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29 Road Trip Essentials for the Perfect Trip
4 weeks ago
So, you’re about to go on a road trip! Whether it is a cross-country leisurely trip of a lifetime, a move across the state, or just a day trip to the neighboring city, an element of preparation is required. Here are some of the most important road trip must-haves to ensure a worry-free travel experience!
The Power of a Road Trip Packing List
Creating a road trip packing list is important for safety, organization, and peace of mind. A road trip packing list is different from a regular suitcase packing list: it’s stuff that is specific to being in a vehicle for a long period of time. It includes supplies for the people in the car and the car itself.
You want to be prepared for every kind of terrain and experience you may encounter on your journey. It may feel like summer at the start of your trip, and then you might hit a cold patch by the end. Your vehicle might need help adjusting to the change in temperature or moisture. Anything can happen!
Being prepared means being flexible and ready when the unexpected arises – and it will! Having everything you need means you won’t have to stop for every little thing. You can keep on the road longer, get to your destination sooner, and have a smoother journey.
Plus, it will put your passengers at ease to know you are prepared. And if you are driving solo, it is even more important to create a packing list, because you won’t have other passengers to rely on to help you out if something goes awry.
Long road trip essentials need to keep you feeling nourished, refreshed, entertained, awake, and focused. Mental and physical stimulation are key for stamina on the road. Luckily, certain products help with that – in addition to music, podcasts, and of course, the company of loved ones.
If you are driving a group of friends, consider typing out your packing list on a shareable document that your pals can edit. That way, they can add their requested snacks and supplies so you don’t miss a single thing.
If it is a solo journey, a traditional pencil and paper list works just fine. Writing it out ensures that nothing is left behind. Either way, it is always satisfying to check off items on a list once you acquire them. It builds anticipation for the adventure to come!
First up is the auxiliary cord — what’s a road trip without the classic road trip playlist? This may be the most quintessential thing to pack for a road trip, and it’s a necessity if you are using your phone to supply the music and your car does not have Bluetooth connectivity. For safety’s sake, it is best to abide by the unofficial rule and let your passengers be the DJ. These male to male 3.5mm cables connect your phone to your car’s speakers. And in this pack of two cables at six feet each, backseat passengers can be the DJ just as easily as the shotgun passenger.
Say you have just eaten a wonderful lunch at the cutest little place on your road trip, and you want to take some leftover food to go. Normally, you would have no way of keeping it cool when hitting the road again. Enter the travel refrigerator. Plug this personal chiller into your car’s port as a longer lasting alternative to a traditional cooler with ice packs. This mini fridge in a classic Coca Cola design can keep up to six soda cans cool, or remove the shelf and store your leftovers. It also has the ability to keep contents warm instead, like a warm head compress to treat yourself after a long day at the wheel.
Getting stiff muscles and joints from long hours of sitting in a vehicle is one of the less fun parts about road tripping. But from the top of your head to the soles of your feet, this mini massager will stimulate stiff muscles, improve circulation, and soothe aches and pains that result from sitting in a car all day. This battery powered vibrating device will keep you feeling relaxed despite bumper to bumper traffic or rowdy passengers. Treat yourself and your passengers to a little luxury with this handheld massager!
While driving, you don’t want to have your phone in your hand, but you need access to turn-by-turn navigation. So what do you do? The solution is a car phone mount that sticks to your dashboard or windshield. Designed to fit all smartphone sizes, this car phone mount stays in place thanks to its super sticky base. Its extendable arm and 360 degree swivel makes it easy to use. Just make sure you do not place it in a distracting place, or in a way that blocks your view of the road.
This is one of the most important road trip essentials because safety should always be your number one priority. Cuts and scrapes along the journey will be no match for you with this 70 piece first aid kit. This travel set includes the basics like adhesive bandages, cleaning wipes, and antibiotic ointment. A first aid kit is one of those things to take on a road trip that you will be forever thankful to have, but pray you’ll never have to use. Keep it in a safe and easy to reach place in your car and be sure to replace ointments when they expire!
This one may have you scratching your head, wondering why a white towel is a road trip necessity — but hear us out! A white towel is handy to have in case you have to temporarily leave your car on the side of the road. A white towel placed in the window of a car tells law enforcement that your car is not abandoned: it means you have gone to get help and are returning and save you from getting towed or impounded. And when not using this soft, extra large microfiber towel for an emergency, use it for comfort or clean-up. Sit on the light, breathable fabric for a makeshift picnic or drape it over your legs if your passengers insist on blasting the AC!
It’s important to have a set of jump start cables in your car. If you don’t know how to do it, other passengers or helpful strangers can always help. But they can’t help if you don’t have the right equipment on hand. Even when not on a road trip, you should be carrying jump start cables in your trunk in case your car battery decides to call it a day. But especially when on a road trip in unfamiliar territory, having jump cables at the ready is all the more important. These heavy duty cables stretch twenty feet and will not tangle, making it easier for cars to help you restart your engine in case of a power failure.
