45 Road Trip Essentials You Need to Pack On Your Next Adventure - Road Affair (2024)

Wondering what to pack for a road trip? Well, get ready to hit the road with confidence with our ultimate road trip packing list! Planning your next road trip adventure is exciting, but ensuring you have all the essentials for the car can sometimes feel overwhelming. Whether you’re embarking on a weekend getaway with your partner or a cross-country expedition with the children, having the right items packed can make all the difference. From must-have safety gear to entertainment options and comfort essentials for both kids and adults, this ultimate packing list for a road trip covers everything you need to make your journey smooth, enjoyable, and memorable. Say goodbye to last-minute panics and hello to stress-free travels as we guide you through the road trip essentials you won’t want to leave home without.

Editor’s Note: Traveling with pets? Check out our comprehensive guide on how to road trip with your dog. You’ll find plenty of tips and tricks along with a dedicated list of must-have necessities and gadgets for traveling comfortably with your furry friend.

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Hygiene and Comfort

Hand Sanitizer and Wipes

Portable hand sanitizers and travel Lysol wipes are necessities when traveling on long road trips, especially with little ones. They are great for a quick wash up before munching down on a drive-through burger or to use in case those gas station bathrooms forgot to fill the soap. They can also come in handy during the winter flu season to protect you against germs that can be found on iPads, trays, toys, and other regularly touched items.

Toiletries Bag

Regardless of whether you plan on staying in a hotel at night or switching drivers in the car and sleeping the miles away, you’re going to want to put together a little comfort toiletries bag. A good comfort hygiene bag is filled with mouthwash for those post-nap chats, dry shampoo for those who want to keep their hair looking shiny and clean, body wipes to stay fresh, travel tissues, deodorant, and dramamine in case someone in the car begins to feel ill to the stomach.

Car Pillows

Napping in the car is a great way to kill time during a road trip, but nothing about car seats (especially backseats) screams comfort. To avoid waking up with a kink in your neck, consider purchasing a car seat pillow. This seat belt strap pillow is compact, machine washable, and adds a touch of comfort to the long journey for both kids and adults. For ultimate car comfort and napping, check out this memory foam neck pillow with a hood, or if you’re a cuddler, this U-shape body positioner pillow!

Seat Pad

If you find yourself constantly shifting in your car seat because your seats don’t offer enough lower back support, then consider purchasing a seat pad for added comfort and support on your spine. This memory foam seat pad is specifically designed to help relieve sciatica and lower back pain while providing comfort and a 3.5-inch viewing lift for my fellow short-legged friends.

Motion Sickness Bands

Look, car sickness happens to the best of us! While it can be a very annoying and uncomfortable thing to experience, motion sickness doesn’t have to be a worrying factor if you invest in motion sickness bands. We highly recommend these motion sickness bands for adults and children as they come in a variety of styles, from digital watches to colorful bracelets and classic knit wrist cuffs, you can find a band that matches your style. Acupressure nausea wristbands work by using the acupressure point on your wrist and have been clinically proven to reduce symptoms of nausea, whether it’s car, boat, or migraine-induced.

Car Window Shades

If you’re gearing up for a long journey with backseat passengers, let us clue you into a must-have travel essential: Kinder Fluff car window shades. These handy shades are like your car’s sunglasses, providing essential UV protection and blocking out those pesky rays that can turn your car into a hotbox. Not only do they keep your vehicle cooler, but they also shield your passengers and belongings from harmful sun exposure. Plus, installation is a breeze, thanks to their user-friendly design. Simply pop them onto your windows, and you’re good to go!

Tissue Holder

Planning a long road trip in the winter? Well, don’t hit the road without grabbing a car tissue holder! This fantastic travel accessory is a game-changer, keeping tissues within easy reach whenever you need them most. With its sleek and compact design, it fits seamlessly into any car interior by clipping onto the sun visor, ensuring you never have to fumble around for a tissue again. The magnetic closure ensures your tissues stay put even on bumpy roads, while the durable PU leather material adds a touch of style to your car’s interior.

