essentials road trip

The Ultimate Road Trip Essential Packing List

There’s something magical about a road trip. The sense of adventure and freedom is hard to beat, especially if you’re travelling with the ones you love.

But with the sense of endless adventure comes a touch of unpredictability. What should you bring?

From basic documents and safety equipment to specific items for travelling with babies or dogs, we’ve delved through the details to deliver the ultimate checklist, so that you can hit the road with added peace of mind.

The basics: list of essentials for a long car ride

There’s no quicker way to spoil a trip than to forget an essential item! But we’ve all been there – you’re packing your stuff and racking your brain to think of what you need. Maybe the kids are fighting, maybe the dog is barking, maybe your brain is scrambled from the excitement of a big trip. Either way, you need a checklist to make sure you don’t let those essentials slip your mind. 

We’ve got your back. Here’s a list of long car ride essential items:

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Driver’s licence 

Of all the car road trip essentials, this should be at the top of the list.

Proof of insurance

Another essential document. If you do get stopped for any reason, make sure you have this in your car’s glove box.

Car manual

On a road trip, anything can happen. If your car breaks down or there’s any kind of problem that can be easily fixed, a manual will be worth its weight in gold.

Roadside emergency kit

Depending on where in the world you are, you’ll need various roadside emergency kit items, by law. Find out exactly what they are before you start your road trip.

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Reusable water bottles

Okay, this is the very definition of ESSENTIAL! Staying hydrated isn’t up for debate, so make sure you’ve got several large reusable water bottles.

Cash 

If you happen to forget any car road trip essentials, you can always buy them on the road. You’ll also need cash for any tolls or quick stops you might need to make.

Spare tire

You should have a spare in the boot at all times, especially when you’re embarking on a long road trip.

First aid kit

When it comes to road trip essentials, they don’t come much more important than this. Unless you have a handy first aid kit, small illnesses or injuries on the road could become a big problem. This is particularly important if you’re travelling through rural areas.

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Flashlight

You never knew you needed one until you needed one! If you’re travelling at night, a flashlight is a must have. It’s as simple as that.

USB car charger

Keeping your cell phone charged up is definitely one of the travel essentials.

Dashboard cell phone holder

Remember the days of paper maps? Or even more recently, balancing your phone on your knees as you checked for directions? Nowadays, a dashboard cell phone holder is one of the top car road trip essentials and should be fixed up before you put it in drive.

“Roads were made for journeys, not destinations.” 

Confucius

Road trip clothing and personal item tips

When it comes to having a great trip, comfort is key. The last thing you want is for things to go south, all because you forgot clothing or essential personal items. Whether it’s something to keep the weather at bay, something to up the little cosy factor or something with that bit of practical ingenuity, make sure you cover every base.

Here’s our list of those all-important clothing and personal items.

Blanket

A blanket is one of the often overlooked travel essentials. Yet, they are so easy to just throw in the car. Just in case. Because you know they’ll come in super handy if the weather takes a chilly turn – especially if you’re travelling with kids.

Sunglasses

If you’re going to be driving through extended periods of sun exposure, you’ll need a good quality pair of sunglasses. Something that protects your eyes from UV exposure, aids visibility, and, of course, makes you look cool.

Backpack

Whether it’s a day bag for those road trips to the city or a big multipurpose backpack for those epic hiking trips, a backpack is one of those road trip essentials for adults who have a real thirst for adventure.

Comfortable shoes

Speaking of epic hikes and a thirst for adventure, comfy shoes should definitely be on your mind before embarking on a road trip. Comfy driving shoes are a must for those long trips – something with a snug fit and flexible soles is ideal. If you’re going hiking, make sure you bring your hiking shoes.

Umbrella

Don’t get caught out in the rain without an umbrella. If you’re in a climate with a chance of rain, an umbrella might well be an indispensable item.

Towel 

If you do forget that umbrella, a towel might just bail you out! Then again, if you’re into spontaneous skinny dipping or wild swimming, a towel is definitely on the list of road trip essentials for couples.

Sunscreen and a sun hat

A very important item for those sunny, hot climates.

Car sick medicine

If your baby suffers from car sickness, this could make the journey so much easier.

Extra Things to Take on a Road Trip

So, you’ve got all the essentials. But what about those little extras? Those handy little items that you might not have even thought about… if it wasn’t for us, that is.

Here’s our list of little extras to take your pretty good road trip into ‘awesome’ territory.

Travel pillow 

Never underestimate the power of a travel pillow! Sure, road trips are all about getting out into the great outdoors. But that doesn’t have to come at the expense of comfort. If you’re going to be on the road for a long period of time, take some travel pillows so that your passengers can catch 40 winks.

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Premium Spotify subscription

What’s a road trip without tunes?! Connect your cell phone to your car stereo, set up a Spotify subscription, make your road trip playlist, then hit the road!

A tablet

The kids are sick of playing I-Spy? It’s time to take things to the next level.

Road trip food list and eating accessories

Coming up with healthy, creative food ideas to please the whole family can be a real challenge! Don’t worry… we’ve got a rundown of the best, easiest road trip snacks that you’re going to need. Plus, a few accessories to help you to eat on the go.

Cool box

Having a place to keep your perishable snacks is important. The best cool boxes can keep food fresh for up to five days! 

Sandwiches and wraps

Quick, easy to make and they last hours, sandwiches and wraps make a great lunch option. Bonus points for being relatively mess-free.

Salads and pasta dishes

Another easy filling lunch idea, salads and pasta dishes are excellent food items for long road trips. Just don’t forget a snack-size fork.

Fresh and dried fruit

The perfect healthy snack for long road trips – think apples, bananas, grapes, raisins, cranberries and blueberries.

Nuts and seeds

Another essential snack item for road trips, go for walnuts, almonds, cashews and hazelnuts. 

Soup in a thermos

For those road trips through colder climates, soup in a thermos could be a real pick-me-up. Best of all, a thermos helps it stay warm for hours!

Checklist for taking a road trip with a baby

It might seem like an impossible adventure for many parents, but taking a road trip with a baby can create some precious family memories. Taking your baby on a road trip at a young age is a great way to get them used to travelling.

It’s all about the preparation! Make sure that, before you take a road trip with your baby, you have the following travelling essentials:

Car seat

A safe and sturdy car seat is an absolute must.

Baby bottle + spares

Make sure your baby’s favorite bottle is never too far away and don’t forget those spares, just in case!

Cuddly toy

Practical items aside, your baby’s best friend is definitely a road trip essential!

Travel changing pad

Definitely on the list of road trip essentials when travelling with a baby, a lightweight, foldable changing pad makes changing your little one ‘on the go’ is an absolute breeze.

Travel diaper bag 

Simple, yet so very effective. 

Baby carrier

Don’t leave home without a carrier, especially if you’re thinking of travelling long distances on foot.

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