There are countless products and services designed to make traveling easier or more comfortable. Some we just can’t live without — like a portable battery charger — and others don’t make it past Kickstarter. With so many options out there, you could spend hours searching for the best road trip accessories. So to save you time, we surveyed our colleagues at Avail to see what they like to bring on a long drive and compiled the top recommendations in this list.
1. Smartphone mount
Safety first, right? A smartphone mount holds your phone in place from the dashboard or clips onto your car’s air vent so your screen is visible and a quick tap away while you’re driving. That allows you to easily eyeball a live map of the road ahead on your navigation app, skip to the next song on your road trip playlist or send an incoming call to voicemail without having to fumble with your phone.
2. Portable Wi-Fi hotspot
A portable Wi-Fi hotspot connects to nearby cellular data networks to provide you with internet access. It’s a smart buy if you need a reliable way to connect to the internet while you’re on the road or don’t want to drain your data allowance. But if you have a personal hotspot on your phone and you’re confident you’ll have reliable service during your trip, then you can save your money. Just make sure to have a backup power source because turning your device into a hotspot is a fast way to drain its battery.
3. Portable power bank
An external power bank is one of the best road trip accessories you can pack. Sure, you can plug your smartphone into the car and charge it that way, but if you’re camping, hiking or otherwise exploring outside your vehicle, then a portable power bank will keep your phone topped up. You can also use the power bank to charge other small electronic devices, like tablets, laptops and smartwatches.
4. Water and snacks in a cooler
This may be obvious, but if you’re making a packing list from this article, we want to ensure food and drinks get added and checked off the list. It’s easy to overlook the basics when you’re rushing to leave home. You may like to bring coffee or energy drinks to keep you awake and hyped, but don’t neglect bringing plenty of bottled water too. When it comes to snacks, consider food that will keep you fuller longer. That means protein and fiber, such as from fruit, veggies, nuts, popcorn, sandwiches, yogurt drinks and beef jerky, for example. And don’t forget to bring something for the kids, too!
5. Paper towels and disinfecting wipes
Again, these seem obvious but are so easy to forget. Skip individual napkins and bring a roll or two of paper towels. They’re more versatile and soak up spills better than a simple napkin. Disinfecting wipes can be used to clean your hands, give your face a much-needed refresh or wipe down reusable plates and utensils after a roadside picnic. Don’t forget a small trash bag to keep in your car for all the waste.
6. Rooftop cargo box
If you’re worried you won’t have enough trunk space for your trip, then a rooftop cargo box is one of the best road trip accessories you can buy. Use it for bulky items, like strollers, sports equipment, camping chairs and beach accessories. But don’t use it for things you’ll want regular or easy access to, like snacks and toiletries. And you also need to be cognizant of its maximum weight capacity, so keep that 24-pack of water bottles in your truck.
7. Picnic blanket
It’s nice to have the option to pull over anywhere and enjoy a relaxing picnic when you want a break from being inside the car. Having a picnic blanket on hand gives you the flexibility to dine al fresco whenever you’d like, whether the rest stop you’re at doesn’t have an open picnic table or a detour to the beach or a lake sounds like a fun, spontaneous way to spend lunchtime.
8. AroundMe app
This free Android and iPhone app is a perfect road trip companion. When you’re cruising through an unfamiliar area and need to eat, sleep or fill up your tank, just launch the app to find grocery stores, restaurants, cafes, hotels, gas stations, banks and more. Just tap on a destination and the app will map you there.
9. Female urination funnel
No rest stops nearby? No problem! Women can feel comfortable stepping off to the side of the road and standing up to relieve themselves thanks to the urination funnel. It’s discreet and you don’t have to drop your drawers to use it. Clean it afterward with one of the disinfecting wipes you brought and it’s ready for your next pit stop.
10. Travel pillow
Travel pillows are handy for more than just long-haul flights. Driving for a while can make you fidgety or uncomfortable. When you aren’t getting out to stretch your legs, it’s nice to have a little cushion for your neck, back or bottom. Whether you’re in the driver’s or passenger’s seat, a small pillow is a nice added comfort.
11. Travel games
You probably already have a road trip playlist or lineup of podcast episodes ready to play. But if you want a fun way to pass the time on the road, then look into road trip travel games like mad libs and conversation starter cards. You can buy these in stores and online, but you can also download and print some if you want to save that cash for gas.
12. Basic first aid kit
Packing for a trip is always about preparing for the unexpected, and that includes ensuring you have access to basic first aid items, like aspirin, bandages, antiseptic wipes and antibiotic ointment. You can make one yourself or buy a pre-made kit online or from a local pharmacy.
13. Car emergency kit
This is like a first aid kit for your car. You can’t count on roadside emergencies to happen in convenient places, like in front of a repair shop or in an area with strong cellular service. For those times, you need to be able to patch up any issues long enough to drive to a more suitable location or wait for roadside assistance to arrive. Do a little research to determine what you want to include in your kit. Some must-haves include jumper cables, basic tools, duct tape, fire extinguisher (make sure it’s securely stored), spare tire and reflective triangles or warning lights.
If you plan to drive during the night, then you can’t go wrong bringing a headlamp in case of a side-of-the-road stop or emergency. Even though the average smartphone can light up nearby spaces pretty well, it’s better to go hands-free if you need to check on the engine, rummage through the trunk or find something on the ground that you accidentally dropped.
Get on the road faster with Avail
Now that you have a list of the 14 best road trip accessories, you’ll need the right rental for your journey. Even if you already own a car, you may want to avoid putting so many miles on it, or it might be worthwhile to upgrade to an SUV or downgrade to a sedan, depending on how much space and fuel efficiency you’ll need.
If your road trip starts in Chicago or Denver, you can borrow a car from Avail car sharing for a smooth experience. We have neighborhood locations throughout these cities, and each one is equipped for self-service pick-up and drop-off. That means you don’t have to wait in line when you use Avail — just grab the keys and go!