It’s almost Road Trip time, and you’ve started to think about what exactly you need to pack to keep your show on the road. Whether your doing a cross-country road trip and driving Coast to Coast across the USA or road tripping South Africa’s incredible Garden Route, we’ve put together the Ultimate list of things you must bring on a road trip that will keep the car – and you – running smoothly throughout the trip.
31 Things You Must Bring On A Road Trip
1. Relaxed clothing
You’re going to be spending a lot of time in the car, and nothing is worse than sitting in jeans for too long! Invest in some comfortable and stylish leggings or sweatpants. Here are the perfect road trip leggings and sweatpants.
2. Comfy shoes
Even if you’re taking a road trip straight to the wedding, do yourself a favor and don’t wear dress shoes in the car. Once you arrive at the wedding or formal event, then you can change into your formal shoes in a minute or less. Give your feet a break in some sandals (OOFOS are my favorite) or slip-ons that don’t squeeze your feet. Or take your shoes completely off in the car (as long as your feet or socks don’t stink).
Remembering sunglasses so the driver’s vision isn’t impaired on a sunny day is critical. Depending on where you are and are traveling to, the sun can be blinding for long stretches on the highway.
Excluding the driver, having a pillow to put against the window or your headrest can be the single difference between a solid nap or the frustration that comes with struggling to nap. Cars aren’t designed for people to sleep but bring a pillow and you can at least get your head comfortable—it’s the most important part. This travel pillow is brilliant for sleeping in the car.
Like peanut butter and jelly, a warm blanket is a perfect match with a pillow when you’re trying to nap or get comfortable in the car. Besides being a sleep aid, the blanket protects you from the nutjob in the car who blasts the air conditioning. And it’s nice to have a blanket in the chance of an emergency where you’re stuck outside over the night.
6. USB phone charger
All that time spent on GPS, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook is going to take a toll on your phone battery. That’s why it’s a no-brainer to bring a car charger on any trip that’s more than an hour out. We recommend two products. One is a simple USB adapter that fits directly into your cigarette lighter. The Second is a Portable Solar Power Bank that can be used to charge your phone to anything else that may require power
7. Music playlist
You can make do with the radio for about an hour, but then the stations get fuzzy and start to change. And then you’re stuck listening to country music all afternoon if you’re driving through the midwest or south. Listen to the music you want to by updating your iTunes, downloading Pandora, or buying Spotify. The time you spend making a road trip playlist will be well worth it when you’re cruising with the music up and the windows down.
So you’re not a big reader or you’re one of those people who immediately get a headache when trying to read in the car? Don’t worry, there’s another solution: audiobooks. If you’ve never listened to an audiobook in the car, then you’re missing out. Music gets boring as the same songs play over and over. But listening to a narrator go chapter by chapter in an audiobook can be a thrill! I also highly recommend getting into podcasts on interests that you have a passion for. They are a great way to pass the time and get an education while doing it.
I forgot many things on this list, but I did bring my laptop to write a blog post this weekend. If you have a blog and aren’t driving, utilize the road trip to write a blog post. Get this out of the way and you’ll feel great once you arrive at your destination. (If you’re trying to write in the car, use Google Docs offline mode or Microsoft Word and save it until you regain wifi connection.) A laptop is also great for playing games, making Sticky note reminders, and watching movies.
11. Playing cards
Best used by backseat riders, a deck of playing cards is perfect to get the competitive juices flowing with blackjack, poker, spades, or war. These cards will also come in handy when you reach the hotel for continued card games or drinking games. Sometimes the most classic games make for the most fun!
12. Air freshener
Spending long hours in the car with people who haven’t showered in a while, smelly food, or the occasional roadside skunk makes having an air freshener critical. An air freshener is also versatile because you can take it out of the car to improve the smell of your funky hotel room or cabin. Get the classic air freshener that hangs on the rearview mirror or try a Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag.
13. Muscle roller stick
It’s not good and doesn’t feel good for your body to sit still for extended hours on the road. Your muscles and joints will ache and there’s nothing you can do about it. That is unless you get a muscle roller stick. I’ve used this baby before and felt less stiff after it. Order one to see what you’re missing when traveling.
14. Multi-Purpose Pen
Let’s face it. There will most likely be a point in the trip where you will need to write something down. A pen in the car is a necessity regardless that’s why we recommend the 1TAC tactical pen. This pen can virtually be used anywhere. It’s been said that it can also write underwater. This pen also comes with a flashlight, knife and glass breaker god forbid its needed.
15. Roadside Safety Discs
Roadside Safety Discs can be seen from over 5000 feet by oncoming motorists. Protect yourself and your family in all emergency situations, simply activate each light with a single click. The magnetic allows you to easily attach the discs to your car as well as the ground. They are waterproof and durable enough to withstand being run over and while still continuing to shine!
