Planning on hitting the road? Here are the absolute essentials you need to pack in order to have a successful road trip!

First road trip? Don’t worry! We’ve all had our first experiences on the road and the good thing is that you can learn from the little mistakes we’ve made in the past 🙂

That’s why we have listed our top essential road trip items. This list may vary according to your own itinerary and how long you’ll be on the road, but remember that this is an essentials list.

We also have an international travel checklist you may be interested in. Even if you’re not road tripping abroad, this may come in handy as many of the items are universal do travel.

Now, let’s go to the list!

Road trip essentials checklist

1. Water bottle (or bottles)

Staying hydrated should be your #1 priority no matter what. On the road, some people may avoid drinking water and/or other beverages because you can’t always stop for a restroom break and, while this is true, we strongly recommend that you don’t let that stop you from drinking water.

A reusable water bottle (or bottles) is always the way to go. You can drink from it on the road, take it on a hike — there are honestly so many reasons why you should take a reusable water bottle with you! And, also, there are many places where you can refill it and save on buying plastic bottles.

2. Money

Don’t rely on credit cards only! We really can’t stress this enough. Depending on where you’re going, cash may be the only payment option. And change is also good for tolls, don’t forget about them!

3. Important documents you can’t forget

Your personal documents are usually something you carry around inside your wallet anyway, but it’s always good to also check if you’re carrying the car’s important documents: the vehicles license/registration, the insurance policy and even the car’s manual — which may come in handy if you have car trouble (we don’t want that, but it’s always a possibility).

Also worth noting: if you’re renting a car for your trip and usually don’t buy insurance, make sure to do so for a road trip! Read more about car rental insurance types here.

4. Portable phone charger

You know what’s not good? A dead battery. Whether you want to stay connected on the road or just use it to take pictures, we don’t want to run out of battery. This is particularly important if you’re using your phone to get directions as a GPS.

Which leads us to item 5…

5. Paper maps

Paper maps sound like a thing from the past, but they are very much alive. This is important if you’re travelling somewhere where the connection isn’t as good or if you don’t want to rely 100% on your phone.

6. First aid kit

A first aid kit is a must for every road trip. At the very least, you should have some painkillers, headache, stomachache and nausea pills.

If you’re adding a little hike or camping activities to your road trip, we strongly suggest you add bandages, gauze pads, plasters (in different shapes and sizes), scissors, creams for skin rash and to relieve bug bites, antiseptic spray/cream, and even more items to your kit.

7. Items that will keep you entertained on the road

Let’s be honest. Road trips are sometimes… Boring. Unless you’re driving all the time (which isn’t good as well, you should always take rests and share the wheel!), you’ll find yourself stuck inside the car for long periods of time in between stops.

Think about things that will keep you entertained while you’re on the road. Our top items are audiobooks, books or kindle (if you’re able to read in the car and not get sick) and an incredible road trip offline playlist. If you’re into gaming, a handheld game console is also a great idea!

8. Toiletries bag

Goes without saying that you can’t leave the house without a toiletries bag. You can add your own personal items to the list and we admit it varies a lot from person to person, but some good things to always carry are:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Wet and dry wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Dry shampoo (not as obvious of an item, but important if you’re camping) 
  • Lip balm
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray

Honorable mention: toilet paper. Depending on where you’re going, toilet paper may be super important!

9. Daypack

For a short or long time on the road, it goes without saying that you’ll need at least a small collection of items to keep you comfy throughout the drive. A compact backpack will also be super useful if you’re stopping along the way for a hike.

As for what to put inside the bag, let your heart guide you. You can put many of the items listed in this essentials list and some other things that are important to you. Just remember that, ideally, this backpack will be small and lightweight so you can easily carry it no matter the circumstances.

10. Car safety items

This is specially important if you’re driving a long way or through rough terrain or dirt roads: always check the condition of your spare tire. Always!

If you can, some other emergency kit items can help if you find yourself facing car trouble in the middle of nowhere. Battery booster cables, for example, are a must, as well as flashlights or, alternatively, a headlamp.

Also, if you’re driving in the snow, don’t forget about snow/winter tires or tire chains!

11. Your own assortment of tech items

When it comes to tech items, everyone has a different preference. Apart from your mobile phone and maybe a kindle (which we’ve talked about before), you may also add others, such as a camera, headphones and/or wireless earbuds etc. The most important thing, though, is that you don’t forget their chargers and USB cords!

Also, if you feel like it, bluetooth speakers may come in handy to enjoy some music with your friends and family.

12. All the easily forgotten things

These are the things that we sometimes forget, but really shouldn’t. Always make sure to pack sunglasses, hats, rain jackets and umbrellas. These are essential for a number of reasons, but most importantly to save you from some uncomfortable situations, like sunburns.

13. Snacks

Oh, yes! Who can resist snacks? Taking a break to have a full meal on the road isn’t always possible, so having snacks around is always a good idea.

Here’s a tip from us: it’s easy to just buy sugary snacks, but dried/cut fruits and granola bars, for example, also make great (and healthier) snacks. If you’re thinking of anything that needs to be cooled, add a cooler to your road trip essentials and that’s it!

14. ‘Stay cozy on the road’ items

Being comfortable while on the road is super important — I don’t think we need to explain why. Sitting down for long hours may be exhausting even if you’re not driving, so taking a warm blanket, a regular or travel pillow, a warm sweater and other things that bring you comfort is a must.

15. Paper or plastic bags for trash

May be the single most forgotten thing ever. Producing trash while on the road is almost impossible to avoid, so having a small paper or plastic bag around is the best option to collect trash and keep the car (and the roads) clean.

We hope this helps you out when you pack for your road trip! If you’re an experienced traveler and would like to add your personal essential items, please comment below!

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