Great tunes, amazing views and even better company. What’s not to love about a road trip? In my opinion, road trips are the absolute best way to travel. But what on earth do you need to include in your road trip packing list?
If you can’t decide what you need to bring with you, I’m here to help with this list of the 91 essential road trip packing list items you can’t leave home without. From entertainment to toiletries to emergency essentials, this list will get you organised and ready for the adventure of a lifetime!
Okay, so this one’s a given, right? You can’t exactly head on a road trip without a vehicle. But what vehicle you choose will make a huge difference to how good your road trip experience is. You might just be taking your own car on a road trip but if you’re thinking about buying a new one or renting a car for the trip, I’d recommend going for Peugeot’s All-New 2008 SUV.
I recently took it for a whirl around the Lake District on a road trip and it made the experience a whoooole lot better. Features such as cruise control, a 10″ HD touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, keyless entry and starting, a smartphone docking station, heated seats, and rear parking sensors made the drive so much more comfortable. A good road trip packing list starts with a good car!
2. Driving licence
This one’s pretty self-explanatory as you can’t drive without a driving licence but I’d recommend having it to hand in case you get asked for it by the police.
Again, if you’re going on a road trip abroad, you won’t manage to get away without a passport. But it’s worth keeping it on you at all times so you always have some ID to hand!
4. Spare car key
If this road trip packing list had to have just one item on it, it would be a spare car key. The last thing you want is to lose your car key, as that would bring your entire road trip to a standstill.
Trust me, I once had to travel over five hours to get a spare car key because I’d lost mine. Obviously, put it on a different easy-to-find keyring so you don’t lose the spare too!
After losing my car key that one time, I refused to ever let it happen again. So that’s why I invested in a Tile Pro Bluetooth Item Finder. This nifty little item changed my life and I hope it changes yours too, which is why it had to be at the top of my road trip packing list!
The high-performance finder helps you find lost keys, backpacks or whatever you want to track. If the lost item is within 400ft, it will ring out loud, or if it’s further afield you can track its last location on your app.
And not only can you use your Tile to find your keys but it works two ways if you lose your phone. Just click the button on the Tile and your phone will start ringing, even if it’s on silent! Win, win.
6. Copy of your car insurance policy
Necessary in the case of a crash. It’s worth printing your policy out and keeping it in your glovebox in case your phone dies for whatever reason.
7. Copy of your breakdown cover and relevant numbers
Necessary in the case of a breakdown. Make sure you not only have your breakdown cover printed out but also all the relevant numbers you need to call in the case of your car breaking down.
8. Your car’s manual
You may think you already know your car back to front but a really long road trip may prove otherwise. Make sure you add your car’s manual to your road trip packing list because if anything breaks or you need to use a new feature you’ve never used before, you’ll have all the information ready at hand.
9. Spare tyre
Not only should you bring a spare tyre with you but it’s also worth making sure all the current ones are in good condition too before you set off!
You can either DIY a roadside emergency kit yourself or buy a pre-made one to take with you. Either way, it’s worth having one to hand. A kit could comprise anything from a triangle warning sign to jumper cables to emergency hammers and blankets, and everything in-between!
11. A SatNav or offline Google Maps
Whether you use a SatNav or a smartphone app to guide you is up to you, but it’s worth having at least one of them to hand. If you’re anything like me, you’ll rely way too heavily on Google Maps but if it gets you from A to B, it does the job.
Even if you think you know your route off by heart you never know where you may end up detouring or getting lost. Top tip: Make sure you download maps offline so your SatNav still works without any 3G!
12. Car phone holder
If you’re like me and you use Google Maps (any other apps will do too!) instead of a SatNav, a phone holder will seriously come in handy. They attach to your windscreen, dashboard or air vent, and you can opt for magnetic ones or ones that hold your phone in place.
13. Paper map
There’s nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned map! (Or at least that’s what my dad likes to think.) Plus, if your Satnav breaks or your phone dies, you’ll be glad you have a backup.
14. Debit/credit cards
This one’s a no-brainer but you’ll obviously need to have a debit or credit card on you for the trip!
Okay, so if you’re anything like me, you haven’t used cash properly in years but you never know where you might end up that still doesn’t accept cards. Whether it’s buying a snack or paying for parking, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
16. A notebook, pen and pencil
A notebook and pen may not be obvious things to add to your road trip packing list but you never know when you or one of your passengers may need to jot something down, i.e. in the case of an accident.
