Road trip packing list

Road trip packing list


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Road trip packing list dog
45 items to put on your road trip packing list.

If you have ever been on a road trip, you’ll know that making a packing list for a road trip is as important as mapping out the road trip itinerary. It doesn’t matter where you’re planning your road trip, from scenic coastal drives to cross-country journeys. or how long you’re planning to go, there are essentials that should be on your road trip packing list. Here’s our road trip checklist to help you pack.




1- Driving paperwork

Always carry your driver’s license in your wallet or purse and do not leave home without it. Make sure your car registration is current. Make a photocopy of your car insurance policy (contact details of your insurance company) and put it in your glove box. Don’t rely on your smartphone or notebook, just in case.

2- Roadside assistance membership

Having a roadside assistance membership is definitely handy for times you might need help.

3- Car manual

Count on that pesky warning light to keep flashing when you just happen to be out of cell phone range.

4- Spare tire

Check that your spare is in good condition before your trip.

5- Maps

Paper maps might be fast going out of style but they can be really useful to help you orientate yourself, especially when you’re in an area with patchy cell service.

6- Sunglasses

Pack polarized sunglasses for driving or anti-glare sunglasses for clearer night vision.

7- Toilet paper

A roll of toilet paper is handy for emergencies and when you’re on the road in countries that have toilets that might not be stocked.

8- Large Water Bottles

Staying hydrated is essential while on a road trip, especially in summer, so pack more water than you think you’ll need. Have at least one water bottle for each person in the car and an extra bottle for emergencies.

9- First aid kit

Pack a first aid kit stocked with band-aids, bandages, antiseptic and painkillers (being in a car with a headache is no fun!) and being forced to stop to look for a band-aid can be a nuisance.

10- Roadside Emergency Kit

You never know when you might have a flat battery or tire. Buy a roadside emergency kit with the essentials for a road trip emergency, such as battery charger cables, window breaker, light sticks and air compressor.



1- GPS

Update the software on your GPS before you leave or you risk being directed onto older (and longer) routes. Download a mapping app, such as Waze or Roadtrippers, and have a paper map as a backup for when there’s no cell service.

2- Road trip apps

Sign up for a few hotel booking sites, such as,, and download their booking apps before you leave.

3- Smartphone charger

Don’t forget your smartphone charger and take a spare as a backup in case you leave it somewhere unintentionally. Get one with multiple USB slots so you can keep your GPS plugged in while you charge your phones and notebooks.

4- Bluetooth headphones

Download a selection of travel games on a tablet and pack a set of Bluetooth headphones if you’re planning a cross-country road trip with the kids.

5- Battery packs

Pack a high-capacity battery pack, which you can charge up before you go. This might be especially handy if you’re planning on doing a bit of work while on your trip.

6- Portable satellite 

Watch live shows as you cruise along the highway with the help of a portable satellite antenna.

7- Flashlight

You’d be surprised at how handy a basic flashlight can be while on the road. Better still, get a rechargeable solar flashlight that can also be used as a seat belt cutter and glass window breaker. Some have USB chargers that you can use to charge up your smartphone in an emergency.

8- Download music

Even if the scenery is stunning, there will be long stretches of road where you will enjoy filling the car with good music.

9- Swiss Army Knife

A multi-purpose tool that may come in handy for a number of reasons. Technology versions come with USB sticks too.

10- Drone

Capturing the places you visit on your road trip from the air is fun and will provide a memorable visual journal of your road trip. A mini-drone can cost as little as $50 or treat yourself to the top-of-the-range of portable travel drones.



1- Blanket

For when you happen to come across the perfect picnic spot or if you get cold. A microfleece blanket dries quickly and is light enough to take with you on your next flight.

2- Travel Pillow

Planning on snoozing in the car? A travel pillow will come in handy. If you are a light sleeper, bring your regular pillow for comfort. A nifty product to get is a microfleece blanket in a bag that you can use as a travel pillow.

3- Travel Mug

Choose a travel mug with a leak-proof lid to stop the liquid from spilling.

4- Rain jacket

A rain jacket or umbrella to keep you dry when you need to get out of the car.

5- Reusable Shopping Bag

They fold up and fit in your handbag and are useful for popping to the shop while on the road. As many places are banning plastic bags, a reusable shopping bag is a good item to have.

