. Even though you may have access to a debit or credit card, it's best to carry between $150 and $250 in cash for any emergencies.
9) Roadside Assistance Phone Number
If your car breaks down, the last thing you want is to be stranded without a way out. Keep the number for your roadside assistance provider in your wallet or phone, so you know who to call if the need arises. You can also contact triple A at 1-800-400-4222.
Road Trip Essentials
The following items are must-haves for any road trip packing list:
10) First Aid Kit
A first aid kit can help in emergencies or minor accidents, so make sure to include one in your road trip checklist.
11) Spare Tire
It's probably there already but just give it a check before you hit the road.
12) Car Jack
This road trip essential is the jam to your spare tire's peanut butter. Make sure it's nestled in the trunk alongside your spare.
13) Jumper Cables
If you ever run out of juice while on the road, jumper cables are a lifesaver. Keep them in your vehicle at all times and you'll be good to go.
14) Road Atlas
GPS and navigation apps don't always work, especially when you're in rural or remote areas. If you plan on taking a scenic route, make sure to bring an old-fashioned yet updated road atlas as a backup.
15) Wiper Fluid
You'll be glad for wiper fluid when the elements don't cooperate, including dust, dirt, rain, and bugs! Keep the container in the car and top off as needed.
16) Basic Tool Kit
You don't need to be a mechanic, but having some basic tools with you is always helpful in case you need to repair something (think screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, etc.).
17) Mechanics Gloves
One of the best road trip essentials is a pair of mechanics gloves. These come in handy when making minor repairs on the road, such as changing a tire or adding wiper fluid.
18) Tire Pressure Gauge
A tire pressure gauge is another essential item to have in your car, as it will help keep your tires in good shape.
19) Ice Scraper
If you're planning on venturing in the wintertime, make sure to bring an ice scraper. You'll thank yourself later when you don't have to use your credit card to scrape off ice from the windshield!
20) Duct Tape
One of our favorite road trip must-haves is duct tape. It has a dozen uses on the road, like fixing minor issues with the car or mending a broken suitcase.
Because let's face it: Your phone's flashlight feature can only do so much!
Snacks are classic road trip necessities that can't be overlooked. Pack some healthy options like nuts, granola bars, and fruit to get you through those long drives.
23) Reusable Water Bottle
Hydration is key, so don't forget to bring your reusable water bottle and fill it up at rest stops or restaurants along the way.
Road Trip Basics
Now for the fun stuff! These road trip basics can keep you comfy and looking cool.
By sunglasses, we mean more than one pair. After all, you never know when they'll get lost or broken!
25) Sunglass Visor Holder
We highly recommend a visor holder like this one for any road trip packing list. It makes it easy to store your sunglasses and reach them quickly without any fuss.
26) Hand Sanitizer
An essential road trip item, the hand sanitizer is the unofficial soap you wish you had after using a restroom at the gas station where there never seems to be any soap!
You never know when a headache or other minor ache may come along, so make sure to pack some painkillers just in case.
28) Travel Mug
You can never go wrong with a travel mug. Bring yours and fill it up at the local coffee shop during rest stops for an extra pick-me-up.
Wipes can be used to clean surfaces, wipe down hands, and even freshen up on the go.
No judgment here—but mints are a road trip must-have. They'll help freshen your breath after all those snacks, and they make a great pick-me-up during long drives.
You'd be surprised at how quickly the weather can change, so don't forget to add an umbrella to your road trip checklist.
No more guzzling down your beverages before they get too hot. Instead, just add some ice to your car cooler and enjoy cold drinks at your leisure.
33) Microfiber Towels
There are so many uses for microfiber towels: wiping up spills, cleaning glasses, drying off your car after a wash, and more. Make sure to add a few to your road trip list and you'll be good to go.
34) Swiss Army Knife
A Swiss army knife is one of the best multi-purpose tools ever made. It comes with multiple blades, a corkscrew, scissors, and more in case you need it. The best part? It can fit in your pocket!
35) Bug Spray
Mosquitos and other bugs may be out in full force, so don't forget to pack some bug spray.
36) Travel Blanket
A travel blanket is a great item to have in your car for those long road trips. Not only will it keep you warm, but it can also double as a makeshift picnic blanket or pillow.
37) Travel Notebook
If you're a planner or like to take notes while traveling, then make sure to bring a notebook with you. It's a great way to keep track of all the places you've been and jot down a few memories along the way.
38) Pen and pencils
You can never have too many of these. Stash a few in your glove compartment for filling out paperwork or taking notes.
Road Trip Personal Items
These road trip items are essential for your comfort and enjoyment:
A hat is great for keeping the sun out of your eyes and hair away from your face. It's a small item, but it can go a long way in making your road trip more comfortable.
A scarf is a great way to stay warm in the early mornings and at night. Plus, it will keep your neck from getting sunburned.
We all know how chilly it can get on road trips sometimes, especially in the evenings. A hoodie will keep you warm and is also a great way to show off your style.
Earplugs are key for sleeping comfortably on the road. Whether you're in a hotel or camping, make sure to check these off your road trip packing list.
No road trip checklist is complete without sunscreen. Make sure to use at least 40 SPF and apply it regularly to protect your skin from sun damage. (Don't forget to dab some on your ears, too!)
Good oral hygiene is important, even on the road. Make sure to bring a toothbrush and some travel-sized toothpaste with you.
45) Lip Balm
Chapped lips are no fun! Stock up on some lip balm and keep your lips from getting dry and cracked.
