The Essential Road Trip Packing List

When it comes to road trips, there’s no such thing as being over-prepared. You want to be sure that you have everything you need to have the best time possible, but you also don’t want to be so weighed down by bags and boxes that you can’t actually move or go see all the places you planned on seeing along the way. Here are some tips for what you should pack for your next road trip, to make sure that both of these things happen as smoothly as possible!

What to pack in your car

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many drivers don’t keep their car well stocked with gas. And don’t think that filling up before a trip will save you from being stranded on the side of the road—you never know when you might need to take an unexpected detour and push your car through uncharted territory. Fill up on gas regularly, and be sure to grab a map just in case.

What to pack with you

-jacket, sweater, hat, and gloves If you plan on leaving the car at any point during your trip, bring a sweatshirt or fleece as well. There’s nothing worse than being cold when you’re away from home. -snacks and drinks: Make sure to pack something for everyone to eat or drink along the way; but don’t forget that snacks are great distractions! Do some research before you leave to find out what people like in your travel companion’s town.

Necessary Clothing

Bring five t-shirts, three sweaters, two pairs of jeans, two dresses, one pair of shorts and six skirts. Make sure to bring a variety of clothes that go together so you can mix and match with various tops and bottoms. Add one pair of comfortable shoes and two or three pairs of athletic shoes depending on how much walking is planned. And don’t forget underwear!

Entertainment & Navigation Section

  • Portable DVD player – If your family has an old player, buy a cheap case for it to keep in the car.
  • Car DVD players are also an option, but many people use smartphones and tablets as devices that offer navigation and entertainment so I would recommend getting one of those if you have a data plan for your phone.

Essentials for the Car (First Aid Kit, Car Charger, etc.)

-Before you go, make sure your car is up to date on its scheduled maintenance. If something goes wrong, you don’t want to be stranded on the side of the road. -Depending on where you’re going, you may want to consider some emergency items in case something should happen while you’re out there.

First Aid Kit

  • Pain relievers
  • Antibiotic ointment – Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF
  • Insect repellent
  • Anti-diarrhea medication – Thermometer – Disposable first aid kit – Hydrocortisone cream (for itchy bug bites)
  • Aspirin or acetaminophen for pain relief
  • Cold medicines, including decongestants, antihistamines, and cough suppressants
  • Prescription medications, if needed

Accessories and Tools Section (Road Flares, Jumper Cables, etc.)

One of the most important pieces of road trip gear is your spare tire. Aside from being able to repair a flat tire, having one means you can change the car on the side of the road rather than waiting for a tow truck to come and change it for you. Get as many tires as possible and at least two jacks if you can fit them in your vehicle. If you don’t know how to change a tire, get an instructional video or manual from the car manufacturer.

Camping & Outdoor Essentials (First Aid Kit, Water Bottles, etc.)

If you are planning on camping for your next road trip, or even if you are planning on only staying in hotels, it is important to keep some emergency and everyday supplies on hand. For example, a first aid kit is a must! You never know when something might happen. You may need bandages or headache medicine. Water bottles will also come in handy since most places will not have tap water that is safe to drink. Camping food is another essential packable item- think granola bars, fruit leathers, jerky sticks, trail mix and beef sticks (just a few examples). And don’t forget the matches!


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