Absolute Essential Things to Bring on a Long Road Trip

In this article on essential things to bring on a long road trip, I am going to share many items that are often forgotten, dismissed or not considered. As a professional road trip blogger for over 13 years, I have a bit of experience to draw from. I hope you find this helpful.

essential things to bring on a long road trip

Embarking on a long road trip can be an exciting adventure, but it’s important to make sure you have all the essential items you need to stay safe and comfortable on the road. From valid insurance and car registration, to snacks and entertainment, there are several must-have items you should bring with you. However, there are also some lesser-known items that can be incredibly useful in certain situations. In this article, we’ll cover the essential things you should bring on a long road trip, as well as some extra items you might not have thought of.

Comfort and Convenient Things to Bring on a Long Road Trip

  • Snacks and Drinks: Of course it would not be a road trip without some of our favorite snacks. I personally love beef jerky, nuts & seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, cashews or pistachios), popcorn, M&M’s, chips, crackers, etc. I will also balance the junk out with some real food, like good cold cuts (my favorite is Boar’s Head), cheese and fresh fruit. These are all easy to eat while driving or for a stop to have a picnic.
  • Ice Chest: If you still have one of those cheap Coleman coolers, it’s time to upgrade to a well insulated one. I just got a 45 quart Laka, which is 25% lighter than comparable coolers and more affordable. This premium, rotomolded workhorse will keep ice for over a week! It’s perfect to bring on a long road trip.
  • Blanket or sleeping bag: A blanket or sleeping bag can be useful if you need to take a nap or sleep in your car, or in case of a breakdown.
  • Toilet paper and wet wipes: Bring these items in case you need to use the restroom while on the road or if there’s no toilet paper available.
  • Trash bags: Bring trash bags to keep your car clean and organized.
  • Power inverter: A power inverter can be useful if you need to plug in and charge devices that require an AC outlet, such as a laptop.
  • Sunshade or window shades: These can help keep your car cool and protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
  • Travel pillow: A travel pillow can make long car rides more comfortable and help you get some rest while on the road.
  • Umbrella or raincoat: Don’t let unexpected rain showers ruin your trip. Pack an umbrella or raincoat to stay dry.

Safety and Emergency Things to Bring on a Long Road Trip

  • Multi-tool or Swiss Army Knife: A versatile tool can come in handy in many situations, such as fixing equipment or opening packages.
  • Duct tape: This versatile adhesive can be used to fix just about anything.
  • Emergency whistle: An emergency whistle can be used to signal for help in case of an emergency.
  • Portable air compressor: If you have a flat tire or low pressure, a portable air compressor is very handy. They are also great if you are traveling with bikes, scooters or sports items. I used to have one that plugged into my cigarette lighter, but far prefer my battery operated one by Worx.
Essential Things to Bring on a Long Road Trip - photo by: Mike Shubic
  • Headlamp or flashlight: A headlamp or flashlight can be used to navigate in the dark or to signal for help.
  • Paper maps: While GPS and smartphones are great navigation tools, it’s always a good idea to have paper maps as a backup in case your electronic devices fail.
  • Spare cash: Bring some spare cash in small denominations in case you encounter places that don’t accept credit cards or if you need to pay for parking or tolls.
  • Portable water filter or purification tablets: If you’re traveling to a remote area, it’s a good idea to bring a portable water filter or purification tablets in case you need to drink water from a natural source.
  • Extra car key: Bring an extra set of car keys in case you lose or misplace your primary key.
  • Portable phone charger or backup battery: This can be a lifesaver if your phone battery dies while you’re on the road.
  • Portable jump starter: A portable jump starter can be useful if your car battery dies and you’re stranded in a remote area. This happened to me in a remote part of Yellowstone National Park a couple years ago, it was a lifesaver. I have two vehicles and have two different battery-powered jump starters, one is another Worx product that has both a light, a magnet (so you can stick in in various places, like for changing a tire at night).
Safety and Emergency Things to Bring on a Long Road Trip include a battery-powered jumper like this one from Worx.
  • Roadside emergency kit: This kit should include some of the items already listed, but should also include some rope, tow strap, some basic tools, a spare tire, flares, lighter & matches, first-aid kit, gloves, etc. in case of a breakdown.

Navigation and Entertainment Essentials

  • Paper Maps: While GPS and smartphones are great navigation tools, it’s always a good idea to have paper maps as a backup in case your electronic devices fail.
Road trip Map
  • Music and Entertainment: Listening to music, a podcast or an audiobook can help pass the time during long stretches of driving. Make sure to create your favorite playlist of road trip songs, and don’t forget to connect your smartphone to your car’s audio system before you leave (for car renters).
  • Smartphone Apps: There are various apps available for smartphones that can help with navigation and entertainment. For example, Roadtrippers and Waze can help plan routes and find attractions and restaurants along the way. Spotify and Netflix can be used for music and movies.
  • Satellite Radio: If you’re tired of scanning through local radio stations, or not having a signal while on a road trip, consider getting a satellite radio subscription. This will give you access to a wide variety of music, talk radio, and sports stations no matter where you are.
  • Travel Games: Playing games is a great way to pass the time during a long road trip, especially when traveling with kids. Bring some travel-sized board games, card games, or puzzles to keep you and your passengers entertained.
  • Travel Guides: If you’re interested in exploring the area you’re driving through, consider bringing travel guides or guidebooks. These can give you ideas for local attractions, restaurants, and activities to do along the way.
Road Trip stuff

Well that’s it from this list of things to bring on a long road trip. If you have any additional suggestions, or have any questions, leave a comment below. So, until next time, we’ll see ya on the road…

Mike Shubic

Mike Shubic is a seasoned road trip travel video blogger, traversing the byways of the world looking for those hidden gems of the road. From unique destinations, unexpected discoveries, creative cuisine, intriguing inns to exciting attractions…the road is his page. The experiences are his ink. And every 300 miles, a new chapter begins. Whether you live vicariously or by example, Mike will do the exploring so you can have an adventure.