road trip essentials header

Top Road Trip Essentials To Pack & Not Leave at Home

Share This

Wondering what things to bring on a road trip? We know packing for a road trip can be a little overwhelming, especially if it’s a long one. Leave home with confidence and get our road trip necessities and road trip essentials packing list below.

No matter if you’re taking a 3 day road trip or long car ride, packing the right gear for yourself, pets or kids can definetly help keep you comfortable during long road trips.

Packing List for Road Trip

We know, you’re excited to get on the open road, but let’s make sure that vehicle of yours is primed, prepped and ready to go!

Pre-Road Trip Essentials & Prep

  • Check The Oil – Need an oil change? Make sure to get one before setting off. We want your vehicle ready for the adventure ahead.
  • Air Up Those Tires – Get those wheels of your aired up so when the time comes, you’re able to cruise with ease down the road.
  • Maintenance Check-It never hurts to drop your vehicle off at a trusted mechanic, let them know you’re getting ready for a long road trip and you’d like for the to look it over.
  • Make Sure You Have A Spare Tire & Jack – Nothing worse than a flat tire. Make sure you have a spare and tire jack so you can change tires during any roadside emergencies.
  • AAA Membership – If you’re a member, make sure you have your card with you. If you’re not a member, it might be a good thing to consider if you would like extra security for road side assistance.
  • Drivers License and Insurance – Last, but certainly not least (especially for you speed demons) make sure you have these two packed.

Check Out: Arizona Road Trip – One Epic 2 Week Itinerary

Forrest Gump Point Photo Op

Road Trip Essentials For Comfort

For You:

  • Extra Layer (Jacket + Socks) – If you’re traveling to different climates and altitudes, the weather can change pretty drastically. Have a few extra layers ready in case you get a little chilly.
  • Pillow / Blanket – Make sure your comfy and able to get a nap if and when we need it.
  • Medication – Have headache and allergy relief within arm’s reach and of course, any medication you require to take daily.
  • Sunglasses – Protect those beautiful eyes of yours from the reflective glares of the sun.
  • Tissues – For all those snotty nose times for yourself or the kiddos.
  • Lotion & Chapstick – You could be heading to very dry areas so you’ll want to be sure you have some moisture relief.
  • Umbrella / Rain Jacket – Getting gas in the rain is never fun, come prepared with essential rain gear to keep you dry.
  • Day Pack – You’ll want to be ready when adventure calls. Have a day pack ready to go so you can jump out the car and go on a hike.
  • Sun Screen – Keep your skin protected from the UV rays of those bright, sunny road trip days.
  • Hand Sanitizer – Let’s keep it safe and germ free.
  • First Aid Kit – Hey, accidents happen. It’s best to be prepared.
  • Swiss Army Knife – You never know when a multi-purpose tool can come in handy.

For Your Belly:

  • Snacks – Let’s face it, no one wants a hungry/angry (hangry) driver. Keep them fueled with snacks.
  • Car Cooler – Be it for cold drinks or storing food, have a little car cooler easily accessible.
  • Thermos – To keep your coffee and teas hot or even some tasty soup.
  • Reusable Water Bottle – Let’s not add plastic waste to our world, bring a reusable water bottle instead. Plus, tap water is drinkable and you can fill up at any gas station or sink, for FREE before heading back out on the road.
  • Reusable Containers & Cutlery – For keeping and eating on the road meals and storing left overs.

Check Out: The Ultimate Colorado Road Trip Itinerary

Our RV and Monument Valley

Tech & Entertainment Road Trip Essentials

  • A Kindle – Call us old fashioned but we much prefer books to a digital. However, when road tripping, you want to save space where you can. Pack a kindle to read as many books as your heart desires.
  • Camera / GoPro – The amount of beauty you’ll see will be limitless. Have your camera ready to capture all the beautiful sunrises, sunsets and everything in between.
  • Phone Car ChargerMake sure your phone is charged so you can keep listening to that epic playlist or compelling podcast.
  • Headphones – If you’re wanting some “me time” plug in and listen to your favorite podcast or playlist and watch the world go by.
  • Hands Free Phone Mount – If you’re using your phone for navigation, have it in a place where you can easily see the directions.
  • Travel Games – Great to help the time pass and fun for kids and traveling with other couples and friends.
  • National Park Pass – If visiting National Parks is on your list, as it should be, you’ll want a National Park pass. Pay a one time fee and get access to all US National Parks.