Better safe than sorry, right? If your car battery dies in the middle of the night and you can’t see, you’ll thank me later.
Headlamps are the most useful as they’re hands-free. This means you can cook, set up camp, or do whatever the hell you want to in the dark.
Health and safety
18. First aid kit
This one’s self-explanatory but bringing a full first aid kit along with you on your adventure may just save your or a loved one’s life. Ideally, buy one that packs small so it doesn’t take up too much space.
However, you don’t have to buy a pre-made one, so if you want to make one yourself, make sure to pick up items such as waterproof plasters, ice packs, dressing pads, cleansing wipes, bandages, and more!
Keep your immune system up with a daily dose of vitamins because the last thing you want is to get a nasty cold while on the road.
And let’s be honest, a lot of us end up eating meals that are far from nutritious while on holiday, so some vitamins may be the difference between you getting sick or not.
20. Motion sickness tablets
If you get car sickness, having some motion sickness tablets to hand will make your road trip experience a whole lot more comfortable.
Whether you’re cold, fancy a nap or want your own blanket for when you’re staying over somewhere, a blanket (or a few!) will always go to good use.
22. Travel pillow
If you’re a passenger in the back of a car on a long road trip, a travel pillow will become your new best friend. Invest in a memory foam one and thank me later!
I think it goes without saying but this one’s not for the driver! If you want to take a nap in the back of the car, an eye mask and earplugs will have you sleeping like a baby. Noise-cancelling headphones also work a charm.
Did you even go on a road trip if you didn’t post photos of yourself on said road trip? Yes, your smartphone does the trick but you can capture even better photos with a proper camera!
25. Portable phone chargers or USB cord
Depending on how you charge your phone in your car, you’ll either want a portable phone charger or a USB cord. If you’re going for the former, I’d recommend a solar-powered charger, one of my favourite eco-friendly travel products.
Our good ol’ friend the sun is an amazing source of energy – so let’s utilise it! The charger linked above requires just a few hours of daylight to power your devices for several charges. Not too bad, huh?
26. Road trip playlist
No matter whether you do it the old-fashioned way with a CD or just get a Spotify playlist ready in advance, some tunes will definitely get you through the long drives.
If music doesn’t take your fancy, download some playlists or audiobooks in advance so you can play them while offline.
Obviously, when you’re in the car you’ve got the car’s built-in speakers but when you leave you might still want the tunes to follow you. If that’s the case, I’d recommend investing in a solar-powered speaker.
Perfect for hiking adventures and days at the beach, the built-in solar panel on this portable Bluetooth speaker charges up your device in just ten minutes.
The speaker is also both shockproof and splashproof so there’s no need to worry about light rain or splashed water ruining your speaker.
27. Deck of cards
Whether you play with your family, friends or your partner, or even make friends on the road, it’s always good to have a deck of cards to hand!
28. Books or a Kindle
If you’re an avid reader, there’s no way to make a long drive go by faster than by getting stuck into a really good book.
No matter whether you’re more of a fiction or non-fiction kinda person, a book should be one of the first things you add to your road trip packing list! If you really want to save space (and weight) opt for a Kindle over multiple books.
29. Travel games
Travel games are especially good to keep the little’uns entertained on long journeys. But hey, aren’t we all big kids at the end of the day?
You may think a dashcam is an excessive addition to your road trip packing list but they’re inexpensive and if you get into a crash that is the other driver’s fault, it might just save you a lot of money.
32. Wi-Fi hotspot
If you want reliable Wi-Fi on the road, a Wi-Fi hotspot may just change your life. Portable hotspots allow you to stay connected, without having to worry about roaming charges or buying/switching multiple SIM cards. Sounds good? I thought so!
33. A VPN (Virtual Private Network)
If your road trip is taking you abroad (lucky you!) a VPN will prevent potential hackers on public Wi-Fi networks from accessing your sensitive information.
Plus, it will also allow you to access websites that may be blocked in the host country!
Road trips are almost synonymous with messy cars, right? You bring so much along with you that it’s inevitable that mess is going to happen at some point. But you can reduce that inevitability with a backseat car organiser!
These nifty little systems come complete with a touchscreen tablet holder and a plethora of storage pockets for you to fit all sorts into, from bottles and books to tissues and toys.
35. Packing cubes
If you know me, you know I love packing cubes. They are frankly one of the best inventions ever. They help you save space in your luggage, fit more in and keep you organised. No more scrambling around for ages in your suitcase trying to find that one t-shirt.
