10 Road Trip Essentials


Something about the summer season, a change of scenery, and the lure of the open road often makes most people want to load up their cars and just explore new areas. Possibilities are usually endless – the mountains, the beach, a big city you have never explored before, Disney world, etc.

Whether you intend to let the road be your guide or your goal is to embark on a carefully planned or routed cross-country trip, you must take a couple of essentials along to make the whole road trip more enjoyable and safer. In this article, we will help you discover the road trip essentials you should never leave behind.

Road Trip Packing List

1. Maps

Chances are, once you load up the travel backpacks in the car, you will be starting the trip with an already planned route. However, be sure to take maps of the areas you intend to explore during the road trip. You may need to take a detour to do some more exploration or to just avoid traffic.

A traditional map or an atlas should do. Alternatively, you can print custom maps for the journey via websites like Mapquest Route Planner and Google Maps.

Also, when you are packing your backpack, consider including a good GPS in the list of items you intend to carry. However, if your car features built-in navigation systems, you can leave the GPS at home.

2. Travel Applications

If you have already invested in a smartphone, you should be able to find a wide range of travel applications at your fingertips. Most of the travel applications feature efficient GPS access and can help you find everything, including clean hotels, parks, and places to eat when exploring new areas.

Weather applications should help you figure out where the sun is currently shining and when the storms could end up hitting. This helps make the whole journey much smoother.

3. Road-Worthy Playlist

You should not forget to take all your favorite tunes along for the ride. A CD collection or an iPod playlist works wonders when it comes to making the whole journey more enjoyable.

It is easy to assume that leaving the tunes out of the road trip packing list is a good idea since you will listen to the AM-FM portable radio. However, keep in mind that you could be traveling in areas featuring sketchy radio signals.

Ensure that your playlist has tunes capable of covering every mood, from upbeat to introspective. This should help you make the most out of the road trip.

4. Snacks and Food

Before leaving home, be sure to pack a lot of healthy snacks for the road trip. Examples of snacks you may want to carry include nuts and crackers, granola bars, pretzels, and fruits. If you will be driving for long stretches in areas featuring limited dining options, you can carry sandwiches or use our backpacking food ideas.

Consider packing a picnic lunch to enjoy by the roadside park. Since the costs of dining out can add up, a trip to the grocery store and packing some backpacking cookware could help you save some cash.

Staying hydrated is crucial. If carrying hydration packs is not a good idea for you, a soft-sided cooler packed with water bottles and a couple of soft drinks could be a more ideal solution. Simply refill the cooler with ice, water, and drinks at your destination or hotel and you should have a good return trip.

5. Toiletries and Other Essentials


Ensure that your car is packed with enough and easy-to-reach toiletries, including paper towels, hand sanitizer, a roll of toilet paper, tissues, etc. just in case your stop is not well-stocked with these items.

If you have any prescription medications, carry them. Do not forget to carry a first-aid kit. The kit should have a few essentials such as band-aids for minor cuts, antiseptic, cortisone cream for insect bites, and bandages for scrapes and unexpected cuts.

Sunglasses are one of the road trip essentials you should never forget to pack. Also, be sure to apply sunscreen correctly to prevent sunburn.

6. Pillows, Blankets, and Comfy Clothing

Irrespective of whether your goal is to drive for a couple of hours or you intend to drive into the night, be sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothes. If you ask an experienced traveler, he or she would tell you that road trips are not the ideal time to wear the tightest jeans or something that binds or restricts.

Shoes that are easy to take off and on are usually an ideal choice – this way, you will have the ability to wiggle the feet in your car and then slip the footwear on, in just a moment, when you have to stop for a break. If you find yourself in an unfamiliar bed in a hotel, a pillow and a blanket from home can always help improve the comfort you need.

7. A Camera

Irrespective of whether you will be headed to the mountains or the beach, you will probably make a lot of memories and even see things you may not come across daily. This is why a good camera should be part of your road trip packing list.

Armed with your camera and great scenic and landscape photography skills, you should be able to capture the beauty of a unique sunset over a small lake, a humorous sign you find near a country store, farm animals resting close to the interesting old barn, or your travel companion taking that first bite into the boiled peanut.

Before leaving home, do not forget to charge up the digital camera. Also, be sure to carry a spare battery. If you prefer traditional equipment, ensure that you have packed enough film.

8. Electricity Power Inverter

If you will be traveling with teenagers or children, you may need to carry a DVD player or a laptop to keep them entertained. To ensure that you do not end up running out of battery power, consider investing in a good electricity power inverter.

The handy device will help convert the charge originating from the car battery into electricity that you can use to power all the small electric devices, including electric razors and laptops. Simply plugging in the device in the cigarette lighter should help convert the Direct Current (DC) originating from the battery to the AC (Alternating Current) needed by the electronics.

9. Spare Set of Car Keys

This is one of the most ignored road trip essentials. You have to consider the fact that you could end up dropping your car keys or locking the keys in the car. Giving your travel buddy a spare set of keys can help you avoid all the complications which arise from losing car keys. While you can call the locksmith to open the car door, driving may still be impossible without the keys.

10. Spare Tire/Jack

When you are driving at full speed, seeing a nail or a shard of glass on the road may not be possible. This means that there is always the possibility of having to deal with a flat tire. Dealing with the flat tire should be much easier if you had included a jack and spare tire in your road trip packing list.

While having the spare tire and jack is great, you need to know how to change your flat tire. Before hitting the road, take a lesson on how to change tires. You wouldn’t want to end up being stuck on the road with the necessary repair tools but no knowledge on how to use the tools.

Globo Surf Overview

If you are new to road trips, you may not know the road trip essentials you need to carry to have a great experience. While the ideal road trip packing list varies from one person to the other, we have included the most crucial things you may need in this list. Depending on your preference, however, you may want to add or reduce the essentials.

You mustn’t let the thrill of the road trip keep you from ensuring that the car is in ideal condition. Before heading out, check the oil, check your tires to ensure that they are filled with air, test the wiper blades, test the car’s air conditioning, etc. Also, ensure that the driver’s license is still valid.

More Backpacking/Hiking Reviews:


  1. 10 Road Trip Essentials You Need to Pack, Valisemag.com
Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!