6- Garbage Bags

Keep your car clean of wrappers and other garbage and if you want to be really organized get a leak-proof garbage bag to hang behind the seat.

7- Road trip snacks

While on a road trip, the best snacks to nibble on are healthy snacks that will give you the energy to keep driving. It’s cheaper to stock up with a big pack than to buy individual items along the way.

8- Hiking boots

Even if you aren’t an avid hiker, there will be times when the opportunity to stretch your legs and explore the landscape will present itself. A sturdy pair of hiking boots can make all the difference to your comfort level.

10- Daypack

There will be times when you decide on going for a hike and need a travel daypack to store the items you should carry with you.



1- Window Shades

A pack of sunshades for the car is extremely useful to stop the sun streaming through the side windows.

2- Insect Spray

Keep those bugs, sandflies and mosquitoes away!

3- Sun Screen

Wear sunscreen if you’re driving long distances with the sun on your skin to avoid sunburn.

4- Hand sanitizer

A bottle of hand sanitizer is helpful when you come in contact with germs or can’t find somewhere to wash your hands.

5- Body Wipes

Body wipes are a great option when you need to freshen up or for emergencies.

6- Quickdry Towel

Have you ever driven past a beach and have been tempted to jump in the ocean for a swim?

7- Hat

A visor, hat or cap to keep the sun off your face.

8- Swimwear

9- Sandals

10- Car Cooler

There’s nothing like an ice-cold drink on a hot summer’s day and a car cooler is also useful to keep sandwiches and other food fresh.



1- Snow Shovel

Look for one that folds up and won’t take up a lot of space.

2- Ice Scraper

3- Mittens

4- Lip balm

When the air is dry, especially in winter, a pot or stick of lip balm will soothe cracked lips.

5- Car seat warmers

If your car doesn’t already have an inbuilt seat heating function you can get car seat cushions to keep your seat warm.

If you think of anything else that should be on our road trip packing list, please leave a comment below to let us know.

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I'm a writer, photographer and video blogger based in Queensland, Australia, when I'm not on the road. I've lived in three continents and my career as a travel journalist has take me to all seven continents. Since 2003, I have contributed travel stories to mainstream media in Australia and around the world such as the Sydney Morning Herald, CNN Traveller, The Australian and the South China Morning Post. I have won many travel writing awards and I'm a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.


  1. Great suggestins for a road trip packing list. We used to take many road trips when our son was home. We always carried a cooler in the car and also used apps for our destinations. There is a lot of useful information on these apps.

  2. I don’t think I have ever made a road trip packing list in my life. But this is one really awesome list and handy too. Particularly love your section for “techno warriors”. A lot of brilliant suggestions to take on board.

  3. I have done several road trips in the last few years and I’d have to say you have covered pretty much everything one needs on the road! I have never, however, done a road trip in the winter and this is very helpful for me to know what I need to take care of if and when I do one, thanks 🙂

  4. This is a good ready reckoner of things to carry and prepare before a road trip. You just need a check box to tick them as you prepare for the road. Sharing it around with a lot of road trippers who will love the list.

  5. I’ve never been on a road trip before but we are planning to go in one soon. Your packing list looks pretty complete. I like that you included some personal items (e.g sunscreen and hand sanitiser) on the list.

  6. I am looking at this list (as an experience road tripper in Europe) and I am sure there is something missing but I cant see it. He he. I think you covered everything. Was gonna mention baby wipes and swiss army knife but you got there before me. They are very essential. 😀

  7. A guide for all seasons! Good tunes are of the utmost importance for any road trip. Or maybe it’s snacks… I didn’t realize that drones could be so cheap! That will make the road trip that much more fun to document. Thank you for the guide to road tripping!

  8. I wish I was like that dog, while packing for travels 🙁
    I think you have a comprehensive list and have left nothing out. However, during road trips, we tend to carry a bit more as there is no weight-limit 😉

  9. I guess the road trip packing list depends on where you’re going (for example, you’d need a blanket if you’re in a country where you have the possibility to stop and enjoy a nice picnic or you’d need toilet paper if you’re in a country where they don’t usually stock much in the public toilets) but this pretty much sums it all! It’s quite the comprehensive list I’d say. I definitely make sure to carry some good music, keep the roadside assistance number handy and have GPS or access to maps on the phone, even a hard copy helps at times when you’re in areas where you may not have a GPS signal at all!


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