What to Pack for a Road Trip: The Ultimate Road Trip Packing List

Not sure what to pack for a road trip or just don’t want to forget any road trip must haves?  I have put together a road trip packing list with a checklist of all the road trip essentials you’ll need for your trip.

My road essentials list includes everything you need for you and your car as well as fun things to bring on a road trip – whether it is a long cross country road trip or a few hours drive. For anyone traveling with kids or pets, I have also included family and pet road trip essentials to keep them healthy and happy.

What to Pack for a Road Trip Checklist Road Trip Essentials

The Ultimate Road Trip Packing List

Here is a comprehensive road trip packing list:

Road trip essentials that should always be in your car.
• Driver’s license, registration and insurance information
• Pen and paper
• Sunglasses for everyone
• Cash and coins for tolls, parking meters or places that don’t accept credit cards
• Map – I always like to bring a printed map just in case as a backup to GPS
• Smartphone – Use Google Maps if your car does not have a GPS system
• Kleenex
• Nail clippers & tweezers – keep an extra set in the car

Car care
• Extra set of car keys just in case keys get lost or misplaced
• Emergency road side assistance kit – this one by AAA is under $25 or splurge on this one.
• Jumper cables and flashlight if not part of emergency kit
• Scissors or seat belt cutting tool
• Spare tire
• Tire chains, ice scraper and snow shovel if traveling somewhere cold
• Extra gas in this can just in case

Cell phone mount
• Cell phone car charger
• Batteries for any devices you bring
External battery for digital devices

Health and safety:
• Bug spray – this one is pocket sized
• Sunscreen (make sure to keep it in the car)
First aid kit  (band aids, pain reliever, allergy medicine, anti-nausea medicine, antacid tablets, cotton balls, q-tips)
Antibacterial wipes or hand sanitizer
• Essential medication and prescriptions – more than enough for your road trip

Personal care essentials
• Toothbrush, toothpaste and floss
• Lip balm, lotion and other toiletries
• Scarf and extra sweater or fleece
Body wipes for when you are not feeling fresh

Food and drink:
• Lots of water! – Both in the trunk and inside the car
Insulated water bottle to keep your drinks cool
• Travel mug
• Food and snacks – Stock up on non-perishable snacks (granola bars, fruit, turkey jerky, nuts, dry cereal, popcorn, crackers,  trail mix) but you can keep some food in the cooler as well.

Travel journal and pen
• Books, audio books or kindle
• Music playlist
• Road trip games (Mad Libs on the RoadLicense Plate Game)

Other recommended items to keep in the car
• Car seat back organizer – This one has an insulated main compartment and this is a good one for kids
• Day pack (tote or small backpack)  – Handy for exploring your destination but also to keep in the car with your road trip essentials
• Blankets for keeping warm
• Umbrella
• Pillows
• Towels – Can be used as a seat cover or picnic blanket, to cleanup spills or dry off in an unexpected downpour.
• Paper towels
• Toilet paper in case you run into bathrooms without any!
• Plastic and trash bags
• Camera – Make sure to keep a camera in the car.  Also consider a GoPro for videos or instax camera
• Binoculars
• Pocket knife
• Window shades

Family road trip essentials – if traveling with kids:
• Baby wipes
• Tablets loaded with movies & educational games
• Headphones for each kid (my niece loves these headphones)
• Notebooks and colored pencils
• Change of clothes for younger children – keep in the car so they are easily accessible in case of spills or illness
• Extra formula/baby food/diapers for infants
• Flip flops
• Favorite toy or stuffed animal
• A bucket with plastic bags inside for for garbage or emergency car sickness

Pet road trip essentials:
• Leash, collar, tags
• Pet food and medication
• Vaccination records
• Bed, crate and toys

What road trip essentials are on your packing list?
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The Ultimate Road Trip Packing List
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  1. This list is a great resource! I take frequent road trips and I always carry a paper map as well. I learned my lesson on a cross country trip and we ran into several areas where our GPS lost satellite service. Crazy. I know. But now I carry an atlas in my minivan everywhere I go.

  2. We are a fulltime vanlife family. I do agree with most of these. But, we have added a few things and have done away with others after some time on the road. We don’t do movies in the car or tablets anymore, instead we choose to read or play interactive road games with our kids. And we don’t put the dogs in crates, they are happier when they are free to stretch out or look out the window. And for the GPS solution, we carry a portable hot spot to connect to phone service when we need to reload our map.
    Great idea for a post!

  3. Before each trip, I think it is very important for us to plan our safe and comfortable road trip especially preparing car for our trip such as checking basic car features, making sure the tires are in good shape, packing first aid kit, tool-box and emergency numbers.

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