And what makes a packing cube even better? Packing cubes made from recycled plastic bottles, that’s what. These bad boys are manufactured from high-quality recycled polyester (RPET) fabric derived from recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. Not too bad, huh?
Don’t use extra plastic! On a road trip, it’s likely you’ll need to do the groceries. And you don’t need to be using new plastic or paper bags each time. What a waste!
Stretchy, lightweight and durable, organic cloth and mesh drawstring bags are the perfect eco-friendly alternative to your typical shopping bags.
37. Car sunshade
Unless you fancy sitting in a boiling hot car that’s been basking in the sun all day, you might want to bring a sunshade with you.
Obviously, if you’re travelling in far colder temperatures, you won’t need to bring this one but it’s always worth keeping ir in mind for future trips.
Plus, it also creates privacy for passengers (though you’ll want to take them down at some point to soak up the amazing views!).
An umbrella is a no-brainer if you’re travelling somewhere where there’s even a slight chance it might rain.
If you’re road tripping in England like me, I don’t know what you’re doing if a brolly isn’t already on your road trip packing list.
39. Ice scraper or de-icer spray
Similarly to the last point, if you’re travelling somewhere cold, an ice scraper or de-icer spray will help you get on the road faster when your windscreen and windows are all iced over!
Cooking and eating
A no-brainer but alongside your reusable water bottle, it’s worth keeping some large bottles of water in the boot, in case of an emergency.
Depending on where you’re travelling to and how good quality their water is, a water filter may just save your life. This all-in-one device doubles up as both a reusable water bottle and a really powerful water filtration device.
The ridiculously clever system reduces chlorine, bad taste and odour, and also removes bacteria and parasites (including Salmonella, E-coli, Giardia) and chemicals. No clean water? No problem! Just head down to the nearest river or water source.
42. Camp stove
In need of a new camping cooker? Okay, but how about an electricity-generating wood camp stove? Say goodbye to your gas canister and unleash the power of BioLite’s technology.
The award-winning stove creates a vortex of smokeless flames for a portable campfire that can cook your meals AND charge your gear at the same time.
Even if you’re not camping, you’ll save money cooking your own food on the road, rather than eating out. Plus, it’s also great for brewing a cuppa or a cup of coffee!
If you’re bringing any food along with you that’s perishable or needs to be kept cool, you’ll want to bring a cool bag along with you!
If you can’t drive without your morning coffee, you may want to invest in a portable espresso maker so you can get that all-important caffeine fix on the go.
This clever little device is portable and allows you to quickly and efficiently enjoy delicious espresso wherever you are!
Bought a portable espresso maker but don’t have anything to drink your coffee in? Then you’ll need a reusable coffee cup to hand!
You can also stop off at coffee shops and ask if they can put their coffee in your own cup to reduce waste. Eco-friendly and delicious? Yes, please!
I’d recommend fruit, protein and cereal bars, and other items that keep well. It’s worth throwing some sweets in too in case you need a little sugar rush or the kids need a distraction. Starbursts, anyone?
Gum also comes in handy if you’re driving at higher altitudes and your ears start to pop. Studies have also shown that chewing gum can help you concentrate on a task, so it may help you to keep on your eyes on the road!
This handy little contraption turns your steering wheel into a desk or table for you to eat on. It goes without saying but just don’t use this while driving, yeah?
49. LED cup holders
These LED car cup holders not only look the part but also help you find your cup holders at night. Avoiding spillages? Sounds good to me!
If you’re cooking on the go, these plastic-free food canisters will seriously come in handy.
Not only are these reusable, stainless steel food canisters pretty nifty but they’re also great for the environment, unlike plastic takeaway tubs, clingfilm and ziplock bags.
Just like the plastic-free food canisters above, it’s worth investing in some reusable organic cutlery that’s great for both you and the environment.
Utensils made from bamboo are functional, comfortable and perfect for picnics, camping, and travel because they are light and 100% biodegradable. Add a sharp knife to cut veggies to your road trip packing list, and you’re good to go!
52. Food clips
So you may be the type of person that finishes off a sharing bag of crisps in approximately ten minutes but if you’re not, food clips will keep your food nice and fresh so you can finish eating it later.
Who doesn’t love dining alfresco? You never know when you might just want to pull up at the side of the road for a little picnic! And with this little set, you can do it in style.
If you don’t have space for a full set, you can invest in a cute picnic blanket instead.
