18 Road Trip Essentials

Every road trip needs certain essentials to make your trip more enjoyable. Here are my must-haves to make your road trip a success!

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We love road trips! With a family of 7, it’s hard and expensive to travel any other way. Flying has become pretty much impossible for us because of the cost, so instead, we bought a BIG BLUE van and became road trippers! (You can see a pic of BIG BLUE here. A few years ago we took a road trip from Houston all the way to Niagara Falls, with several awesome stops along the way! That was definitely something!

I have found that planning and packing the right things makes for a much better road trip. So I came up with a list of essentials for every road trip. These are things we always take along, no matter what the destination. 

Road Trip Cleaning and Safety

You’ll want to make sure and be prepared for any yucky accidents during your road trip, especially when you’re traveling with kids! Here’s some things that will help keep your trip “clean and safe”.

  • KleenexWet Wipes

    keep things clean on the road

    So this is an essential item for any car ride, not just road trips! I always keep a pack of wipes in my car. I recently discovered these bags with individually wrapped wipes and love them. Keeps the unused wipes fresh!

  • trash bags

    HeftyTrash Bags

    keep your trash contained

    Road trips always include stopping at gas stations for snacks and goodies. That produces trash. You’ll need trash bags for that! You can even use grocery bags. My Tip: fill up a bag and throw it out at your next rest stop to keep your car clean.

  • hand sanitizer spray

    EveryoneHand Sanitizer Spray

    keep those hands nice and clean and ready for snacks

    This is a MUST. A couple of bottles of hand sanitizer in the car to make sure everyone’s hands are clean before digging into all those snacks! I love the spray because it’s less messy! Trader Joe’s has one I love as well.

  • first aid kit

    Johnson & JohnsonFirst Aid Kit

    safety first

    A First Aid Kit is an essential item you don’t want to go without. You can buy one that comes already packed with everything like the one in the picture or you can get a case like this cutie and make it yourself.

  • Always PreparedRoadside Emergency Kit

    always be prepared on the road

    When we bought Big Blue, we bought a car emergency kit like this one. It can take you out of a bind, and it takes up no space in your car. It easily fits in your trunk.

  • tissues


    a must-have on any car ride

    We always need tissues or napkins when we travel. You know, because kids! I love that these are compact and fit in your car. You can also pack some napkins in a ziplock if you don’t want to buy tissues.

Road Trip Tech and Entertainment

In this day and age, we all have some electronics we always carry with us. These items can help us get from place to place and keep us entertained on road trips. Here’s what you shouldn’t forget!

  • phone chargers

    TIKALONGPhone Charger

    keep all your electronics charged on the way

    Since we have a large van, I bought several charging cords and they always remain in the car so everyone can keep their things charged. Make sure the cords are long enough to reach the back seat if you don’t have connectors in the back.

  • portable dvd player

    DBPOWERPortable DVD Player

    keep them entertained

    If you have a van, then it may be equipped with a DVD player. In that case, don’t forget the movies! If you don’t have one, there are many inexpensive options that are so worth the hours of entertainment that can provide peace and quiet!

  • car games

    GamieCar Games

    electronic free entertainment

    Entertainment is key when you have kids on board. These car edition games are must-haves to keep everyone happy and occupied.  If you allow your kids to play on electronics though, then the Nintendo Switch is a perfect travel companion as it doesn’t need wifi.

  • AmazonMusic

    good music the entire way there

    If you’re on a road trip, there will definitely be times when radio stations don’t work anymore. Make sure you have a great playlist you can play from your phone. Amazon Prime members get access to over 2 million songs! And you can try the service for free.

  • phone mountcar phone holder

    andobilPhone Mount

    go hands free

    We got a phone holder on our last long trip and love it! It’s perfect for keeping the GPS on the phone visible and out of your hands.

  • earbudstravel earbuds


    keep the peace

    Headphones or earbuds are key to keep fighting to a minimum! Can you imagine 5 different kids trying to listen to their own music at the same time? Just no! So when we have downtime everyone puts on their headphones and rests with their own choice of music!

Road Trip Comfort

Long road trips can be tough on your body. You want to make sure and be as comfortable as possible. Having these things will make it more comfortable and easier on you!

  • MLVOCTravel Neck Pillow

    get some good rest on the way

    Taking naps on a road trip is a must! As long as you’re not the one driving! A good neck pillow is great to have to make those naps enjoyable. You don’t want to wake up with a stiff neck.

  • BlueHillsTravel Blanket

    keep warm and cozy in a cool car

    My kids love having their own blankets on road trips. To avoid big bulky items, we have these travel blankets that fold nicely into a pouch. Everyone stays nice and cozy while the car is cool.

  • small day bag

    eBagsCompact Travel Backpack

    an amazing carry all bag

    When we go on a road trip, I make everyone in the family pack one small bag with one change of clothes, pjs, and bathroom toiletries. If we’re going somewhere warm we also add a bathing suit, or a light jacket if it will be chilly. Having a small bag means not having to take out your entire suitcase when you stop for a night in a hotel before reaching your final destination. This bag in the picture is amazing! I love mine.

  • packing cubes

    eBags.comPacking Cubes

    these cubes will take your packing to a whole new level

    I can’t say enough about these packing cubes. We use them when we go on road trips and any other time we travel. They’re awesome for cruises too! Each member of my family has a different color set. They make unpacking so easy when we get to our destination. You simply remove the cubes from your suitcase and that’s it. It keeps our hotel rooms cleaner and in order. The cubes are perfect for organizing your clothing by either like items or outfits.

  • Arctic ZoneHardbody Cooler

    keep your snacks and drinks cool

    A cooler is a must to hold all your drinks and snacks! Road trips are usually long and everyone is always hungry! We have a soft-sided cooler like this one that we love and we always take it with us on road trips! Can’t beat the price either!

  • pack it flat toiletry bag

    eBags.comPack It Flat Toiletry Bag

    the most compact toiletry bag around

    These toiletry bags are amazing. They come in the same colors as the cubes so we all have our own color. So much fits in them and they pack nice and flat taking up little space in your day bag. Make sure to get travel size toiletries to make packing lighter!

That’s it for my favorite must-haves for road trips. I hope you found this list helpful and are able to get some great gear for your next road trip.

Do you have an essential road trip item that I didn’t mention? Tell me about it in the comments.

 Happy Road Tripping!

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