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Flight Departures 101: Essential Information for First-Time Travelers
Flying can be an exhilarating experience, but it can also be overwhelming, especially for first-time travelers. One of the most crucial aspects of air travel is understanding flight departures. Knowing the ins and outs of this process will not only make your journey smoother but also help you avoid unnecessary stress. In this article, we will provide you with essential information about flight departures to ensure a hassle-free travel experience.
Understanding Flight Departure Times
When planning your trip, it is important to pay close attention to your flight departure time. Airlines typically provide a scheduled departure time that indicates when the aircraft is expected to leave the gate. However, keep in mind that these times are subject to change due to various factors such as weather conditions, air traffic, and technical issues.
It is advisable to arrive at the airport well in advance of your departure time. This allows you enough time for check-in procedures, security checks, and any last-minute preparations.
Checking in for Your Flight
Checking in for your flight is an essential step before departing. Most airlines offer online check-in services allowing you to confirm your presence and select seats ahead of time. Online check-in can save you valuable time at the airport by bypassing long queues.
If online check-in is not available or convenient for you, traditional check-in counters are still widely available at airports. Arriving early ensures that you have ample time to complete this process without feeling rushed.
Security Procedures and Boarding
Once you have checked in for your flight, it’s time to proceed through security procedures. Be prepared by having necessary documents such as identification and boarding passes readily accessible. Follow all instructions provided by airport staff and comply with security regulations regarding liquids, electronics, and other restricted items.
After clearing security checks, pay attention to announcements regarding boarding procedures. Boarding typically starts around 30-45 minutes before the scheduled departure time. Listen for your flight number and boarding group to avoid confusion. Follow the instructions of the airline staff and present your boarding pass for verification.
Navigating the Departure Area
Once you have successfully boarded the aircraft, take a moment to familiarize yourself with your assigned seat and stow any carry-on luggage in the overhead compartments or under the seat in front of you. Pay attention to safety demonstrations provided by flight attendants, as they are designed to ensure your well-being during the flight.
During taxiing and takeoff, remain seated with your seatbelt securely fastened until it is safe to move about the cabin. Once cruising altitude is reached, you are free to use electronic devices if permitted by airline regulations.
In conclusion, understanding flight departures is crucial for first-time travelers. Pay attention to departure times, arrive early at the airport, check-in efficiently, navigate security procedures, and follow boarding instructions. By following these guidelines, you can ensure a stress-free travel experience from start to finish. Bon voyage.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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Road Trip Packing List
The ultimate packing list including all of the road trip essentials you need to travel by car. We cover it all: men’s and women’s focused items from bags, to clothing and toiletries, to cooking supplies, and more.
The Road Trip Essentials: Gear for An Epic Road Trip
Welcome to the Road Trip Packing List where we’re going to cover everything you need to make your road-tripping adventure worthy of the big screen. While road trips can last anywhere from a weekend to a year or more, we’ve formulated this list to work for trips that span from a week to a month or so. (But you can adapt it to fit your needs.)
Now, it can be tempting to pack a lot of gear for a road trip—you’re not limited by airline restrictions, after all—but we suggest packing the least amount of stuff possible. Beyond ensuring more legroom, we’ve found that packing minimally helps to keep a clear mind. Additionally, you won’t have to go digging through a trunk full of stuff to pull out the few things that you actually use.
On that note, we’ve kept this list as minimal as possible while keeping comfort and convenience in mind. We don’t guarantee that this packing list will prevent misadventures—which are part of the fun, anyway. But we believe this list will help you pack what you need (while staying comfortable) without being burdened down with a bunch of excess gear. That way, you can worry less about rummaging through your stuff and focus more on those classic road trip experiences.
Collectively, our team has driven thousands and thousands of miles. We’ve taken what’s worked and what hasn’t and distilled all the gear you need down into one mega list—with one exception.
We haven’t included a section on vehicle specific items because what you need differs from vehicle to vehicle. Make sure you consider these vehicle-specific essentials before you take off, including tools, battery cables, a spare tire, nice windshield wipers (splurge on these, trust us), windshield washer fluid, etc. Plus, you need to pack your driver’s license, insurance, registration, passport, car manual, and other like items. (And, if you’re going abroad, there may be additional things you need to pack.)
Of course, we know that what works for some isn’t going to work for others (even the Pack Hacker team differs). So, if the items on this list aren’t your thing, don’t worry. We have other packing lists , guides , and reviews to help you find gear that works for you.
We’ve also written up a massive road trip guide to help you navigate all of the other aspects of a road trip (safety, finding accommodations, the best way to pack your car, and more), so check it out if you’re so inclined.
With all of that said, let’s get packing.
Standalone Bags & Organizers
We’ve found that the classic duffle, backpack, and sling bag combo (DBS, for short) is the best for road trips. Duffles are great for hauling the majority of your clothes as they’re typically easy to pack—both in terms of throwing your stuff into one and Tetris-ing in the car. The backpack can act as an overnight bag or daypack while exploring whatever zany attraction you’ve stopped at. And the sling bag is for the essentials and quick stops.
A classic duffle that’s ideal for road trips in its simplicity. It’s easy to dump all of your stuff inside the one compartment—basically a giant, cavernous bucket—so you can spend less time packing and more time enjoying the wind in your hair. Its soft sides will squish into the nooks and crannies leftover in your fully packed car. Plus, you can easily grab the comfortable handles and take the duffle into the laundromat (or the hotel if you’re staying more than overnight). Tom Bihn is also known for the quality of its gear, so while this thing doesn’t have much weather-resistance, it’s highly durable in all other regards.
Versatility is key when it comes to choosing the right backpack for a road trip—and that’s why we’re recommending the Borealis. At 28L, this pack is large enough to hold all of the clothes and toiletries you need for a weekend trip, but small enough to act as a daypack for those longer drives. Plus, its dedicated laptop compartment means it’ll work as a laptop bag if you need to head to the coffee shop to get some work done. It’s also a great bag to take on hikes due to its comfortable harness system and durable, weather-resistant exterior.
A sling bag is a perfect place to stash your wallet, phone, and keys on the road. Not only so you know where all that important stuff is when not directly using them (trust us, there’s nothing worse than losing your keys in a packed car), but so that you can easily throw your sling over your shoulder and go buy a cup of coffee. It’s also nice for day trips and quick hikes. We’re digging the Atom Sling due to its simple, effective organization as well as the soft mesh on the back panel and shoulder strap, which makes it super comfortable to carry. Plus, it’s a great size—large enough to carry the essentials and a water bottle or packable jacket on day trips/hikes.
Clothing & Accessories
Road trips frequently involve a variety of scenarios: sitting down to a fancy dinner with your grandpa, camping at a goat farm, or spending the day at the beach to name a few. (And, of course, lots and lots of driving.) We suggest versatile, durable clothing that can keep up with whatever life on the road throws at you. Comfort is also key. Who likes sitting in a cramped car for eight hours wearing skinny jeans? Nobody, that’s who. Additionally, we prefer clothes that feature antimicrobial properties or anti-odor treatments (for what should be obvious reasons).
- Men's Focused
- Women's Focused
You can wear these boxers multiple days in a row without being gross. That in itself makes us like them for life on the road, but they’re also breathable, soft, and moisture-wicking. Plus, the direction of the fabric on the legs runs vertically, so it stretches with your natural movement. Translation: the stretch on these boxers is fantastic. We’re also digging their clean, sophisticated look (no branding on the waistband...yeah, we know!).
These pants are sleek and polished enough for the city, but versatile enough to work for an eight-hour drive, fast food eating session, or day on the trails. Yes, these pants do it all. We’re huge fans of the crotch gusset, which gives these pants extra flexibility and breathability (two must-haves for long days in the car or hot afternoons exploring).
With a techy, almost sweatpants-y vibe, these pants are ideal for long driving days, traipsing through the forest, or lounging at your Airbnb. We like the technical fabric, which is thin enough that you won’t overheat, but still nice and durable. We’re also digging that the pockets zip all the way up, so you’re less likely to have your phone and/or lucky charm slip out of your pocket and get lost between your seat and the middle console (you know what we’re talking about). The waistband is also very forgiving, meaning you can go ahead and order the french fries and the onion rings.
Shorts that double as swim trunks—sometimes it’s awesome to be living in the 21st century. These shorts are also comfortable, breathable, and stretchy. Plus, they’re available in a variety of subdued and stylish colorways, and won’t break the bank.
This tee boasts all of the magical properties of Merino wool, including odor-resistance, temperature-regulation, and a fast drying time. It also feels nice—lightweight and breathable, but not thin. All of these features, paired with its simple aesthetic, mean that it’s quite versatile—wear it driving, hiking, lounging, or bar-hopping.
With a sporty, outdoorsy vibe, this tee may not be perfect for a five-star restaurant, but it’s great for pretty much everything else. It has built-in UPF sun protection and odor-control that’s comparable to Merino wool (not quite, but close). We like that it’s moisture-wicking and lightweight, so you can turn off the air-conditioning and still keep cool. It’s also quick-drying, so you can use it during any water-activities that may arise on your trip. NOTE: Patagonia is in the process of updating the Capilene line to provide 50+ UPF protection, so availability may be limited.
Made from a blend of Merino wool, the Icebreaker Siren Hipkini Briefs are ideal for life on the go. They’re breathable, quick-drying, comfortable, soft, and more importantly, odor-resistant, so you can go longer between washes (or opt for a quick sink wash instead). Bring two, so you can let each pair breathe between wears.
These pants offer great versatility. They’re comfortable and lightweight enough to wear on driving days, breathable enough to wear on trails, and polished enough to wear to happy hour. We also like that they’re wrinkle-resistant, so you can crumple them up and toss them in your duffle without worrying how they’ll fare. The only downside is that the pockets aren’t as usable as we would like.
All you need to know about the Encircled Dressy Sweatpant is in the name. These sweats are oh-so-soft and stretchy—perfect for long drives—yet dressy enough you can step out of your car without being embarrassed. They’re also relatively thin, so you’re not likely to get overheated, and feature a secret zippered pocket that’s actually hard to spot (unlike other “secret” pockets out there). So we guess it’s not all in the name, after all.
Breathable and short (without looking excessively short), these lululemon shorts are great for hot days exploring the city, hiking up a mountain, or getting your exercise on. We like that they have two pockets—one zippered, one stash—for extra cash or cards. Plus, they’re available in a range of colors, so you can (hopefully) find one that you like.
The odor-resistant, temperature-regulating, and moisture-wicking properties of this Merino wool t-shirt are a must for long days in the car or out exploring—plus it’s nice enough you can get away with wearing it out to dinner. It’s wrinkle-resistant too, so you can pull it out of your duffle, throw it on, and look sharp. Need we say more?
This tank is quick-drying, so you don’t have to sit in discomfort after spilling your water bottle all over yourself when driving over a pothole. Plus, it’s moisture-wicking and has solid odor control. As its name suggests, it’s best for active days on the trails, but all of those aforementioned features mean it's great for driving days too. You can also rock it in the city if you’re going for a sporty look. NOTE: Patagonia is in the process of updating the Capilene line to provide 50+ UPF protection, so availability may be limited.
Perfect for those days when you can’t be bothered to wear separates, this romper is soft, stretchy, and comfortable. It has also been treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) to repel moisture. The small details—like the crisscrossed straps on the back, scalloped hem, and draped waist elevate the romper’s look and make it easy to dress it up. So, you can wear it both on a lazy day at the campground and a night out on the town.
A versatile sports bra that will work for low-impact activities, including hiking, yoga, or a bike tour through the city. You can wear it beneath a tank or on its own. In fact, we think it’s sleek enough that you could get away with wearing it with a jacket and jeans for a night out (of course that depends on your style preferences). It's also double lined for extra support, quick-drying, and has UPF50+ protection.
A headband is a versatile tool to have in your arsenal. It can help out a bad hair day, keep your hair out of your face, and elevate an outfit. We’re digging this one as it can be worn in two ways (more versatility!) and has a soft, silky material. Plus, Breezy Tee uses 100% recycled materials in its packaging, which is a huge plus in our books.
Perfect for stargazing on chilly nights or when sharing a car with someone who loves to blast the air conditioning, this sweater is the epitome of cozy. It’s soft and warm, yet breathable. You’ll likely never want to take it off. And, of course, being from Patagonia, it’s also made from 100% recycled polyester and is Fair Trade Certified™ sewn.
Also, make sure to pack:
- Additional pairs of underwear (x 3)
- Pair of jeans
- Nice shirt for fancy dinners with Grandpa, walking through art museums, etc
- Packing cubes
- Hat (baseball cap style)
- Athletic shoes
- Cheap flip flops for showers
- Socks (x 4)
- Rain jacket
- Cold weather clothing—warm jacket, hat, gloves, and long underwear—if you will be driving to chiller climates or camping
Productivity & Tech
Road trips are a great way to unplug and recharge. But a little technology can go a long way in making your time on the road less of a mis adventure and more of an epic adventure.
And, if you’ll be working on the road, check out our Digital Nomad Packing List for all the tech you need to be able to do your job on the go.
While you can hit the road without a phone mount, we don’t suggest it. Not only is it more convenient to follow GPS directions with your phone mounted, it’s safer to boot. We’re digging this magnetic mount, which is pretty universal and will work with most smartphones, cases, and GPS devices. Plus, the magnet is super clean compared to other mount styles: no adhesive to stick to (and damage) your dash, no bulkiness, and easy to use one-handed.
An excellent tripod to keep your phone steady, so you can take photos or videos of your legendary trip. The flexible legs wrap around a variety of surfaces, allowing you to capture moments you would otherwise miss. Plus, it’s so small, you’ll hardly notice it in your car.
We probably don’t need to convince you that a USB car adapter is a useful tool to have on the road. We like this one since it’s small and has two outlets, so you don’t have to fight over who needs to charge their phone the most…Unless there are more than two of you in the car. In which case, may we suggest rock-paper-scissors?
You need a phone cable to go with the car charger—or plug directly into your head unit. Anker is a brand we’ve had good luck with. Three feet is a great size as you don’t want anything too long—all the extra cable will get annoying. Conversely, too short will also be annoying. We like to pack multiple cables, either for sharing with car mates or to keep one in our tech kit and a couple in the car.
If you’re the type of person who likes to put pen to paper, you’ll likely love this travel journal. It helps you plan your trip—with spots to jot down research, keep track of reservations, and budget. Plus, there’s a travel log to memorialize your epic adventures. There’s enough space inside for twelve (!) dedicated trips.