There’s nothing worse than sitting in a hot car! In case your air conditioning stops working or the windows won’t roll down, position a personal fan on you to keep you cool. They are also ideal to keep passengers and pets cool if the AC doesn’t reach them. This fan attaches to your car’s headrest and is powered by a USB cord or battery. With four speeds and 360 degree rotation, you will enjoy a perpetual breeze, keeping everyone in the car cool and comfortable.
Trash cans are easy to forget on road trips, but so essential! You definitely do not want litter filling up your vehicle, especially if it’s sticky or pungent. Keep it contained and easily disposable in this trash can designed to hang on the back of a headrest, hung from the gear shift, or placed in the passenger seat. Its pockets on the side for storage, understated black exterior, and compact, collapsible design make it ideal for any vehicle. Plus, it’s got a waterproof interior and a lid so the trash won’t topple out.
This list of road trip essentials for car trips would not be complete without a Little Trees air freshener. Because let’s face it: after all day in the car, your car’s interior is going to take on some body odor, the smell of the food, perhaps some pet dander, and get a little, well, musty. Keep it fresh with this Supernova scent hanging from the rear view mirror. Its rainbow galaxy design is simultaneously naturalistic and futuristic, and its pleasantly masculine scent will last weeks.
It’s easy to get bored on long road trips, and we can only play so many games of I spy! So keep spirits high, engage creativity, and bring on the laughs with this entertaining book of travel games for kids and teens. With 99 pages of wacky hypothetical situations to imagine, there will be no more chorus of “are we there yet” with this in your backseat pocket. This book is one of those classic road trip essentials for families. Plus, it will get everyone off their phones, talking, and having fun!
In case you need to spritz your windshield after catching bugs on the freeway or your windshield gets iced over on your way to mom’s for Christmas, it is always good to have spare wiper fluid in your trunk. Trying to de-ice your windshield, or get bugs off of it, is nearly impossible without some of this trusty 2-in-1 fluid. This pack of six single gallon de-icer and bug remover windshield wiper fluid will keep you prepared for the long haul, in every season and circumstance.
Speaking of ice, if you are traveling through a climate that may throw frost, snow, or ice your way, you absolutely need to be equipped with this 2-in-1 snow brush and ice scraper. Remember what we said? Safety first! Frozen precipitation can sneak up on you and present a wide range of dangers on the road, especially if you wake up to your car frosted over in the morning. Keep to your driving schedule by having this tool available to clean off your vehicle quickly. At 27 inches, it will reach across the windshield to remove ice and snow easily.
Ask any long haul truck driver: the sun goes right through car windows and can tan and even burn exposed skin. So for long trips, keep your skin healthy and protected with high-quality sunscreen. This Sun Bum lotion will keep you moisturized as well, with vitamin E added for nourishing the skin. Protect yourself from harmful UVA and UVB sun rays with this dermatologist-tested, hypoallergenic skincare product. And it is vegan, gluten free, and reef-friendly!
UV protection doesn’t stop with sunscreen. With 100% UVA and UVB protection, these unisex wraparound sunglasses will keep the sun out of your eyes – even your peripherals. They come with a storage pouch, strap, and cleaning cloth. Sunglasses are not just a summer essential: if you are driving at sunrise, sunset, or among reflective snow, you’re going to need sunglasses to prevent the blinding glare. These polarized sunglasses are perfect for driving — not to mention keeping you stylish on the road.
If you are driving during the summer (especially if you have leather seats), windshield sun shades are a lifesaver. No one likes the feeling of getting in a car when it feels like an oven. So when you leave your vehicle, put them in the windshield interior to keep the car protected from UV rays and heat, making it feel noticeably cooler. These windshield sun shades come with a storage pouch for fast and easy organization. Simply twist and fold to fit in their storage bag when not in use.
A spare tire isn’t all you need in case you get a flat: this steel jack will lift your vehicle over a foot in height so that you can replace your flat tire with a new one. In fact, this heavy duty hydraulic floor jack will lift and lower up to 4,000 pounds so that you can fix or inspect your car while on the road. Ideally, you should have this car jack in your vehicle at all times — not just for road trips. It is a must-have tool that will save you time and money by helping you solve problems without relying on roadside assistance.
Car essentials for road trip journeys have to include tools to maintain cleanliness. After all, you can’t keep a group of people from dropping crumbs in your backseat on an eight-hour drive! Keep your vehicle clean with this mini portable handheld vacuum, perfect for cleaning up crumbs, dog hair, and debris in the car. It includes a double filter, a nozzle attachment for crevices, and a brush for delicate surfaces. Plus, the light on the vacuum helps you see in dark corners and while cleaning at night.
Instead of treating aches and pains after they occur, help prevent them altogether with this ergonomically supportive car neck pillow. For the driver and passengers, this memory foam neck pillow hooks onto the head rest to support the neck in a way that encourages circulation. Its curved shape supports both sides of the head down to the shoulders. This pillow is machine washable, easy to install, and comes with a cover. Enjoy!
