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The Only Road Trip Packing List You Need: 16 Items to Bring

The Only Road Trip Packing List You Need: 16 Items to Bring

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Is it just me, or after a while of being cooped up in the house you just get that “I need a road trip” feeling? One of my favorite ways to travel is packing up the car, hitting the highway and turning that volume knob all the way to the right.

But one of the worst feelings in the world is when you’re about an hour down the road and you suddenly get that pit in the bottom of your stomach…what did I forget? Fear no more, this road trip packing list has you covered.

No matter if you’re travelling across the country or just taking your time along the way, there are certainly a few essentials for a road trip you don’t want to be without. 

As a Canadian, one of the most popular ways to travel is by car (only recently have we begun to see affordable airfare with new carriers like Swoop Airlines).

So I road trip my way through Alberta all the time and frequently make the 10-hour drive to different parts of British Columbia (like the Okanagan Valley and Wine Country) or to beautiful Vancouver.

I’ve even made the 38-hour drive home from Ontario.

So – I’ve had many opportunities to make my list of things to bring on a road trip, so that you don’t have to!

Some links in this post may contain affiliate links, including Airbnb. Meaning at no extra cost to you, I might make a small commission if you make a purchase. I only share places, services and products that I know, love and trust.

Road Trip Packing List: 

  1. Sunglasses
  2. Big Water Bottle
  3. FUD
  4. Toilet Paper
  5. Travel wipes
  6. Healthy, Travel-friendly Snacks
  7. Car cooler
  8. Wellness Items
  9. Slip on Sandals
  10. Travel Pillow
  11. Essential Oil Stay Alert Blend
  12. Hard Copy Guide Books
  13. Entertainment Like Conversation Starter or Trivia
  14. Podcasts or Audiobooks
  15. Bug Spray
  16. Emergency Roadside Kit

My Recommended Road Trip Essentials

1. Sunglasses

Might seem a little obvious, but you don’t want to leave home without your shades. That’s why it’s number one of my list of things to pack for a road trip. 

2. Big Water Bottle

I used to try to avoid drinking water on road trips to minimize the number of pee breaks, but in my wiser years, I’ve realized that’s just not a good idea.

You will feel so much better if you stay hydrated while on the road, and it’s easiest if each passenger has their own big bottle so you don’t need to refill.

I still love my trusty Nalgene bottle or Hyrdro Flask but the problem is they don’t fit in standard cup holders.

But guess what? You can get these extendable cup holders that fit large water bottles like the Nalgene and hydro flask. 

3. FUD

Speaking of pee breaks, us females need to be a little strategic in where we stop for a bio break. And on road trips, sometimes it’s not that easy.

Enter the Female Urination Device. Sounds weird, but when nature calls, you can now literally go anywhere.

No need to search for a spot in the trees where you’re hidden. Then, keep it for hiking, camping, or even when you’re at an outdoor concert or festival. 

Recommended: the pStyle

4. Toilet Paper

Equally important is to also bring a roll of toilet paper with you. You never know whether that road side biffy has been recently stocked or not, better safe than sorry!

Or if you’re not a fan of one-ply (who is?), it’s best to bring your own. 

5. Travel Wipes

Subsequently, packing a small case of wet naps/travel wipes is always a good idea.

They’re great for after your lunchtime picnic stop or when you need to freshen up after a long drive. They also double as TP in case you forgot your roll! 

Recommended: these ones that come individually wrapped so you can be discreet 

6. Travel-Friendly Snacks

The last thing you want is a hangry road trip passenger (been there)! When making sandwiches for the road, I like to use bagels instead of bread or buns, because they don’t get squished as easily.

Other snacks that are great for road trips are things like individually-wrapped cheese, beef jerky (I like all natural, no junk added jerky), apple slices and carrots. High protein and no-crumb snacks are the best kinds of food to bring!

7. Car Cooler

If you need to keep your snacks and drinks cool, it helps to have a car cooler that you can put in the backseat.

I like this one because it’s got front pockets to keep all of your road trip essentials together, like your travel wipes, first aid kit, etc.

It collapses flat when not in use, and when you’re done with your road trip, it’s great for holding all your groceries once you’re back home. 

Recommended: this cooler that’s a little more compact and portable.

8. Wellness Items

I always bring a good chapstick to keep in the car (and the car only, so that I don’t lose it)!

I find the air conditioning dries out my skin after a while so a good chapstick is one of my road trip must haves. 

It’s a good idea to keep some pain relief meds like Ibuprofen. Sometimes I get headaches if there’s a lot of altitude changes through mountain passes. 