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A headlamp is essential for camping and hiking—unless you have special night-vision magical powers, of course. But it’s also nice-to-have in other situations (say if you want to stay up reading all night, but your roommate wants lights out). We like that this one has a variety of brightness settings, an option for red light, and a “memory” that lets you turn on your chosen brightness without cycling through all the options. Plus—it’s highly water-resistant (rated Rated IPX4), so you don’t have to worry about getting caught in a storm.
A dedicated alarm clock is a weird and specific thing to pack, we know. But you don’t want to leave your phone on at night—say if you’re camping or sleeping in your car—because it will kill the battery (or drain your battery bank). This is a solid workaround. It’s small, somewhat durable, and totally silent (as in you won’t hear it tick, not that the alarm itself is silent).
There are lots of power inverters on the market, but we’re digging this middle of the road option. It has decent wattage—it will charge most things that need charging (laptop, e-reader, phone)—but isn’t overkill. The two outlets and two USB ports are helpful to have, plus there’s a built-in fuse for safety. It’s also relatively compact, so it won’t take up too much space in your car.
- Headphones (noise canceling is clutch)
Toiletries & Personal Care
As far as we’re concerned, smelling of sweat and sunscreen is a part of the fun of road trips (…right?). But your car mates—and grocery store clerks, baristas, park rangers, and everyone else you come in contact with on your travels will thank you if you freshen up from time to time.
Unlike the Toiletries & Personal Care sections in our other packing lists, not everything we list here will fit into your Dopp kit. In fact, we recommend only keeping the toiletries you’ll need for showers and your morning/evening routines in your Dopp kit. Everything else—think toilet paper roll and coconut oil—can and should be tucked out of the way in one of the plastic bins we mention later on in this packing list. That way, you can get to said items when you need them, but you don’t have to sort through them to get to your toothbrush every morning.
Cologne won’t completely mask your haven’t-taken-a-shower-in-a-week odor, but it will help. Fulton & Roark offers several scents to choose from, so you should be able to find a fragrance that suits you. (Check out the full review for our team’s favorite scents.) And, because it’s solid, you don’t have to worry about spills.
If you haven’t used a menstrual cup before, it may take some time to get used to (we suggest trying it out before your road trip). But, once you get used to it, it’s amazing to have on the road. You can use it for up to 12 consecutive hours, so you don’t have to clean it at questionable rest stops. Plus, the Blossom Cup doesn’t use any harmful rubber or plastics and comes in at a super affordable price point.
Perfect for those days you want to smell extra nice (or when your deodorant needs some help in masking your haven’t-taken-a-shower-in-a-week odor). Lush offers several different fragrances, so you should be able to find a smell that works for you. Plus, it’s solid, so you don’t have to worry about spills.
We like this Dopp kit for a couple of reasons. 1) It hangs up, which is an important feature for showering at gyms or campsites, and 2) It has a highly water-resistant pouch that you can take out of the kit and into the shower without worrying about it taking forever to dry. Note that there is a ton of organization inside of this bag, which may be right up your alley or feel limiting, depending on your travel style.
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You don’t need to abide by airline liquid rules, but we still prefer to put our liquids into small containers to save space. These toiletry bottles have been designed to fit perfectly inside the Gravel Toiletry Bag, but their unique shape means they fit together nicely to save space inside of any Dopp kit. We suggest using them for whatever liquids you plan to take with you on the road. Say conditioner and hair gel.
Sure, you don’t need a fancy soap case, but this thing is super nice to have. It’s not rigid like a hard-sided case—so it’s easier to pack—and it’s also way better than a plastic bag. The technical makeup of the case also allows the soap to dry out while being totally watertight, meaning your Dopp Kit and all your gear stays dry. Yeah, it’s basically magic.
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A microfiber, antimicrobial towel is about the most massively useful thing a road tripper might have (any Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fans out there? No?). In all seriousness, this microfiber towel is super handy. It’s necessary if you plan to shower at a campsite or gym, but also nice-to-have in case your Airbnb forgets to supply a towel. It’s also great for beach trips or picnics. The antimicrobial properties of the towel mean that smells are kept to a minimum and that you don’t have to wash it as frequently as other towels. Plus, this towel dries really, really quickly. Additionally, it packs down into a small carrying case that won’t take up much space in your car. There are a few different sizes available, so you can grab what you need—we recommend the XL.
You might not know, but coconut oil is a triple threat. It’s a great way to moisturize your skin after spending all day in the sun. Plus, you can use to strengthen and de-frizz your hair, and, finally, you can cook with it. We like that this one is organic with no added chemicals.
While this first aid kit doesn’t have a bunch of trauma stuff, it should take care of most minor ailments (and if you need trauma supplies, you should probably seek medical attention anyway). We like the extra hand-sanitizer and the addition of the anti-itch ointment. It’s also relatively small, so you can easily keep it in your middle console or glove box.
Stains happen on road trips. Like a lot. Whether it’s dropping melted chocolate onto your shorts while making s’mores around the campfire, spilling coffee on your shirt after hitting the road early, or rubbing dirt into your sweater on a picnic. A Tide to Go Pen won’t alleviate every stain out there, but it gets rid of most stains with just a few pats.
- Toothpaste or powder
- Hand sanitizer
- Shampoo bar
- Powder laundry detergent
- Hair creams or pomades
- Nail clippers
- Lip balm (road trips lead to cracked lips…trust)
- Toilet paper
- Gallon plastic bags
Cooking on the road is a great way to stretch your budget and stay healthy, whether you’ll be road-tripping for a weekend or six months. While the idea of cooking over a campfire is romanticized in that whimsical living-off-the-land kind of way, it’s not practical for a road trip that lasts any length of time. But you also don’t want to take the finest chef’s knife and ceramic pot and pan set from your kitchen either.
Finding the best supplies to spin up tasty meals out of your car—without taking up too much room in your trunk—is a difficult dance. Luckily, through lots of trial and error, we’ve come up with a list of what we find useful, but not overkill (of course, tailor it to your preferences).
YETI made a name for itself by taking the cooler world by storm, so, yeah, we’re going to recommend a YETI cooler. It keeps ice really well—we’re talking days in the right conditions—so you don’t have to continually buy ice. We recommend this soft-sided style as it can kind of expand or contract based on how full it is, can be jammed into places, and has a flat top, so you can throw some stuff on top of it. YETI also offers larger sizes if you think you’ll need that extra space.
You can use this lightweight tea kettle for far more than making tea. Boil water for instant oatmeal, coffee, sanitation purposes, etc. The one-liter size of this kettle is large enough you can boil enough water for the aforementioned activities (you can always fill it and boil it twice if need be), but not so large that it will take up precious space in your car. The coated handle is nice to grip.
This stainless steel bowl is great for eating on the road. First of all, it cleans up ridiculously easily. If you’re in a pinch, you can pour a little water into the bottom, clean off any gunk with your finger, rinse, and you're good to go. It’s also lightweight and small, but deep enough that you can fit a good amount of food inside. And, if you need more than one, they stack into each other nicely. Our only caveat is that it can get hot to the touch when you fill it with hot food, so keep that in mind.
Yes, we’re telling you to pack everything and the kitchen sink (ha!). But, seriously, you can’t actually travel with your sink, so this is the next best thing. You can fill it up with soapy water—or just use it to catch your dirty dishwater—to clean up your cooking mess while at a campground, rest stop, or super cheap Airbnb that doesn’t have a kitchen. Just make sure you properly dispose of the water.
If you’ve spent any time in a kitchen then you probably know why a towel is handy when it comes to cooking. The same is true on the road. (Hint: it’s primarily for drying dishes and your hands. You can also use it as an oven mitt to hold your stainless steel bowl when it’s super hot.) This microfiber towel is perfect for travel as it dries quickly, so you can throw it back in the car after a quick pit-stop without having to worry about weird damp towel smells.
It’s super convenient to have a big ole mixing bowl while cooking on the road. You can use it to store chopped up veggies before sautéing them, to hold giant salads, or do other large mixing bowl activities. We like that this one collapses into a small size, so it won’t take up space whenever not in use.
Plastic and paper grocery bags can make your car dirty in the blink of an eye. Plus, they’re not great for the environment. We’re digging this tote since it packs into a tiny size to stay out of your way when not in use. The included carabiner clip is also handy—you can clip it to your keychain, the exterior of your bag, or wherever else to ensure it doesn’t get lost in the black hole that is your trunk. And it works for far more than groceries—take it to the beach, on a picnic, or wherever else you don’t want to lug your day pack.
Cooking on the road can be a hassle, so it’s important to keep leftovers when you can. Stasher Bags are a great way to do that. First of all, they’re better for the environment than disposable plastic bags. But they also work better—you can throw them in the cooler without worrying about melted ice water penetrating the silicone exterior and turning last night’s dinner into water-logged mush. Additionally, you can eat straight out of them. These bags also work well for snacks—you can partition out serving sizes of trail mix, pretzels, or [insert-your-favorite-snack-here]. Stasher sells a variety of sizes and colorways, so you can find one (or several) that works for you.
You may not be able to make intricate, complicated meals with this cook set, but the two pots and pan allow you to cook a good variety of things. They nest inside of each other and tuck into a handy carrying bag, which makes for easy packing. The pots also have a strainer built into the lid, so you can drain pasta (or other things) without having to pack a separate colander.
When it comes to camping stoves, this one from Coleman is luxurious. The two burners allow you to make meals that require cooking multiple things at the same time—think grilling up veggies and cooking rice. It’s also durable, simple to use, and has a range of flame size. Plus, it packs up nicely.
Fuel for your stove—need we say more? Actually, yes, we do have more to say. Make sure you keep an eye out of how much propane you have left, so you don’t roll up to your campsite hangry and tired only to realize you can’t use your stove. Also, be sure to responsibly dispose of empty canisters.
There are several ways to make coffee on the road, but we’re partial to an AeroPress. Sure, it’s not the easiest option out there, but it makes such exceptional coffee that we think the trade-off is worth it. And, yeah, it may not be as easy as a pour over, but it’s also not rocket science.
These plastic bins are a great, affordable option to organize your cooking supplies. You can easily grab them from the backseat of your car and set them on a picnic table whenever you’re ready to fire up the stove. Use one for traditional supplies—think chef’s knife, bowl, spork, lighter, etc. Use the other for bottles—olive oil, soy sauce, etc—and spices that you’ll want handy while cooking (note that if you want to store taller bottles standing up, you won't be able to keep the lid on).
This flat storage bin easily slides into backseats and trunks, so it’s a good place to keep all of your non-perishable food (cans of beans, boxes of pasta, etc). Plus, it’s clear, so you can see what food you have and how much you have left at a glance.
Not only do you need water for drinking, but it’s necessary for cooking and cleaning up too. We like this container because its shape is designed for easy pouring, the spigot makes doing dishes easy (well, easier), and 7L is a great size.
- Titanium spork
- Wooden spatula
- Vegetable peeler
- Lighter and/or box of matches
- Thin, flexible, plastic cutting board
- Chef’s knife
- Paper towel roll
Sleeping & Camping
If you’ll be sticking to hotels and Airbnbs then this section doesn’t apply to you. But if you plan to spend some (or all!) of your trip camping and sleeping in your car, then you’re gonna need some stuff to help you get a good night’s sleep.
If you’ll be spending a lot of time in your tent, you’ll probably appreciate the space this tent provides. There’s enough room inside that you can stand up (!)—plus the fly goes all the way down for solid weather protection. That said, it’s going to take up more space in your car than a smaller tent and isn’t going to be great in heavy winds. Based on the length of your trip, how frequently you’ll be camping, and your personality, you can decide if the comfort and hangoutability (not a word, but go with it) of the Grand Hut is worth sacrificing some durability. Or if you would prefer something smaller. And, because REI will likely have REI-branded stuff at most of their locations, you should be able to drop by any REI store and easily get replacement parts or a new tent if your first one fails on you (within the scope of the one-year warranty).
You probably don’t need this technical of a sleeping pad, but it’s one of those things that are nice to have—especially if you’ll be sleeping on it nearly every night. It’s thick (for a sleeping pad) with great insulation to keep the cold from the ground from seeping into your body. Plus, it rolls up into a small size, so it won’t take up too much space in your car.
There’s a variety of highly technical, specialized, expensive sleeping bags on the market. This one is not one of them—but it’s all you (likely) need for basic car camping. It’s rated to 35℉, which is pretty dang cold, especially since most road trips take place in warm weather months (or involve chasing the sun). Plus, it’s not likely to make you too hot. It comes in two sizes (regular and long) and you can pick up a left-handed version if you’re left-handed. We also want to mention that it’s made from 100% recycled fabrics, which is, frankly, awesome.
While you could bring the pillow off of your bed, we suggest packing a specific pillow for camping. Just think of all the dirt and grime that camping involves. We’re digging this pillow since it’s made of soft, comfy, and up-cycled foam—perfect for camping and car naps. Plus, it’s compressible, so it won’t take up much space in your car when not in use. There are a few different sizes to choose from and plenty of colorways.
If you’re sleeping in your car—or even just lounging in it—you’ll want to be able to roll down your windows without inviting mosquitos inside to sleep with you. This netting will get the job done. Simply drape it over your windows and secure it with magnets. You only need one package if you want to cover two windows, but you’ll want two if you have large windows or several you want to cover.
These are the magnets you’ll need if you're draping mosquito netting over your windows. They may look tiny, but they are seriously strong. You may want to wrap these in duct tape before using them because, otherwise, they can rip the paint off of your car. Also, you can create little handles/pull tabs with the duct tape, so you can actually pull off the magnets.
This tarp isn’t durable enough for heavy lifting, but it’s a good all-around tarp to set your tent on to protect it from a wet ground/help extend its life. Additionally, you can tie the tarp over the windows if it’s raining and you need to sleep in your car (so you can keep the windows cracked without worrying about getting wet).
Rope is one of those things that seems to come in handy at random intervals. Say to help you tie your tarp over your windows in the aforementioned it’s-raining-while-you’re-sleeping-in-your-car scenario.
Not everything we recommend fits neatly into the above categories. While not as necessary as, say your toothbrush, these miscellaneous items will help you take your road trip to the next level. You know, the kinds of things you’ll be really glad you packed after a few days on the open road.
Road tripping with a reusable water bottle is the way to go (beyond environmentalism, who wants to drink lukewarm or, even, hot water from a plastic disposable bottle that’s been sitting in the car all day?). This bottle has double wall vacuum insulation to keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. The 18oz size is big enough that you should be able to quench your thirst, but it still fits inside most cup holders.
