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What to Bring on a Road Trip

Updated on November 7, 2014

Road Trip Essentials - The Top Things to Bring with you on your Road Trip Travels

There are the necessities for road trips, and there are the items that will improve the quality of your road trip. Both can be equally important to have a good time on your trip...from technological help like navigation systems to old, trusty road atlases, here are some products that will make your trip a little easier. Read on to find some road trip essentials like a good atlas, cooler, and other items that will make your road trip more enjoyable!

ipod - Don't leave home without this road trip essential item

It's almost a requirement that you bring an ipod on your road trip. Loading your favorite tunes, new songs and mutual favorites will make your trip much more fun. The Nano has received the best ratings on Amazon out of all ipod models, and is very convenient.

Individual Water Bottle Filters - Get instant fresh filtered water! Eco friendly, too.

On a road trip, you'll find yourself consuming several bottles of water a day (at least you should be drinking that much anyway!). This adds up to a lot of plastic, and a lot of cash. This extremely well-rated bottle has an individual filter to filter water. Fill up at the hotel or local restaurant on your trip and consume less water and save some cash!

Katadyn Water Microfilter Bottle
Katadyn Water Microfilter Bottle

Water isn't always available, and sometimes when it is, you wish it would be a little cleaner. This comes in very handy on hikes, in National Parks, and cut down on your bottled water waste. Yes, you can use this on your hikes if you see a clean freshwater stream. Use your best judgement and don't get water near dirty areas! This will at least clean your water before you drink it and remove some microorganisms that might make you sick before you take a sip.

 

First Aid Kit - Safety first! Stow away this must have vacation item somewhere easy to reach

Of all of your road trip essentials, this should be your #1. This first aid kit provides everything you might need for situations from cuts to burns.

Satellite Radio - Listen to non stop music all the way across the country!

"Terrestrial" radio can get pretty boring and annoying on your road trip. Typically signals will last for 100 miles or less for a single radio station on regular radio. Satellite radio provides uninterrupted service across the United States...it hardly ever blanks out! The only time it is interrupted is in tunnels. Having a constant radio station to count on is much more convenient, and unlike ipods, you'll be provided with fresh content and a couple of hundred stations ranging from rock, reggae, hip hop, Howard Stern, comedy and classical.

Quick and Easy Photography - Easy, on the go shots for your road trip

It's obvious you will need a camera for your road trip. Canon's Powershot is a go-to camera for quick, easy, perfect shots for your road trip. This camera is extremely easy to operate, compact, and very easy to upload.

A Little More Technical... - Take flawless pictures you'll remember for life!

...but still easy to operate, this Nikon camera will surely take some excellent shots for your trip. Received nearly flawless reviews on Amazon.

Video Cameras - Take moving footage of your road trip journey

Video cameras are one of the best ways to immortalize your road trip. Here are some tips for your road trip filming:

  • Narrate each shot. You may not know what you are looking at down the road!
  • Try to block the wind from the microphone. It gets amplified tremendously and can block out your voice.
  • If shooting while driving, try to shoot straight forward. Filming out a side window will look like scrolling trees or dirt on film, and not much else. Don't roll down the window, either, just keep the window clean...the wind will be pretty annoying.
  • Get up close! Zoom in on far away wildlife, buildings, citiies, panoramas and more.

Another more budget friendly camcorder that I recommend is the Flip Ultra Camcorder. This camcorder is not only cheap, but great quality for the price. It's also small, and less than half the price of this one. Something to consider anyway.

Don't get Burned! - Even in the car, you can still get a sunburn

A good sunblock will not only block sun, but provide lasting hydration to your skin. Apply sunblock to your arms, face and neck while driving. It's easy to get burned! Don't forget your legs if you're wearing shorts, either. A sunburn will simply ruin your good time, so don't risk it.

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Sunglasses - Protect your must-have eyewear

One of your best friends on your road trip will be your sunglasses. Be sure to protect them with a sturdy case that is crush-proof (in case you sit on it!). For sunglasses, try buying polarized glasses that will block harmful rays from damaging your eyes and provide maximum shade.