Melatonin Gummies

It can be difficult to sleep in a car on a long road trip, especially if you’ve been in the vehicle for several hours or even days. That’s where Natrol’s melatonin gummies step in. Packed with 5mg of melatonin per serving, they’re your ticket to a restful night’s sleep no matter where the road takes you. These non-GMO, vegan, and gelatin-free gummies come in a delicious strawberry flavor and help to promote your body’s natural production of melatonin, helping you fall asleep easier and longer.

Dip Clip Holder

We’ve all been there. You order some nuggets and fries from the fast food joint and attempt to eat and drive. One of two things happen here, you either devour your nuggets sans dipping sauce (since there’s nowhere safe to leave it open when driving), or you risk it for the biscuit and wind up with barbecue sauce all over your pants. Finally, a fellow sauce-lover has come up with an ingenious solution: dip clip holders. Simply clip the holder onto your car’s vent and start saucing it up!

Refillable Water Bottle

Stay hydrated on your journey and reduce the amount of garbage in the car by purchasing a high quality refillable water bottle! While Stanley tumblers are all the rage right now, and they are a great reusable bottle, you might be looking for something smaller and more travel-friendly. This stainless-steel bottle from Hydro Flask will keep your beverage cold for hours and comes with a BPA-free leak-proof lid, so even if the kids toss the bottle around in the back it won’t make a mess!

Car Cup Holder Expander Adapter

Calling all the Stanley Tumbler lovers! We understand you love, love, love your Stanley, but wouldn’t you love, love, love if it fit in your car cup holder? If you’re a fan of large bottles like Stanley but are tired of them never fitting in the standard car cup holders, let us introduce you to the car cup holder expander! With an expandable base and adjustable holder for cups 2.56 inches to 5.51 inches, you can sit everything from large gym water bottles to a bucket of fried chicken right beside you while you drive. That’s right, we just made eating fried chicken and driving easier! We’ll wait for your thank you letter in the mail.

Car Blanket

What better way to snuggle in for a car nap than by curling up with a soft and warm blanket? This cozy compact lightweight blanket easily folds into a pouch and is the ideal travel accessory for winter car trips. Use it as a pillow in its velvet soft case or as a bum cushion for extra support. The blanket is made of a soft polyester material with anti-pill technology and is 100% machine washable. It also comes with a clip for backpacks!

Essential Oil Car Diffuser

Don’t stress out about heavy traffic or the long hours on the road ahead of you; instead, relax with a natural oils diffuser that also helps cover up odors. This co*ke-can-sized humidifier and diffuser is perfect for anxious passengers, drivers, or little ones who want to de-stress on the road. The natural oil diffuser also works well to mask smells in the car from garbage, pets, or unshowered passengers (here’s looking at all the teenage boys). Don’t forget to order a travel-size kit of organic essential oils!

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Entertainment

Road Trip Journal & Activity Book

Looking for a way to kill time on the road? Well, why not document your adventure and take it to the next level with this fantastic all-in-one journal and activity book? Flip through the pages and find the prompts that help you document your long journey. There are plenty of fun activities to try out as well, such as dares, put a finger down road trip edition, a gas station snack challenge, and much more. This is a fun, quirky addition for families, couples, or solo travelers.

Trivia Booklet For Kids

Brain Quest has been producing fantastic travel-friendly trivia flashcard decks for kids of all ages since the 90s, and has been providing families and kids (including myself) with lasting memories of this car game. Youngens can flip through the deck asking each other curriculum-based questions or test their parent’s knowledge. There are Brain Quest decks for every age and topic, from pre-k and kindergarten to grade seven.

Shotgun: The Road Trip Game

Looking for a fun car activity that the whole family can get involved in? Then Shotgun: The Road Trip Game might just be your perfect purchase. From the creators of What Do You Meme? comes this quirky and fun card-based game suitable for two or more players. Players compete for points by completing challenges, answering trivia questions correctly, and playing along with the prompts. For example, a player might pick up a card that reads “Next time you pass cows, everyone moo. The last person to moo loses a point,” or ” First person to make a semi-truck honk wins a point.” It’s wholesome car entertainment and we’re here for it!