If you’re a coffee drinker you’re going to need a separate bottle for the delicious drink (for obvious reasons). This one seals, so you don’t have to worry about spills in between sips. And, because of its trigger-action lid, you can easily drink your coffee one-handed, which is ideal (and necessary) for driving.
This seven-in-one multi-tool isn’t going to be handy for any big things. In fact, we recommend you bring an actual tool kit for that kind of stuff. But the Shard is perfect for quick jobs like opening bottles or tightening the screw on that wobbly Airbnb chair. Plus, this little fella is small and inconspicuous enough to fit nicely on a keychain.
Part carabiner, part clip, the Heroclip is a handy tool to have around. Use it as a clip to hang things up. Or use it as a carabiner, which has a million different uses, from keeping your keys more secure inside of your bag, to clipping your water bottle to your pack. It’s available in a few different sizes and a variety of colorways and patterns.
This travel wallet is a great place to stash and organize your roadside assistance card, insurance, registration, America the Beautiful pass, passport(s), emergency cash, etc. All of the things you may need occasionally on the road, but don’t want to keep in your everyday wallet. And, because the wallet will mostly stay out of sight, you don’t need anything fancy looking. Plus it has a spot for coins (for showers!).
Between stopping for smoothies, enjoying a creamy milkshake, or slurping down ice water at a restaurant, road trips involve a fair amount of straw action. This stainless steel reusable straw is a great alternative to plastic straws. It folds down to a small, packable size, ends up being more fun to drink out of than disposable straws, and will help mitigate your environmental impact. That’s a win, win, win right there.
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This camping chair is a great middle-ground between a traditional big camping chair, which will take up precious space inside of your car, and something ultralight, which usually involves sacrificing comfort. Use it at a campground or sitting around a fire pit in the backyard of your Airbnb.
This thing is only necessary if you’ll be road tripping to a place without easy access to washers and dryers (or sinks). A simple concept, we’ve been impressed with how effective it is at cleaning clothes (the interior washboard makes all the difference). It does leave your clothes sopping wet, but as long as you keep drying time in mind, that’s not a huge problem.
These plastic bins are a great way to keep your stuff organized—whether that be camping stuff, paper towels, coconut oil, plastic bags, and other things of that nature. The lids clip into place, ensuring that whatever you have inside won’t fall out, plus they’re stackable to make for a nicely organized car.
These convenient little tubs work well for storing those random small items you want to take on the road. Say ibuprofen, vitamins, or jewelry. We like to fill a second one with snacks (think almonds) to take on quick hikes or day trips. Plus, they’re available in different sizes, so you can mix and match.
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- Playing cards
- Yoga mat (if you’re in to that sort of thing)
- DSLR camera
- Combination lock
Ready, Set, Drive.
So there you have it—everything we’ve found that you need for a successful road trip after years of trial and error by members of our team. We hope this list has helped ease any of your pre-road trip stress. Remember, this list is more of a guideline. Please adapt it to your trip and preferences ( our reviews may help you find gear that suits your needs).
And don’t forget to check out our Road Trip Guide for more advice, including tips on how to pack your car. Now, crank up that music, roll down your windows, and hit the road.
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30 Absolute Crucial Road Trip Essentials You Need To Be Packing
- packing list
Post Summary: Road Trip Essentials To Put On Your Next Packing list
So, you want the freedom of the open road, with nowhere to go but onward.
But what the heck do you need to pack?
Berty and I always find ourselves on the road ( our Instagram pretty much consists of road trip pictures! ), so we created a list of road trip essentials to minimize stops, keep us entertained and save us money along the way.
We’ve perfected this road trip packing list for countless trips – from Alaska to Utah , the Pacific Coast Coast to the Olympics in Washington .
If you are in the beginning stages (or dreaming up your next destination!) this post provides a great list to get you started, along with other road trip tips along the way!
Planning A Trip? Make Sure To Read These Posts For More Road Trip Essentials:
Car Camping 101: The Guide To Sleeping In Your Car (For Free!)
20 Brilliant Car Camping Hacks For Your Next Road Trip
How To Find Free Camping In The USA
101 Fun And Random Road Trip Questions To Ask Your Friends
15 Essential Road Trip Planning Apps To Use
30 Necessary Road Trip Essentials You Must Be Packing
Note: This post contains affiliate links of seriously cool items we love. Any purchase of things we recommend here will help us fund our next epic road trip to share with you all!
Ever been with a hangry passenger? Snacks absolutely need to be on your road trip packing list, especially if you want to save money while you travel . Make sure to bring a good mix of healthy foods like baby carrots, apples, nuts, and crackers.
Bring a mix of sweet and salty things, but also indulge in some junk food as well. Need meal tips? Read our post full of easy camping meals .
2. Good Navigation Apps
Have you ever lost your way, and lost cell service at the same time? It’s a jarring experience – one we don’t like to be in! Before any journey now, one of our most important road trip essentials is downloading a navigation app , especially one with offline features.
Currently, we’re loving The Dyrt and their new road trip planner feature! It helps us plan out stops like the best places to get gas, camping along our route, and it can even work offline.
We also recently upgraded to The Dyrt Pro Membership to find places to stay near some hot springs in Idaho, and it was so helpful to have these maps downloaded offline to look on the go! Try their pro membership free for 30-days when using our code MANDAGIES !
3. Kleenex / Hankerchief
If you are feeling under the weather, Kleenex can prevent further germs from infecting your other car mates too. Looking for a sustainable option ? Try to purchase a few bandanas instead, and washing them with the rest of your clothes on laundry day!
4. Emergen-C / Vitamin C Tablets
Speaking of sickness, in addition to packing lots of vitamin C rich foods, Emergen-C or an electrolyte drink mix/tablets can be a great way to support your immune system and overall health on a long road trip. We like to add these items on our road trip packing list because they usually come in a tablet or dry form, which is easy to store and carry.
Sometimes air conditioners can dry out the inside of the car. Add chapstick to your road trip essentials to help! We like buying from the brand Burt’s Bees , because they have lots of flavor options and are made with natural ingredients!
6. Car games/cards for delays or waits
If you are waiting, say, for a ferry or a traffic issue to clear, it’s always nice to fall back on classic card games (just not the driver!) or classic road trip questions to keep spirits up and your mind off the delays! Have kids? Download these free printable games and puzzles to keep them busy!
7. Headache Medication
Sitting in the car for long periods of time can take a toll. Ibuprofen, Advil, or other similar headache medication can be a great addition to any packing list because this over-the-counter product not only can relieve headaches but reduce fevers too.
Driving into the sunset can seem romantic, but not when you’re staring straight into the bright lights for hours on end. Save your vision and protect your eyes with these road trip must-haves!
9. Car Chargers
Berty and I have loads of tech we use on a regular basis during long road trips. To make sure our batteries are charged we have this car adapter to use when we’re driving from place to place. We’ve had it for years and we love that it not only has USB ports but regular ones for bigger items like laptops!
For me, I like to take off my shoes and get comfy on long road trips. We absolutely love the Ember Mocs made by Teva , because they have a collapsible heel. You can easily slip them on and off, or lift up the back for a little more grip on your foot.
When putting together your road trip packing list, bring a pillow for those times when it’s not your turn to drive. A pillow is also useful for when you need some quick shut-eye at rest stops to regain your energy and stay alert on the road.
We own two of these super comfy neck pillows (one on the driver side and the other on the passenger) and we actually use them as pillows for a clever car camping hack too.
Headphones are excellent road trip essentials for those times you need to have a little bit of space to yourself . These noise-canceling ones from Bose are a little pricey, but worth every penny for peace and quiet. Alternatively, you could purchase wireless ones , that easily fit in your pocket and take up very little space.
Don’t forget to account for enough clothes on your road trip packing list. Pack enough for the number of days you will be gone, or pack less and plan forr stops at a laundr0-mat. On any given trip, we recommend no more than 3 pairs of shoes and always pack more socks and underwear than you need. Find our PNW Packing List here !
Stylish and functional, make sure you have something to cover your eyes and protect your skin on an extra sunny day.
15. Audio Choices (Road Trip Podcasts, Playlists + More)
Entertainment is one of the most important road trip necessities!
Download playlists on Spotify so you can listen to them offline. We also highly recommend >audiobooks too, so that you can “read” while you drive. We listened to 20 hours of Ready Player One on our road trip around Vancouver Island , and we couldn’t wait for long stints in the car!
Want to learn new things? We have a list of the best road trip podcasts to check out, ranging from true crime to The Office recaps!
16. Little Bluetooth Speakers
Bluetooth Speakers are helpful in case you reach certain areas with poor reception, but still want to listen to music. We own this one!
17. A Cozy Blanket
Whether it’s cold at your destination or the air conditioning is too much to handle, a blanket is an easy go-to comfort on a long drive. You can also use it as a privacy screen if you are sleeping in your car.
It’s okay to have your favorite indulgences on your road trip packing list! That little burst of sugar will give you energy for the long drive ahead. Our favorites are gas station candy, which includes some combination of Sour Patch Kids and something chocolate!
Studies show that chewing gum can help you concentrate on the task in front of you . So grab your favorite flavor and get driving!
20. Paper Directions/ Road Trip Apps
Berty and I constantly lose service when driving on remote roads to find free camping spots . Make sure to screenshot the route on your phone, or track it on a map with a pencil in case you go out of cell range. Have a smartphone? Download these essential road trip apps to make your life easier!
21. Water Bottle
A hydrated driver is a happy driver! Easy, go-to water bottles here , here , and here . Need a LOT of water for your road trip? Try this 5-gallon foldable water cube for easy water transportation.
Ask at gas stations and convenience stores if you can fill your thermos with coffee instead of using their disposable cups. This reduces YOUR waste and probably does a better job of holding your hot beverage. I’ve got my eye on this Stanley thermos as my next purchase.
23. Empty Tote
Bringing an empty tote is an excellent addition to your road trip checklist for its many uses. Pack a tote full of food and have a roadside picnic or bring it with you to a local farmer’s market to pick up goodies.
Our favorite universal tote is this one , which has carried all sorts of things for us! You can also find our favorite adventure bag picks in this post .
24. Duct Tape
Duct Tape seems to be the fix for everything.
25. Flashlight /Headlamps
It’s important to bring extra lighting for camping, night adventures, and emergencies alike! Pick up a few of these inexpensive headlamps from Petzl for keeping in your car to see at night.
26. First Aid Kit
A simple first-aid kit will do. Make sure to keep it in your car, even on short weekend trips!
Make a list of items that may need a battery change on your journey and have a few extras of those on hand.
28. Proof of Insurance/ID
A driver’s license is a no-brainer as far as road trip essentials go, but make sure you have a hard copy of your proof of insurance too! In addition, make sure your tabs won’t expire during your trip and you’ve got the proper registration forms.
29. Jumper Cables
Jumper cables are one of those things on your road trip list you hope to never use! They can save you from being stranded, but you can always help out a buddy who is stuck too. Here’s a video on how to do it properly.
30. Car Fluids
Things like oil and antifreeze are a must. If you’re taking a winter road trip , make sure to read our winter emergency car kit of essential items to keep in your car during cold weather!
Did we miss anything? What are YOUR road trip essentials? Let us know in the comments!
Read road trip essential tips.
9 Ways To Keep Your Tech Safe While Traveling
10 Strategies for Finding Discounted Outdoor Gear
8 Vital Reasons To Travel With Your Friends
How To Travel on A Budget In The Pacific Northwest
Follow our Road Trip Board on Pinterest for some inspiration for other road trip essentials!
Every product is independently selected by our editors. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.
31 Travel Essentials for Any Length of Trip
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There’s something about booking a trip that is equal parts excitement and anxiety, especially when you bust out your suitcase and prepare to pack. Depending on the length of your vacation, what you bring along can vary enormously. As someone who has traveled and moved a good amount, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks for packing well, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve spent lots of time creating a wish list of all the things I should get for trips. I’m talking about investing in an Away suitcase , thank you very much. Regardless of whether it’s a weekend escapade or a whole month abroad, here are the 31 best travel essentials worth taking along, listed according to the length of time you’ll be away from your humble abode (and including many good options from Amazon that are worth snagging during Prime Day ).
For Overnight Trips
Whether you’re only traveling ten minutes away for a staycation straight from the office or venturing to a nearby city for a day, overnight trips can be just as hard to pack for as long ones. Try to be strategic about stowing all your necessities in a tote bag .
Store all your chargers in one place for easy access and to keep them untangled, which is very hard to do.
The Nap Dress is comfortable enough for any road trip or train ride or even to sleep in. You really can’t go wrong — it’s the next best thing to wearing your pajamas on vacation. And you can snag the wrinkle-resistant navy dress for easy wear on the road.
This three-pack of pouches might be one of my favorite purchases. Perfect for everyday, you can use the pouches to house all kinds of things: makeup , dirty clothes, miscellaneous lip balms, receipts — really anything. I always have one in my bag, no matter if I’m gone for a night, an hour, or a whole week.
More than just a tote, this bag from Lo & Sons is lightweight but structured for the ultimate packing companion for overnighters (or even as a personal item on a flight). There’s a separate bottom compartment that can easily fit shoes or dirty clothes, multiple interior pockets and zippers, and the option to carry it as a cross-body.
One of the best tinted moisturizers out there, this option from Saie offers hydration and some SPF and will give you light coverage with a lots of dewy glow. When packing light, this is a great product to use in the a.m. for its many-in-one features and to get the affects of a multistep routine without all the hassle.
Because hydration is always important, especially when you’re traveling.
Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean your skin should suffer. These ice rollers will fit perfectly in your bag and will come in handy first thing in the morning.
Weekend Trips and Excursions
Since it’s summer, my brain is on beach time. What better way to spend your long weekends anyway? Be sure to stock up on sandals , sunscree n, and shorts for the ultimate short getaway.
There are so many options out there for weekender bags , but this water-repellent tote from Béis ticks all our boxes and is less than $100.
Weekend trips often mean a jam-packed itinerary, so when you want to sleep, you want to sleep well. Enter Loop, a reusable silicone earplug that allows you to get the ultimate fit (it comes in four sizes) for your best rest yet.
Forgetting your sunglasses on vacation is a rookie mistake, which is why this pair from Le Specs is almost perfect to just keep in your weekend bag and reserve for that time away. They’re stylish, sturdy, and under $80, in case you end up losing them. When on vacay, right?
Normally, travel containers are not the most stylish or multifunctional. But these Cadence capsules are both of those things and more. Unlike traditional travel containers, these can be used for anything from storing pills and hair gel to necklaces and hand cream. Plus, you can design your own set to include different labels and colors.
