Whether you are taking a road trip in your own country or traveling to another and exploring the different areas, it is important to ensure that you have everything you need to make your journey as enjoyable as possible. I’ve done the homework for you and compiled a list of road trip essentials that I have found to be vital throughout my travels.
For Your Vehicle
If you are planning a road trip, it is important to equip your vehicle with the essentials that you need to make your journey as comfortable as possible.
Driver’s License, Registration & Insurance Card
There is nothing more important when planning a road trip than ensuring that you have all the correct documentation for your vehicle. Make sure that you have your license and registration on you in case you are stopped by law enforcement, or you are required to show some identification. Your insurance card is helpful in case you are in an accident so that you can swap details and contact your insurers quickly.
Your phone is now the primary way of navigating while on your road trip with apps such as Google Maps and Apple maps telling us the quickest way to our destinations, alerting us of traffic issues, and helping us find gas stations and food stops. It is therefore important to have a functioning charger in your car, as apps like this can quickly run down your battery. Check out the car charger below if you don’t already have one.
Emergency Toolkit with Spare Tire and Jack
Breaking down while on a road trip is never ideal but it does happen, so it is important to be prepared. Taking an emergency toolkit, along with a spare tire will allow you to attempt to fix your vehicle, getting it back on the road or at least to the nearest mechanic without having to wait for breakdown assistance, which can take hours. Some repairs will be an easy fix with the right tools, meaning that you will be back on the road in no time.
Spare Car Keys
Everyone makes mistakes sometimes and misplaces important objects, but the worst thing that you could lose when you are in the middle of nowhere is your car keys. Consider taking your spare set as a backup – you will thank me if this worst-case scenario does happen.
Another ‘in case of emergency item’ that is vital is the humble flashlight. This will come in handy if you breakdown in the middle of the night or need to stop for a toilet break after dark.
Travel Pillows and Throws
While most road trips start off with high levels of organization, things sometimes do not go to plan. You may stop off at an unplanned destination or get stuck in traffic which leads you to sleeping in your vehicle or taking turns driving while the passenger’s rest. Travel pillows and throws make this all the more comfortable, increasing your chances of getting a night of good quality sleep so you are ready to experience more adventure!
Car Garbage Bin
It is important to make sure that everyone on the road trip is comfortable throughout the journey and keeping your car or vehicle tidy is paramount to this. When you are traveling for a long time or over long distances, it is easy for trash or food waste to build up so having a small pop-up garbage bin makes it easy to store this without it becoming overwhelming.
Staying hydrated is important throughout your travels, but it is vital to have some water in your car while on a road trip, especially if traveling through areas that are new to you. You may not know when the next stop is to grab some refreshments. Water is equally as important during a breakdown as you do not know how long you will have to wait until roadside assistance appears and your car is repaired.
Empty Gas Can
An empty gas can is a good road trip travel essential to store in your trunk. If you run out of fuel unexpectedly, you will be able to take this and walk or hitch a ride to the nearest gas station with this so that you can fill up and get back to your travels as soon as possible.
Satnav Paper Map
While we always do rely on technology, it is important to recognize that sometimes this fails so a backup may be needed. Keeping a paper map in the glove box means that you can refer to this if your phone or sat nav device runs out of signal or charge. While you may not need this most of the time, you will be grateful if you lose connection while in the middle of nowhere.
If you are planning to travel in very hot or very cold climates, then windscreen covers are a great idea. You can get covers that protect your windshield from ice and snow in poor weather conditions or covers that keep your car cooler in intense heat. An added bonus of this is that you get more privacy, as no nosy travelers can take a look inside your car at your belongings.
As well as packing in-car road trip essentials, it is important to pack some essentials for your trip, regardless of whether you are traveling by car, bus, or jetting off to another country by plane and then going on a road trip.
As well as packing your drivers’ license, some other form of identification may come in useful. A passport is required if you are traveling to another country and may also be needed when checking into accommodation.
List of Important Numbers (in case something happens to your phone)
Your mobile may include any contact numbers that you need but consider taking a list of numbers that you can keep in your wallet in the event that your phone is lost, damaged, or stolen. Important numbers could include that of your family, your holiday or car insurance, car rental company, health insurance, or accommodation contact details.