Road Trip America Trivia Game

Learn all about America’s quirkiest and most unique roadside attractions with this fantastic Road Trip America Trivia Game. This is perfect for friends, couples, or families of all ages as each card acts as a conversation starter. Do you know where to purchase a $10,000 martini? Or how about where to go in America to see a live mermaid show? Find out all this and more with the game! Enjoy learning and chatting for hours with 150 questions and prompts that are sure to have you adding new attractions to your USA bucket list.

Highway Hunt: The Travel Scavenger Hunt

Traveling with little ones? Keep them entertained for hours by picking up Highway Hunt: The Travel Scavenger Hunt game. This is a fantastic purchase that won’t break the bank, is perfect for kids aged four to 10, and comes in a convenient portable box. Inside, kids can pull out colorful cards with pictures of objects or scenarios to keep an eye out the window for, such as stick figure family stickers, school buses, and people at a bus stop. It’ll keep them engaged and actively searching out the window!

Auto Bingo

Another awesome game to play with all the passengers in the car is Auto Bingo. Place your bets at the beginning of the trip or simply play for fun as you and your crew scour the road for objects on your card. There are a few different bingo themes to choose from, like License Plate Bingo, Interstate Travel Bingo, or the Pink Bingo Set. What really stands out about this bingo travel game is that you don’t need to keep track of bingo dotters or chips, simply use the finger-tip shutter slide to mark your spots.

Noise-Canceling Bluetooth Headphones

If you’ve got some moody teenagers in the car or screaming toddlers (lord help you if you have both), then these noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones from Bose might just be your solace. With a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, users can enjoy up to 24 hours of headbanging music or shows. To see more headphone options take a look at our list of the best travel headphones here.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Tablet E-Reader

Let us introduce you to your new best travel buddy: the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite tablet. This nifty device is a game-changer for travelers embarking on long journeys. Not only will you have access to a vast library of books right at your fingertips (without the added weight of carrying physical books), but it also features a glare-free display and built-in adjustable light. This way, you can read comfortably in any lighting condition, whether it’s bright sunshine or a dimly lit car cabin. One of the standout features of the Kindle Paperwhite is its exceptional battery life, which lasts for weeks, meaning you won’t have to worry about recharging frequently. Plus, with its lightweight and compact design, it’s easy to slip into your purse or backpack.

Portable Charger

While almost all cars have an area for you to plug in your phone, tablet, or other USB electronic devices, not every car has them installed in the back seat or with enough plugs for all the passengers. That’s where a portable charger comes in handy! No longer will you have to hear the kids fight over the only outlet in the back. With this powerful yet small-sized portable charger from Anker, you’ll be able to fastly charge your phone nearly five times without needing to recharge the power pack. Its design allows for dual charging on both a USB-C port and a USB-A port. Plus, the pack comes with an 18-month warranty, making it a no-brainer. Check out our other top picks for the best travel power banks and chargers here.

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Organization

Backseat Car Organizer

Keep the backseat clear and clean with this fantastic backseat car organizer. With nine pockets that can fit everything from tablets and books to toys and drinks, travelers will have no problem organizing all their road trip gadgets. This durable backseat car organizer is made of heavy-duty waterproof material so kicks and spills won’t mark it up. The tablet holder is ideal for little ones watching movies and there are two drink holders for bottles. Plus, two backseat organizers come with the pack!

