Road Trip Essentials List: Things to Bring on a Road Trip

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What road trip essentials do you need to pack for a long car drive? While you technically need little more than a vehicle and a driver’s license there are a lot of road trip essentials that will make your next adventure a more pleasant experience. Below is our list of essentials for a road trip with product recommendations for things to bring the next time you hit the road!

Our Road Trip Essentials List:

GPS Navigator

A GPS navigator should always be on your road trip essentials list! Just plug in your next stop’s address and let the device guide you there turn-by-turn steps. Even if you already know where you’re going, unexpected road closures can throw you for a loop. Or maybe you’ll want to detour after hearing of a great county fair or restaurant that serves the world’s best pie. GPS is great for getting you to those unexpected stops. A GPS can also guide you straight to the nearest tourist office, gas station, or fast food chain. Don’t road trip without a GPS in your car!

While most smartphones now come with built-in GPS tracking apps, a separate GPS navigator will provide insurance in case your phone runs out of batteries, your kids are playing with it in the backseat, or it gets lost or stolen along the way.

USA Guidebooks

Guidebooks are among the essential road trip items: they tell you all the best destinations and must-stop places, plus have information about events, hotels, and restaurants along the way. They even provide maps to use when you get where you’re going. Guidebooks are useful roadtrip essentials to help you plan and get where you’re going.

Paper Maps and an Atlas

As I said, an electronic GPS is a must-have road trip item, but you should always have a paper map or an atlas in your car, just in case. Technology breaks, batteries die, you don’t want to get stuck out in the middle of nowhere or on an unfamiliar route without a paper map as backup.

Car Emergency Kit

It’s essential to have an emergency kit in your car when taking a road trip. From simple items like a first aid kit and flashlights to reflective triangles, jumper cables and tow ropes, you want to be prepared for anything. If you get a flat tire or an accident occurs, you don’t want to be stuck without the necessary items to keep you safe and get you back on the road.


Cameras are essential to a best road trip gear list. You wouldn’t want to miss capturing a photo the world’s largest pecan, those fantastic diner club sandwiches, or the breathtaking views at a scenic overlook. Whether you use a high-end DSLR, an entry-level DSLR, a point and shoot, a drone, a GoPro, or your iPhone, always have a camera for road trips. Here are some of our favorite cameras for road trips. (Check out more of my recommendations for road trip cameras here.)

Road Trip Cooler

Coolers are great for road trips. They allow you to store away picnic sandwiches, snacks for the kids, hot dogs for the campfire, bottles of water, or beers for later. Fill up a cooler with lunches, drinks, and snacks and pack it in the trunk and on your next road trip you won’t go hungry or have to wait at the drive through.


Never be hungry on a road trip! Always pack up plenty of snacks to get you between meals and to avoid overpriced gas station fare. Snacks in your car will keep the requests for stops down and you and your passengers happy. Be sure to also stock up on plenty of water and drinks!

There you have it! Our essential road trip gear guide. Next time you’re ready to hit the road make sure you have a charged GPS, your guidebook, a just-in-case emergency kit, a cooler full of drinks and snacks, and, of course, your camera! Add all of these to your road trip packing list and you’ll be good to go!

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Road Trip Essentials Guide - Our Top Road Trip Gear List. What gear do you need to pack for a road trip? Here is our essential road trip gear guide with must-have product recommendations to pack in your car!
Road Trip Essentials Guide – Our Top Road Trip Gear List. What gear do you need to pack for a road trip? Here is our essential road trip gear guide with must-have product recommendations to pack in your car!

Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash