Taking a road trip is fun, no matter how old you are. As well as getting to see more of a country by getting off the beaten track, it can also be a wonderful bonding experience for you and your car buddies.
However, road trips can also be stressful.
Between long hours of traffic and unprecedented car trouble, there’s always something that you can’t prepare for. But by being organised and remembering these 25 things to pack for a road trip, you can give yourself a higher chance of having the best time.
Practical Things to Pack for a Road Trip
Let’s dive right in with the practical things to pack for a road trip.
1. Hand Sanitiser
Things to pack for a road trip 101: hand sanitiser or wipes. It’s still COVID times and not everybody is vaccinated yet, therefore, you can never be too careful with keeping your hands clean. Right?
As well as having a big bottle in your car that you can all use after going to the loo in a service station, it’s also a good idea to have a portable option in your handbag for when you’re out and about.
(Better to be safe than sorry!)
2. Face Mask
Likewise, a face mask is still required indoors in the UK (and many countries abroad).
Instead of bringing just one fabric option on your multi-day epic road trip, minimise the risk of getting sick by investing in a pack of disposable face masks. For example, this Amazon pack of 100* costs just £8.99.
You can then use one and simply throw it away at the end of the day. (So long, germs!)
Similarly, tissues are a staple for any car journey. Not only are they handy when a big allergy sneeze is looming, but they’re also great for spills and wiping sticky hands.
I’m personally a fan of pocket tissues for when I’m on the go. That said, you can also go with car tissue tubes* that conveniently fit in your drink holders. Winning.
4. Phone Charger
We’ve all been on a trip where we’ve forgotten our phone charger — and it hasn’t been fun when our phones are literally our lifelines in the twenty-first century.
The good news is, if you’ve already forgotten your phone charger once, you’ll probably never do it again. But for all the people who haven’t done it yet, it needs to be put on this list of things to pack for a road trip. Thank me later.
Let’s be honest, you can’t go on a long car ride and listen to the sound of crickets. Sure, you can chitchat for a lot of it, but you’ll come to a point where you’re tired of talking.
That’s why playing music is essential.
Sometimes listening to the car radio suffices for shorter trips. Having said that, radios can cut out in remote places. Do yourselves a favour and take your favourite CDs or an auxiliary cable so you can play music off your phones.
After all, it’s often good music that can make a road trip ten times better than a lack of music. Trust me.
You just never know when it’s going to rain. Especially if you’re road tripping in Britain.
In other words, you need to pack an umbrella. Enough said.
7. Microfibre Travel Towel
There may come a time on a road trip where you get wet (maybe if you get caught in a rainstorm without an umbrella?). Alternatively, you could spot the cutest deserted beach and decide to sunbathe or have a swim.
It’s these instances where a travel towel can be a life-saver. But not just any travel towel.
Pick a microfibre variety that is super absorbent and quick-drying. The Eono* also comes in a little bag that won’t take up much space in your car or suitcase.
8. First Aid Kit
Not to be pessimistic but you just never know when you may need medical assistance.
You should always carry a first aid kit in your car so you can provide emergency treatment to yourself, your passengers or other people on the road (if needed). In fact, vehicle first aid kits are a legal requirement in a lot of European countries.
Try this compact and portable Amazon kit* that you can throw in your boot just in case.
9. Travel Bin
Newsflash: cars can get messy during road trips, particularly if you have multiple passengers.
Keep your environment tidy by investing in a car travel bin where your buddies can throw in their receipts, empty packets, etc.
This water-resistant version* is foldable so you can condense it right down when you’re not using it. When you do need it, you can hang it off the back of a front seat for easy access.
10. Boot Organiser
Speaking of being savvy with car space, you could always invest in a boot organiser.
This does what it says on the tin. Instead of having possessions clogging up all your boot space, it can contain everything to clear the clutter away. Additionally, decluttering and organising items into categories will make the items easier to grab.
This URAQT option* is ideal because it has multiple pockets and nets for visibility. It also hangs off the back seats, taking up minimal space and allowing more luggage space.
There’s always one member of your party who wants to watch videos on their device while the others prefer to listen to car music.
In this case, headphones are a car trip must-have. This way, you or another passenger can watch videos through the headphones without disturbing anybody else.
(Hey, we don’t want any arguments! Right?)
12. A Book or Magazine
One of the key things to pack for a road trip is reading material. After all, there’s always downtime, and there’s only so much you can scroll on your phone. Especially if you run out of battery or signal.
That’s where having a book, magazine or Kindle at your disposal really helps.
Food Things to Pack for a Road Trip
Let’s face it, you can’t go on a road trip without yummy snacks, right?
If you ask me, they’re a staple for any car ride — long or short—and so are the following food-related items.
Dehydration is a real thing that can happen during long journeys — and it isn’t fun.
When your body loses more fluid than it takes in, it disrupts the balance of minerals, which affects the way it functions. Low levels of dehydration can cause:
To combat this, keep hydrated on your ultimate road trip by putting a huge pack of bottled water in your boot. The amount of bottles you’ll need will depend on how long you’re away for.
