Going on long road trips with the family can be a pain. With so many things to remember to pack, there is always something that gets left behind.
Our team has been going on long road trips all over the East and West coast for years, and we’ve taken the time to compile a successful road trip list of things you need to bring on your next journey.
Use this list, and save yourself from leaving something important behind next time you’re packing up the car. Either if you are traveling solo or in couples, you need to be ready for the worst-case scenario no matter what.
We put together a list of 30 things to bring on a long car ride. You can pick the most important road trip essentials for your next journey, but no matter what, make sure you have these items with you next time you go road tripping.
30 Important Road Trip Essentials And Road Trip Packing List
You need your car to run smoothly to get where you want to go, which is why you should check if the car has an oil change done at least a week before leaving.
You must bring enough cash for any potential repairs needed while on the road trip. Keep an eye on your gas level and fill up whenever you see it getting low to avoid running out of fuel while on the road.
Filling up the tank on your local gas station is always recommended to do a day before leaving. You should also download a map or GPS to your phone in case you get lost.
The following 30 road trip essential list items will help you save money on your perfect trip and also make sure you stay safe from harm. We’ve made a list of all the things that we think every car trip needs to have for it to be successful.
Here are some of the road trip must-haves to pack for your trip:
#1 Comfortable Clothes
If you are planning to go on a long road trip, make sure your clothes are comfy. First, you should evaluate the weather conditions of your final destination before choosing your clothing selection.
You want everything to be comfortable for your long drive, so bring comfy clothes like sweat pants or leggings, shorts, sweaters, socks, and sneakers.
Also, bring a jacket and umbrella because no matter the season, it’s always possible to get caught in the rain or snow during your trip.
#2 Books / Audiobooks / Audio Selection
Audio selection is another crucial aspect to take care of when you are going on a road trip. You don’t want to get sick and tired of listening to the same songs over and over again, so choose wisely what song or audio selection to bring with you.
With all these new streaming apps like Spotify or Youtube, it’s always a good idea to have a preselected Music playlist ready to play on your phone. By doing so, you would be able to keep your eyes on the road while you’re trying to listen to your favorite music in the car.
Bring an audiobook, some magazines, or a good book to entertain those traveling in the passenger seat next to you. Sometimes a good selection of songs would not be enough to entertain those other picky passengers, so bring an extra book from your local library.
#3 Air Compressors
Let’s face it, forgetting to check the tire pressure on your car before you leave can result in a flat tire, and nobody wants to stay stranded somewhere on their road trip. With an air compressor, you would be able to fill up those tires with ease and never let that happen.
Air compressors are one of those inexpensive items that will prove their worth over and over again every time you use them. Everyone on board for the road trip must know how to use one if something goes wrong with the car while you’re driving down the road, so everyone should be trained properly before leaving.
You never know when you can get a flat tire, so the air compressors need to be included in your essential road trip necessities. There could be situations when you are far away from gas stations or other service stations, so you always want to be prepared.
#4 Contact Lenses or Sunglasses
Even if you wear your contact lenses daily, it’s important to bring an extra pair with you during road trips. Having an extra spare set of lenses is always recommended in case something happens to the ones you are wearing.
If you do not wear contact lenses and instead prefer sunglasses, pack at least one pair in your car because failing to do so can leave you stranded in bright sunlight and in need of eye protection.
Driving glasses would be another alternative solution for this type of situation. It is also a fantastic way to protect your eyes from the UV rays coming from the sun when driving for long periods and also reduce the glare on bright sunny days.
#5 Jumper Cables or Jump Starter
Imagine if your car battery dies while you are on the road and there are lots of cars driving past by that can help you with this issue. That’s where a jumper cable can be of great assistance in this situation, and it’s something to include when you are making your road trip checklist.
Having a set of jumper cables makes it easier for people to get their car started, so pack them together with your other essential road trip necessities.
Another alternative to these cables is a jump starter which can be a lifesaver, especially if you are going on a much longer road trip.
A portable car jump starter will typically come with USB ports so you can plug in your car charger and other devices to ensure you do not get stuck without electricity.