Travel Car Seat Organizer and Cooler

Snacks and drinks on a car trip are truly essential, but what’s even more essential is keeping those treats and beverages cold! This travel car seat organizer and cooler is hands-down one of the best road trip gadgets out there. The pack comes in a perfect size to fit between seats in the front or back and features three pockets on each side. In the front of the cooler, there is a double cup holder tray that can be converted into a storage bin for garbage or charging cords. Backseat passengers can make use of the sturdy top which doubles as a table for playing games, eating, or resting an arm. The insulated cooler keeps veggies and drinks cool for hours and comes with a movable divider to keep Tupperware and drinks upright. When not in use, the cooler folds down to a compact size that’s easy to store.

Trunk Organizer

This cleverly designed car storage organizer is perfect for road trippers, offering ample space to keep all your essentials neatly stowed away. Featuring sturdy walls and reinforced base plates, it keeps your belongings secure and prevents them from sliding around during those twists and turns on the road. Not to mention that with adjustable compartments and securing straps included, you can customize it to fit your specific needs, whether you’re packing gifts, gadgets, or road tripping essentials. It also helps maximize space in your vehicle, giving you more room to stretch out and relax during those long hours on the road.

Collapsible Food Storage Containers

Forget about squished sandwiches and soggy snacks — these collapsible food storage containers are here to revolutionize your road trip snacking experience. Not only do they help you stay organized and minimize clutter in your car, but they’re also microwave-safe and eco-friendly, reducing the need for disposable plastic bags and containers. With leak-proof lids and durable silicone construction, these containers ensure your food stays fresh and secure, no matter how bumpy the road gets.

Kids Snack Catcher

Imagine you’re gearing up for an epic road trip with your toddler, and suddenly, you realize the snack situation might get a tad messy. Fear not, because we’ve got just the lifesaving gadget for you: the Munchkin Snack Catcher. This ingenious little contraption is a game-changer for road-tripping parents everywhere. Its spill-proof design means you can fill it up with your toddler’s favorite snacks, from crackers to berries, and know they’ll stay in the holder when snack time rolls around. It’s also easy to clean, BPA-free, and dishwasher safe, making it a hassle-free addition to your must-haves for a road trip.

Car Trash Can

Tired of picking up trash all over the car at every gas stop? Save yourself time and energy with this car trash can. With its compact size and secure lid, it keeps your car tidy and organized, eliminating the hassle of dealing with loose wrappers, tissues, and other small trash items. Simply use the adjustable straps to hang it on your console or backseat. The best part? Its sturdy design ensures it won’t easily tip over or spill, even on those winding mountain roads. The waterproof material makes cleaning a breeze, so you can focus on enjoying the journey without worrying about the mounting garbage in the backseat.

Mesh Ceiling Organizer

If you have a vehicle with four handles in the roof, then you’ve got the setup for this fantastic mesh ceiling car organizer. Less mess, less stress, right? That’s the idea! Keep unused toys, blankets, umbrellas, jackets, and pillows out of the main cabin with this adjustable and durable organizer. The product features reinforced straps that prevent sagging and obstruction in the rearview mirror, along with zippered pockets that are great for sunglasses, books, and more. You’ll be surprised how much you can fit in this thing!

Document Holder

Picture this: a cop pulls you over for a routine ticket and asks for your driver’s license and car registration, and all you can think about is where the hell you put them! With this durable document and waterproof holder, you’ll be so organized and quick that you’ll have the cop asking you where you picked up this nifty gadget. The faux leather document holder fits perfectly in a glove box and comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Inside, the holder features three dedicated pocket areas: one for car registration, the other for insurance, and the third for three cards (driver’s license, emergency credit card, etc).

Kids Travel Tray

Give your kids all the space they need to play, eat, and craft the road trip away with this awesome kid’s travel tray from Pillani. Available in a variety of fun patterns and bright colors, this car seat table fits perfectly over kids’ laps. The tray features a 15.5-inch by 12-inch erasable drawing platform with markers to get creative and a pocket to prop up an iPad. There are mesh storage pockets for books, toys, markers, and drinks on either side of the tray, and five dry-erase activity sheets are included with the product.