54. Toilet roll
If you need to go, you need to go. (Also helpful for cleaning up spillages!)
If your nose starts running, you’ll thank me later when you have tissues to hand. Especially if you’re travelling in summer and your hayfever flares up!
Cleaning putty might just change your (and your car’s!) life. Ideal for getting into all your car’s nooks and crannies, this auto detailing gel picks up dust, hair and crumbs from cracks.
All you need to do is knead the cleaning gel into a ball, then slowly press it into any ventilation slots, the steering wheel, console panel, and more! Just like that, the dirt is gone.
And the best part is that it’s reusable too so you can get plenty of use out of it throughout your road trip.
One of my all-time favourite items on this road trip packing list! If you want to take your on-the-go car cleaning regime to the next level then you need to invest in a portable car vacuum cleaner.
This tiny, yet powerful, vacuum is efficient in cleaning dust, paper scraps, small stones and liquids. (And god knows you’ll find a pretty random selection of dirt accumulating over the course of a road trip!)
This vacuum cleaner even comes complete with five different nozzles so you can get into all the cracks of your car.
You want your car to smell good for the whole road trip, right? If you’re driving long distances your car can quickly fill up with the delicious scents of smelly feet and questionable sandwiches. Avoid this at all costs. (Unless you’re into that kind of thing!)
59. Plastic bags
Plastic bags are handy for a whole host of reasons but especially for chucking laundry and rubbish into. Because let’s be honest, the last thing you need is a car full of litter!
60. Car bin
If you want somewhere to chuck the little pieces of rubbish into, these small car bins come in handy. They fit nicely into all sorts of spaces in your car, whether it’s cup holders or side pockets.
61. Scrubba wash bag
Nothing beats clean clothes while on the road (or at home for that matter!). But finding somewhere cheap and cheerful to do laundry can often be quite a challenge.
So luckily for you, the pretty revolutionary Scrubba wash bag is here to solve all your problems. Branded as “the world’s smallest ‘washing machine’”, all you have to do is chuck your clothes in the bag, add water and detergent, and start rubbing.
You’re left with squeaky clean clothes in no time, without the nasty environmental impact! Win, win.
62. Soap nuts
Save space in the car and go completely natural with soap nuts. Okay, so these bad boys may sound too good to be true. Washing your clothes with nuts? Seriously?! But trust me, they totally work.
These 100% biodegradable, vegan-friendly, organic Indian nuts wash your clothes so well. No powder or liquid required – just chuck them in with your washing and you’re good to go!
63. Toiletry bag
To pop everything from this section into!
65. Perfume or aftershave
The same goes for this one! Ideally, go for a perfume or aftershave that’s smaller with a simple design so it packs easily.
66. Hand sanitiser
If you don’t have regular access to bathrooms to wash your hands in during your road trip, hand sanitiser will quickly become your new best friend.
Road trips don’t exactly make you feel your cleanest but with a bottle of hand sanitiser in your pocket, you’ll feel as healthy and clean as you can do!
67. Body wipes
I don’t know what type of road trip you have planned but regardless of whether you’ll have regular access to a shower, body wipes always come in handy.
For extra brownie points, make sure you opt for a pack of these 100% bamboo biodegradable wipes.
68. Lip balm
No one likes dry or cracked lips on a long road trip. Pack some lip balm for that must-needed moisture!
69. Body cream
Same as above but for your skin.
70. Dry shampoo
If you’re travelling for days on end without access to a shower, dry shampoo can freshen up your hair on the go. Because no one wants greasy hair, right?
If you can’t go without makeup or just fancy glamming yourself up as a treat one day on your road trip, you’ll want your makeup bag to hand!
Whether you bring your full bag or just a few essentials is up to you, but at least you’ll feel a little more yourself once you’ve put it on.
If you’re going to be getting ready for the day in your car and your current car mirror doesn’t do the trick, you might like to upgrade to an LED vanity mirror to help you get ready in the morning.
These handy LED vanity mirrors hang nicely on your car visor and light up in three different shades: warm, cold white, and warm and white.
SPF is so important, regardless of whether you’re travelling in summer, winter, or anything in-between.
You never know when the sun could strike and burn you so it’s better to be safe than sorry all year round!
74. Toothbrush and toothpaste
I’d really hope that a toothbrush and toothpaste are already on your road trip packing list, but if they’re not, get them on there!