This is something that can be of great help, especially if you are going to be driving around areas that do not have lots of emergency services.
#6 Spare Tire and Floor Jack
A spare tire is a key element of the road trip essentials list. If you are driving around the countryside, there is always a risk of getting stuck with a flat tire so have at least one spare tire with you on your car ride.
If there is no spare tire inside your car and it’s not an option for you to carry one, then bring along another car accessory that would be able to temporarily fix the situation by allowing you to keep driving even if your tires are punctured.
Another useful item that everyone must know how to use before leaving on their road trip is a floor jack. It is something that everyone in your group should know how to use properly. Having such a tool in your car will allow you to replace the tire faster and more efficiently.
Remember to park the car on a level and sturdy surface before performing this type of repair in your car. This will allow you to use the tire iron or torque wrench without having to worry about any moving car driving close by.
#7 Tire Repair Kit
Tire repair kits are super handy to bring on a road trip with you. If you do not have spare tires with you or your other car tools, then this is the perfect car accessory to help get yourself moving again.
Tire repair kits typically come equipped with patches and glue, while some of them even include other useful items for tire repairs. Even though they only work on certain areas of your tire, it is still a great product to pack for a road trip.
Even if you intend to take short trips around town, it’s recommended that everyone learn how to perform such minor repairs just in case something unexpected happens.
#8 Roadside Emergency Kit
A roadside car emergency kit is another of the important road trip essentials to have in your own car. They make it easier for you and those around you to deal with emergencies as quickly as possible.
It can also help keep everyone safe by ensuring that they have the proper tools to prevent accidents on the road. These kits bring most of the road trip essentials like flashing lights, reflective triangle warning signs, snow shovels, duct tape, gloves, and more.
They come in a small package and can be easily stored away in the trunk, so it is a good idea to have one of these in your car in a place that has easy access.
#9 Toilet paper
Toilet paper is a must-have on the road trip essentials list. Those who are planning to leave before all of their family members can prepare enough food for the journey may run out of supplies along the way.
Even if you are on a short city trip, there might be some unexpected pit-stops where you have to spend an hour or two waiting for something to happen, and having toilet paper around would come in handy. It will help you clean spills and remove small fast food trash.
#10 Phone Charger
Your mobile device needs to have enough power to last you throughout the trip. Taking pictures of your trip is half the fun. That is why it is so important to include a phone charger in the road trip packing list.
Even if it’s going to be a short one, you can always find a good excuse for a pit-stop and charging your phone at the very least. This way, you will be able to recharge your mobile device during your road trip while driving on the road.
#11 Wifi Connection
Internet connection is a must-have, especially if your work requires you to be able to stay in touch with your office. A reliable internet connection can come in handy for those who are driving around a large city and want to find the closest local attractions around them.
It also comes in handy during emergencies as well, so get a car Wifi hotspot or a service that will provide you with a certain amount of data for the trip. This way, you will have an internet connection on your mobile device while traveling, even without an unlimited data plan on your phone.
Even though many of us are already familiar with the Google Maps application, it’s not wise to rely on it too much. Your phone might run out of battery, or its signal might change all of a sudden due to some technical problems.
If that is the case, you would have no choice but to be completely lost until someone comes to your rescue. Having an extra way to find out which way to go can come in handy during such situations.
Some people choose to rely on paper maps instead, but it may be harder for you to read them when driving, so they are not so useful when trying to do something else at the same time. It is not a bad idea to have an extra navigation system during your road trip.
#13 Flashlight With New Batteries
One of the most obvious road trip essentials is a flashlight. Even though you might think that it’s not necessary to take one with you, there are many situations when it comes in handy.
If your car breaks down for some reason, it can be very hard to tell what happened by just looking under the hood. You will need to take everything apart and see where all of these cables go or remove any obstacles that may get in your way.
The only way to do this safely is if you have something like a flashlight with new batteries. Trips can also become dangerous, especially during nighttime. It is always a good idea to have a flashlight in your glove box compartment or in your own bag during your road trip.