Sports Sunglasses Case - Semi Hard Black Eyeglasses Case with Zipper closure , Belt Clip and Microfiber Cleaning Cloth | for Medium to Large Sunglasses B15HC
Sports Sunglasses Case - Semi Hard Black Eyeglasses Case with Zipper closure , Belt Clip and Microfiber Cleaning Cloth | for Medium to Large Sunglasses B15HC

If you're spending a bunch of money on your sunglasses, a good hard case only makes sense. I've sat on my sunglasses before and busted them, then I was driving around California with no shades in the bright sun. I had to stop and buy another pair. I should've looked where I was sitting, or bought one of these first. Now I have one, and my butt can never ruin another pair of my sunglasses.

 

Toothbrush Case - Keep your toothbrush clean and ready to use!

You might have forgotten about this one! Your toothbrush is rolling along brushing right up to your deoderant, makeup, lotions and powders, yuck! Cover it up with a toothrbush holder and you'll have peace of mind and an assuredly clean brush.

Road Atlas - The perfect atlas to navigate your way across the country

A spiral-bound road atlas will be a wise investment. The larger non-spiral atlases look great in theory, but become quickly tattered and useless by the end of your trip. The last thing you need is a missing page from your book. This atlas is just the right size, and is a little sturdier than the typical large atlas. Stow it under the seat and keep it handy, clean and looking new.

Rand McNally Road Atlas Midsize Deluxe (Rand McNally Midsize Road Atlas: Large Scale)
Rand McNally Road Atlas Midsize Deluxe (Rand McNally Midsize Road Atlas: Large Scale)

From my experience, a spiral bound atlas will hold up a lot longer than the non-spiral bound ones. It's a couple of extra dollars, but it's better than paying an extra ten to twenty for a new one. If you think your GPS is all you'll need, remember, electronic devices do fail sometimes!

 

Navigation

Navigation is a handy tool for your road trip. Instead of asking the locals at that sketchy looking gas station for some directions, rely on your Garmin for accurate navigation instead. It's reliable and easy to use, not to mention widely approved by customers.

Tire Pressure Gauge - Bet you didn't think of this one for your road trip!

A must-have! Checking your tires for air every other day will prevent flats and provide much better mileage on your car. A full tire is much more likely to deflect sharp objects, handles better, and saves gas and cash. Stay away from digital tire pressure gauges...they may be cheaper in some instances, but you'll be sacrificing reliability. This one doesn't rely on batteries, a definite plus.

Cooler - You'll get sick of fast food, so get one of these...

Restaurants are fun, but you'll be sick of fast-food and sit-down restaurants before long. Try stopping into a grocery store for some cold-cuts, bread, yogurt, milk, cheese, fresh veggies and fruit to get away from the unhealthiness of on-the-run eating. When checking into your hotel, ask for a room with a fridge to freeze your ice pack and store your food. This cooler is just the right size, very thermal, and not too bulky.

Acai Powder - Tasty instant super antioxidant power

A nice treat on your trip! Acai is a powerful antioxidant and tasty juice that will provide a good alternative to plain old water and the normal bottled juices you might encounter in the gas stations.

Restaurant Eating - Find out how to eat the right way on your road trip and still have fun!

It's inevitable that you will be eating out on your road trip, but that doesn't mean that you have to eat poorly. Learn how to make wiser restaurant decisions quickly and feel better on your trip with this well-received book.

USA Travel Guide - One of our personal favorite guides of the country

There are so many things to see in the United States, you'll want to get a handy guide like this one to make sure you don't miss a thing. Pick out your favorite destinations, plan the best route, and get some valuable tips in this compact guide.

Portable Video Game Systems - When you go through Nebraska, this might come in handy...

Are you a video game lover? Have some kids coming along that get bored easily? This might occupy their time or yours during those long expanses of road that might not be your thing. PSP makes an excellent system with plenty of games to choose from.

Plan a Road Trip Today!

Why not plan a road trip today? If you're used to flying, it can be a refreshing change of pace from the hectic security, long lines and stale airplane air.

