Essential Road Trip Packing List

The Essential Road Trip Packing List

Heading out on a road trip is a ripe opportunity for lasting memories. Make it as enjoyable as possible by making sure you have everything you need for a successful trip. From helpful navigation tools to basic car maintenance tools, here’s everything you need to pack before your next epic road trip.

Road trip packing list: 9 essentials

These essential road trip items will keep you prepared for anything that comes around the bend.

  1. License, registration, and car insurance. First things first. Make sure you have all the proper documentation to drive your car. If it’s your car, double check your wallet and glove compartment for these vital documents. If you’re renting a car, look for the registration before you leave the lot. And get the insurance policy information from the rental counter as well.
  2. Owner's Manual. No matter how familiar you are with your vehicle, it’s smart to have the manual on hand. And it’s even more important if you’re renting a car, since you won’t know specifics like tire pressure and other helpful details. Ideally, you’ll never have to use this information, but you’ll be glad you have it if the need arises.
  3. Quart of oil. Check your car manual to find out what type of oil your car takes. Having extra on hand keeps you ready in case the “low oil” light flashes on during your trip.
person scraping icy windhsield with ice scraper
  1. Ice scraper. Traveling to a winter wonderland? Don’t forget an ice scraper to keep your windshields clear of snow and ice from a storm. Simply pushing the defrost button could slow you down or tempt you to get back on the road before your car is truly ready.
  2. Phone mount. Keep your map app open and in clear view with a phone mount. There are a variety of options, including attachments for the vent, windshield, and dashboard. This makes it easy to keep an eye on your upcoming turns without taking your eyes off the road for too long.
  3. Sunglasses. Pack a pair of sunglasses so you have a full visual throughout the day, no matter what time of year it is. Even gray wintery days can be taxing on the eyes when you’re driving for hours at a time. 
  4. Rain coat. Don’t let unexpected weather get you down. Pack a raincoat so you can run in and out of rest stops and gas stations without getting uncomfortably soaked. Otherwise, you’ll be cold and wet behind the wheel for your trip — definitely not the way you want to arrive 
  5. Snacks. Don’t rely on gas stations to have the snack you’re craving. Pack your own snacks so you have total control over what you eat. Plus, you’ll avoid the high premium typically charged at gas stations.
  6. Music or audiobooks. Don’t forget entertainment on your packing list for a road trip. Download your chosen digital media on WiFi before you leave so that you don’t use up all of your cell phone data. 


Bonus: Long road trip packing list

Heading out for more than a few hours? Add these items to your packing list for a road trip.

  • Toilet paper. You will truly be prepared for off-the-path detours or bumper-to-bumper traffic when you have a spare roll of toilet paper in the car. Cash. You never know when you’ll come across a place that’s cash-only. Keep some extra bills in your wallet, plus some change in your cup holder. You’ll be prepared for a diamond in the rough diner, the tire air pressure machine at the gas station, and tolls that require exact change only.
car at toll booth
  • Toll pass. Avoid those exact change tolls altogether by getting a regional toll pass. That way you’re ready for the fastest route possible without having to search for enough money.
  • Portable WiFi. Check if your mobile carrier offers in-car WiFi plans. You can plug in a hotspot so that everyone in the car can power up their favorite devices. Plus, you can stream all the playlists and audiobooks you want.
  • Hotel or camping apps. Not sure where to stay while traveling? Download a hotel or camping app as part of your road trip essentials list. That way you can always find a place to stay, along with real-time availability and reviews from other travelers. 

Hit the road with Avail

Don’t forget to bring some peace of mind on your road trip by borrowing a car with Avail. There’s no charge for drivers under 25 and cancellations are always free. Book your next adventure today!