You can never go wrong with a button-up, which is why it’s a must-have for any trip, especially a weekend one when space is limited. Wear it on its own, with a dress or pants, or as a cover-up for the perfect versatile piece .
The Tower28 spray is my skin-care savior, and if you’re looking to pack minimally for weekend trips, this is a must-have. Perfect for sensitive skin, it’s multifunctional, and a spritz delivers a refreshing dose of hydration and soothes stressed-out skin.
Anywhere From Five Days to a Week and a Half
A full-fledged vacation that still requires a carry-on may be the hardest to pack for and can take you anywhere from Europe to Cabo to your parents’ house. It’s all about making the most of the room you have, even if you can’t help but pack all your sunglasses , expensive skin care , and new clothes .
This cashmere cardigan is amazing on its own or as a layering piece when you get chilly. Plus, when you’re packing in a carry-on, the more pieces of clothing you can wear in a million different ways, the better.
Whether you’re a sunglasses fanatic or need glasses when you’re walking around, this case from Dagne Dover allows you to bring three pairs in a very compact and convenient case with a spot for a cloth to wipe off all the smudges you’ll acquire.
Frequent-fliers have spoken , and this carry-on is it , ladies and gentlemen. When fully packed, it can exceed what fits in airline overhead bins, but it allows travelers enough room to store all their belongings on longer trips and remains light, sturdy, and sleek. Plus, it comes in six attractive colors and has a USB external battery for those extra-long travel days.
Sometimes those in-between trips are the hardest to pack for, especially if you’re trying to fit everything in a carry-on suitcase. These packing cubes from Calpak are cute and will help keep you organized.
Why not indulge a little while you’re away from home? This kit includes COSRX’s most loved products formulated with snail mucin for extra moisture while you travel.
Senior writer Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz swears by this foldable sun hat no matter the amount of time you plan to spend in the sun. If anything, it’s cute for a photo op or two.
Two Weeks or Longer
Ever since I started wearing trousers on planes, I’ve not only saved room in my suitcases (unless you also have a matching sweatsuit to wear) but also felt more put-together on the go. These comfy but cute pants from Uniqlo can be worn almost every day, making them the perfect pair to travel with for long periods.
A two-in-one product is a godsend on the road, and this Merit cheek and lip balm is highly rated and clean.
The pinnacle of traveling well comes down to one word: Rimowa. Its cases are classic, luxurious, and durable, though definitely an investment. If you’re traveling for long stretches of time, they’re so worth it in the end.
This half-moon bag is perfect for spring , winter, or any season in between. Handmade in Spain, the leather bag features a timeless shape and comes with two straps to wear in a multitude of ways (shoulder, cross-body, or even under the nook of the arm). Take it on day excursions or change it into an evening bag, but no matter what, this is the bag you want to have with you.
Fashion Writer Danya Issawi swears by a Fenty “groutfit” for travel days, underwear included. She describes these ribbed cotton briefs as “comfy enough to sit in for hours on end.” On a long travel day, what more could you want? And on a long trip, reliable underwear is a must.
Traveling for longer than two weeks means you need more than two scents!
A Month or More
We’re way past suggesting hand cream and new luggage because, at this point, you’re practically moving. So these are the things that upgrade you from a casual traveler to a pro and will make your long flight and long stay worth it.
Carrying an extra six pounds might seem crazy, but if you’re on a long flight and you’re staying over a month in your new destination, you might as well be as cozy and comfortable as possible. This travel weighted blanket from Bearaby comes in its own duffel bag, so it can easily be your personal item or be checked in with no problem.
Want to do some full glam while you’re away? This rechargeable and slim travel vanity mirror will allow your makeup to shine wherever you are.
This has been all over my TikTok FYP. It allows you to connect your Bluetooth headphones (think cool-girl-approved AirPod Maxes ) to airplane screens, so you can watch your favorite Marvel movie or episode of Sex and the City without worrying about all those pesky cords or uncomfy plane headphones.
Like a weighted blanket for your eyes, this eye mask is sleep enhancing (which is great for long flights) and made from supersoft silk.
Chances you’ll come back from vacation with more clothes than you went there with are high, so consider packing this foldable nylon tote to hold all your overstock.
Travel with ease knowing that your necklaces won’t get tangled one bit and all your earrings are safe and sound in one place.
This pill case is all over my FYP and is small enough to fit in any purse, but has enough storage to hold all your medicine, vitamins, and supplements.
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65 Road Trip Essentials and Packing List for Hitting the Road
This post may contain affiliate links.
Long stretches of open highway, a sense of total freedom, good tunes, an epic adventure at your fingertips… the road trip is a classic travel experience for good reason!
Written in partnership with Toyota
Michael and I have been taking road trips together for nearly a decade—from weekend jaunts to a year-long exploration of North America—so we’ve had thousands of miles to dial in our road trip essentials.
If you’re feeling the itch to hit the road, this post is for you! We’re sharing our complete road trip packing list with everything you need for a comfortable, fun, and safe road trip. A little planning and preparation go a long way so that once you start cruising down the highway, all you have to do is let the adventure unfold.
Before you go…
Bring your vehicle to a mechanic for a pre-trip inspection .
If your vehicle has given you, shall we say, “cause for concern” in the past, then it might be worth bringing it to a mechanic for a pre-trip check before embarking on an extended road trip.
We often bring our vehicles in to our local Les Schwab Tire Center before a big trip to have them check the state of our brake pads. This is offered as a free service and most mechanics will offer something similar.
Quick Home Maintenance Check:
- How do the treads on the tires look?
- Are your tires at the proper pressure?
- When will you need another oil change?
- Windshield wiper fluid topped off?
Clean your car
The cheapest and easiest way to improve the quality of your road trip is to start with a clean car. We’re not kidding, it makes a huge difference!
Remove all the extra clutter, random receipts, old coffee cups, etc. Vacuum out the interior, Armor-All the plastic surfaces, and clean your windows with vinegar.
It’s easier to try to stay clean and organized if your car starts out that way.
These are the basic items that you should keep in your car (regardless of whether or not you’re road tripping!)
- License, registration, insurance cards: Keep these together in an easily accessible place.
- Spare tire + tools: In addition to the tire, you’ll need a jack and a lug wrench. These are usually stored underneath the spare, but it wouldn’t hurt to double-check that they’re still there. Take five minutes to brush up on how to change a spare tire , too!
- Jumper cables: Forgot to turn off your lights before heading out to explore, and returned to a dead battery? Jumper cables to the rescue! If you’re going to be traveling on lesser-used roads, you might want to consider a jump start battery booster so you don’t have to wait for a friendly traveler to stop to help you.
- Tire pressure gauge: Lots of modern cars will have internal pressure monitoring systems, but having a manual tire pressure gauge is still nice to have so you can quickly and accurately check each tire.
- 12v tire pump: If you discover you have a slow leak in a tire, having a 12v tire pump can fill you back up until you get the problem resolved.
- Tire patch kit: You can pick up a tire patch kit at any auto store or gas station. If you get a puncture in the middle of your tread (not near the sidewall) you can usually plug the hole yourself using a patch kit.
- Flashlight or headlamp: In the event you run into car issues after dark, a flashlight or headlamp will be essential to help you troubleshoot and see what you’re doing.
- Windshield sunshade: A sunshade makes a huge difference in keeping the interior of your car cooler while it’s parked.
- AAA membership: Hopefully you won’t have to use it, but the peace of mind that a AAA membership is absolutely invaluable. Unlock your car, jump your battery, or arrange a tow. As people whose campervan stopped running while parked on a desolate forest service road in Wyoming, we really can’t imagine road tripping without it.
- Fix’d device: This is an optional device that can be really helpful in diagnosing potential issues. This plugs into your car’s OBD-II port , and if the check engine light goes on, it will run and diagnose the code for you so you know what you’re dealing with (or know if you have to get to a mechanic pronto ).
In the glove box
- Napkins: Invaluable for soaking up spills, wiping sticky hands, and any number of minor cleaning tasks.
- Extra TP (store in a ziplock bag): Just in case the one bathroom in a 50 mile radius is out of stock!
- Hand sanitizer: This probably doesn’t need an explanation after the year we’ve all had 😉
- Tissues: A small pack of tissues are nice to have in case allergies kick up or you start having deep conversations with your travel partner.
- Quarters: Spare change will come in handy if you encounter toll roads or bridges, old school parking meters, or need to run a load of laundry at a laundromat.
One of the keys to a comfortable road trip is to keep your vehicle and gear organized and tidy. You don’t want to have wrappers piling up in your drink holders, or have to dig through all your stuff every time you need to find something. You don’t need everything on this list—just pick and choose what will work best for you and the type of things on your road trip packing list.
- Trash bag/bin: A small trash bag or bin in an accessible location will really help in managing wrappers, fruit peels, receipts, etc. We like to use an empty protein powder container because the lid helps prevent spills and smells.
- Over the seat organizer: A small organizer that clips to the back of the front seats is a great way to keep things like maps, headlamps, snacks, kids car games, and charging cables organized. If you have kids, this larger organizer has an iPad sleeve.
- Packing cubes: We love packing cubes for keeping our clothes organized. Tops in one cube, shorts or pants in one, socks and underwear in another, and one for miscellaneous items like swimwear and other accessories. We each have our own color to make things easier to find.
- Duffel bag: Large soft-sided duffel bags like the Patagonia Black Hole 55L or REI Road Tripper 60L are perfect for storing your packing cubes along with bulky items like jackets. These tend to be more space-efficient in your trunk than suitcases since they don’t have a rigid shape.
- Storage bins/action packers: Action packers are great for storing camping equipment, extra snacks, shoes, and other gear.
- Roof cargo box: Very optional, but we are big fans of storing as much of our gear in a roof cargo box as possible, especially items that we won’t use daily. This helps free up room for backseat passengers and helps open up space in the car, making it feel a little less like driving a mobile storage unit. We’ve used a number of cargo boxes over the years—most recently, the Yakima CBX Solar , which has 16ft 3 of cargo space and a built-in solar panel to help keep small electronics and batteries charged.
- Day pack: Whether you plan on hiking or are sticking to urban adventures, a comfortable day pack is essential for carrying extra snacks, water bottles, layers, maps or guide books, etc.
- Laundry bag: Having a separate laundry bag means your clean clothes stay fresh in your duffel, and when you’re ready to do laundry, all you have to do is haul the bag in—no more sorting through all your clothes trying to figure out what is clean and what isn’t.
- Reusable grocery bag: Stash a few of these in your glove box or over-the-seat organizer for stops at the grocery store during your trip.
Navigation and electronics
We’ve lumped these categories into one since so much navigation is done electronically. However, cell service isn’t guaranteed in many rural areas of the US, so paper and offline navigation are still a road trip essential.
- Road atlas or paper maps: In case you find yourself turned around in an area without service, you should always be prepared with paper maps. We really like the Benchmark Maps Road Atlases and have one for the states we frequently road trip through. Alternatively, you can pick up paper maps for free at AAA locations if you’re a member!
- Offline maps: Maps.me is an awesome offline map that is perfect for creating routes and turn-by-turn driving directions on the fly, even if you’re completely out of service. Download the area maps ahead of time and you’ll be able to access everything—including gas stations, public restrooms, hospitals, points of interest, etc. Before your trip, you can bookmark all your stops or things you’re interested in and create “Lists” so you can pull them up on the road.
- Hands-free phone mount: One of the best car accessories we have ever purchased is a hands-free phone mount . No more interpretive re-telling of the directions from the passenger to the driver. Just plug in the directions, mount the phone in your field of view, and you’re golden.
- USB Cords: We like to have dedicated USB cords that we leave in our vehicles. This way we’re not shuttling them in and out, and potentially forgetting to bring them.
- Small inverter: A small 12v to 120v inverter can plug directly into a cigarette lighter and can charge AC items like laptops and camera battery chargers. We’ve used this one for over six years of road trips!
- PlugShare : If you’re driving a plug-in hybrid like the Toyota Prius Prime , or an all-electric vehicle, this app will be invaluable in locating charge stations along your route.
- GasBuddy : We use this app to find gas stations—it has user-aggregated price data, too, so we can save money by price comparing nearby stations.
- Maps.me : As mentioned above, this is our favorite offline map app for driving directions.
- The Dyrt : A great app for finding campgrounds (complete with photos, reviews, and amenities). The PRO version allows you to access everything offline, has public land map layers, and includes a great trip planner tool.
- Alltrails : Our favorite app for finding hiking trails. Sort by length, elevation gain, and difficulty.
- Seek by iNaturalist : Identify plants, animals, and birds, and tracks by using your camera or uploading a photo—the app will identify it for you!
- Merlin Bird ID : Enter bird features like size, color, and environment to generate a list of potential birds—includes sound recordings and photos for easier identification.
- The Outbound : A great app for finding all kinds of outdoor adventures.
- Nativelands : Identify the native tribes that traditionally lived in the area you’re traveling in.
- Sky Guide : Dynamic constellation, planet, and star identification.
Let’s face it: long stretches of driving can get monotonous, no matter how dynamic the scenery is. This is where some in-car entertainment becomes important.
Download everything to your phone ahead of time. It’s not a matter of if you’ll lose service, it’s when… And it is never at a convenient time. Once everything is downloaded, you’ll be able to access it any time.
We loved the CarPlay integration that the Toyota Prius Prime came with—it made it so easy to navigate between our music and podcasts while on the road!
- Audiobooks: Use Libby to download audiobooks from your public library for free, or use Scribd which gives you an unlimited reading subscription for less than $10 a month ( try it for 60 days free! )
- Spotify playlists: There are thousands of playlists to choose from, but we think the best place to start is with the “Soundtrack My Ride” feature which will build a custom playlist for you.
- Podcasts: We love bite-sized podcast episodes because they give us lots of new topics to talk about, in addition to (usually) learning something new. Here are some great road trip podcast recommendations from Conde Nast Traveler and AFAR .
Comfort essentials for road trips
This is a list of little items we consider to be road trip essentials simply because they make the trip a little more comfortable and enjoyable.
- Snacks and drinks cooler: Keep a small cooler or insulated lunch tote within reach filled with any perishable road trip snacks and cold drinks.
- Coffee mugs or tumbler: Make an extra cup of coffee in the morning and save it in an insulated coffee mug or tumbler . Not only will this save money, but we bet you can make a much tastier cup of coffee than what you’ll find at a gas station!
- Water bottles: A reusable water bottle is absolutely essential for road trips! It’s so important to stay hydrated when traveling, and if you have water easily within reach, you’re more likely to sip throughout the day. Cycling through bottled water generates so much waste (of resources and your money) so pack along a durable reusable bottle to fill up.