16. Water and filtered water bottle
Stay hydrated by bringing water bottles and other healthy drinks not named Soda. First, soda is going to make you more thirsty so you have to drink more and thus go to the bathroom constantly during the trip. Avoid it all together by drinking water and keeping your bathroom visits to a minimum.
17. Healthy snacks
Trust me, you don’t want to put the wrong food (Chinese or Mexican) in your system during a car ride. By consuming healthy snacks, you’ll feel lighter and better about yourself. Specifically look for foods like yogurt, fruits, dark chocolate, and almonds. And avoid the messy snacks that could spill when going over a bump.
18. Travel size cooler
To keep your drinks and snacks cold, bring a travel size cooler. This cooler allows you to cut travel time and save money by not having to stop for fast food. And you don’t have to eat the refrigerated food right away when you bring a cooler like you would if you didn’t have one.
19. Big garbage bag
It’s a pain to clean out the car during the trip and after when you finally arrive at your destination if you don’t have a garbage bag. Wrappers are on the floor, tucked in the door handle, and in between the seats. Keep your area clean with a cheap garbage bag that everyone in the car can use to dispose of their drink and snacks.
20. Dollar bills and quarters
Small bills and change are essential for bribing your way out of speeding sticks, just kidding. In reality, bring one dollar bills and quarters to avoid any issues at tolls or city parking meters. It’s always good to keep cash and change with you in the car, and this fact is truer on a road trip.
Tissues are another simple yet underrated travel item. With them, you’ll be able to blow your nose so you can stop sniffling just like that. Without them, you’ll be the most annoying person in the car if you sniffle all day. Being trapped in a car with someone who sniffles constantly is never ideal.
To liberate yourself from listening to another passenger’s below-average playlist, take a pair of headphones with you. These headphones come in handy as earplugs when you’re trying to nap, too. And they send the message that you don’t want to be talked to, which could be an amazing relief depending on the people around you.
23. Ibuprofen/motion sickness medicine
A bumpy road, a hilly valley, or a bad driver could give you a relentless headache that feels like it will never go away. Have an outlet to relieve the pain by bringing Ibuprofen or motion sickness medicine like Dramamine. When you’re prepared, you can handle a lot of things in your way.
24. Gum or Listerine strips
Just because you can’t brush your teeth in the car doesn’t give you an excuse to have stinky breath for the other passengers to get a whiff of. Stay cool and buy a pack of gum or Listerine strips so you’re not “that guy/girl.” Then pick up friend points by passing your gum or strips along.
25. Safety Charge
You won’t have to use it 99% of the time, maybe never, but Safety Charge is the perfect device to have with you. Its durable, weather resistant and will never run out of power! With this device, you will always have an emergency radio, flashlight, siren, and device charger! Best of all, you will never have to worry about this running out of batteries.
26. Spare keys
How does it sound to be 12 hours from home and lose your only car key? It sounds like an awful nightmare, for sure. But it happens. A smart travel hack to ensure this disaster never spoils your trip is to pack a spare set of keys. That’s another thing to bring on your expedition that will save the day if things go wrong.
27. Flashlight with fresh batteries
There are countless scenarios where a flashlight would be helpful and you’d be far worse off without one. For example, maybe you need to change a tire at night or you get in a car wreck on an off-road and need to find the main road. Just stick a flashlight with fresh batteries in your glove box or trunk, because you never know when you’ll need it—hopefully, you don’t. We found the TC1200 Flashlight to be the most versitile and dependable flashlight!
28. Baseball hat
I always bring a baseball hat for the road. You can use it to cover your bed head, as a replacement for dry shampoo. And if you want to nap, put the cap over your eyes to block out the light and sleep in the dark. Not to mention you can wear it when you arrive to your location, so it has use inside and outside the car.
29. Deodorant and perfume/cologne
In the chaos of last-minute packing, some people will ridiculously pack a fifth pair of swim trunks and forget to bring deodorant! Please don’t force the other people in the car to have to smell your body odor the whole ride because you forgot it. Perfume or cologne is also something to bring to smell good.
30. Toilet paper
You might laugh at this item being included on the list, but weird things can happen on a road trip that require toilet paper. And in an emergency, it might be a lifesaver compared to a leaf, or the poison ivy leaf. Plus, it takes up little to no space, so that’s not a concern.
31. Gas card
Maximize the most out of all the gas you’re going to buy on the trip with a gas card. These offer cashback, reduced gas prices, and other options if you do your homework in advance to get one. You can sign up to get the rewards through your credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, etc.) or a specific gas station company (BP, Sunoco, Speedway, etc.).
How you feel during a road trip largely depends on what you bring and fail to bring. So the key to a successful road trip is thinking ahead to pack what you need, and might need.
I hope this list helps you remember to bring the essentials when you hit the road. If you prepare in advance, you can be comfortable, be productive, have a good time, and make the trip go faster than you realize.