Road Trip Essentials For Your Vehicle

  • Travel Trash Can & Waste Bags – Keep your messes organized and not scattered about your vehicle. Whenever you’re at a fill up station, empty your trash and be rid of trash.
  • Snow Shovel & Ice Scraper – If you’re headed towards winter weather, make sure you have an ice scraper and a way to dig yourself out of the snow if you get stuck.
  • Jumper Cables – Who hasn’t accidentally left a car light on? We’ve all experienced a dead battery. You never know when you’re going to need a jump.
  • UV Window Shade – If traveling to hot climates, use a window shade to keep your car cool.
  • Extra Set of Keys – A good spare is a great thing to keep in your day pack or purse in case you accidentally get locked out.
  • Flash Light / Head Lamp – You never know when some extra light will be needed. From changing a tire to trying to locate something in the trunk, a little extra light is always appreciated.
  • Car Fluids – Things like oil and antifreeze are great to have in your trunk incase an unexpected issues arises on the road.

Check Out: Camping For Beginners – Tips & Essential Camping Gear

RV Arizona Road Trip

Navigation Essentials

If you’re concerned about reception, it’s never a bad idea to pack a paper map. It’s also fun to jot notes on making it a great keep sake from your road trip.

If maps, are not your thing, we suggest downloading an app that you can use while offline or in poor reception areas. Our go to navigation apps are Google Maps and Maps.Me.

Road Trip Pro Tips

1. Once the gas tank gets to half, fill her up 

Never assume you’ll have enough gas to get you “to the next gas station.” Some parts of the country can be really rural and really spread out from each other. There was a time we almost ran out of gas, so learn from us, FILL UP often.

2. Leave No Trace

The planet is beautiful and let’s keep her that way. Do NOT litter, use bio-degradable and eco-friendly products when camping and hiking, and clean up after yourself. Leave the world a little better than what you found it ????

3. Eat Local and Stay Local

There are so many gem’s along the way on a good road trip. When possible, try a local roadside eatery and forgo the chain establishments for sleeping and eating.

4. Download The Best Road Trip Apps

Make sure you have the goods before you depart. Below are a few of our must have road trips apps.

  • Roadtrippers – One of the best road trip planner apps out there. Discover great locations along your trip and stop as you please. Available on iOS and Android.
  • GasBuddy – If you’re on a budget, use Gas Buddy to find the cheapest gas in the area. Available on iOS and Android.
  • – To book your hotel stay for the night or week, we use Available on iOS and Android.
  • The Dyrt – This app helps you find tent, RV, and cabin sites across the United States. Available on iOS or Android.

4. Have An Epic Playlist

Let’s end this on a fun note! No road trip is complete without an epic set of tunes! Spotify is always our go to. Cue up and create playlists that suite your driving taste and style. Enjoy!

Check Out: 10 Ethical Outdoor Clothing Brands to Support

Driving around Bali in a jeep

Staying Safe On The Road

Just like other destinations, we want to make sure you’re being safe and have coverage. Accidents happen. They’re unpredictable and can be problematic.

We highly recommend getting travel insurance. We use World Nomads and it’s definitely come in handy a time or two for us!


road trip essential pin

For more travel tips, guides and awesome travel shots, be sure to poke around our site, follow us on Instagram @wanderingstus, Pinterest and on Facebook. Oh and if you have any questions, let us know in the comment section. We’re happy to answer. Or, just leave us a positive note!

Happy Travels,

– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)

Share This

Similar Posts