The long hours on the road can weigh you down. This, in turn, puts a damper on your outdoor adventures. Fortunately, there is a way to maximize our enjoyment of the road. It's all about proper preparation.

With a road trip packing list, you ensure that nothing vital gets left behind. I know there's a lot to consider. This is why we've prepared the ultimate list of road trip essentials for you!


Why preparing for a road trip is important

If you've ever been on a long car ride, you know how frustrating it can be to wait for the next gas station to creep up on the horizon. Pining for a bathroom break! We've all been there. Lambasting internally to ourselves, "I should have gone before we left!"

These kinds of annoyances suck the joy out of the journey. Preventing us from focusing on the vistas and scenery around us. Which is, you know, the best part of traveling by car to begin with.

Preparing for a long road trip is important because being well-prepared allows us to enjoy ourselves.


Things to pack ahead of time

Paper and road maps

Technology malfunctions! This is why you should never be one hundred percent reliant on it. Among your road trip necessities, you've got to pack a road map. Unlike Google maps, road maps don't lose signal. They'll always be readable and accessible, even if you're going through a tunnel.

A common rest stop solution, gas stations make excellent landmarks. They can help center you when reading a map. Providing you with a safe location to pull over and plan your next steps.

The only thing you may need when it comes to paper maps is a light to help you read them. Additionally, a sense of direction will help.

Exploration guidebook of the destination

Road maps are a reliable way of knowing where you are headed. But what about day hikes? If you want to pull over and explore a patch of land, bring along a guidebook. Carry-on guidebooks are replete with information.

They can tell you all about your surroundings. Many guidebooks even have small sections on the edible plants and berries that a certain location will have. Road maps guide your vehicle. Carry-on guidebooks guide your person. The two should always be present for their information synergy.

Guidebooks may not seem essential, but when you are country road trip packing, you've got to consider anything that helps you explore.

Satellite GPS

Hold on! You may be thinking to yourself, "I thought paper maps were more vital than electronic?" I'd argue that this is the case. However, there are some tools that were made for traveling. Satellite GPS devices!

Unlike mobile phones, these devices don't lose signal. They can fit into duffel bags of all sizes, and they have long-lasting batteries. Navigational systems such as these are essential when backcountry exploring.

They provide you with a wealth of information. Topographical data and velocity parameters, to name a few. A GPS device isn't just about finding your way. They give you a detailed outline of your current location's conditions.

Portable chargers

Open your glove box. Is there a portable charger in there? If the answer is "no," then there should be. Portable chargers are a lifeline for any traveler. They allow us to recharge our phones and other devices while we stay on the move. At no extra cost!

They come in especially handy when in remote areas. The pine barrens may adorn all sides of the road, but with a portable charger, you won't have to worry about battery life. The best part is you can even work remotely! All thanks to portable chargers.

Most people never leave home without a charger. You shouldn't either.

First aid kit

First aid kits are essential for those traveling and those staying put. When having fun, it's easy to get hurt. Sometimes those injuries can be really nasty. A first-aid kit is one of the road trip items that can't be left behind.

Their band-aids alone are worth the price! Today, many kits even have bug spray. A small bottle of hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol are basic supplies that can save lives.

Car care is important. Especially when road-tripping! However, you shouldn't neglect your own care. Bring along supplies that you know will come in handy in the worst-case scenarios.

Portable kitchen supplies

Didn't think this would crop up? Road trip snacks are no substitute for a meal. A portable pot has a plethora of uses. Boiling water can't be done without one. In fact, most cooking can't be done without a pot, to begin with.

You don't need to bring a large old-school pot. Something small that can clip into your bag will do just fine. One thing to note is that food storage will be another thing to consider. After all, what's the point of kitchen supplies without ingredients?

For that, rest stops can act as makeshift grocery stores.


Automotive Essentials to pack

Jumper Cables

Jumper cables, like most of the items in this section, should be in the trunk of every car. Batteries die faster than you think. More so in cold weather! With a pair of these cables, the only thing left for you to find is someone willing to jump-start your car.

Spare Tire

Most vehicles come with spare tires. It's safe to say that you've already got this item checked off. Or do you!? Spare tires deflate over time. A deflated spare tire is of no help to anyone. Before heading out, check your spare and make sure it's ready for use.

