32 Packing Essentials For Your Next Road Trip
Updated: Feb 4
We all know the main reason most people love a road trip, flexibility and being in control of the journey. But, the next biggest reason is people want to pack whatever and however they much they want. They want to be comfortable and sometimes that means a bit messy. They want to be able to wear their pajamas and throw their hair in a bun... ok, I might be talking about myself here.
It's a vacation without bag fees or bag checks or throwing away those oversized toiletries.
So, if you're planning to hit the road and are looking for a complete road trip packing list with all the travel-tested road trip essential, then you're in the right place!
You can fill your car with whatever and however much you want, but if you don't have the road trip supplies you need for a successful trip, things can go south pretty quickly. From things you need for yourself to must-bring items for the car, don't forget anything on your road trip packing list or it could turn into a disaster.
Here's what to pack for a road trip to make sure you have the best and safest time.
Road Trip Packing List
It's plain and simple--it's a road trip. You're going to want to make sure you have all the handy dandy stuff you need to keep your car in top running shape. Some of these things are obvious, but still need to be listed. Others are not so obvious, but essential nonetheless. You can thank me later.
Spare Tire + Know How Not only do you want to make sure your road trip packing list includes a spare tire, in good working condition--you might want to double check that, but you also want to make sure you know how to change a flat tire. AAA and other resources like HONK, are not available in every single remote location across the globe. You can learn how to change a tire by watching this video or by reading through your vehicle manual.
Proper Paperwork/Documents Drivers license, car registration and insurance information, car manual.. all must haves for general travel, but especially road trips.
Emergency Car Kit For my car I have a small box in the trunk containing jumper cables, gloves, rope, first aid kit, flashlight(s), bottled water, road signs reflectors, bungee cords, pocket knife, small shovel, ice scraper, maps, extra chargers, portable charger, garbage bag... you can make your own and add your own personal touch or order it pre-made online.
Fluids That's right, you aren't the only one that needs to stay hydrated. Keep a gallon of water for your car (in case it overheats), extra transmission fluid, wiper washer fluid, break fluid, oil and a small gas can.
Portable Car Garbage Can Lots of travel sites will tell you what to pack for a road trip, things like extra plastic bags for garbage, and you should definitely have them. But it's also nice to have a little car garbage can, so you don't just have a random bag of trash floating around in your car.
Sunshade Every time you get out of your car to check out the scenery, take a dip in the river, or venture out for a day hike, you are potentially leaving your car to sit and bake in the sun. Keep a sunshade handy so you can keep it a bit cooler and at the very least keep your seats from burning your legs when you get back in the car. If you're camping in the car they also double as private shades!
Hand Sanitizer For the same reason you need toilet paper. If your gas station stop runs out of soap, you want to be able to clean your hands after you go--a clear road trip essential.
Tissues & Toilet Paper That's right, it's made the list. The worst thing would be to stop at a roadside gas station that's out of TP. Even worse? Having to go behind a tree with no TP. And tissues are just super handy to have for runny noses and sweaty brows.
Body/Baby Wipes This is usually first on my packing list. Baby wipes are so universal and so great when you're on the go. They can wipe hands, faces, even leave you feeling like you got a quick shower in. Bonus: you can use them as toilet paper and tissues if you run out. How great is that!
Bug Spray/Sunscreen I don't care who you are, young or old, no melanin in your skin or a lot, you need to take care of your skin, especially on the road with all that exposure. Dermatologist recommend an SPF over 30.
Paper money--extra cash
Flip Flops/Extra Shoes
Gum Yes, gum. Especially if you're traveling up into high mountain ranges. you'll thank me later.
Day Bag In the even you want to take a day hike or overnight camp somewhere, you don't want to have to haul your suitcase everywhere you go. A day bag or pack is great for throwing in a change of clothes and a few essentials. And it's great for rainy days and for keeping things dry.
Pain killers It's inevitable to get a head ache or body ache while traveling for long periods at a time. Some Advil would help greatly in making you comfortable.
Hands Free Phone Mount For when you take a call in the car or when you want to check something on your maps, it is far easier to do if your phone is simply mounted on your dash and ready for your fingers.
Dress Comfortably I like to wear my leggings and flip flops or comfortable shoes I can take on and off easily. But I have hiking pants and boots for outdoor adventures in my Day Bag.
Your road trip list of things to bring is the key to a successful trip. Being prepared means being able to handle any number of situations without them getting in the way of your road trip travel plans.
What's on your road trip packing checklist?