#14 Wet Wipes or Tissues
Disinfecting wet wipes are now a crucial item when you are trying to pack for a road trip. They can help you clean up the rental car areas that you may not want to touch.
Wet tissues can come in handy as they can be used for other purposes as well, such as cleaning spills or removing grime from your hands. Also, whenever you have to clean yourself during rest stops, wet tissues will come in handy.
#15 Rain Jacket and Umbrella
Even if the weather forecast says that it will be sunny for the entire day, there is no reason not to bring a rain jacket with you. It may turn out to be entirely different, and you might end up in an area where you need protection from heavy rainfall or unpredictable weather.
While umbrellas don’t provide as much protection as jackets do, they can still come in handy during rainy days, especially when waiting for your auto to get repaired after it got damaged by stormy elements.
#16 Water Bottle and Beverages
Have a good amount of water for every person in the car during long road trips because someone will get thirsty or need some type of drink to keep your mind off other things.
Sometimes one person in the car might decide to bring snacks, and those items tend to leave an unpleasant smell in the air, so having bottled water or other hot drinks would also come as a great benefit.
A water bottle is great if someone needs water or wants a quick drink but does not want something too heavy like soda or energy drinks. A great way to keep your drinks cold is to have a small cooler inside of the vehicle.
#17 Fresh fruits and Healthy Snacks
Typically when you plan a road trip, you often decide to get some snacks for the long drive. It may be dangerous to eat unhealthy snacks while driving since you will have to focus your eyes on the road instead of on your food.
While it is great if you get some candy bars or chips, they are not very healthy. Many people would rather get fresh fruits that could be easily peeled off along with other snacks that are easy to handle. There is no better snack than grabbing a fresh fruit.
Having a variety of different types of foods in small bags or containers during long drives will make everyone happy since everyone has their own preferences when it comes to food. People often decide to get a trail mix along with other goodies.
#18 Car Manual
Your car manual is a crucial item during your road trips. This is because it can have all kinds of information about your automobile, from the number of liters of gas you need to put in order for your engine to work properly to other things that might come off as problems while traveling.
Car manuals usually come with every car, so if something happens and you get stuck somewhere by yourself while on a road trip, you have all the information there.
It will be much easier for a mechanic to fix certain issues if your vehicle breaks down by just giving them a copy of your car’s manual. Even if an issue seems simple and does not require taking anything apart, having a manual will always help.
#19 Front and Rearview Mirror Camera
Accidents are one of the most common reasons why some people decide to install cameras on their vehicles. If you are one of those individuals who constantly worry about accidents, it might be a great idea for you to buy front and rearview mirror cameras.
These types of cameras are not extremely new on the market, but they still make driving easier since they can help you avoid running into other cars or objects by providing you with an accurate color image that also measures distances correctly.
If your camera is constantly recording, then it will be much easier for authorities to find out what actually happened during certain road incidents.
Having these kinds of devices installed on your car will always keep people around happier than before because if anything happens, they will know exactly where to look for evidence during your road trip.
#20 Allergy and Headache Medicine
There are many ways to relieve headaches or allergies, but having some medicine can make all the difference on your road trip. It is always recommended to have allergy medication because you never know when something can cause a certain level of irritation.
These types of medicine will save you the extra cost of stopping in any emergency room. Save space on your personal bag because this is something you want to bring on a road trip with you. Even if you are not an allergic person, your car mates might be.
#21 Travel Insurance for Road trips
Although this may sound a bit too paranoid, it is always a good idea to have some form of insurance with you during your road trip, especially if you are traveling outside of the country.
It may seem like something that is unnecessary, but there are many cases where individuals end up broken down or having an accident, and they cannot find any assistance from anyone.
The other benefit is if anything should happen to your vehicle, the fact that it has insurance will make everything much easier for authorities to handle. Travel insurance should never break the bank either since buying small packages will get you all the necessary protection for your road trip.
#22 Driver’s License and Registration
According to International Drivers Association, your driver’s license and registration should always be in your car when driving. If you get pulled over for any reason, the fact that these documents are properly stored will show that you are a safe driver, and there is no issue with having them on your person.