Water & Snacks
Travel can be thirsty work and you may find yourself quite peckish while on your road trip or exploring a new city. Ensuring that you have snacks and water will mean that you can consume these when you cannot get to a shop or café. It may be a good idea to keep these in a cooler in the car when traveling as this keeps them fresher for longer.
Hanging Toiletry Bag
A great accessory for any road trip is a hanging toiletry bag which can easily carry all your essentials such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant. A hanging toilet bag means that it can attach on to any door or hook, meaning that it doesn’t touch the ground and stays sanitary. These are great for travel and can be rolled up, so they can squeeze into small luggage spaces.
Depending on your destination, you may want to take a strong insect repellent to protect you from itchy and uncomfortable bug bites. Check online before you go on your trip to see what insects are common in the areas that you are traveling. Repellent with a high DEET concentration is perfect for keeping mosquitos at bay and usually comes in a spray that can be applied easily.
First Aid Kit – medication and sickness tablets
A first aid kit is a pretty boring but essential addition to any road trip. Ensure that the kit includes any medication that you or any other passengers are taking, plus typical painkillers. It would also be a great idea to include sickness tablets that may help tackle any travel sickness on windy roads. A first aid kit can help with scratches and cuts however anything more serious may need travel insurance so it is important to sign up for this before you embark on your journey.
Next up on the list of road trip essentials list is some rolls of toilet paper. While not the most glamourous of items, toilet paper could really help if you are caught short in the middle of your drive. It is also pretty versatile and can be used to clean up spillages, wipe eyes and noses if you suffer from hay fever, or use to clean up after eating a picnic.
When on a road trip, you will never know when you might have to nip to the toilet, or where. Therefore, keeping some hand sanitizer and baby wipes handy will help keep you clean and germ-free. This is especially important at the moment due to the increased threat of the coronavirus. If you are traveling during this time, you have to be extra vigilant, sanitizing your hands as much as possible to avoid catching the virus.
A Great Camera
A road trip is a perfect way to create new and exciting memories with the ones you love, but make sure you pack a good camera so that you can document these memories and look back on them in the years to come. Some phones are now equipped with excellent cameras that have great features such as super zooms and panoramic settings. You may want to invest in a proper photography camera however if you are visiting somewhere known for its natural beauty or interesting wildlife. While these cameras are expensive, the memories that can be captured are worth the investment.
A portable charger means that your devices can stay functioning wherever you are. You can charge these in the wall sockets at your accommodation and pop them into your bag. Portable chargers can be light and small meaning that they do not take up much space. One brand of charger with a great reputation is Anker, which offer a variety of options that can hold multiple charges.
Offline Music Playlist
Staying entertained is important, but most of the entertainment we use now requires an internet signal. Some platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music allow you to create offline music playlists that can be accessed on airplane mode and when you are left with no signal.
A tablet or a laptop is a great idea to watch movies on while traveling or while staying in your accommodation. The larger screen makes it easier to watch long videos on than a phone, and devices like this are now small and slender enough to fit into your luggage and not take up too much space.
Maps.me – offline maps
Maps.me is a great app that you can download to your phone that gives you access to offline maps. It has maps available across the globe and includes entertainment venues, tourist attractions, restaurants, and transport links. You can plan your journey in advance and download the map so that you can use it, even with no internet signal. This app has been ranked number 1 in offline maps and comes highly recommended.
While most of our transactions are done with card and contactless, it is important to still keep some cash on you – both coins and notes. Some smaller shops, especially in rural locations, may not have the technology to accept cards and other facilities such as toll bridges and parking meters may only take coins. Keeping some spare cash in your wallet will come in handy for these situations, meaning that you don’t need to search for a cash machine.
Road trips are one of the best and most exciting ways to see a country. The feeling of adventure and independence is second to none and you can change your plans easily at the last minute if something you discover inspires you. Hopefully, this road trip essentials list will help you prepare for your exciting journey as much as possible.
Do you have something that isn’t on our list that you think is vital for a road trip?