20 Road Trip Essentials You’ll Actually Use

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Road trip essentials should be given top priority when you are packing for vacation. Having certain safety and comfort items on hand will no doubt come in handy during your travels. Check out our list below with our top picks for road trip essentials.

Road Trip Essentials

Before you hit the road on your next travel adventure, take stock of the supplies you have in the car. Just by adding some road trip essentials, you can really keep peace among family members and be ready in case the unexpected occurs.

Best Road Trip Essentials

We put together a list of the things we always bring with us. Check out the list and add the things you need to your future shopping list!

  1. Tire Pressure Gauge
  2. Flashlight
  3. Road Flares
  4. Blanket
  5. Window Breaker/Seatbelt Cutter Tool
  6. Phone Charger
  7. First Aid Kit
  8. Tissues
  9. Car Invertor Power Strip
  10. Disinfecting Wipes
  11. Car Activities 
  12. Car Organizer
  13. Shotgun Car Game
  14. Phone Mount
  15. Road Trip Guide and Map
  16. Travel Pillow
  17. Car Trash Can
  18. Reusable Shopping Bag
  19. Cooler
  20. Reusable Utensils

Why We Picked These Must-Haves

Here are some things to consider when you try to decide if you need these items or not.

Basic Safety

Tire Pressure Gauge – Maybe your tire looks a little flat or maybe your car put up a low tire warning. In any case, it’s good to have a tire pressure gauge on hand. We have found gas station machines to be inconsistent and many times broken. Another time it’s handy to have a gauge is if you plan to do any off-roading especially on the beach.

Every few trips to the Outer Banks (North Carolina) we drive up to Corolla and drive on the beach. To drive on the beach, you need to let some air out of your tires. After your beach drive, you will want to re-inflate. Having your own tire gauge makes the entire process much easier and convenient.

Flashlight – There are plenty of occasions when a flashlight will come in handy and having one in your car will eliminate the need to use your phone’s flashlight (which drains the battery).

Road Flares – Pulling over to change a flat (or inspect another issue) can be dangerous, especially at night. Flares are bright and alert other motorists to use caution as they drive around/past you.

First Aid Kit – Bumps and cuts can happen at any time, anywhere. My kids seem to have a knack for small injuries while on the road! Add a small first aid kit to your car so that you always have the basics on hand (Band-aids, instant ice pack, triple antibiotic cream).

Window Breaker/Seatbelt Cutter Tool –  If disaster strikes, and you find yourself trapped in the car, this tool is a TRUE lifesaver. One end can break a car window and the other can cut through a seat belt. Ours stays in our car all the time, not just during road trips.

Comfort and Entertainment

Blanket – It can be tough to regulate the temperature in your car to please everyone. Have a blanket or two on hand so that anyone who feels chilly can add a quick warm layer.

Phone Charger – Make sure you have chargers (and spares) on hand for every device that your are taking on the trip. Having to buy replacement cords at hotels or highway service plazas can be pricey!

Car Invertor Power Strip – We have been traveling with one of these for YEARS! You can plug any standard plug into the strip and then plug the strip into the cigarette lighter. This power invertor is how I keep my laptop powered up so that I can work while we drive.

Car Activities –  Grab some free road trip printables or buy some activities to entertain the family while you drive.

Car Organizer – A MUST for the backseat passengers! Pick up car organizers so that everyone has plenty of room to keep his/her supplies organized and visible.

Shotgun Car Game – There are plenty of road trip games out there to choose from, but this one is a really fun option from the creators of the popular “What Do You Meme?” game series.

Phone Mount – Hands free driving is a must for optimal safety. Grab a phone mount to keep your phone accessible (and visible if using for GPS) without having to hold it.

Road Trip Guide and Map – A guide book and paper map might sound “old school” in this age of technology, but there’s something to be said for having a real map when you’re lost and can’t get cellular service on your phone.

Travel Pillow – Unless you love resting your head up against the cold, hard car window, these travel pillows give your neck a break and provide a soft spot to rest your head.

Snack Time

Cooler – Save time and money by bringing your own road trip snacks and drinks with you! Grab a cooler that fits nicely in the backseat and keep drinks and any perishables nice and cool as you drive.

Reusable Utensils – Have you ever grabbed a salad from a fast food restaurant only to drive away and realize they forgot to put a fork in the bag? Keep a set of reusable utensils in your glove compartment for just such occasions!

Clean It Up

Car Trash Can – The “road trip trashed car” is real, but having a place to keep trash as you drive can help a lot! In addition to using a car trash can, we bring some plastic grocery bags too. Every time we stop for gas, we fill up a grocery bag with any trash that has accumulated and throw it out at the gas station.

Reusable Shopping Bag – Add some reusable bags to your car. They are perfect for carrying supplies in and out of your hotel, camper, rental property, etc. They are also great for unpacking the vehicle or holding groceries or souvenirs.

Tissues – No explanation needed here. Tissues are great for quick cleans and sneezes!

Disinfecting Wipes – Another one that needs no explanation. Wipes are a must-pack item when traveling and come in handy for lots of things!

Grab these road trip essentials and you will have a well-supplied vehicle that is prepared for a great adventure! Have an idea that’s not on our list? Drop a comment and let us know about it! 


Road Trip Essentials for Your Car

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