Ultimate Road Trip Packing List: Necessities, Must Haves + Gear

Looking for all the best things to add to your road trip packing list? Look no further! This very comprehensive list has everything you may need. Instead of scrambling around last minute to find everything you need, we made a nice list that you can easily run through and decide from.

This post covers all of the road trip must haves so that you don’t forget anything. A lot of these are “just in case” items, but seriously, you never know when your road trip could go awry! It’s best to be safe than sorry.

There are so many must-have items for your road trip packing list. Of course, depending on the time of year that you’re traveling, some of these might not be necessary. Just make sure you truly take the time to think of everything you might need and pack it!

Whether you are checking off items across the country on your USA bucket list, doing a fall foliage drive and visiting all the pretty towns along the way or even beach hopping in the USA – this list is for you!

Below find all the best things to bring on a road trip. Enjoy the road and take lots of photos. 

road trip packing list

Road trip packing list: the best things to bring on a road trip

Portable charger

For any road trip, you absolutely should pack a portable charger. This is great to charge your phone on the go, especially if you can’t charge it using a port in your car.


If you know that you won’t want to listen to the driver’s music, pack some noise-canceling headphones. These can be purchased online pretty affordably and easy to travel with. 


Yes, you can get sunburnt even in the car, especially if you have a sunroof that you keep open or a convertible! Plus, if you make some stops along your road trip, you’ll want to be prepared, so you don’t get burnt. I love this sunscreen and don’t forget this hair sunscreen to protect your head. YES, you can burn it and it is awful. 


Taking naps in the car is a great way to pass the time, especially because traveling can be tiring! Bring a neck pillow so that you won’t have neck sores during your naps.

First aid kit

You never know when something could go wrong on the road, so it’s best to be prepared. Grab a pre-made first aid kit with everything you could possibly need.

road trip packing list

Tissues/Napkins/Paper Towels

Make sure you have all the paper products you might need! These will also come in handy if you accidentally spill anything or make a mess in the car.


A road trip is not a road trip without music! Make a road trip playlist of all your favorite travel tunes and sing-along songs so that you won’t get bored throughout your journey.

Water bottle

Hydration is so important, and it’s often something that people overlook during their trip. Bring a reusable water bottle that you can refill along the way. I also love these hydration packets you just add to your water. 


You will want somewhere to store your belongings on a road trip, and I highly recommend this carry-on suitcase. It shockingly holds so much and it is hard side, which will protect the contents inside should it get wet or fall. PLUS – it is easy to store stuff on or around in the car. 

Packing Cubes

These packing cubes are a game changer and a must for your road trip. With road trips, you move a lot and with packing cubes, you can keep things separate and easily fin them without destroying the inside of your suitcase every time you open it. 

Hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is excellent in situations where you have to wash your hands but don’t have access to a sink. Plus, it’s super portable and can be carried in your bag. 

Phone charger

In addition to a portable charger, you’ll want to make sure you have the phone charger cord and plug. This way, you can actually charge your device!

Physical map or Atlas

Internet comes and goes on your phone, especially when you’re on the road. So, make sure you purchase physical maps of where you’re driving just in case you need to go old school. My personal favorite is this Atlas because its cheap, covers all the US states and Canada and Mexico. 

Garbage bag

With road trips, it’s pretty easy for trash to pile up from all of your snacks and other goodies. Make sure you bring a designated garbage bag to keep the car as clean as possible.

Pack of cards

A great way to pass the time when traveling on the road is to play cards. Of course, this only works for passengers! However, everyone can play when you stop for the night!

Glasses and contacts

Don’t rely on just your glasses or just your contacts for your road trip. Instead, bring both in case your contacts start to bother your eyes.

Umbrella + other rainy gear

You never truly know when you might run into bad weather. Pack yourself an umbrella, rain jacket, and any other rainy weather gear you may need. I love this super compact travel umbrella


Make sure to pack your car insurance information and travel/health insurance, too, just in case you need it. It’s better to be prepared in case anything ever goes wrong!

License and registration

You shouldn’t risk traveling a long distance without having your registration in your car. Plus, you need your license even to operate the car!

Pad and pen

Sometimes you can’t rely on your phone to take notes. Bring a pad and pen in case you have to jot anything down while on the road.

Bug spray

Especially in the summer, bug spray is an absolute necessity. Plus, bug bites itch like crazy! Bring bug spray to prepare yourself. Alternatively, you could grab these mosquito and bug repellant wipes. I actually prefer these because you can throw them away when done. 


If you are one of those people that can read in the car without feeling motion sick, then bring a book! Now is the perfect time to read that colossal series you’ve meant to tackle.


You have to add money to your road trip packing list. This includes physical cash in addition to your debit or credit card. It’s best to have multiple forms of payment just in case.


Taking photos is one of the best parts of road tripping! So be sure to bring one to document all the best memories from your trip. Here is a list of my favorite cameras and equipment I use. I highly recommend this camera bag as well. It is waterproof and anti-theft!