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Safety

First Aid Kit

This 160-piece all-purpose first aid kit from Johnson & Johnson is an absolute necessity when packing for a road trip. Inside, you’ll find all the basics for all types of injuries, from minor scrapes and scratches to more serious wounds. The kit consists of gauze pads, bandaids, Tylenol extra strength, Neosporin, Benadryl anti-itch cream, scissors, and an instant ice pack. It all comes in a portable and compact plastic case that is easy to store in the car without taking up too much space.

Emergency Roadside Kit

Don’t let unforeseen mishaps put a damper on your road trip adventure. With this 124-piece car emergency roadside kit, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing you’re prepared for any situation that comes your way. This all-in-one safety kit is packed with the needed roadside equipment to tackle unexpected situations on the road, including a jumper cable, a 16-piece tool kit, a 10-foot tow rope, tire repair tools, a reflective safety vest, and even a collapsible shovel. With high-quality materials and durable construction, you can trust that you’ll be equipped with reliable gear to handle any emergency effectively.

Pocket Knife

The Funbro EDC multitool knife is an essential safety tool for the car, especially for any solo adventurer hitting the open road. With its sleek compact design and handy carabiner clip, you can easily attach it to your backpack or belt loop for quick access. But what makes this multitool truly shine are its life-saving features. Need to break a window in an emergency? No problem, the built-in window breaker has got you covered. Want to cut that apple up to share with the group? Easy, the knife will slice through it like butter. The knife can also be used to cut through seat belts, ensuring a swift escape in a crisis. This fantastic multitool knife also comes with built-in bottle opener, phillips screwdriver, and a slotted screwdriver.

Spare Tire

Before hitting the road for your next adventure, make sure you’ve got a spare tire! Having a spare tire on hand is essential for any road trip, offering peace of mind in case of unexpected flat tires or blowouts. Ensure your spare tire is in its proper storage and give it a good inspection to make sure it will hold up if you need to use it. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with how to change a flat tire prior to leaving for your trip, just in case you get a flat in an area with no cell coverage.

Dashboard Phone Mount

Say goodbye to distractions and hello to hassle-free navigation and entertainment with the iOttie Easy One Touch 5 car mount. This ingenious device keeps your phone secure and easily accessible while you’re on the move. Its adjustable arm and 360-degree rotation provide customizable viewing angles, allowing you to effortlessly glance at your GPS directions or control your music without taking your eyes off the road for long. Plus, its sleek and modern design adds a touch of style to your car’s interior.

Flashlight

Millions of adults across the world have one similar traumatic childhood memory; according to our dads, none of us could hold a damn flashlight correctly! Well, gone are the days of needing an extra pair of hands to work on the car thanks to headlamp flashlights. This headlamp flashlight is a rechargeable and waterproof lifesaver that offers hands-free illumination, perfect for unloading the van at night or changing a flat in the dark. With its ultra-light design and long-lasting battery, you’ll be prepared for emergencies no matter what time of day. We also recommend this unisex flashlight beanie, which features an LED light with adjustable light settings, offering warmth and light in one hands-free gadget.

Ice and UV Windshield Protector Cover

The AstroAI 4-layer windshield cover is a lifesaver when it comes to protecting your windshield from ice, UV rays, and frost. With its four-layer design, it provides robust defense against the elements, ensuring that you won’t waste precious time scraping ice off your windshield in the morning. Simply unfold, secure it in place using the adjustable straps, and voila! Your windshield is shielded from the harsh winter conditions. Plus, its windproof design means it stays put even on blustery days. This windshield snow cover is also incredibly versatile as it doubles as a sunshade, keeping your car’s interior cool and comfortable on hot summer days. It’s lightweight, easy to install, and folds up neatly for convenient storage when not in use.

Portable Tire Pump

This portable tire pump from Prilotte is a must-have for any traveler hitting the open road. With its cordless design and rechargeable battery offering up to an hour of continuous pumping, you can inflate your tires wherever you are, without needing to hunt down a gas station with an air pump. It’s incredibly versatile, capable of inflating not only car tires but also motorcycle tires, sports balls, and even inflatable pool toys. Plus, its compact size means it won’t take up precious space in your trunk or backseat.