One of our favorite road trips – we found this cabin on Airbnb

9. Slip on Sandals

My road trip list always includes a pair of slip on sandals – trust me, these are such a game changer for long car rides!

If your feet ever swell up from sitting for a long period, sandals offer great relief and you can quickly get in and out of the car when you make pit stops.

I love the classic Adidas slide on sandals because you can wear socks, too (don’t judge, my feet get cold)!

Having some slip-ons makes any road trip more comfortable. 

Recommended: these classics!

10. Travel Pillow

If you’re someone who’s lucky enough to be able to sleep in the car, a neck pillow is a must have on any road trip.

And even if you’re someone who can’t sleep in the car, you might be able to with this new, bendable travel pillow.

It’s a little unconventional, but might just work. 

Recommended: this new design for a travel pillow

11. Hard Copy Guide Books

If you’re like me, you do all your travel planning online and on your phone. But I still love leafing through physical copies of guide books and magazines.

When you’re on a road trip to your destination, this is a great time to do so!

It helps you get excited about your trip and create conversation with your travel buddy.

I love the Lonely Planet guide books, but Moon Guides are also great too. 

The Badlands in Alberta

12. Things to Keep You Entertained Like Conversation Starters or Trivia

You need some fun things to bring on your road trip! Or sometimes, when you’re several hours into your road trip, you run out of things to talk about.

Try these conversation starter packs for couples, families and kids that are loaded with questions to keep the conversation going.

Or if you’re a fan of trivia, a pack of trivia cards is another great way to stay entertained while on a road trip.

Either way, keeping the conversation flowing is important to help stay awake! 

13. Essential Oil to Stay Alert

When you don’t want to drink more coffee or eat more sugar to stay awake, bring this stay alert blend with you!

Either mix it into a little travel spray bottle, or put a couple drops onto a cotton ball and inhale. It’s seriously one of the most underrated things to bring on a road trip! 

14. Podcasts or Audiobooks

Good tunes go hand in hand with road trips, but sometimes a good, thought-provoking podcast or listening to an action-packed audio book is a great way to pass the time. I’m a fan of the Joe Rogan podcasts.

Audible offers the best choices for audiobook selection, and if you don’t have an account, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial and can cancel at anytime.

You might as well try it if you’re headed out on a road trip soon! And it’s not just audiobooks, there’s tons of podcasts to choose from, too.

Similarly, GuideAlong is a narrated driving tour app that’s worth checking out. You just download a tour to your phone, and then it plays automatically when you’re in the area through GPS satellite signals. 

15. Bug Spray

This is for when you stop for a picnic or to stretch your legs. You don’t want those pesky mosquitoes to disturb your few minutes of fresh air. 

Recommended: this DEET-Free, plant-based repellent

16. Emergency Road Kit

You should always have one of these in your car anytime you drive it, but definitely have one in the trunk for a longer trip. If you already have one, double check to make sure everything is still inside the bag and that nothing is broken or unusable.

It’s also a good idea to let a close family member or friend know your travel route and destination in case anything happens. 

Recommended: this 142 piece kit

Road Trip Items You Could Bring if You Have the Room

Now, there are definitely more things you can bring with you on your road trip to make it more comfortable and enjoyable, but the list above focused on my absolute must haves that I always pack.

We found a beautiful, clear lake to stop for a quick swim break on our road trip!

For instance, sometimes I pack a swimsuit separately from my luggage bag, if we’re going to be passing some nice lakes for a quick cool off dunk!

Or maybe you are planning to road trip to the beach for the day or some outdoor hot springs? A towel poncho is perfect to change into your swimsuit when you have to be out in the open. Also great for running from your hotel room to the outdoor hot tub!

(…like when we found these hot springs in the middle of the forest)

I also have a friend who always brings her travel hammock to set up at rest stop picnic areas to take a quick 15 minute nap before getting back on the highway.

Depending on who you’re travelling with and what kind of devices they need to charge, you might want to bring a power inverter. However, if you’re driving a newer car, there are usually several USB outlets so you should be fine without one. 

And finally, a lot of people like to bring hand sanitizer on a road trip, but there have been reports that it can explode if left in a warm car. If you’re going to bring it, keep it in your purse so that’s it’s not left alone in a hot glove box! 

What else are your essential road trip items to pack? Drive safe and happy travels!

Want some fun road trip itineraries to check out? Take a look at these:

6 Iconic and Unique Road Trips Through Alberta

The Ultimate Western Canada Road Trip: Vancouver to Calgary

Top Things to Do on an Okanagan Road Trip from Kelowna to Osoyoos

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