Flashlights, in general, are just a great thing to add to your road trip packing list. However, there may be a situation where you will need one, and you can’t access your phone’s flashlight. I love this flashlight because it is compact AND waterproof. You just never know if you spill something or it is raining. 


To stay comfy and cozy in the car on your road trip, bring a blanket! This doesn’t have to be a huge, plush one, but a smaller travel blanket will easily do.

Ice packs or cooler

Depending on the length of your road trip, consider packing ice packs (I love these because they are reusable) or a cooler to hold all of your cold drinks and/or food that needs to stay cold. There’s nothing better than cold water when it’s hot!

Comfortable clothing

Don’t try to be fashionable on a road trip… just don’t. Now’s the time to wear all of your comfortable leggings and giant t-shirts! There’s nothing worse than being uncomfortable for a long period of time in the car.

Tote bags

Bring some reusable tote bags in case you make any purchases along the way or if you need to store anything on your trip. These tote bags have so many uses and it seems we never have them when we need them. You can use them to store items or even if you stop by farmers markets, grocery stores, do some shopping, or get takeaway food. 

Ice scraper

In case you’re traveling when the weather is cold, be sure to bring an ice-scraper (bonus – this one has a snow brush too). Honestly, this is a good thing to have in your car at all times!


An often overlooked road trip packing list item is batteries. These can come in handy for flashlights, physical radios, and other objects. So it’s good to bring a few AA and AAA batteries at least.

road trip packing list

Car manual

Though you hopefully won’t have any issues, make sure you have your car manual. It’d be good to have in case you have to look up something quick about your car.

Air freshener

When you’re spending a lot of time in your car, it can start to smell unfortunately! So try to counteract it by having a fun air freshener in your vehicle.


To wash your hands in a pinch or pick up something sticky, bring some wipes. Even baby wipes will do! These come in handy more than you think.

Hat and gloves

No matter the time of year, consider bringing either a ball cap or winter hat. Gloves are also great if you’re traveling when it’s cold.

Printed tickets and reservations

Never rely on just having digital copies of your tickets and reservations. This is a must for a road trip packing list. Instead, print out your tickets and reservations and store them in a folder.

Phone mount

For easy directions, so you don’t have to crank your head to see your phone, bring a phone mount. Then, you can easily put your phone on it and watch the GPS.


Towels can come in handy in so many situations. They’re great for cooling down, wiping liquids up, and even using after a stop at the beach. Grab this travel towel and take it with you. 

Reusable straws

To protect the environment and cut down on your waste during your road trip, bring a set of reusable straws. These can easily be cleaned on the road with water!


Don’t forget to pack yourself your toothbrush and some toothpaste for your trip. These are essential so that you can at least have some good breath and feel kind of clean!

Toilet paper

This may seem obvious or funny, but you never want to be caught without toilet paper. Sometimes even roadside bathrooms run out. So, pack a roll just in case.

Flip-flops or sandals

Because you’ll be in the car all day, you most likely won’t want to be wearing sneakers all the time. Pack flip-flops or sandals for shoes that are easy to put on.

Instant coffee

Purchasing coffee from places like Starbucks on your road trip can be pricey and adds up really quick! So instead, buy some instant coffee from a grocery store to save yourself some money.


Similar to reusable straws, consider packing a few packs of reusable utensils. This way, you can cut back on potential waste during your list.

Water purifier

Not all water is safe to drink, including in some towns that you may drive through. To be safe, add a water purifier to your road trip packing list. You never know when you’ll need it.


If you have to get some work done on the road, be sure to bring a laptop. You could even purchase an internet hotspot so that you can use it on the road if you really want to.

Portable power strip with USB ports

If you have multiple things to charge and more than one person on your trip, this portable power strip is a MUST! When you are constantly moving on road trips and stay in lodgings that often don’t have more than 1-3 outlets, if that, this is the best and easiest way to keep things always charged. 

Car key (and a spare!)

Don’t forget to bring your car key! Also, it’s very possible that you could lose your car key during your road trip. So get a spare and give it to one of your passengers just in case you ever need it.

Portable mini perfume – no waste 

Sure, you can spend a ton of money on small perfumes to travel with OR buy these portable mini perfume bottles that allow you to pull perfume from the bottles you already have! Super cheap, lightweight and you don’t have to keep buying little perfumes that often cost more because they are convenient. 

Multi-tool or a knife

A multi-tool can come in handy in so many instances. Buy one at the store to bring with you in case you need it for something along your trip.


Snacks, anyone? You’ll surely get hungry on your road trip, so stock up on all your favorite goodies, from candies to tasty granola bars.

road trip packing list

Spare tire

It’s best to be prepared if something were to happen to one of your tires during your road trip. Make sure you have a spare tire that you know how to switch out in case you need to.

Cell phone

Cell phones can come in handy for so many things. They have a map, GPS, and you can contact someone in case something happens. Make sure you bring your cell phone and that it’s fully charged.

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road trip packing list

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