The 25 Essential (But Oft-Forgotten) Items on a Road Trip

Updated 05/07/19
Roading Trip Packing List
@bontraveler

Out of all the vacations to go on, road trips are easily one of our favorites. Not only are they more affordable than flights to faraway destinations, but they also allow for more bonding time with travel companions, you get to explore and discover places you'd probably never see otherwise, and there's plenty of room for spontaneity. Though being out on the open road will give you an exhilarating sense of freedom, there's a lot of room for error if you don't come prepared. And by error, we're talking about anything from getting severely annoyed at your passenger when hangry to not being well-equipped for an impromptu photoshoot at a gorgeous location, and getting lost or stranded without a AAA rescuer or gas station for miles.

Nightmare-worthy indeed, but don't let that scare you off. All you need to do is pack well. So to make sure you come prepared, we came up with an exhaustive 26-item road trip packing list. And even if you're just going on a long drive (Anything over a couple hours), this checklist will make sure that you don't forget the important stuff. To make sure you experience all the fun that road trips promise, keep scrolling to see everything you should toss in the trunk. We'll start with the safety basics first, and then we'll move into cosmetics, comfortable outfits, and some extras to make it a fun and tear-free trip.

If you're ready, start loading up the trunk with this checklist in tow. 

What to Keep In Your Car For Emergencies
Izola Camp and Cabin Multi Tool $58
Shop

This all-in-one tool with 20 unique uses is the most stylish all-purpose set we've ever seen. Keep this in your car in case of an emergency (even if you don't know how to use it, someone else probably will).

Best Made Company Large Metal First Aid Kit $98
Shop

This kit comes with everything you'd ever need to take care of little bumps and bruises and even life-threatening accidents. So it's a good idea to have one in your car just in case.

Craighill Wilson Key Ring in Blue $15
Shop

Out of all the potential travel inconveniences, losing your car keys in the middle of nowhere is pretty high on our zero-chill list. Keep track of your keys by looping them into an eye-catching keychain.

LuminAID Waterproof Solar & USB Chargeable Travel Light $20
Shop

And in case you get stranded at night, you should keep an emergency light with you so you feel safe and other cars can see you. (PSA: Don't run out the battery in your car by leaving the light on all night.) these are also super lightweight and easy to pack since they're inflatable. They last up to 12 hours. 

Anker Premium Auxiliary Audio Cable $5
Shop

What's better than the open road and a good playlist? We'll just leave it at that. 

Native Union Jump Cables $50
Shop

You should avoid running out of power on your phone in case you need to make an emergency call or look up directions. This Native Union cable will do just that since it doubles up as a charging cable and as a portable battery booster. 

Canon EOS Rebel 2000 35mm Film SLR Camera $150
Shop

Remember that impromptu photoshoot we mentioned earlier? You'll be ready to capture all the little moments and gorgeous landscape scenes with this film camera on hand. 

Diptyque 34 Scented Oval $39
Shop

This will keep the car smelling fresh, and everyone will be just a little bit happier, which is important when you're stuffed in a car with other people for a long time. Plus, it makes your adventure feel just a touch more luxe. 

Barebones Living Structured Nylon & Leather Travel Cooler $100
Shop

This nondescript cooler will keep your food and beverages cold for up to 48 hours. Hopefully, you won't get stuck on the road somewhere for that long, but if you have this cooler, you'll be good to go food-wise. Consider planning a pit stop so you can set up a picnic. 

Full Circle Home Brumi Pour Over & Cold Brew To-Go Bottle $37
Shop

You'll need to stay energized to drive those long stretches of road, especially if you're driving at night. This bottle allows you to take your pour-over coffee and cold brew on the go. 

La Boîte Spice Popcorn $17
Shop

Don't forget to pack snacks! This popcorn is calling our name with flavors like salted caramel, chocolate, and pesto.

Black and Blum Water Bottle With Charcoal Filter $20
Shop

Don't forget to stay hydrated. There may not be a good place to stop for a while, so always pack enough water to hold you over in the meantime. 

Shiva Rose Radiant Rosewater $75
Shop

Speaking of staying hydrated, we recommend bringing a nice face mist to stay fresh. This one is a tonic and a toner mist that rehydrates your skin with natural botanicals.

Olio e Osso Tinted Balm No. 2 $28
Shop

AC and heat will dry out your lips, which gets seriously uncomfortable. Olio e Osso makes really great all-natural lip balms with nourishing properties like olive and shea oils, and this leaves a beautiful pink-orange wash of color.

Redecker Natural Horn Small Toothed Comb $28
Shop

Compact enough to bring on the go, this comb will allow you to make quick touch-ups if you want to pose for a photo on the road or by a landmark.

Gold Lust Dry Shampoo
Oribe Gold Lust Dry Shampoo $22
Shop

Dry shampoo is a serious savior when you've been on the move and showers are a little less frequent than usual. Oribe's will help you freshen up, and it also smells amazing. 

L. Organic Cotton Tampons $7
Shop

Don't forget to pack some extra tampons with you in case you or your road trip buddies get an unexpected visitor. 

Panama Cosmetics Case
Smythson Panama Cosmetics Case $295
Shop

Speaking of forgetting things, pack any essential medications, supplements, and cosmetic items so that they're easy to access. And make sure you double-check before you take off. 

Coco Coco Linen Spray
Coqui Coqui Coco Coco Linen Spray $70
Shop

This linen spray is the perfect way to keep your clothing while you're between washes. Just mist it over your items, and you'll notice an instant improvement. 

Tide To Go Stain Remover $9
Shop

And if you want to avoid washing altogether, remember to pack a trusty Tide to Go pen in case you spill while driving over a pothole or bump.

Raya wool and mohair-blend cardigan
Acne Studios Raya Wool and Mohair-Blend Cardigan $430
Shop

When you're bouncing from place to place, it's important to prepare for multiple climates and sudden changes in temperature. This cozy mohair cardigan is the perfect layering sweater for fall.

Miu Miu Wallet $203
Shop

When traveling long distances, you should always keep extra cash in case your credit card doesn't work. And don't forget to bring your other necessities, like a AAA card, driver's license, health insurance card, and proof of insurance papers. 

Oliver Peoples MP-2 Round Metal Sunglasses $455
Shop

A pair of sunglasses can help you make a style statement and accessorize with ease while also protecting your eyes from the sun so you can see the road ahead. 

Women's
Martiniano Glove Metallic Leather Flats $460
Shop

Make sure your feet don't get sore by wearing a comfortable pair of shoes. We suggest wearing a cool pair of sneakers or pretty flats depending on your final destination. 

Soho Home Harrison Wool-Blend Sleep Set $250
Shop

Last but not least, pack some nap-friendly materials for the passenger. And if you end up having to sleep in the car at a rest stop for few hours, at least you'll be able to cuddle up with this cozy set. 

Did we miss anything? Feel free to add more items to our road trip packing list in the comment section below. For road trip destination inspiration, check out these five California itineraries.

Related Stories