It’s 2021, gang. Who needs harsh chemicals anymore? To keep both the bugs and chemicals at bay, buy a plant-based, deet-free insect repellant.
This will ensure that you are not covering either yourself or the environment in nasty toxins.
I’m absolutely obsessed with micro-fibre towels so of course, they had to feature on this road trip packing list.
They are extremely light, compact and fast-drying, meaning they’re easy to just throw in the car or in your day bag.
Clothing and accessories
If the rain strikes, you’ll want to be prepared. Waterproof jackets also double as a great windbreaker too!
This is one of my favourite things to add to my road trip packing list! Opting for clothes that don’t need to be washed as much not only saves you the hassle and cost of laundry while travelling, but it’s also great for the environment too.
Organic Basics sell all sorts from underwear and socks to tops and leggings, and they miraculously don’t smell at all.
They are all made from antimicrobial, anti-odour, permanently infused natural silver, GOTS certified organic cotton goodness that somehow does the trick!
79. Travel belt
Travel belts are small belts with a pocket that you can slip under your clothes that can hold your passport, keys, money and sometimes even phone, depending on the size.
They’re handy for a variety of situations, whether you’re heading into a city, into the mountains, and even while sleeping.
80. Hiking boots
If your road trip involves any kind of long walk or hike, your feet will thank you later if you take a really comfortable and supportive pair of boots along with you for the ride.
Make sure you get boots with extra ankle support if you need them!
81. Flip flops
You’ll lose track of the number of times you’ll want to just pop some flip flops on during your road trip.
Great for popping out for a second or slipping into if your shoes get uncomfy, they will save your feet many times. Sliders or crocs will also do!
82. Hair ties
Sometimes you just need to get your hair out of your face when driving, sleeping, hiking, or all of the above!
Driving in direct sunlight can be really dangerous and you don’t want your eyes to have to work harder than they need to.
A handy pair of sunglasses will reduce glare, improve visibility, and keep everyone in the car safe and sound.
84. Warm gloves
Even if you just pop out of your car for five minutes at night, it’s worth having some gloves handy to keep your hands warm.
85. Day backpack
No matter what you’re doing in the day during your road trip, you’ll need a day backpack to put all your bits and pieces into. My favourite is the Osprey Daylite Unisex backpack!
This section may not be applicable to you if you have a motorhome or plan on sleeping in Airbnbs or hotels, but if your plan is to camp (great shout, by the way – camping is the best), you best come prepared. And of course, the best place to start is with a tent.
Ideally, you’ll want one that doesn’t take too much space in the car. Or if you’ve got a 4×4, you can invest in a tentbox. I’ll just be really jealous of you!
87. Sleeping bag
A sleeping bag is another item you don’t want to skimp on. The last thing you want is to not be able to sleep because of the cold.
When choosing your sleeping bag, look at the temperature ratings. I have the Berghaus Intrepid 1000, a super lightweight 3-season sleeping bag with high-powered insulation.
88. Inflatable roll mat or air mattress
This is one of these items you can skimp on or invest a lot of money in, depending on how good a sleeper you are and how cold it’s going to be.
I use (and love!) Antur’s camping mat but treat yourself to a Therm-a-Rest if your budget allows it. It delivers unrivalled comfort and warmth for minimal weight!
Or if you’ve got a large car and can fit a proper air mattress in, then you’ll be even more comfortable.
I’d recommend an inflatable pillow to save on space but if you have more space, then normal pillows work too. Inflatable pillows inflate in just a matter of seconds and pack super small so it’ll take no space at all in your car.
Plus, they’re ergonomically designed for superior neck and back support so you won’t be compromising on comfort either.
A drybag needs to be added to your list of wild camping essentials! These handy bags keep your valuables and tech protected from rain, snow, dirt, dust, and any other sources of moisture that you may encounter on a hike or while camping.
They are lightweight, durable and come in a range of different sizes, depending on what you need.)
What’s a camping trip without a campfire? Having a lighter or matches to hand will help you easily start a fire and make memories that will last a lifetime. Just remember to pack the marshmallows!
So there you have it: 91 essential road trip packing list items you can’t forget! It’s safe to say this list is full to the brim with all the essentials you can’t leave home without. I hope it’s helped you pack for your upcoming road trip and you have an amazing time away!
This post was sponsored by Peugeot but as always all opinions are my own.
READY TO SAVE MONEY FOR TRAVEL?
Get access to my free eBook filled with tips and tricks to help YOU save money to travel the world.