14. Hot or Cold Water Flask
Bottles of water are great for the car, but what happens when you want to go for a long walk or drink something other than water? You need to have a larger, more portable drinking option.
Hot water flasks are perfect for keeping hot drinks that you’ve made yourself warm. Likewise, cold water flasks work well at keeping cold drinks chilled. But what if I told you that you can get a 2-in-1 thermal bottle that does both?
Step forward, Simple Modern*. As well as being highly functional and maintaining the temperature of your drink for hours, it features a straw and a handle so you can grab it and go.
Alongside a thermal flask, having a cooler may be practical for car rides where you want to stop for a picnic or lunch in a pretty place.
You can put sandwiches in it or cold drinks to make sure they stay chilled.
Just throw this iceless, portable version* into your boot and it will keep your goodies cool for hours. Sorted.
Yes, I realise I already mentioned snacks, but did I mention what kinds of snacks?
Obviously, anything you can store in a cupboard works for a multi-day road trip. And if you have a cooler, you can bring fridge snacks along too!
It can be difficult to find healthier snacks though. In addition to fruit, consider packets of nuts, seeds, crackers and popcorn. Just make sure you check the product label for any hidden sugars or pesky preservatives.
Fashion Things to Pack for a Road Trip
As well as food and practical things to pack for a road trip, you’re going to need a change of clothes.
Even though I can’t advise specifics on which fashion items to take without knowing how long you’re away for, I can advise on the following.
Sure, an umbrella works for unexpected downpours when you just need to nip out of the car. However, what about those instances where you’ve arranged to do a full day hike and you need to lighten your load as much as possible?
That’s where taking a water- and wind-proof rain jacket is a no-brainer.
I love The North Face’s 2-in-1 Triclimate jacket*. It’s a fashionable yet functional option for all weathers.
18. Flip Flops
If you know you’ll be in the car for hours before you reach your destination, I don’t blame you for going barefoot. But what if you make an unexpected photo or toilet stop?
You need to be able to throw on your footwear quickly and easily, which is why I always take a pair of comfy flip flops. They don’t take up much room in the car and they let your feet breathe in warmer weather. (Or if your car buddy has the heating on full blast and you’re feeling toasty…)
19. Lightweight Luggage
It goes without saying that the amount of luggage you’ll need will depend on where you’re going, how long for and what the weather will be like. Even so, you can get most things into a carry-on suitcase for any trip that’s less than a week.
Either way, be sure to choose a suitcase or weekend bag that’s made from lightweight materials. It will be easier to lift in and out of the car and transport short distances.
I like the brand Kono* for their hard shells, which are lightweight and durable.
20. Packing Cubes
Packing cubes are a useful way of organising your suitcase for a holiday or business trip.
By using one packing cube per outfit (or product category such as tops), you can minimise clutter and maximise space. Plus, you’ll know exactly where everything is so you can get your hands on a specific item effortlessly.
Try Eono’s pack of 8* from Amazon and they just might change your life. Not even joking.
21. A Practical Bag
Speaking of bags, you need something to carry your daytime essentials that isn’t bulky and won’t weigh you down.
Most road trippers will go for a sturdy backpack as a safe option. However, you could also go with a:
The choice is yours! Either way, just make sure you feel comfortable wearing it and it’s big enough to hold everything you need.
22. Walking Shoes
Sometimes you’re just making a cross-country road trip to visit someone and the stops will be limited. Although, on other occasions, you may be road tripping so you can stop off and see different places.
If it’s the latter, you’ll need some comfortable footwear for exploring.
Don’t plan on walking much? Flip flops will probably suffice. That said, if the opposite is true, you’re going to need some sturdy walking shoes, boots or sandals.
23. Nail File
Full disclosure: someone always breaks a nail during a long journey. And it can hurt pretty bad if you don’t get rid of any sharpness pronto.
That’s why I suggest you take a nail file in your luggage, whether this is a basic emery board or a metal variety. It will keep your nail game strong for the duration of your trip.
24. Hair Ties
When it comes to beauty things to pack for a road trip, hair ties are a must-have if you have long tresses.
As well as working wonders to get your mop out of your neck when you’re hot and bothered, they’re also great for styling purposes on bad hair days.
Lastly, you need to take at least one pair of sunglasses on a road trip. You just don’t know when the sun is going to come out and you need to keep those peepers protected.
To put it plainly, good sunglasses can block light from entering the eyes by as much as 97% to avoid long-term damage.
Another major plus is that they can be used as an accessory to take your travel outfit from clueless to chic in mere moments. I love any design by Quay Australia*! They’re affordable yet fashion-forward.
And if you’re still struggling with stylish things to pack for a road trip, check out my top travel fashion staples.
Don’t Forget to Fill Up Your Car With Petrol!
Figuring out which things to pack for a road trip can be troublesome, especially if you’ll be travelling for days. The trick is to give yourself plenty of time to think of everything you’ll need.
And if you forget something, don’t worry — I’m sure that you’ll be able to pick it up on the way. Just don’t forget to fill up your car with petrol before you set off!
Enjoy your adventure.