A Quick Road Trip Checklist

Here's a list of things you may want to bring on your road trip to make your life a little easier. Some are mentioned above, but here it is in a convenient checklist format:

  • Sunglasses & Sunglasses Case
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Repellent
  • Chapstick
  • Aloe Vera/Burn Relief (for sunburns)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Dry road trip snacks (like chips, crackers, etc)
  • Cooler & ice pack(s)
  • At least 2 credit cards with plenty of available credit for the entire trip...try getting one with points or rewards
  • Light timers (for your house while you're away)
  • Clothing for the trip, pack enough to change twice a day
  • Toothpaste & toothbrush
  • Toothbrush cover
  • Toiletry case to enclose liquids
  • Soap (hotel soap can sometimes be pretty bad!)
  • Shampoo/Conditioner(same deal here)
  • Music (ipod, CD's, MP3, ipod transmitter)
  • Road atlas, spiral bound
  • GPS Navigation system (makes your life much easier!)
  • Any prescriptions, medical items, vitamins, supplements
  • Digital camera, charged battery, empty memory card
  • Cellphone (charge the battery!), cellphone charger
  • Laptop (optional)
  • Books & magazines (for pooltime)
  • Hiking shoes, walking shoes, dress shoes (if applicable), sandals
  • Local city travel guides (buy ahead!)
  • Bathing suit (this is often forgotten!)
  • Hair brush, hair products, cosmetics, cologne, perfume
  • Scissors (you'll use these more times than you would think!)
  • Razors, shaving cream, electric razor
  • Cash (enough for the trip, try to avoid ATM visits to save time, fees, and potentially losing your card)
  • Decks of cards, board games, handheld video game systems, portable DVD players, anything to occupy your time if you get bored in the car!


Have a Suggestion of your Own on What to Bring on a Road Trip? - Tell everyone what they should bring!

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    • profile image

      laptop100 5 years ago

      My husband and I are planning a cross country trip. It will include 27 states there and back. All of your suggestions will be used because this is our first cross country trip and I would like for it to go smoothly. We have been saving for this trip for three years. To make thing go even better we are purchasing a new car to do it. Can't wait.

    • senditondown profile image

      Senditondown 5 years ago from US

      We enjoyed the NY City video and found it to bring back a litte bit of home for us. Thanks. Everyone should take a look at this lens.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great list of essentials for a road trip and well-crafted lens. Another one I would include (unless I missed it on your list) is hand sanitizers. Blessings! :)

    • WorldVisionary3 profile image

      WorldVisionary3 6 years ago

      Great ideas - I'll use this as my checklist for my next trip!

    • profile image

      kristymckeown 6 years ago

      love the list. I also make photocopies of important documents incase I lose my purse! It has yet to happen, but I'm a bit absent minded! LOL

    • dismantlerepair profile image

      dismantlerepair 6 years ago

      Thanks for the list. It just so happens that I am planing a motorbike trip around western USA in october as part of my bucketlist!

    • profile image

      camptrip 6 years ago

      If you are planning a road trip with a camper and keeping food on you I would recommend taking some tuper ware so you can keep the food away from insects, in particular ants! Trust me, the last thing you want is all your food swarmed with ants, it happened to us.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 7 years ago

      Isn't it wonderful the number of different gadgets we have available these days for taking on a road trip? Many of our road trips were on the motor scooter, so space is limited. We have some friends who pack something extra -- their portable potty! Really. I'm craving a road trip!

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Ha, I knew it was you who'd left the comment on my Ten Essentials lens just by the message in my email. If it's about a road trip, it's gotta be Kiwi! (Well, most of the time.) I'm lensrolling you right back. We road trip nearly as much as we backpack. It's all good!

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 8 years ago from Concord VA

      This is a great lens and very helpful! I've lensrolled you with my Appomattox Court House Historical Park lens. Thanks for visiting my Princess Bedding lens (that was quick - I just published it last night!)

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 8 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      This is a great and helpful lens. 5*

    • profile image

      GHouse 8 years ago

      Hi!! Just come to see your nice lens. I did my travel lens too. It's about my hotel in hua hin Thailand. Hua Hin is a charming town of clean white sandy beach. If you come to Thailand, please visit us.

    • The Homeopath profile image

      The Homeopath 9 years ago

      Awesome lens, but what about traveling with kids? If you write anything on surviving a road trip with kids, let me know, I've done A LOT of them, and I've got 4 kiddos and the scars to prove it! I'm sure I can give you lots of tips and tricks!

    • sisterra profile image

      sisterra 9 years ago

      Great lens - saw you on the stores board!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Great Road Trip Lens 5* and a favourite and welcome to Travelmania group!

      Tapir Travel

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 9 years ago

      My husband and I are going on a road trip next month, so your tips will come in handy. I'm a terrible packer! Welcome to All Things Travel.