- Reusable utensils + straw: While we’re talking about reusables, we’d like to suggest throwing in a set of reusable utensils and drinking straws so you can ditch the plastic stuff when you grab takeout or stop at a food truck.
- Blankets/pillows: Catnaps in the passenger seat are so much more comfortable and restful if you have a pillow and a blanket. These are also nice to have to lay out on the grass at a rest stop for some shut-eye.
- Quick-dry towel/Turkish towel: Quick dry towels are a summer road trip necessity! Personally, we love jumping in lakes and rivers and a quick-dry towel is a way better option than regular bath towels. They are less likely to get mildewy and they’ll dry out before your next stop! A Turkish towel is similarly a great item and can double as a picnic blanket, sarong, or shawl.
- Sunglasses: Squinting into the sun as you drive is a recipe for fatigue, headaches, and it’s just plain bad for your eyes. A good pair of sunglasses with UV protection is a must-have for road trips. We love Sunski sunglasses , which come with a great warranty.
- First aid kit: Backroad Ramblers has a great post on putting together your own road trip first aid kit .
Toiletries and personal items
These are the self-care items that are on our road trip checklist to keep us feeling good throughout the trip.
- Sunscreen: While car side windows block UVB rays, they still allow UVA rays through —the ones that cause deep skin damage (but not sunburns), so it’s important to wear full-spectrum sunscreen, particularly on the side of your body next to the window.
- Lip balm: Prevent chapped lips by using lip balm, preferably one that has some SPF to it.
- Bug spray: You may not need it in the car, but bug spray is nice to have if you’ll be outdoors hiking or hanging out. This is a good travel-sized spray , and they have a DEET-free version as well.
- Prescription medications and OTC Med Kit: In addition to any prescription medications, put together a small over-the-counter med kit that includes painkillers for headaches and achy joints, Benadryl or Allegra for allergies, Imodium in case your lunch doesn’t sit well, etc.
- Car/Motion Sickness remedies: Either OTC or a non-medication option like ginger chews or those pressure point bands.
- Body wash/soap
- Wet wipes: These will come in handy in case you need a quick “bath” on the road (see the below section on showering during a road trip for more ideas).
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss
- Wrinkle release spray: Your clothes are going to sit folded up in your luggage for days at a time, so having a travel-size wrinkle release spray can be super helpful on a road trip.
- Tide stain pen: Stains happen, and since you won’t be able to immediately throw your clothes into the wash, having a Tide stain remover pen can help prevent the stains from really setting in.
- Scrubba: Alright, this is totally optional, but this portable wash bag could be useful particularly if you’re traveling with kids and you want to be able to wash out stains and dirt from clothes without spending your time at the laundromat.
What to wear on a road trip
The clothing section of your road trip packing list is going to be pretty personalized based on where you’re going, the time of year and expected weather, and your personal style.
The key to packing clothing for a road trip is to balance comfort and versatility based on your planned activities, while keeping in mind the kind of weather you are likely to encounter.
Try to choose clothes that will serve multiple purposes, for instance, a warm jacket you can wear in the evening at your campsite but will still look good enough to walk around town on a brisk day. A good tip for pants is to choose ones that are good for hiking but that you’d also grab dinner in. prAna has a lot of good options for versatile pants .
Consider packing clothing that have helpful features while traveling such as antimicrobial or quick-drying fabrics, or UPF clothing that offers built-in sun protection.
Basic road trip packing list
- Short sleeve tops or tanks: one per day in the summer, or fewer in cooler temperatures
- Long sleeve tops: one or two in the summer, or more in cooler temperatures
- Pants, leggings, and shorts
- Activewear for hikes and outdoor exploring
- Warm jacket or sweater: extras if it’s going to be particularly cold
- Rain jacket
- Windbreaker or lightweight jacket
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Hiking shoes , if necessary
- Hat (sun hat/warm beanie)
- Activity-specific items (rashguard, water shoes, etc)
If you’ll be camping, there are a few additional things you’ll need to put on your road trip checklist. These are the bare essentials from our weekend camping checklist —we leave some of the “extras” behind knowing that we’re going to pack up and move frequently.
- Sleeping mats
- Sleeping bags
- Camp chairs
- Folding camp table (optional)
- Camp stove and fuel
- Packable camp cookware set
- Spatula / spoon
- Knife and cutting board
- Plates, bowls, and utensils
- Camp coffee maker
- Collapsible dishwashing bucket (optional, depending on campsite selection)
- Sponge and campsuds
- Microfiber towel
- Bin to store kitchen items in
Essential road trip planning tips
One of the allures of road tripping is the freedom that comes with the open road. As soon as you get behind the wheel, you feel like everywhere is within your reach and you’re in a real-life “choose your own adventure” story. And while that feeling of freedom is real, it truly is a good idea to spend some time planning out an itinerary (however loose or detailed) before you leave.
At a minimum, it means that your co-pilot will have to spend less time looking up what to do and where to go on the fly, and at best it means you won’t have that post-trip regret of finding out you drove past the best waterfall in the state and you didn’t even know it.
We like to take a “planned spontaneity” philosophy when it comes to planning a road trip. After deciding on how long our road trip will be and choosing a general area for the trip, we start looking into the attractions and activities that we’d be interested in and start saving them to our Map.me bookmarks. Then, we can pull up the map that has all the points on it and see what our basic driving route might be, eliminating any real outlier stops.
From there, we’ll spend a little more time thinking about how long we want to drive per day and the time needed to explore different locations. This is how we determine where we plan to sleep each night, and book campsites or hotels/Airbnbs.
We might add coffee shops or restaurants we want to check out, or do a little more research into different points of interest once we have a more solid route planned.
That’s usually it. What we end up with is a rough timeline so we don’t get behind, and a lot of ideas to choose from when we’re on the road depending on how we’re feeling that day. We like to budget extra time instead of planning down to the minute, because the beauty of road trips is that even when you have a plan, you’re likely to stumble on fun, spur of the moment stops and you’ll want to have time to stop for those spontaneous adventures.
Make a budget
To an extent, a road trip can cost as much or as little as you have a budget for. If you make most of your own meals, get savvy at finding free camping , and choose free or inexpensive activities, you can really keep the costs of a road trip down. Or, you can book nights at Airbnbs, eat at local restaurants, and splurge on activities if it’s in your budget! We personally do a blend of both on most of our trips.
While you’re planning your trip, keep a total budget in mind, and then allocate it into different categories based on your priorities. Eating great food might be more important than where you lay your head at night, or perhaps you want to be able to book a fun adventure tour and are happy cooking at your campsite most nights.
Where to sleep
You have a few options for overnight accommodation on your road trip. You can camp, stay at Airbnbs, hotels, or hostels, or stay with friends or family if they are along your route and up to hosting you.
During busy travel periods or in popular destinations, you’ll probably want to book everything ahead of time. It sounds free and romantic to go where the wind blows and decide where you want to stay on the fly, but we’ve found that it adds unnecessary stress to our trips.
Campgrounds in particular are important to book in advance because they have limited space and in many cases, if it’s full when you get there there may not be a lot of other camping options nearby.
What to eat
Nothing ruins a road trip quite like a hangry passenger—or worse yet, a hangry driver! Failure to make plans for what and where you’re going to eat means you’re already halfway to Crankytown, so be sure to plan ahead and pack ALL THE SNACKS.
You can opt to eat out for all your meals and not have to worry about cooking at all, in which case, you may want to spend some time looking up interesting restaurants or food trucks along your route so you already have some to choose from when you roll into towns. If you’re camping or staying at Airbnbs or hostels with kitchens, you can make your own meals or pack to-go lunches.
Pack a small cooler like the Hydro Flask Day Escape tote with things like fresh veggies and hummus, cheese, sandwich supplies, and cold drinks like sparkling water, iced coffee, or kombucha so they are easy to access during the day. Stash snacks like peanut butter-filled pretzels, nuts and trail mix , dried fruit, jerky , granola bars , and other non-perishable road trip snacks in your center console or in a bag so there’s always something ready when you start to feel hungry.
If you’re planning on making some of your own meals, it’s a good idea to keep things pretty simple so you can spend more time exploring and less time cooking. Here are some of our favorite road trip meals:
- Overnight oats with a bit of maple syrup and chopped fruit and nuts
- Made-ahead breakfast burritos warmed up on the camp stove
- Granola, milk, and fresh fruit
- Yogurt with berries and granola
- “Charcuterie spread” of sliced cheese and salami, crackers or bread, olive packets , dried fruit, and nuts
- Sliced apple, almond butter, and honey sandwiches
- Avocado, tomato, and hummus sandwiches (perfect with some everything bagel seasoning!)
- Chicken or chickpea salad—make at home and store in your cooler. Serve in wraps, sandwiches, or on crackers.
- Chickpea curry with rice or naan—all can be made ahead of time and reheated at the campsite
- Quick stir fry with noodles
- BBQ chicken quesadillas —you could cook and chop the chicken ahead of time for an even faster meal
- Tacos with store-bought salsa and avocado
- Pasta with fresh veggies and chickpeas or chicken sausage
- Here are a bunch more easy camping recipes and one pot meals
How to shower on a road trip
If you’re going to stay in hotels or at Airbnbs every night, you get to skip this section. But if you’re camping during your road trip, here are a few ideas (from most “civilized” to most “dirtbag”) of how to stay clean during your trip:
- Campgrounds you stay at: Check the amenities ahead of time, but many state and national park campgrounds will have shower facilities. Some will be included with your site fee, while others will require you to use quarters or buy shower tokens, so make sure you have some change on hand.
- Gyms/rec centers: If you have a gym membership to a chain with lots of locations, check to see if there are any along your route. The Planet Fitness Black Card Membership is famous among road-trippers because it’s $20 per month and gives you (and a guest) access to all their locations (and there are a TON of them). If you don’t already have a gym membership, many towns have city rec centers or Y’s where you can buy a day pass and take a shower.
- Sun shower: A sunshower is basically a portable water bag with a hose or spout that you can rinse off with. Leave it in the sun for a bit (or add hot water) and it’s an easy, cheap way to enjoy a warm rinse. We have used the Nemo Helio , which has a foot pump to pressurize the water (great if you want to do more than just have a quick rinse), and the Sea to Summit WatercellX , which we use as our extra water storage but also has a shower hose attachment.
- Jump in a lake: But don’t use soap in it! If you’re spending time near lakes or rivers, a swim with a good ole hand scrub is one way to stay feeling clean. Just please don’t use soap in or near any water source. Even biodegradable soaps can pollute waterways since they need microorganisms to break down properly. If you want to use biodegradable soap , lather up and rinse off at least 200 feet away from the water’s edge
- Wet wipes: When all else fails, wipe down with a couple of wet wipes to get the day’s sweat and grime off you before bed.
What are the best road trips in the USA?
Road trips are a quintessential US travel experience and there are SO many amazing routes to explore. Here are some of the best road trip itineraries on our website as well as others that we’ve done or are on our bucket list!
- 7 Wonders of Oregon Road Trip | Fresh Off The Grid
- Wild Wonderful West Virginia Road Trip | Fresh Off The Grid
- Gem Of The West Idaho Road Trip | Fresh Off The Grid
- Ultimate Teton & Yellowstone National Parks Road Trip | Bearfoot Theory
- Olympic National Park Road Trip | Bearfoot Theory
- 10-Day Utah National Parks Road Trip | Bearfoot Theory
- The Best California Road Trips | She Dreams of Alpine
- Northern California Road Trip Itinerary | The Mandagies
- 10-Day American Southwest Road Trips | The Mandagies
- 7-Day Glacier National Park Road Trip | The Mandagies
- Blue Ridge Mountains Road Trip | AFAR
Made possible by Toyota
We recently had the opportunity to take a Toyota Prius Prime on an epic Oregon road trip . We loved that it’s a plug-in hybrid, so we could charge at any number of charge stations along the way, but since it still has a fuel-efficient gas engine, we never had to worry about range. And, its large cargo space meant that we had plenty of room to pack all of our road trip essentials! Learn more about the Toyota Prius Prime here .
Fresh Off The Grid is a culinary resource for the outdoor community. We offer a collection of recipes, how-to guides, and camp cooking gear to help you enjoy great food in the great outdoors!
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Outstanding information. Thank you for the great tips!
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41 road trip essentials: what you need on your next road trip.
Add these items to your road trip packing list to help you travel more comfortably.
Road Trip Essentials
A road trip is a great way to see the country. Consider stocking up on these accessories before you go. (Getty Images)
If you're planning a road trip, you're going to have a lot of work to do before you pack the car and head out of town. You'll need to map out a general itinerary, plan your overnight stops and create a list of must-see sights along the way. And don't forget about all the stuff you need to pack to ensure your family is safe, comfortable and entertained.
While you don't necessarily need a lot of things to make a road trip a success, U.S. News searched far and wide to find the best gadgets and gear that will make your time in the car the highlight of your trip. These are all items you'll want to consider adding to your road trip packing list.
As you pack your bags and get ready for an epic road trip, here are a few last-minute road trip essentials you might want to add to your arsenal, organized by category.
Personal care and hygiene
Entertainment, comfort and convenience.
Keeping a reliable flashlight stored in your car is a good rule of thumb for all drivers heading out on a road trip. In roadside emergencies, the Anker Rechargeable Bolder LC90 LED Flashlight can illuminate a distance of nearly 1,000 feet with a battery life of up to six hours. Its durable design makes it ideal for use in inclement weather, and its five settings include an SOS signal and a strobe light. Meanwhile, the Black Diamond Spot 400 Headlamp – which features a 400-lumen beam and red LED night vision – is ideal for when you find yourself changing a tire in the middle of the night. Both products earn rave reviews from consumers for their powerful light.
Portable power bank
Goal Zero's Sherpa 100AC power bank is a portable power bank you can use to recharge tablets, phones, cameras and laptops on the go. It features two USB ports, plus four cables are included and it's lightweight at just 2 pounds. Recent customers loved the power bank's versatility, but recommend charging it every two to three days for the best results.
Jumper cables from AUTOGEN can easily fit in your trunk and could save the day if your battery dies and you're unable to start your car while out on the road. Many travelers also say you can't go wrong with these heavy-duty cables from Energizer. These 25-foot-long cables are perfect for any car type and come with a travel bag for easy storage – they're a must for any road trip packing list.
Portable tire inflator
A portable tire inflator can be a lifesaver if you find your tires have a slow leak during your trip. The AstroAl Air Compressor Tire Inflator is compact, so it won't take up much space among the other gear in your trunk, and it includes an LED flashlight with independent switch control. It is programmed to stop automatically once it hits the preset tire pressure and it comes with a 36-month warranty. Other travelers prefer the ViAir 88P - 00088 Portable Compressor Kit , noting it works well with a wide variety of vehicles. In addition to a 12-foot air hose and 9-foot power cord, the kit comes with alligator clamps that power your air compressor by attaching to your car's battery.
Picture this: You're having the time of your life on your road trip when your car battery dies in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, a high-quality jump starter is all you need to avoid this disastrous scenario. In addition to being water-resistant and compact, the NOCO Boost Plus GB40 comes with a built-in flashlight and a USB port for charging devices like smartphones and tablets. The Hulkman Alpha 85 2000A Jump Starter also comes highly recommended by travelers thanks to its easy-to-use design and powerful battery life (a single charge can hold up to 60 jump starts).
Waking up in the morning to an icy windshield isn't a pretty sight. Prestone AS244 Windshield De-Icer instantly melts ice upon contact, so you don't have to worry about waiting for your car to defrost when you're in a rush. As an added bonus, the can comes with a built-in scraper tool for easy ice removal. Recent customers have called this product a lifesaver during harsh winters.
Bringing a trusty multi-tool on your road trip is a simple way to make sure you're prepared no matter what situation you run into. Leatherman products impress consumers time and time again thanks to the company's high-quality and lightweight multi-tool designs. Customer-favorites include the Leatherman Bond and the Leatherman Wave+ , which offers 18 powerful tools like pliers and wire cutters.
Frequent car travelers recommend always staying connected with the TECKNET USB Car Charger . Featuring four fast-charging ports, this adaptor can be used to charge smartphones, tablets and more. If you're hitting the road with the whole family in tow, or you simply want to charge more than one device at a time, travelers say this powerful charging adaptor is a must-buy. Pair it with an extra-long charging cable that can easily reach everyone in the back seat.
Dashboard phone mount
Keep your eyes on the road by installing a dashboard phone mount before your journey starts. The iOttie Easy One Touch 5 comes with a telescopic arm, a magnetic cord organizer and a strong-hold suction cup. Plus, its easy one-touch lock-and-release mechanism (a feature that is much appreciated among recent customers) makes taking your phone on and off the holder a breeze. If you don't like the rigidity of traditional dashboard phone mounts, consider choosing a phone mount with a flexible arm instead.
Whenever you're hitting the open road, you want to prepare for the worst. In the event that you get into a car accident or are pulled over by the police, having easy access to your car's registration, insurance information and owner's manual is crucial. Recent travelers say that this Samsill car registration holder is great for keeping all your important documents organized.
Roadside emergency kit
To give yourself peace of mind while you're on the road, travelers recommend this STDY car roadside emergency kit from Amazon. Equipped with a tire pressure gauge, a utility knife, safety gloves, cable ties, a tow rope, tire repair tools, a raincoat and more, this compact kit has everything you need when life throws you an unexpected curve ball.
Extra-large body wipes
Extra-large body wipes from Busy Co make it easy to wash up when you can't take a shower. Cloths are suitable for dry, oily and combination skin types, and address a variety of skincare needs, including clarifying, toning, soothing and nourishing. Recent customers appreciated the large size of the wipes and said using them made them feel refreshed while traveling.
Disinfecting Lysol wipes are a must-have on your travel packing list. These cleaning wipes kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria, so you can feel protected while on the road.
Disposable toilet seat covers
Disposable toilet seat covers from Amazon will help you avoid germs and stay clean when you stop for restroom breaks at gas stations, port-a-potties and campgrounds.
A comprehensive first-aid kit can't be overlooked when packing up the car for your next road trip. Recent customers say this 298-piece kit from Amazon will get you the most bang for your buck, with bandages, antibiotic ointment, gauze, Band-Aids, pain reliever and much more. Although this will arm you with the basics of what you may need in a medical emergency, it's always a good idea to personalize your kit according to your needs.
Long hours in the car might sound daunting to anyone prone to motion sickness. In those cases, having preventative nausea medicine like Dramamine can be a lifesaver. If you prefer a drug-free alternative, Sea-Bands are anti-nausea wristbands that use acupuncture as a natural remedy to reduce motion sickness. Travelers say these bands are highly effective at reducing nausea.
From gas pumps to ATMs, you never know what germs you may encounter on a road trip. Protect yourself against viruses like the cold and flu by adding a travel-size hand sanitizer to your road trip packing list and keeping it in the car during your trip.
If you'll be spending long hours in the car, it's important to remember to wear sunscreen. Sun Bum's SPF 50 Sunscreen Spray is broad spectrum, moisturizing and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. And if you'll be heading for the ocean on your trip, make sure you pack a reef-safe sunscreen like this one from Reef Repair to protect marine life and coral reefs from harmful chemicals. Although some customers reported a white cast upon application (due to the zinc oxide), many reviewers thought the trade-off was worth it to maintain healthy ocean environments.
This chic Sonia Kashuk Weekender Makeup Bag features two zipper compartments, a center organizer and carrying handles that make it perfect for transport. Customers particularly love that the bag is compact without sacrificing storage space. For durable, leak-proof travel bottles, check out this Getaway Travel Kit from Ban.do . It comes with four pearlescent bottles, two jars, a spatula, a funnel and a zippered pouch for storage. Plus, it includes a fun set of sticker labels so you can organize your toiletries in style.
[Read: The Top Travel Toiletry Bags .]
Sitting in the car for hours can be painfully boring at times, but there are plenty of ways you can enjoy your time while road tripping. With the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite , you have access to thousands of books at your fingertips. The device boasts up to 10 weeks of battery life, adjustable warm light and a glare-free display, which recent reviewers said made marathon reading sessions a breeze. Meanwhile, kids can enjoy the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Kids , which offers a special font for children with dyslexia and comes with a two-year warranty.
Carefully curated Spotify playlist
Whether you prefer jamming out to tunes or listening to thought-provoking podcasts, having a Spotify playlist ready to go before you get on the road is a must. Take some time before your trip to curate a playlist or two so you can keep your eyes on the road and your hands off your phone while road tripping.
Long drives call for catching up on all those books you've been saying you were going to read this year. With an Audible subscription, you can make the most out of traffic jams by enjoying some words by your favorite authors.
Choose a reliable duffel bag like the Eagle Creek Migrate Duffel for your next road trip. This bag is water-resistant, strength-bearing and perfect for when you need your luggage to fit in a small space. It also comes with lockable zippers and can be worn as a backpack or carried as a tote, a top feature according to recent reviewers. And if you're planning on hiking during your trip, travelers say the Daylite Duffel 30 from Osprey can fit everything you need with room to spare. This bag can be worn comfortably all day long and comes with a mesh water bottle pocket and functional harness straps.
[Read: The Top Rolling Duffel Bags .]
This YETI Hopper Soft Sided Backpack Cooler makes it easy to bring drinks anywhere without worrying about leaks. The cooler, which comes with a dryhide shell and a magnetic closure, can hold up to 18 cans (or 26 pounds of ice), and comes highly recommended by travelers thanks to its durable design. It's ideal for road trippers who plan to get out and explore, and need to stay hydrated or keep food fresh.
Rooftop Cargo Carrier
Save some space inside your vehicle by opting for a car roof cargo carrier. With an anti-slip mat and reinforced adjustable straps, the waterproof FIVKLEMNZ 15 Cubic Car Roof Bag Cargo Carrier from Amazon is suitable for any car type. Recent customers say that they had no problem getting it to stay in place even on high-speed roads.
A car seatback organizer lets you arrange road trip essentials on the back of the driver's or passenger's side seat, where they're within reach of small hands. Many buyers said this seatback organizer from Amazon.com took some of the stress out of traveling with kids, thanks to its multipurpose storage compartments, including a place for a tablet and plenty of other spots to store key items for your trip. You can also maximize your space by stashing your essentials in a trunk organizer. This one from Drive Auto comes with multiple storage compartments, waterproof lining and tie-down straps to keep items in place while you're driving.
Car trash can
There's no doubt about it – road trips can generate a lot of trash. Keep your car clean on your next adventure with this Hotor car trash can from Amazon. Complete with an adjustable strap, mesh side panels for storage and a leak-proof interior lining, this useful accessory comes highly recommended by travelers who find themselves frequently on the road.
Whether you're stopping for snacks at a gas station or running into the grocery store for those last-minute essentials, a reusable bag is an easy way to reduce your plastic consumption. Recent reviewers said these versatile and water-resistant reusable bags can even be used as laundry bags, garbage bags or beach bags in a pinch.
Electric car blankets
Electric car blankets allow you to stay warm on the road no matter the temperature outside. This Stalwart electric car blanket takes up very little space, is surprisingly lightweight and plugs into any vehicle with a 96-inch-long cord. While some travelers noted that this blanket alone won't be enough to keep you warm in extremely cold weather, many say it was a welcome addition nonetheless.
SleepPhones soft headband headphones let you enjoy the open road while listening to music, audiobooks, meditation, white noise or talk radio. These headphones are expertly padded, which reviewers say makes them more comfortable for long-term wear than earbuds. You can buy the classic version or a wireless version at SleepPhones.com.
Pick up an ergonomic travel pillow from Cabeau if you need extra neck and shoulder support when you ride in the passenger seat. The pillow features supportive memory foam, a front clasp to ensure it stays put and a removable cover that you can wash. Recent customers also loved that the pillow comes with straps that can be attached to any headrest, making sure you don't fall forward while catching some shut-eye. For kids, this Cloudz plush animal neck pillow comes in a variety of colorful animal options, such as a unicorn, a ladybug, a dinosaur and more.
[Read: The Top Travel Neck Pillows .]
A battery-operated mini fan from SkyGenius can help you stay cool and comfortable. This fan comes with a rechargeable and replaceable battery, and is ideal for the car and for camping. For even more cooling capacity, opt for a fan with dual heads like the XOOL Electric Car Fan from Amazon. Both mini fans earn glowing reviews from travelers thanks to their powerful airflow capabilities.
Shield your eyes from the sun by picking up a good pair of sunglasses before your trip. Choose sunglasses that protect against the sun's UVA and UVB rays, and are polarized to block glare. Travelers love that these Ray-Ban Aviator Classic sunglasses come in a variety of tints and can even be customized to fit your needs. For a more budget-friendly option, check out these SUNGAIT Ultra Lightweight Rectangular Polarized Sunglasses from Amazon, which recent customers say are very comfortable and perfect for road tripping.
The sun beating down on your car all day can heat it up quickly. To keep your car cool, travelers recommend the EcoNour Car Windshield Sun Shade , which protects your vehicle from UV rays and helps maintain your car's interior temperature at a comfortable level. Pair it with these car window shades to protect your backseat drivers from UVA and UVB rays while you're on the road. The shades come in two different sizes and transparency levels, and previous buyers say they are very easy to install.
A travel towel is one of the most versatile accessories you can bring on a road trip. Whether you are cleaning up a spill or want to go for an impromptu beach day, having a spare towel on hand is always a good idea. This odor-resistant and quick-drying 4Monster travel towel from Amazon comes in several sizes and includes a compact EVA box, which recent reviewers say makes it perfect for travel.
Reusable water bottles
Skip the plastic bottles and opt for a high-quality reusable water bottle on your next trip. This 40-ounce bottle from Hydro Flask keeps drinks hot for 12 hours and cold for a full day. It also comes with a lid with a built-in straw, which consumers say makes it convenient for driving. For kids, a durable water bottle like this 12-ounce YETI rambler fits the bill – its stainless steel bottle is dishwasher safe and shatter-resistant, a feature that parents love.
Cubcoats are two-in-one stuffed animals that transform into hoodies. Your child's furry friend (think bunnies, sloths and puppies) doubles as a soft, zip-up sweatshirt, and you get to save some space in your suitcase.
Inflatable car booster seat
If you're flying to another destination to pick up a rental car for your road trip, consider bringing inflatable car booster seats along. This BubbleBum backless inflatable booster is suitable for kids 4 to 11, and comes with a seat belt positioning clip for optimal comfort and safety. Recent buyers said it was portable and extremely easy to use.
Kids travel journal
A kids travel journal makes it easy for your child to document their road trip and all the fun things they see and do. This one from Peter Pauper Press includes world maps, puzzles, fun facts and more, and many parents said it made their kids' time in the car fly by.
A family road trip means long hours in the car, and bored children are every parent's worst nightmare. Activity books can keep your kids occupied for long periods of time while you catch up on some much-needed quiet time.
Backseat travel tray for kids
If your co-pilot is constantly turning around to pick up toys or pass out snacks, a backseat travel tray is in order. The LUSSO Gear Kids Travel Tray comes with a safety strap that can be secured to any car seat, and includes a dry erase board table, a cup holder, a storage compartment for toys and a no-drop tablet viewing stand. Reviewers loved the tray's whiteboard area and said it was a great way to keep kids entertained on long car rides.
Shop in bulk
Check out Boxed.com for specially curated bulk items that are perfect for road trips and other types of travel. From sunscreen, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to Fruit Roll-Ups and snack-size packs of Pringles, Boxed.com is a convenient site to order bulk hygiene and snack items in one place.
Bring spare cash
Debit cards, credit cards and mobile phone payments may be the way of the world nowadays, but you may still run into a few places on your journey that are cash-only (for example, some national and state park entrance fees must be paid in cash). Be on the safe side by keeping some spare cash on hand in case of emergencies.
Save on gas
It's no secret that sky-high gas prices can put a damper on your vacation. Save some money on fuel by using apps like GasBuddy , which will show you the cheapest gas prices in your area. Go the extra mile by signing up for a gas rewards credit card to get the most bang for your buck.
You might also be interested in:
- The Top Travel Backpacks
- The Top Sleeping Bags
- The Top East Coast Road Trips
- The Best Travel Insurance Companies
- The Best Cheap Travel Insurance Companies
Tags: Travel , Vacations , cars , Road Trips , Travel Gear
World's Best Places To Visit
- # 1 South Island, New Zealand
- # 4 Bora Bora
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The Ultimate Long-trip Packing List
Here’s all the clothing, gear, and accessories you need for your next long trip.
In This Article
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Packing Checklist for a Long Trip
- Why Trust T+L
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Travel & Leisure / David Hattan
I’ve been living out of my carry-on suitcase for eight months, and if it’s taught me anything, it’s that I don’t need much else. As a lifelong hoarder — the kind who keeps a stash of shells from beach walks and boxes of boarding pass stubs from every flight I’ve ever taken — it’s been immensely liberating to learn that everything I need to go from a beachy Maldives getaway to hiking Sicily’s Mount Etna and working the grape harvest in France can all fit in a 22 x 14 x 9-inch suitcase.
