road trip essentials disclaimer
headwear and socks for road trips

It’s backpacking season! And this means…road trip! Well, close enough. Generally speaking, backpacking usually runs from late September to mid-November–in most places. Here in Florida, the peak of the backpacking season is from December to March. This is when we have the nicest weather and less of the irritating bugs of the wild. Backpacking season is the perfect time to pack your bags with some road trip essentials and go to one of many cool places for hiking in the U.S.

road trip essentials traveling to New Orleans

Regardless if you decide on a backpacking destination, a cabin or a hotel, you will still need to pack some road trip essentials. I think of this list as a ‘don’t forget this‘ type of thing. I’m a huge planner. But my skills kind of decline when it comes to keeping everything in check without forgetting.

Road Trip Essentials That you Need to Pack

Are you traveling solo? Is this a road trip you’re taking with kids? Is your plus one bringing in more friends along for the trip? The answers to these questions will determine the changes you need to make to your own essentials list. However, this list that works for me, can work for you too! Feel free to add more personal items that you might need.

Driving/Car Essentials

  • Roadside emergency kit
  • Proof of insurance, license, registration
  • Spare tire. I learned this one the hard way! Because I didn’t really check if mine was still good. Don’t let it happen to you!
  • Flashlight
  • Umbrella
  • Cash/coins for tolls. Even if you have a toll pass, these will come in handy
  • Cell phone mount. It’s such a hassle not having one!
  • Driver’s permit. If you’re traveling abroad and doing an international road trip, you can apply for an international driver’s permit.
  • GPS/maps. Although we pretty much use the GPS directly from our phones, it’s good to have a backup one just in case. I’m also a huge fan of city maps!

Road Trip Essentials for the Kids

road trip essentials bing for the kids
  • Travel games. I usually get the Road Trip Bingo and the Travel Scavenger Hunt for my niece and nephews. They love these!
  • Deck of playing cards. We love UNO cards!
  • Favorite toys
  • Coloring books. Don’t forget your crayons or coloring pencils
  • Pillows
  • Blankets
  • Snacks. Lots of snacks!
  • Insulated water bottle. Although I really love my Myna water bottle, apparently they are discontinued. However, these Hydro Cell bottles are really good too, and are aesthetically similar to the Myna.

Entertainment Essentials

instax mini camera classic is a road trip essential
  • Cameras. Having photography as a career makes it hard for me to not pack any cameras. What can I say? It’s in my DNA!🤷🏻‍♀️ I take my Nikon film camera, Instax Film Instant camera, and my Nikon DSLR
  • Reading material
  • Notebook with pen
  • Music playlists/podcasts
  • Phone/tablet
  • Car charger
  • Headphones

Toiletries Essentials

  • First-aid kit
  • Tissues
  • Anti-bacterial hand wipes
  • Facial wipes. These are great to freshen up while driving!
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Lip balm. I cannot live without this! Especially when I’m driving for long hours. My favorite is the Kiehl’s Mint Scented Lip Balm.
  • Sport Sunscreen. This is my favorite one to wear when I’m hiking because it doesn’t feel oily or sticky.
  • Face Sunscreen. I this every single day so it’s already a go-to item on my bag. The Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Lotion Sunscreen has been my favorite for years!
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush.
  • Bath Soap. Because who likes hotel soaps anyways?
  • Bug spray. Did I mention bug spray?

Other Personal Items you Should Pack

  • Pain reliever/meds
  • Sunglasses. I have to mention this because although I have 3 pairs in my car, I went on a different car for my last trip and totally forgot my sunglasses. So, yes, I had to buy another pair on the way.

Get your Road Trip Essentials Checklist!

Save this checklist for your future road trip. You’re welcome 😁

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road trip checklist

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About Author

Outdoor travel blogger, photographer, and Vampire Diaries obsessed. I'm passionate about hiking, and exploring the outdoors is an essential part of my life. I also love the ocean and warm sunny days.

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  1. Reading this makes me want to go on a road trip ASAP! I wouldn’t think of packing a roadside emergency kit, but this checklist has made me think twice!

  2. Great post! We were planning on doing a road trip around our home country now that we can’t go anywhere else. But it’s still quite scary because certain areas are living with COVID while others aren’t!

  3. It is great to see that you have included items to keep families safe and also to ensure that everyone enjoys the trip. I find that having card games with riddles work well. Also, games like “I spy” is also a good family favourite.

  4. I’ve learned the spare tire lesson myself, when my tire exploded on the highway and I had nothing to replace it with. I was so sure that I had a spare one in the boot, imagine my shock when I opened it and it wasn’t there. Since then I never leave on a road trip without checking that my spare tire is in the boot.

  5. these ideas and tips are definitely very helpful and useful one though…glad you shared them with us..found it so helpful one..

  6. I havent been on roadtrip since february 2020. Many things happened in between, I need to get going soon plus these essentials are compulsory!

  7. These are all wonderful items to have on hand for road trip essentials. I especially love having a road hazard kit on hand at all times because if you are prepared you usually do not need it.

  8. Snacks, Coloring books, and more snacks for sure! I always try to remember a small first aide kit when i go on road trips as well.

  9. Awesome post!! We love to road trip and I agree… if you aren’t properly prepared, especially with kids, it could make for a long trip!

    1. I’m glad it could help! I created this list 2 years ago after a road trip to North Georgia. Needed a couple of things that I didn’t have, so I decided to write them down. I don’t know why I waited so long to share it but at least it’s now at reach 🙂 Thanks for reading!

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