Summer is all about road trips.  The top down, hair blowing in the wind with nothing in front on you but the open road and a thirst for adventure.  Before you hit the pavement, you’ll want to make sure you have these essentials for a road trip.

Being prepared with these road trip essentials will not only be useful and provide comforts but some items will help keep you safe in case of an emergency.  This way you can travel with ease knowing that you are fully prepared for any occasion.

I have the essentials for a road trip broken down into 6 categories – important documents, safety, food and drinks, entertainment, road trip apps and miscellaneous road trip necessities.

Road trip essentials

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When looking for a rental car, I always search sites like Skyscanner, Expedia or Priceline because it compares prices from multiple sites all at once. It’s quick and I can easily see the best deals for my dates and pick-up location.

Road Trip Checklist

30 Must Have Essentials for Road Trips

Important documents you need on a road trip

Important Documents for a Road Trip

The three important documents I have listed below are road trip must haves no matter what.  Whether you’re on a long road trip through Utah’s mighty five or on a day trip driving the road to Hana in Maui, don’t leave home without these essential road trip items.

  • License – Of course you drive a car without a license.  Make sure your license is on your person and not expired.  Nothing would ruin your trip more than a ticket or worse getting arrested on your vacation.  
  • Registration and Insurance –  These documents are essential road trip items because it makes it legal to drive your vehicle.  If you are renting a car these items usually live in the glove box.
  • Vaccination Card if Applicable.
  • Car Manual
Safety essentials for a Road trip

Safety Essentials for a Road Trip

You always want to have a backup plan.  Sometimes life just happens so I like to try to be a little prepared for it.  Don’t leave home without these safety road trip essentials for adults.

AAA is a wonderful safety net to have.  You never know when you might get into a jam – like run outta gas or have a mango crush your windshield (true story).  AAA will be able to give you a tow and be there in a timely manner.

And don’t forget these safety things to pack for a road trip.

Food and drinks for road trips

Food & Drink Road Trip Must Haves

I can’t write a post about road trip supplies and not include food and drinks.  Having snacks, water and all the miscellaneous items that come with it will be the key to your road trip success.

Reuseable Water Bottle

I can’t take a walk around the block without carrying my hydro-flask let alone on a long road trip.  Having a nice, big water bottle that keeps your water cold and at hand is a necessity.

Summer time and road trips go hand in hand.  Temperatures can be very hot and dehydration is no joke.


If you are on a long road trip, there will be countless hours with nothing but you and the pavement.  Having snacks will prevent any one on the trip from getting hangry.

Energy/Protein bars are a great road trip snack.  Just because you are on a road trip doesn’t mean that your diet has to go out the window.  Choose health bars that have a good balance of carbs, proteins and fats.  This will help keep you in shape while you travel especially if you live a busy life on the go.

A few fan favorites are:

Yeti Cooler

Yeti Cooler

There’s nothing better than returning to your car after a short hike/excursion than an ice cold beverage.  Having a Yeti Cooler will not only keep your liquids super chilled but it will keep ice for days.

These things to bring on a road trip come in handy and you’ll be happy you packed them.

Entertainment for road trips

Entertainment Must Haves for Road Trips

You can’t embark on a road trip without packing some necessary long car ride essentials.  I’m talking entertainment.  Sometimes you’ll find yourself on a road for hours with nothing in sight but flat farm land, having long drive essentials to keep you entertained is clutch.

Go Pro


Did you even take a road trip if you don’t document the journey.  A GoPro will capture moments and memories that you will be able to relive forever.  Don’t forget the accessories that go with it – stick, dash mount or chest strap.

Road Trip Playlist

You can’t go on a road trip without the ultimate road trip playlist!  You need songs that will ignite the fire and freedom of the open road.  These are a few of the best road trip songs

  • Life is a highway – Tom Cochrane
  • So Good – B.O.B.
  • I’ve Been Everywhere – Johnny Cash
  • On the Road Again – WIllie Nelson
  • We Built this City – Starship
  • Africa – TOTO
  • Here I Go Again – Whitesnake
  • Send Me on my Way – Rusted Root
  • Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac
  • Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen
  • Sweet Home Alabama– Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Welcome to New York – Taylor Swift
  • Midnight City – M83
  • Pompeii – Bastille
  • Wake Me Up – Avicii
  • Paradise – Coldplay
  • How Far I’ll Go – Moana Soundtrack
  • It’s Time – Imagine Dragons
  • Paradise – Bazzi
  • Live Like you were Dying – Tim McGraw
  • Just Dance – Lady Gaga

Road Trip Games

Having games that you can play in the car are road trip essentials for kids.  There are lots of fun car games that you can play with your roadies.  Try out these road trip car games.

  • The License Plate Game – Try to spot all 50 states on car license plates.  This is a fun road trip game that you play as a group on the same team.
  • The Alphabet Game – The object of the game is to name an object that starts with all the letters of the alphabet in order from A to Z.  The first person to spot the entire alphabet wins!
  • Would you Rather – Would you rather give up go to Greece or to Italy?
Driving apps for a road trip

Driving Apps

Apps make our lives easier.  Check out these driving apps to see if they would make your road trip safer, easier and most efficient.

  • Waze
  • GasBuddy
  • Petrol Prices
  • Just Park
  • Plugshare
  • Google Maps
  • Roadtrippers
  • Hotel Tonight

Road Trip Essentials for Comfort

  • Road Pillow – This pillow lets you comfortably catch some z’s during long drives with a neck cushion that stays in place while you sleep.
  • Electric Blanket – It plugs into any car, truck, SUV or RV cigarette lighter – perfect for those early mornings or winter road trips.
Road Trip Pillow
General road trip essentials

Miscellaneous road trip essentials

When your researching things to bring on a road trip I recommend you back these miscellaneous road trip essentials.  They will keep you organized and comfortable.

Osprey backpack

Osprey Day Pack

A day pack is an essential road trip item so that you can park, jump out of the car, throw on your pack and start the adventure.  I love the Osprey Day Pack.  It is incredibly comfortable and are perfect for day trips or hikes.  Fit for every hiker, backpacker and makes one of the best gifts for someone who loves to travel, hike or just loves the outdoors.

Backseat Organizer

A Backseat Organizer keeps your stuff at hand while traveling and is perfect way to store games, toys and snacks if you are embarking on a road trip with kids.  This item should be on any family road trip packing list.

These items should also be included on a road trip packing list.

  • Sunglasses
  • Phone Charger – Keep your lifeline charged at all times.
  • Wipes
  • Bug Spray
  • Lip Balm
  • Extra Batteries

Any Must Have Essentials for a Road Trip not mentioned in this post?  Let me know what they are in the comments below.

Must Have Essentials for a Road TripMust Have Essentials for a Road Trip