Road Trip Packing List: Things to Bring on a Road Trip

what to pack for a road trip

Last updated on September 5th, 2023 at 02:12 am

Are you ready to embark on a thrilling long drive adventure through the diverse landscapes of the United States? If yes, then you need a road trip packing list!

Whether planning an epic cross-country road trip or a weekend getaway, knowing what things to bring on a road trip can make all the difference.

So, before heading out on your next road trip, let’s dive into this ultimate road trip checklist that covers important road trip essentials.

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Road Trip Car Essentials

Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance

Before hitting the road, the first thing to do is to ensure your car is in good condition.

Key road trip car essentials include checking the oil, brakes, and tires to ensure a safe and trouble-free long journey ahead. Also, review your car manual for any specific maintenance requirements.

Spare Tire and Tools

Whether you plan to drive your own car or a rental car, ensure that you have a flat tire repair kit or spare tire just in case you experience a flat tire.

Tools such as a tire pressure gauge and jumper cables or a battery starter are additional useful items to have in case of car troubles. This trunk organizer is perfect for small spaces and can keep all your gear in one place. 

Road tripping is a great way to explore the country. This road trip packing list and road trip must haves, including trip packing list essentials, such as vehicle registration, jumper cables, picnic blanket, reusable water bottle, car charger, first aid kit  flat tire repair kit and more.

Safety on the Road


Keep tabs on the weather forecast, especially if you will be heading out on a winter road trip.  

Roadside Emergency Kit 

A roadside emergency kit, including a reflective safety vest, warning triangles, an ice scraper,  a first aid kit, and a fire extinguisher, can be a lifesaver. 


While GPS is reliable, having a paper map or road atlas as a backup is a great option for remote areas where internet connection may be spotty.

Alternatively, you can download Google Maps for offline use.

things to bring on a road trip

Road Trip Apps

Plan the route ahead with mobile apps like Roadtrippers and Gas Buddy. You can use them to find the best places for a rest stop and gas stations, and more. 

Fun fact: 91% of summer vacations are via road trips.

Road Trip Essentials: Important Documents

Vehicle Documentation 

Ensure your car registration, car insurance, and driver’s license are current.

If you will be using a rental car, ensure the registration and rental documents are within reach in case you get pulled over.

Tip: Most rental car companies will try to sell you on purchasing their travel insurance. If you have a credit card, benefits may include rental car insurance coverage.

Find the best car rental deals here.

Travel Documents

Having a valid travel document beyond your driver’s license is advisable if you will be anywhere near the US borders of Canada or Mexico. This can be a passport card, passport, or other immigration document. 

Emergency Contacts

Have a list of emergency contacts and other essential documents, such as medical information and allergies, within easy reach, e.g., in your car’s glove compartment.

Road Trip Packing List: Finances

Ensure that you have set up travel alerts with your debit and credit cards issuers. Consider carrying loose cash as well as backup. 

Road Trip Packing List: Comfort and Convenience

Make your long journey more comfortable by bringing some of the comforts of home with you.

Some options include a travel pillow for the passenger seat or cozy blankets for the back seat. These will go a long way in making long hours on the road more comfortable. 

road trip packing list

Road Trip Packing List: Clothing and Personal Items

Weather-Appropriate Attire

Pack clothes suitable for different climates. For a summer road trip, pack sun protection including hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

Pack lightweight attire for sunny days but also plan for unexpected showers with rain gear. Comparatively, winter and cold weather road trips call for layers and cozy outerwear. 

Travel Tip: You can save so much space by rolling instead of folding clothes. Or, use packing cubes in different sizes to help keep things organized.

Toiletries and Personal Hygiene

Packing travel-sized toiletries in a handy toiletry bag will save you trunk space. 

Medications and Other Essentials

A travel first aid kit, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medications e.g. for motion sickness, are essential items for a road trip. 

Road Trip Luggage

Space may be limited in your car, so save space with compact luggage.

Things to Bring on a Road Trip: Entertainment and Tech

Entertainment for the Drive

You can create a road trip playlist with your favorite songs or your favorite road trip podcast for a good time on your long trip. Alternatively, audiobooks can be a great option for longer trips.

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Passenger entertainment like travel games and playing cards can be a great addition to a long car ride. 

Capture the Memories

 You can use your cell phone or standalone camera to capture the beauty of your enjoyable road trip.

It is a good idea to have essentials such as a car charger with a phone mount, a portable charger with USB ports, and power banks. A tripod for group photos and external storage for your photos/videos are also great options. 

This road trip guide for a summer road trip, usa road trip, or family road trips, has road trip tips, road trip necessities,  and essential road trip supplies to pack

Things to Bring on a Road Trip: Food and Drinks

If you are anything like us, road trip snacks are top on our list of ultimate road trip essentials.

Planning Meals on the Go

Stocking up on healthy snacks like granola bars, trail mix and nuts for quick bites on the go is a great idea.  

Keep your cold drinks, sandwiches, wraps, fresh fruit and veggies cold in a compact cooler.

Stay Hydrated

The following are some essentials for your road trip beverages:

Grocery Store Pit Stops

For road trip necessities on the go such as bottled water, paper towels to clean up spills, and more road trip snacks, you can make a pit stop at grocery stores on your road trip routes.

Travel Tip: To save time, use Instacart for easy access to local stores that offer convenient pick up.

Road Trip Travel Essentials  for Camping 

Planning a camping road trip?  Consider packing the following items: 

Camping Necessities

Outdoor Adventure Supplies

Must- Know Road Trip Tips

Check out our Road Trip Tips Guide for details about how to prepare for your next road trip.

tips for road trips

Things to Bring on a Road Trip Conclusion

Road trips are a great way to explore new places, and create memories that will last a long time.

In our personal experience, one of the best things about epic road trips is the freedom of the open road. We consider it the best way to experience slow travel. 

Hopefully, with the help of this road trip essentials list, you will be well-equipped for a successful road trip. So, buckle up, hit the road, and prepare for the best road trip adventure!  Safe travels!

P.S. If you found this post helpful or want to save it for later, please pin it on Pinterest! Thank you.

Road tripping tips including how to find gas stations, what road trip supplies to pack, road trip must haves such as a tire pressure gauge

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