Packing for an extended trip looks very different from packing for a business trip or weeklong vacation. You’ll need to consider the various destinations and climates you’ll encounter along the way, plus what essentials you won’t be able to get elsewhere (think prescription medications or your go-to skincare products).
While it pays to be prepared, you typically can buy or borrow most things you’d need wherever you’re off too, so don’t stress over items you think won’t get much use. The goal is to travel as light as possible, making sure every item in your suitcase serves multiple functions and is generally neutral in color, to maximize all mix-and-match outfit potential.
Here, I’ve rounded up the fruits of all my packing trials and errors, along with tips and T+L-editor approved picks for what to bring along on your next extended trip. Of course it goes without saying to always include your general travel essentials like a passport and any necessary visas or vaccination cards.
One of the easiest hacks for becoming a better packer is to make a list of everything you need and want for your trip — then to nix about half of your wants. You’ll be shocked by how little you’ll miss them when you’re chasing a new adventure every day, but you’ll be grateful to have your essentials on hand in unfamiliar places. The list also makes for a handy reference point for all future travels; it’s a good idea to edit it after a trip (when it’s fresh in your mind which pieces got the most use and which never came out of your suitcase), and it helps ensure you won’t forget anything when repacking.
Read on for everything you need to pack for an extended trip, and learn more about each recommendation below.
Clothing and Shoes
- Best Lightweight Jacket: Marmot Women's 3-in-1 Minimalist Component Jacket
- Best Travel Outfit: Reformation Rou Knit Dress
- Best Sneakers: Allbirds Wool Runners
- Best Travel Sandals: Hush Puppies Brite Jells
- Best T-shirt: Allbirds Women’s Classic Fit Sea Tea
- Best Steamer: Steamery Cirrus 3 Iron Steamer
- Best Camera: Sony ZV-1
- Best Wash Bag: Scrubba Portable Wash Bag
- Best Reusable Water Bottle: Thermoflask Double Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottle with Two Lids
- Best Hotspot Router: GlocalMe G4 Pro 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot
- Best E-reader: Amazon All New Kindle (2022)
- Best Packing Cube Set: Gonex Compression Packing Cubes
- Best Toiletry Bag: Away Large Toiletry Bag
- Best Tote: Longchamp Le Pliage Original
- Best Daily Sunscreen: Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen
When packing for a longer trip, focus on lightweight, versatile pieces. Once your list is written out, you’ll be able to see that some items may be superfluous and could be replaced by a piece that does double duty (think swapping short-sleeve and long-sleeved shirts for one shirt with sleeves you can roll up, or a taking an oversized scarf that works as a shawl, swimsuit cover-up and picnic blanket instead of a single-use sweater).
Shoes should be multi-functional as well, ideally able to take you from a day of sight-seeing to a night on the town. I always opt for neutral pieces that layer easily, ideally in quick-drying materials. To keep footwear to the essentials, I limit myself to one pair of sneakers, sandals (or boots) that take me from day to night, and flip-flops that double as shower shoes. However many shoes you bring, proper packing is key.
Best Lightweight Jacket
Marmot women's minimalist component 3-in-1 jacket.
While I’m a die-hard Uniqlo girl when it comes to lightweight layers, it often doesn’t cut it in cooler temperatures or rainier climates. Marmot’s 3-in-1 jacket solves all of those issues with its trio of weather-resistant layers, including a removable thermal inner liner, Gore-tex technology to minimize internal condensation and repel water from the recycled outer lining, plus a hood to block the rain and wind. While it’s still lightweight (1.5 pounds), it’s a layer you’d be better off wearing on the plane in order to avoid taking up unnecessary bulk in your suitcase.
Price at time of publish: $350
Best Travel Outfit
Reformation rou knit dress.
This swishy Reformation dress is my go-to for every longhaul flight or train ride. It feels like wearing pajamas but looks incredibly pulled-together, making it easy to head straight from the airport to exploring my next destination. The material is ultra lightweight and cozy, and has stood the test of time over the past few years, keeping me company in all sorts of climates as it’s summery on its own but layers well under a chunky sweater. Even if you’re not a dress person, this will change your mind.
Price at time of publish: $98
Allbirds Women's Tree Dasher 2
Made from odor-and-sweat-minimizing, quick-drying merino wool, these Allbirds sneakers are a traveler’s best friend. Their lightweight construction makes them perfect for smushing into your suitcase and wandering around a new city, while the design is sleek enough to wear for a night on the town. We love that they’re machine-washable for easy cleaning, plus they’re carbon neutral and made of recycled materials like plastic water bottles — even ultra-eco-conscious Leonardo DiCaprio is a fan ( and investor ). They’re also soft enough that you can even wear them sans socks, if that’s your thing.
While these are our favorite all-purpose sneakers, if you need dedicated running shoes, consider a pair of fashionable-yet-functional black Nikes that you can wear for working out and walking around during the day.
Price at time of publish: $110
Best Travel Sandals
Hush puppies brite jells.
While the cult-like appeal of Birkenstocks is growing on me recently, I’ve always been drawn to sandals with a bit of a lift. Anything that feels orthopedic but looks like I could wear it out dancing is a dream combo, and I’ve found that in these Hush Puppies jelly sandals. They don’t make my feet sweat like the jellies of my childhood, and there’s another model with an ankle strap if you’re looking for extra support. I love being able to walk out the door in the morning knowing I’ll be as comfy walking cobblestone streets all day as I’ll be showing up to a dinner date later that evening.
Price at time of publish: $50
Allbirds women's classic fit sea tee.
The ideal travel T-shirt is one that requires less frequent washes, wicks away sweat and odors and dries quickly. Allbirds' proprietary TrinoXO material — a blend of sustainable eucalyptus fiber, Merino wool, and an antimicrobial material — marries all of those traits together into one incredibly soft shirt that doesn’t show sweat. It was initially designed as activewear, so you can trust it to take you trekking as well as train-hopping. It’s available in three neutral shades and a wide-range of limited edition colors, too.
Price at time of publish: $48
Beyond clothing and shoes, there’s a handful of gear that will serve you well on longer trips, from reusable water bottles to portable steamers. The key is to keep things lightweight. Decide what’s easier to bring versus buy on arrival. In most destinations, you’ll be able to purchase, rent, or borrow whatever you may need, but if you’re heading somewhere more remote, make sure to keep these essentials in your carry-on.
Steamery cirrus 3 travel steamer.
Carrying a portable steamer has been a game changer in my travels. Living out of a suitcase means my clothes are semi-permanently wrinkled, and being able to steam them in seconds ensures I look more put together than I really am. Steamery’s Cirrus 3 Iron Steamer also reduces odors and kills bacteria, which helps me get by on fewer washes with certain items. While it’s not the cheapest option on the market, it certainly beats the cost of pressing your clothes at hotels over time, and it’s lightweight enough (1.7 pounds) to be a worthwhile addition to any carry-on.
Price at time of publish: $180
Sony zv-1 digital camera for content creators, vlogging and youtube with flip screen, built-in microphone, 4k hdr video, touchscreen display.
A good camera is a traveler’s best friend, whatever the length of your trip. But the longer the journey, the happier you’ll be to have one that’s lightweight and easily packable — and is capable of capturing the highlights of your trip. Sony’s ZV-1 is designed for digital content creators and is ultra user-friendly, with top-tier video capability, 3x optical zoom, and a flip-out LCD screen that helps ensure you get the best selfies every time.
Price at time of publish: $748
Best Wash Bag
Scrubba portable wash bag.
Why sit around a laundromat when you could be out exploring a new city? While you might luck out with an AirBnb that has a washing machine and dryer, knowing that you can clean your clothes wherever you are offers peace of mind when you’re trying to limit how much you pack. Scrubba’s portable wash bag takes up next-to-no space in my suitcase, weighs just 5.3 ounces, and is perfect for cleaning small-to-medium loads. The patented washboard-in-a-bag technology helps rub stains out of clothes in 1-2 minutes. The best part is it plays double duty and you can use it as a laundry bag when it’s dry.
Price at time of publish: $55
Best Reusable Water Bottle
Thermoflask double wall vacuum insulated stainless steel water bottle.
The Thermoflask Double Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottle will keep you hydrated on the go, whether you’re sightseeing, working remotely, or on a longhaul flight. At just 1.1 pounds, the 18-ounce model is easy to tote around thanks to its comfortable grip and convenient carrying handle, and the vacuum-insulated, stainless steel coating keeps beverages cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours. The chug cap is perfect for travelers looking to sip on the go, plus it’s leakproof, so there’s no need to stress if you need to throw it in your bag. There’s also a straw lid that delivers a steady flow if that’s your ideal sipping style.
Price at time of publish: $28 for 18 ounces
Best Hotspot Router
Glocalme g4 pro 4g lte mobile hotspot.
This T+L editor-approved mobile hotspot is a must for digital nomads and is helpful for anyone who needs stronger internet connectivity in more far-flung destinations. The GlocalMe G4 Pro 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot has a sleek, streamlined design and a proprietary Cloud SIM technology, which allows you to choose pay-as-you-go internet packages in 144 countries around the globe and connect up to 10 devices. The best part? The hotspot comes with 1 free gigabyte of international data, which you can use over the course of 3 months.
Price at time of publish: $170
Amazon kindle paperwhite.
As someone who spent years packing my personal item with books that I barely made a dent in, carrying an e-reader has helped to lighten my load and allows me more freedom of choice when it comes to picking out what I want to read, when I want to read it. Amazon’s 2022 edition is super compact — just 6 x 4 inches and 5.56 ounces — making it easy to slip into your purse. T+L editors love this model for its budget-friendliness and easy-to-read six-inch display.
Price at time of publish: $100
Handy accessories like compression packing cubes and toiletry bags are great for staying organized on longer journeys, helping you to condense and keep track of your belongings at a glance. Packing a foldable, multipurpose tote not only serves you well on day trips, it can be slipped into another bag in case you do a little too much shopping on the go.
Best Packing Cubes
Gonex compression packing cubes.
This set of 4 packing cubes is essential for travelers looking to save space in their suitcase and stay organized on a longer journey by compressing their clothing into individual cubes. T+L editors named Gonex’s Compression Packing Cubes our favorites of 2023 thanks to sturdy zippers, water-repellent nylon exteriors, and resistance to tearing when overstuffed. They come in four sizes extra-large (17.3 x 13 x 3.54 inches), large (14.5 x 10.6 x 3.54 inches), medium (11.8 x 8.9 x 3.54 inches), and small (9.8 x 7.5 x 3.54 inches).
Price at time of publish: $33 for 4
Best Toiletry Bag
Away large toiletry bag.
Away’s Large Toiletry Bag holds more than it looks like it would and has ample organizational features to help you keep track of all your travel essentials, from haircare products to Q-tips and makeup. There’s a sleek exterior zip pocket to allow you easy access to your must-haves, plus several interior compartments, including a zippered pouch, two mesh linings, and a clear cosmetic-style bag. The bag’s water-resistant nylon exterior is smooth to the touch, while the wipeable material that coats the inside helps to prevent dreaded spills.
Price at time of publish: $75
Longchamp Large Le Pliage Tote
There’s no better foldable bag to keep in your luggage than an iconic Longchamp Le Pliage. I’ve tried everything from standard cotton tote bags to squishable duffels and always come back to this classic for its durability, chic design, near-weightlessness (0.63 pounds for the large, 0.48 pounds for the medium ) and its two handy internal storage pockets. The bag sits at the bottom of my suitcase in case I overdo it on souvenirs and need extra space, or if I need a place to store a few days' worth of clothes but don’t feel like lugging my luggage around on a weekend trip.
Price at time of publish: $155 for large
Best Daily Sunscreen
Supergoop unseen sunscreen spf 40.
A good go-to sunscreen is crucial for everyday skin protection, especially when you’re changing climates and might be traveling in destinations where the sun is stronger than you’re used to. Supergoop’s cult-favorite Unseen Sunscreen is velvety smooth and absorbs instantly, without leaving any sticky residue. It’s scentless, chemical-free, and boasts broad-spectrum SPF 40 to help protect your face from sun damage.
Price at time of publish: $38 for 1.7-ounce
While the amount of clothing you bring will depend on whether you’re carrying on or checking a bag, a good rule of thumb is to pack one week’s worth of clothing and plan to do laundry. A baseline checklist might include 4 tops, 3 bottoms, 3 pairs of shoes (including flip-flops), a week’s worth of underwear and socks, plus a hat. From there, adjust to your own needs — maybe swapping a top and bottom for a dress, or adding in 1-2 workout outfits.
On shorter trips, when you’re less likely to be experiencing major climate swings, you can ditch some of your layers at home. For longer travel, layering is the most crucial thing to keep in mind while packing, so that you can jet from place to place without worrying if you don’t have weather-appropriate clothing. Lightweight jackets, scarves, rollable T-shirts, and versatile travel pants are great pieces that can carry you through all sorts of scenarios on a trip that lasts longer than two weeks.
Why Trust Travel + Leisure
Sophie Dodd is a travel writer who has been living out of her suitcase for eight months as she travels the world writing about hotels and wine. She’s learned a thing or two about packing for long term trips along the way, and used her personal experience as well as her expertise as a travel-focused journalist to research and recommend the must-have products for longer trips.
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Road Trip Essentials to Pack for a Long Drive
By Karthika Gupta and Madison Flager
All products featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
There is certainly something to be said about the magic of an open road no matter where in the world you are. Near or far, long or short, road trips offer a sense of freedom and adventure and are often the most satisfying of journeys. While technically you just need keys, a driver's license, and a set of wheels, these road trip essentials—from the best car organizer to comfortable shoes and coffee kits to keep you caffeinated on the go—will make your journey that much more enjoyable, whether you're heading to a national park , cruising along Route 66 , or taking in fall foliage along the Blue Ridge Parkway .
This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date.
Organization and luggage
No matter how big or small your vehicle is, being organized is key to maintaining your sanity as you travel, especially during a long road trip, or one with kiddos in the back seat.
The Duluth Trading Seat Back Bunker neatly organizes all your essentials, from road trip games, snacks, and Kindles to emergency preparedness kits, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, repair tools, and more. It has three tiers of storage including mesh pouches, see-through zippered pockets, and a full-width zip pocket. Collapsible aluminum poles provide a strong-yet-lightweight framework and keep the organizer secure as you drive.