46) Lint Roller
Lint rollers are some of the most underrated road trip essentials. They can help keep your clothes looking neat during long drives, and they're especially helpful for pet owners with furry friends in tow.
47) Hair Brush
Keep your locks looking neat and tangle-free while on the road.
48) Hair Ties
Hair ties (or headbands if you prefer) are great for keeping your hair out of your face when needed. They'll also come in handy if you're planning on going for a swim or doing any other outdoor activities.
49) Duffel Bag
Of all the things to bring on a road trip, a duffel bag is one of the most versatile items you can have. It's great for keeping your clothes and essentials organized, gaining quick access to your belongings, and providing extra storage when needed.
50) Laundry Bag
We love a proper laundry bag designed for travel so much that we dedicated a whole blog post to it! Check it out.
51) Packing Cubes
If you're looking for a neat and efficient way to store and access your items, we highly recommend packing cubes.
52) Tide-To-Go Pen
Tide-To-Go pens are essential for removing those pesky food stains that can build up during long road trips. Make sure to have one handy so you can keep your clothes looking their best.
53) Liquid Detergent Packets
Another thing to include on your road trip checklist is liquid detergent packets. They're great for hand-washing clothes if you don't have access to a washing machine or need to do a quick spot clean.
Road Trip Tech
Having the right tech gear can make your road trip much more convenient, enjoyable, and comfortable. Here are some top picks:
54) Camera / GoPro
Invest in a good camera or GoPro to capture all the great places you'll be visiting.
55) USB Cable
USB cables will come in handy when you need to charge your phone or other devices on the go.
Powerbanks are essential for charging your devices when you don't have access to a power outlet. Make sure to bring one along with you!
57) Car Charger
Car chargers fit into your car's cigarette lighter and can be used to charge your phone or other devices. We recommend getting one with multiple ports so you can charge several devices at once.
58) Phone Mount
If your vehicle doesn't have a built-in navigation system or Apple CarPlay, then you might want to add a phone mount to your road trip checklist. This will help you keep your phone secure and easily accessible while on the road.
Headphones are another road trip essential if you're planning on listening to music or streaming while riding as a passenger. Invest in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones to ensure that you won't be disturbed by any outside noises, and consider a headphone splitter if you're the sharing kind!
60) Power Inverter
If your car doesn't have enough outlets for charging all of your devices, then consider getting a power inverter. These devices convert DC power from your car's battery into AC power, which can then be used to charge or use multiple devices at once.
61) Gas Buddy App
You've already thought about what to bring on a road trip, but have you thought about what you might need to download? The Gas Buddy app is a great way to quickly find the best gas prices in your area.
62) SpotHero App
SpotHero is another must-have app for road trips. It will help you find and book parking spots with ease, so you can reach your destination hassle-free.
63) Podcasts App
A selection of podcasts is key for those long drives. Download one of the many available and explore the amazing content out there.
Road Trip Extras
Need some more suggestions for the ultimate road trip packing list? These extras will take your experience to the next level.
64) Trunk Organizer
Trunk organizers can help maximize the storage space in your car, so you can arrange all of your road trip essentials neatly and avoid clutter.
65) Extra Batteries
Depending on the type of tech gear you're bringing with you, you'll probably need some extra batteries. Check your device to see what type of batteries you need and stock up on some spares.
66) Titanium Toothpick
Titanium toothpicks are the pro traveler's best-kept secret. They're great for anyone who wants to travel more sustainably, reduce their carbon footprint, or simply have them on hand after a crunchy meal.
67) Coin Pouch w/Quarters
A coin pouch with quarters is a classic item to include in your road trip packing list. It comes in handy when you need to do laundry on the road, use a vending machine, or pay a toll.
68) Car Vacuum Cleaner
Car vacuum cleaners are lightweight and easy to set up, so you can quickly clean your vehicle in between destinations.
69) Car Trash Can
A car trash can will help you keep your vehicle tidy and organized. Look for one that's leak-proof, has a built-in lid, and is easy to empty.
70) UV Window Shades
UV window shades can keep your car cool and reduce the glare of direct sunlight, especially during long summer trips. Choose a set that's easy to install and remove, so you can quickly adjust them as needed.
71) Reusable Shopping Bag
Reusable shopping bags are great for packing snacks on the go, carrying items from the store to the car, and reducing your single-use plastic consumption.
72) Sling Belt or Day Pack
A sling belt or day pack is essential for carrying your valuables while you explore new areas. Get one with several compartments and try complementing it with a carabiner or some other locking mechanism.
73) Apple AirTag
Apple AirTags are great if you want to keep track of all your items while on the road, including your car! They're small, lightweight, and water-resistant. Plus, they work with the Find My App so you can see their location at any time.
Additional Items for Your Ultimate Road Trip Checklist
We promised you 75 items for the ultimate road trip experience, which leaves just two more:
74) Road Trip Playlist and Adventure Songs
No road trip list is complete without your favorite songs and albums to accompany you throughout the trip. If you need some ideas, check out our "Songs About Adventure" post.
75) Road Trip Trivia
Trivia games are a great way to pass the time while you're on the road. They'll keep you and your passengers entertained, all while learning something new. Check out our curated list of road trip trivia questions and answers for some inspiration.
Ready To Hit the Road?
We hope this road trip packing list helps you plan your next journey, whether it's a weekend adventure in the desert or an epic cross-country odyssey.
Happy travels! 🚗🌍💨