You also want to always carry around original copies of these documents instead of photocopies because sometimes authorities may not be able to verify whether or not they were real even if they appear legitimate at first sight.
If you have a rental vehicle, then it would be a great idea to have all necessary information regarding your contract saved somewhere in case a certain accident happens while out on the road, so it will be much easier for insurance agents to find your information.
#23 Car Insurance
You should always purchase proper car rental insurance before getting out on the road. If anything accidentally happens while driving, such as a flat or problems with your air conditioning system, it would be a good idea to have this type of insurance so you will not have to worry about the end result.
It is something that does not come cheap, but at least you can avoid massive fines in case authorities find out that you are driving without the appropriate protection during your road trip. If you are traveling across state lines, pick up proper insurance before getting out on the road.
#24 Sunblock and Repellent
Humans are not the only ones who feel the effects of pollution and air in different ways. If you happen to be driving in regions where there is a lot of sand and deserts around, it would be a great idea to always have sunblock or some type of protection when getting out on the road.
It is important to note that if you are traveling through high humidity areas, you will want your car to have functioning air conditioning because these things, along with any type of sun protection product, may make it hard to breathe.
If possible, try to purchase repellents that do not contain so much oil because they can damage your tires if they get too greasy. Mosquitos are attracted to dark-colored cars due to the heat they collect while driving, so consider this when getting a rental.
#25 Road Flares
These items are very important in case you get broken down on the side of the road. Unfortunately, problems with your vehicle can happen when least expected, and there is nothing that you can do to avoid them from happening.
It would be a great idea to keep some flares around, so if anything happens while driving at night or during bad weather, other drivers will know to drive carefully. Try to get a pair with a solar-powered light that you can stick into the ground to make yourself more visible at night.
#26 Traveling Cooler and Garbage Bags
It would be a great idea to travel with a cooler filled with food and water so you can avoid buying food at restaurants.
If you are traveling through rural areas, this is even more important because gas stations might not always carry the same type of items as fast-food restaurants.
Purchasing reusable garbage bags will allow you to keep your vehicle clean while on the road. Paper bags are not ideal because they will only make it harder for you to throw trash away.
#27 Perfume and Deodorant
These items are road trip must-haves because they will make you smell much better after a long drive. Remember, you will be on the highway for a long time without showering. Having perfume will help you dissipate any bad odors temporarily.
It is best to avoid using too much perfume because some automobiles can collect these smells, and it could be very hard for you to get rid of them later on. When deciding what scent would work best for you, try and find something that will help you feel refreshed after a long ride.
#28 Hand Sanitizer and Face Masks
You will want to use hand sanitizer after eating food or using the restroom at a gas station. Having clean hands will help you avoid getting sick, and it is something that is recommended for everyone who drives long distances on a regular basis.
Consider wearing a face mask when making your rest stops to prevent getting virus infections from sick people. These items can easily be purchased online, so it would be a great idea to purchase one before you leave on your trip.
#29 First Aid Kit
The most important part of your car is the driver, and by that, we mean that if the driver gets sick on a long road trip, no one on board will be happy. A first aid kit will come in handy when you have an emergency on the road.
It is best to purchase something that comes with a variety of bandages, fake tears, painkillers, antiseptic wipes, Vaseline, antibiotic cream, gauze pads, hydrogen peroxide, cotton balls or swabs, Q-tips, and more.
#30 Gum or Candy
It is a good idea to purchase gum or candy, so your mouth does not get too dry while driving. If you do not eat any of these items on a regular basis, try finding something that tastes better than usual because having fresh breath will help you stay awake.
Other Road Trip Car Essentials tips And Preferences
Pre-program your GPS before leaving, as this will ensure you get there on time, safe, and sound. You should also bring your camera along as there is nothing like taking beautiful pictures of the trip.
Sleeping while traveling is the most difficult part of any trip because if you get uncomfortable, then you can’t sleep, and that will make it almost impossible to stay awake during the entire ride.
With this in mind, we recommend bringing pillows and blankets along with you on your trip for everyone to sleep comfortably. Now you know some of the road trip essentials you need for your road trip packing list.