Extra Canister of Gasoline

Even those with a keen eye will want to bring an extra canister of gas with them. Often, in sparsely populated areas, gas stations can be hard to come by. A full tank may not be enough to cover you in between stops. An extra canister of petrol is a great safeguard.


Essentials For Winter Road Tripping

Tire chains

Tire chains are designed to cover your wheels. What they do is provide your vehicle with much better traction. Allowing you to drive safely through frozen or icy roads.

Ice scrapers

Ice scrappers are a fast way of clearing your windshield. Using water to clear your windshield isn't a good idea. You could crack the glass. It's also a waste of water.

Warmers and hiking boots

Hiking boots are required for any expeditions into the wild. Warmers are more or less for your comfort alone. These are also an important part of packing essentials to bring on a ski trip.

Sunglasses and sunscreens

The sun can be annoying. It impairs your vision when driving. However, sunglasses can help you maintain a good field of view. And sunscreen prevents painful sunburns from occurring.


Food Road Trip Packing Checklist


Trail mix! This is the number one snack that all travelers should bring with them. It has an excellent variety in its composition. Making it equal parts healthy and tasty. I wouldn't recommend fruit because, unfortunately, it spoils far too quickly.

Drinking water

Of course, you've got to bring water. All living things need water in some form or another. Bring more than you may need. Between cooking and drinking, you'll run out sooner than you think. Not to mention that you'll need some to routinely wash your hands.

Electrolyte packets

Drinking water isn't enough. Replenishing your electrolytes is key. This is why electrolyte packets can be a great item to bring along. Much like trail mix, they are a quick way to energize yourself before you head out.


Nothing worse than traveling with bad breath. Honestly, gum can be a game changer when it comes to your personal comfort. And if you are traveling with others, the gum becomes a lifesaver.


What you Should Consider for a Family Road Trip

There are so many reasons to go on a family road trip, these trips can be really exciting, if not a little challenging. You've got to account not just for your needs, but your family's as well. Your party size reflects the number of supplies needed, as well as the waste generated. Biodegradable bags are perfect portable trash cans!

Some tips can include packing travel games which can break up the monotony of the road. Keep those pesky kids distracted! Bored children in the back seat are a real nightmare. There are other forms of effective light entertainment. Radio serials and podcasts! They can tell interesting stories in captivating ways.

Finally, bring along a picnic blanket. In case you find a nice spot to eat or hang out in.


Pro tips for the Best Summer Road Trip

Road trip accessories to kill the boredom

There are few games that can be played in a moving car. Fortunately, there are several portable video game consoles available today. Many households already own one of some kind.

I understand that road trips should be about getting away from the screen. However, you can only stare at barren grasslands for so long before you lose your mind.


Alongside first-aid kits, off-the-counter medicine is necessary. Chief among them: painkillers. Painkillers will help you through most injuries that one may be unlucky enough to experience while on the road.

Other notable options would be anything that helps treat upset stomachs. Gas station food can be vicious!

Sick bags

Despite not road-tripping often, I have vomit bags in my car. Frankly, everyone should have vomit bags at the ready. Why wouldn't you? The last thing you want is last night's dinner all over your dashboard!

Sick bags take a small problem and prevent it from becoming an enormous mess. Think about it. Cleaning up something like that would ruin anyone's day.

Keep your toiletries with you

Bathrooms are not as readily available as you may think. A few rolls of toilet paper and some hand soap go a long way. I understand. It's not very pleasant to think about. However, these are exactly the kinds of scenarios that you've got to prepare for.

Why? Because not planning for such scenarios means that should they occur, you'll be left way worse off.

Keep your safety essentials 

Safety essentials include flashlights, spare batteries, and the like. Pretty much anything that'll help you avoid injury. Whether your car breaks down or you're left alone in the dark.

Safety essentials will vary. Where you plan on going or what areas you are traveling through will influence the right safety essentials for you.


Final Thoughts

Go on! Once you've double-checked everything on your list, there isn't anything else stopping you. Whether you fancy road tripping around Europe on a budget, or driving the Great American backroads, when you are properly prepared, you have nothing to worry about. Allowing you to fully focus on what matters most. The journey!

If all else fails, the best part about road trips is that you can always pack up. Hit the road and find a new destination.