Keychain Self-Defense Siren

Whether you’re navigating unfamiliar territory or taking a pit stop in a remote area, having the Original Defense personal keychain siren by your side adds an extra layer of protection. With a simple pull of its keychain, it emits a loud, attention-grabbing siren that can deter potential threats and alert nearby help. Its compact size makes it easy to carry on your keychain or slip into your pocket or purse, ensuring it’s always within reach during your travels. Plus, with its durable construction and long-lasting battery life, you can trust it to be your reliable companion on the road, providing peace of mind wherever your road trip takes you.

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Must-Have Apps

GasBuddy

So you’re cruising down the highway enjoying the scenery when you realize your fuel gauge is creeping towards empty. Do you panic? Well, as long as you have GasBuddy on your side, you’ll be back on the road in no time! This handy app is your ticket to finding the cheapest gas prices along your route, saving you both time and money. With its user-friendly interface, you can easily locate nearby gas stations, compare prices, and even earn rewards for reporting gas prices in your area. GasBuddy isn’t just about finding the best fuel prices, though. It also provides a comprehensive list of stations, complete with amenities like restrooms, convenience stores, and car washes, along with real-time updates on gas prices, ensuring you’re always in the know.

Waze

Gear up for the ultimate road trip experience with Waze, the must-have navigation app for travelers hitting the road. Say goodbye to traffic headaches and hello to smooth sailing with real-time updates on accidents, road closures, speed traps, and the best routes to your destination. Unlike Apple Maps and Google Maps, Waze goes beyond basic navigation, offering crowd-sourced information from millions of drivers to help you navigate like a pro. With features like community-contributed alerts, gas prices, and even the ability to find the cheapest pit stops along your route, Waze has got your back.

iExit Interstate Exit Guide

Rev up your road trip with the ultimate navigator: the iExit Interstate Exit Guide app! This handy app puts a wealth of information at your fingertips, offering real-time updates on upcoming exits, amenities, and services along your route. With just a few taps, you can discover everything from gas stations and restaurants to hotels and attractions, ensuring that you never miss a beat during your journey. You can even plan your route in advance, bookmark your favorite stops, and filter search results based on your preferences so you don’t waste any time pulling off at an exit that doesn’t have what you need!

Booking.com

Before you hit the open road, make sure to download the Booking.com app, it’s a necessity for a road trip! With this handy app, you can easily find and book accommodations along your route, whether you’re in the mood for a cozy roadside motel or a charming bed and breakfast tucked away in the countryside. The app’s intuitive interface lets you search for accommodations based on your preferences and budget, and with millions of verified guest reviews, you can book with confidence knowing you’re making the right choice. Plus, with features like real-time booking updates and offline access to your reservations, you can navigate your road trip with ease, even in areas with spotty internet coverage.

Roadtrippers

Before leaving the house, make sure to download the Roadtrippers app – it’s like having your own personal navigator and travel guide rolled into one. This handy app lets you plan your route with ease, discover hidden gems along the way, and save time by finding the best stops for food, attractions, and accommodations. Find pre-made guides for your route or spend time on the interactive map curating your perfect itinerary for your road trip. One of the standout features of the Roadtrippers app is its ability to generate curated trip itineraries based on your interests and preferences. Whether you’re a foodie craving local cuisine, an outdoor enthusiast seeking scenic hikes, or a history buff eager to explore landmarks, this app has something for everyone.

As you gear up for your next road trip adventure, remember that packing the right essentials can make all the difference between a smooth journey and a rocky ride. From first aid kits to trunk organizers, we’ve covered it all in our list of must-have essentials for a road trip. So, whether you’re cruising down Route 66 or exploring Canada’s winding mountain roads, make sure you’ve got all the essential things to take on a road trip so that you can hit the road with confidence and style.

45 Road Trip Essentials You Need to Pack On Your Next Adventure - Road Affair (2024)

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