For drivers and passengers alike, this lumbar support pillow is one of those road trip essentials for adults who suffer from chronic back pain. Sitting for long periods is not good for the body, so in addition to stretch breaks for circulation, a posture-improving back support cushion can make all the difference on a long road trip. This Samsonite memory foam cushion rests in the curve of the lower back to prevent back pain. It’s ergonomically designed and made of breathable material.
While you can’t keep your shoes from getting dirty, you can protect your car floor from your dirty shoes. Keep your car in pristine condition even in the rain, mud, sleet, and snow by installing protective no-slip floor mats. A must if you are off-roading it or headed to the beach, these rubber mats can be cut to fit the dimensions of your car, RV, or truck. Do you have messy kids or pets accompanying you on your road trip? Then these mats are a must! They are easy to clean when necessary, and shield your car floors from surprise spills.
Dogs can be the best road trip companions and besides, who wants to leave Fido at home? Keep your pup comfy and cozy in the backseat with their own bed. This soft travel pet bed hangs from the front and back head rests, giving even large dogs plenty of room to get comfortable. This bed’s flat surface lets them sit, stand, or lie down securely. It comes with storage pockets on the side. In addition to keeping your pet cozy, travel beds protect your car’s interior from sharp nails, dog drool, and muddy paws.
This may not be the most fun item on this list, but it is absolutely a road trip essential. The last thing you want is for your car to break down in the middle of the night with no flashlight! A high quality flashlight is also useful to have when the sun goes down, particularly if you have to change a tire in the dark, or fish something out of the trunk for a passenger. This HD Ultra LED Energizer flashlight comes with batteries included. At 1300 lumens, this water resistant durable light will keep you safe and aware of your surroundings.
On the road, it is crucial that you keep hydrated to ward off headaches and muscle cramps. Drinking water keeps you feeling fresh and focused, and increases your stamina as a driver. This 32 ounce reusable water bottle made of BPA-free plastic is easy to handle while on the road with its leak-proof flip top. Best of all, it has time markers on the exterior to let you know if you are on track for hydration throughout the day. Just remember to plan out those bathroom breaks!
Are you traveling with a young child? Don’t want to mess up all your hard work completing potty training? This is absolutely essential if you are road tripping with a toddler who is too old for diapers, but too young to make it for long stretches of road without a rest stop. Whether you are stuck in traffic or on a desolate stretch of road, it is an absolute nightmare to be stuck with no way to relieve your little traveler when the time comes. This travel potty is the perfect solution, and it comes with 20 disposable potty liners. Better safe than sorry!
Most of the time, the takeout options on the road are fast food and fast food only. So, what to take on road trip journeys for a more nutritious snack time? With these healthy snacks, you will not feel foggy or bogged down. Veggie straws are easy to eat while stuck in traffic, and fruity gummies will give you a boost of sugar to power through that last hour on the road. This assortment is a crowd pleaser for kids and adults alike. It includes sweet and salty individually wrapped favorites. Yum!
As you travel, you’re definitely going to pick up some unwanted germs along the way. These Wet Ones are safe to use on the hands and face, and they will fit in your car’s cup holder. Also use them to wipe off the car door handles (both interior and exterior), console, and steering wheel at the end of each day on your road trip. Nothing’s worse than that mystery sticky spot that no one knows how happened! Clean up messes and keep things sanitary in a world with some handy antibacterial wipes.
Skip the plastic at the drive-through with this travel set of stainless steel cutlery. It comes with a travel pouch and four straws, plus straw cleaning brushes. This set of two forks, knives, and spoons are rainbow colored for an extra spark of fun on the road! Portable travel utensils are the sustainable option to reduce waste and move towards a greener future. They are easy to clean and great for car travel, picnicking, and camping.
Finally, one more car game for good measure: this fun card game for ages 12 and up is sure to make the time pass quickly. It includes 200 cards, each with questions and challenges specific to road trips. The card reader, usually whomever is seated shotgun, calls out the dare or trivia question for the rest of the car. Accumulate the most points to win. Will the loser have to drive the rest of the way home?
Additional Tips: Preparing for Your Trip
Before setting off, make sure to do some research, and have a checklist of tasks in addition to your packing list:
- Make sure you know how to use the items on the list above: if needed, brush up on how to change a tire, put washer fluid in your car, and how to use jump cables.
- Fill up your gas tank or charge your electric vehicle.
- Communicate your estimated time of arrival at each leg of your journey. Even if you are not meeting anyone, do so anyway as a safety measure.
- Plug in your destination to your GPS and set it to audio mode so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road at each turn. Or, if you are old-school, study up on the map beforehand, thinking about possible rest stops along the way.
- Have everything you need easily within reach: music, snacks, water, etc.
- Have enough cell data on your phone if you are relying on that for navigation.
- Have all your car’s information ready, including the user manual, registration, your auto insurance card, and phone number for emergency roadside assistance.
- Don’t forget to bring your driver’s license!
- Be aware of special driving laws in the states or countries you will be driving through, uch as if pets are allowed in the vehicle, seatbelt laws, cell phone laws, etc.
- Check your tire pressure and refill with air if needed.
- Have some cash and coins on hand so you are prepared for tolls or local, cash-only spots.
- Double check that your passengers are comfy and ready to go!
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