A good duffel bag is worth its weight in gold, especially on road trips where space may be limited, depending on the vehicle and the number of passengers. Filson’s versatile, lightweight bag pulls double-duty as a duffel or a backpack for hands-free carry. The zippered lid is U-shaped so you'll have easy access to its contents. It has one exterior zippered pocket with an internal zip pocket to keep small gear and accessories like keys or a wallet easily accessible. The other nylon-coated pocket expands into the main compartment to keep shoes or wet or muddy gear separated from the rest of your load.
If a roller bag is more your choice of luggage, Yeti’s Crossroads 22-inch suitcase is perfect for road trips. It is made with rugged nylon material that can take any adventure thrown its way. It has removable modular compression straps that can be used internally to pack down gear or externally to compress the luggage overall, making it fit neatly in small spaces like car trunks or overhead car racks.
Packing cubes are just as helpful in keeping your backseat or trunk organized as they are your suitcase. Get a few different sizes with this Paravel quad, and assign each one a different purpose to store supplies, tech accessories, bug spray and sunscreen, toiletries, or anything else you don’t want rolling around.
Tech and roadside emergency
Whether you are driving cross-country or just across the state line, there are certain tools, gadgets, and tech items that are absolutely required to make sure you get where you are going safely and on time, whether you're in your own wheels or a rental car .
Rule number one of any road trip is to always be prepared for any emergency that could happen and derail even the most well-prepared travel plans. The Always Prepared Roadside Emergency Kit will ease your mind when it comes to any potential car troubles. It contains more than 100 useful (and neatly organized) items, including jumper cables, a reflective safety vest and warning triangle to keep you safer if you have to pull over at night, a self-powered flashlight, two light sticks, an emergency rain poncho and mylar blanket, a full first-aid kit, a tire pressure gauge, and more. If there's one thing you add to your road trip packing list, make it this kit.
For something a little smaller and more compact, Leatherman’s Free P4 multi-tool is perfect for all the little things that need to be fixed. With over 20 tools all packed into one, the Free P4 is a must have for any road trip. Whether it’s used to replace a dim headlight, fix a broken antenna, or even cut open a snack packet without having everything spill onto the seat, the P4 rises to the challenge.
Whether you’re embarking on a solo road trip or have a travel companion who’d rather not dictate directions, a phone mount is a key road trip packing list item that makes it easier to keep an eye on your route safely. And since doing so can quickly drain your battery, we recommend one that doubles as a phone charger (this one has two USB charging ports, so you can charge it and other devices simultaneously). This one has an adjustable width to fit most cell phones, and a flexible gooseneck to angle it however you prefer.
In the interest of safety, you may want a dash cam in your car, should you get into an accident or pulled over. This one records clear, crisp video that syncs to your phone through the Nextbase app, allows for voice control commands thanks to connected Alexa technology, and offers a unique Emergency SOS service, which detects serious collisions and alerts emergency services of your location if you are unresponsive. You'll need to buy a Nextbase U3 microSD card to use with it, and use the included charger to keep it juiced up. The camera records continuously when it is plugged in and the car is on, and has an optional intelligent parking mode that automatically records any bump or physical movement on the vehicle when left unattended using the camera's internal battery.
If you're driving more than a few hours and have a car full of fellow travelers, keep a headphone splitter in the glove compartment. This one has five jacks, which means everyone can pull up a movie, music, podcast, or an audiobook on the same device—and when you're tired of the road trip playlist , you don't have to hear a thing.
Comfort and seating
Long hours of sitting upright can do a number on your back. Do yourself a favor and add a seat cushion or some lumbar support to your car setup. Plus, a few more creature comforts you might want to have on hand.
Just as handy for sitting on an uncomfortable dining room chair while working from home as it is on long car rides, this gridded seat cushion will make sitting for extended periods of time comfier—plus the design leaves room for air circulation. It comes with a zippered case for easy transport, too. The Simple cushion should be plenty for your average road trip, but if you’re heading cross-country or planning to make very few stops, pick up the more supportive Ultimate cushion , designed specifically for truckers and long-haul drives.
Several hours behind the wheel can leave your back feeling less than stellar. Strap one of these lumbar support shells around your seat to make your ride more comfortable: It cradles your back, helping to improve your posture and keep you from sinking into the seat, with the added bonus of a mesh fabric to keep your back cool.
If you’re not too tight on space, consider adding a compact, foldable chair to slide into your trunk. You never know when you'll find yourself in need of a dry, comfortable chair on the fly—be it for extra seating at a roadside picnic table or to enjoy a secluded viewpoint at sunset. REI’s Camp X chair is made of quick-dry mono-mesh and polyester material and comes with a carrying case and two cup holders for impromptu lunch breaks.
If you’re not the only driver in the car, you’ll be happy to have a neck pillow while napping during your off shifts. OstrichPillow makes all kinds of interesting contraptions to help you get some sleep wherever you are, but we like the memory foam, velcro-close OstrichPillow Go travel pillow best for car rides.
If you still have a Little Trees Black Ice hanging from your rearview mirror, it's about time you elevate your air freshener game. Pop this inconspicuous diffuser onto one of your car's vents to make the space smell just like a Diptyque 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain candle. Another fresh-smelling option: this under-$20 essential oil diffuser , which Traveler editor Rebecca Misner is a fan of.
A lightweight towel comes in handy during any number of road trip situations: Use it for spontaneous swims, roadside picnics, or as a buffer between the hot leather seat and your legs in the car. This extra-smooth Turkish cotton towel is as absorbent as a standard bath towel but much more compact.
Clothing and accessories
When dressing for a road trip, you want clothing that is comfy, breathable, and works in various climates. Bonus points for pieces that are stylish, too.
We love a good pair of compression socks for long travel days . And during pandemic-era road trips, when stops might be less frequent than usual, they work well at keeping the blood flowing and reducing swelling during long seated stretches in the car. Our favorite brand, Comrad, makes knee-high socks that come in 10 different colors and can be worn three to four times before washing, so you can throw 'em on more than once during multi-day trips.
No matter the excursion, Viev’s Gemma Mid Jacket is a great outer layer. It is lightweight and made with durable Gore-Tex fabric. Its design optimizes breathability to the torso and softness in the arms, back, and hood, making it extremely comfortable to wear even when you are driving. Plus, there are multiple pockets to securely store keys, a wallet, or phone, so your hands can rest comfortably in the outside pocket when you step out to take a break and stretch your legs at rest stops. The rain jacket's bonus is the storm hood brim, which maintains its shape when activated and lays flat when down without being overly rigid.
Along with a good pair of socks, a versatile boot that offers all-day comfort and durability is another must for long road trips. Red Wing Heritage boots are comfortable enough to keep on during long car rides and easy to pair with any outfit or climate, no matter where the road takes you. The Classic Moc is made with soft leather and a polyurethane traction tread outsole for faster break-in and comfort. Wear them in and out of the car, in all kinds of weather.
Drinks, snacks, and hydration
Another must on our list of road trip necessities: food and drinks. And while road travel is often synonymous with gas station coffee and oversized sodas, it doesn’t have to be so. There are plenty of healthy hydration options that change the relationship between road trips and caffeinated drinks.
You've got your insulated reusable water bottle , but if you want to keep your coffee hot, you're going to need a reusable thermos. Zojirushi’s stainless steel travel mug keeps hot drinks warm for up to six hours, and it has a slim design that allows it to easily fit in your car's cup holder. (And if you need to throw it in your bag, it won't leak either.)
The Pakt Travel Mug is in the running for perfect travel mug, too: It is a leak-proof vacuum-insulated double-walled mug that keeps beverages securely sealed and the perfect temperature (8 hours for hot and 24 hours for cold), making it an ideal travel companion. Plus it is sized to fit into most any cup holder.
If you are tired of terrible coffee on the go, the Pakt Coffee Kit has everything you need to make quality coffee in one sleek, portable package. All you need is water and electricity, so you can use this with an adaptor in your car’s charge port, at a rest stop, or at your accommodation. The pour over kit comes with an electric kettle, travel mug and lid, coffee grounds container, and collapsible stainless-steel dripper that packs down into a compact carrying case. All you need is to bring your favorite beans .
It is crucial to stay hydrated on the road, especially when you’re sitting still for hours at a time. Nuun offers a potent blend of electrolytes, vitamins, and botanicals that help with blood flow and support everyday health. The drink tablets are fizzy, tasty, and loaded with electrolytes that keep you healthy and hydrated. Plus, they are certified vegan and gluten-free and have a net-zero carbon emission footprint—good for you and for the environment.
Ritual coffee, based out of San Francisco , sources sweet, clean, single-origin coffees that are simply delicious. They have an ever-changing seasonal espresso blend, the best decaf around, and a single serve instant coffee mix for those times when the cup of gas station coffee just won’t do.
For something to carry, store, and keep all your drink options cool on your next road trip: the soft-shell Yeti Hooper Flip 12 cooler tote. It is leakproof with a wide mouth opening that makes it easy to access food and drinks. It even has a hitch point grid on its sides to help attach it to other gear for more compact packing options in the car.
While most of our favorite road trip snacks come in pre-packaged containers, for anything fresh or homemade (like trail mix, sliced fruit, or overnight oats), we turn to containers like S’well’s spill-resistant snack bowls. For those embarking on family road trips, there are plenty of kid-friendly patterns , decorated with Disney characters, dogs, pretzels, and more, all of which have a pull-out handle. For adults, there are neutral colors like teak wood and marbled patterns available in 16- and 21-ounce sizes.
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12 carry-on essentials you should always pack on a long flight
By Lauren Burvill
As an Australian living abroad and working in travel, I've done my fair share of long-haul slogs. I've lost luggage, missed layovers, fluked upgrades and eaten too many sad airport sandwiches that I care to admit. I know that Qantas offers the best in-flight snacks (mango ice cream bars!) and that there are shiny clean showers and sleep areas that are free to access at Incheon International Airport in Seoul. With each flight, I become more savvy and determined to hack my way to making a long journey as enjoyable as it possibly can be. Snacks are an obvious tactic, as is saving your favourite TV show to binge on the plane. And then there are the little things – an organised bag, a soft scarf, a toothbrush kit – that can make all the difference at hour 10- of a 12-hour flight.
A compact carry-on suitcase
For short flights, it's easy to get away with storing everything in a backpack or tote bag or travelling with carry-on luggage only. But for a long flight, especially if you are travelling for a week or more, it's worth investing in quality luggage . At the very least you want suitcases that fit the exact luggage allowance of your airline and are easy to lift, manoeuvre and move at a fast speed (there's nothing like a broken wheel to put a damper on a trip). For carry-on luggage, I love cases with external pockets for easy-to-reach storage. Here are some styles I recommend or take a look at our best carry-on luggage guide for more.
Pack a change of comfortable clothes
Once you have a reliable, zippy case, take your time to pack only the essentials. Most items should be stored in your check-in case, so only pack items you’ll need during the flight or “just in case” in your carry-on. The majority of the space in your case should be allocated to any tech you need (laptops, tablets) and a comfortable change of clothes. Even if you don't plan on getting changed during the flight, unexpected delays can happen, and drinks can be spilt – a cabin crew member once accidentally poured a mango smoothie into my lap before takeoff on a flight to Mexico.
A smaller bag for the essentials
The overall quality of your second smaller bag is less important. Instead, the focus should be all on function. The bag needs to be lightweight, easy to carry and easy to find your essentials – your passport, travel documents, wallet, keys and phone. Look for styles with zips too for added security. Our editors swear by Uniqlo’s viral £15 bag which you can wear across your body so everything is safe and easy to reach. If you're prone to being unorganised, Anya Hindmarch’s thoughtfully designed flight bag with labelled organised pouches is foolproof.
A travel pillow
Most airlines provide small pillows on long-haul or overnight flights but I find these are best placed in your lower back or on your side rather than offering neck support. At the very least be sure to curve your headrest around to give you support. Or better yet, bring a quality travel pillow with you. The latest styles are incredibly compact and are more focused on offering neck support at the front (to help prevent that dreaded nodding) and the side, so it's possible to sleep while sitting upright.
A portable charger
An essential for not just the flight but your trip in general, a portable charger is an important safety net for being able to access important documents and details. It’s also a lifesaver when it comes to passing the time (especially if your flight is delayed) with your favourite entertainment. Opt for a charger that is small and lightweight. If you're travelling in a couple or with family, a charger with at least two charging ports will come in handy.
It’s hard to imagine life before noise-cancelling headphones. When a flight would mean enduring a maddening soundtrack of rattling drink trolleys, crying babies and various cabin dings. Most airlines on long flights will provide passengers with earplugs and headphones but the only way to truly down out the noise is with a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. If ever there was a time to take the plunge and invest in a pair, it’s right before a long flight.
A luggage tracker
Since 2022 was seemingly the year of lost luggage, a luggage tracker has become a travel essential for 2023. These smart accessories are particularly useful on flights that involve a stopover, or if you’re travelling with bulky items such as car seats that typically take longer to make it through to baggage handling. Before you fly make sure your tag is attached to your check-in luggage securely and download the relevant app so you can track where your bag is at all times.
A reusable water bottle
Our bodies lose roughly eight ounces of water an hour during a flight, so bringing a bottle of water is non-negotiable. At the same time, the biggest source of plastic waste created by travellers is water bottles. This is why the days of quickly buying a single-use plastic water bottle at the airport before your flight are over. Make remembering to bring a reusable water bottle on your flight as important as your passport and keys.
The recirculated air on a plane has a humidity of 10-20 per cent compared to around 40-60 per cent on land. Even the Sahara desert has a humidity of 25 per cent for context. Any moisturising beauty products, so long as they’re under the required 100mls, will come in handy. In my experience though, the one item that often takes up the smallest room in your wash bag but makes the biggest difference on a flight is lip balm. These balms are often multi-use too and can be added to your face and hands if you’re short on space.
Some airlines include a small toothbrush kit in their flight amenity kits. In case they don’t, it's worth packing your own. The simple act of brushing your teeth before landing can make a world of difference to your overall mood when arriving at your destination, plus you can use the brush throughout your trip as well.
The antibacterial became a necessity during the pandemic and is still commonplace in many public areas, including airports. For something more gentle on your skin though, especially while onboard, pack a lightweight option like this citrus-smelling mist by Aesop.
A blanket or scarf
The temperatures on planes can fluctuate wildly, with typically warm cabins during boarding and landing, with chillier temperatures during the middle of the flight. Most airlines aim to maintain temperatures between 23℃ to 25℃, but this can drop for several reasons, for example, cool air during turbulence can help with motion sickness. Wearing light layers is key to surviving unpredictable temperatures, as is bringing a soft scarf or blanket. If you don't have room for it in your bag, wear it on you on the plane with you.