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Top Road Trip Essentials To Bring on Vacation

July 25, 2022 7 min read

Road tripping to a vacation destination adds a whole other element to the trip that comes with extra fun and a few extra challenges. Preparing for your vacation road trip will make the trip all the more enjoyable so that your vacation is poppin’ before you even get there. 

Is Your Vehicle Ready for a Road Trip?

Before setting out on a short or long road trip, you want to check that your vehicle is good to go. You’ll need certain gadgets and tools before hitting the open road (not to mention your driver’s license).

Road Trip Necessities

Before penning your road trip packing list and opening up Google maps, you’ll need these car care lifesavers:

Bring the Car Manual and Other Must-Haves

Check that your tires are in tip-top shape and inflated to the correct PSI, and keep a spare tire somewhere in your vehicle just in case a flat tire surprises you. Make sure that you are up to date with routine maintenance before hitting the road, such as oil, coolant, and brake fluid.

It’s also smart practice to keep jumper cables with you. Not only will you be able to jump-start your car if the battery dies, but you can extend a helping hand to someone else in a similar situation. A power station with the ability to jumpstart a car battery is a convenient alternative. 

If you’re driving long distances, you might save some peace of mind by bringing along a can of gas as well. This is especially true if you’re traveling long distances throughout unpopulated areas where you’re less likely to find a gas station or someone to help you if stranded. 

Tech Accessories 

Navigation is another necessity, but you’re probably just going to type the destination into your cell and phone mount and let it take you there. Consider downloading a map for offline use in case you drive somewhere without WiFi or service.

If you are definitely without cell service, you can bring a paper map (we love a throwback aesthetic). Download your road trip playlist ahead of time and a phone charger so that you never have to sing “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” a thousand times.

Send for Help

The last piece of the puzzle is to arrange some sort of roadside assistance service. Bring along your member card, or know which number to call through your car insurance if you end up stranded on the side of the road. 

What Are the Best Road Trip Snacks and Drinks?

Ah, great question. Tricky question, too, because everyone has their own taste and preferences when it moves to food and drink.

Here are some reliable favorites:

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seedsaren’t just a snack; they’re a pastime. There is technique and methodology involved in the way you eat sunflower seeds. 

Any way you do it, it’ll give you something to focus on while the hours pass. Just bring along a trash bag for those seeds.


Grapes are a sweet, healthy, delicious treat that makes a smart road trip snack. They also happen to be easy to eat, free from seeds or pits, no peeling or cutting necessary, and don’t usually make a mess.

Plop the bag next to you and enjoy some mindless snacking to pass the time. Since they’re healthy for you, you can munch to your heart’s content.


Gum is another snack (is gum a snack or just something to chew on?) that doubles as a mindless activity to keep you occupied. Keep on chewing and moving toward your destination! 

Protein Bars

Protein bars are a convenient way to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need to make it through the long stretch of road. It’s hard to drive or ride in the car for very long if you’re hungry— protein bars will help keep your hunger in check.

Drinks for Your Cup Holder

Drinks with tops are the way to go for road trips. Definitely don’t want an open can rolling around and making a mess in the car. Go for drinks with tops you can screw on and off. Matching travel mugs are a great way to save money by not splashing your slushie on the interior of your rental car.

Caffeinated drinks can be helpful for driving long drives. It’ll help you stay awake, alert, and focused. The only downside to caffeinated drinks, or any drinks during road trips, is that they’ll make you have to pee. Plan on stopping frequently if you have a cooler of your favorite bevs!

Stay Hydrated.Bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated with those salty snacks like sunflower seeds or pretzels. 

How To Stay Comfortable During a Road Trip

Getting comfortable on a long car ride is essential. For little kids, it tends to be a bit easier— they seem to be able to flop over and fall asleep any which way. As we get older, it takes a bit more preparation to set yourself up for a comfortable road trip. 

Bring a pillow— either a travel pillow that circles around your neck or a regular pillow that you can stuff in the corner between the window and your seat to fall back on and sleep.

A blanket is nice to have as well. Use it to warm up (if someone insists on keeping the AC blasting) and to help sleep or block out the sun from the window. Pull double-duty and use your picnic blanket or even a sleeping bag. 

Some Basic Toiletries 

Items that help you stay clean and fresh will go a long way towards being able to relax.

Put your toiletry bag somewhere you can get to easily for when you want to freshen up a bit. Include baby wipes, hand sanitizer, and face or wet wipes in addition to your toothbrush and deodorant. 

You might also want to include a water bottle on your road trip checklist if you don’t love the idea of washing off toothpaste from your brush in a rest-stop bathroom. Fill your beach tote with quickie-dry bug spray, sunscreen, and even toilet paper (you never know).

Consider a portable shower and beach towel if you plan on staying at locations that may not have a shower. 

How To Dress for Your Next Road Trip

The two factors you need to consider when dressing for a road trip are:

  1. What can you wear to ensure comfort in the car
  2. What will you need to wear when you stop and get out

Loose-fitting, breathable clothing is going to be your friend. Sweatpants, shorts, and t-shirts will probably go over better than jeans and a button-down. However, tighter-fitting clothing like leggings might be the move for you as well.

Think about wearing something you might wear to watch a movie on the sofa at home. Cozy and comfortable. Pajamas might even be the way to go if you don’t mind going into gas stations with your PJs on. 

The best footwear for road trips is something that you can get on and off easily. That way, you won’t have to struggle with your footwear when you roll up to the gas station for an emergency pee stop. Think slides, sandals, flip-flops, or slip-ons. 

If you’re traveling during a cold season, have a rain jacket or coat easily accessible for when it’s time to get out. 

Roadtrip Entertainment To Pass the Time

There once was a time when road trip entertainment consisted of singing songs, looking for out-of-state license plates, and dreaming of how cool it would be if there was a way to watch your favorite shows in the car. A lot has changed since those days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy classic road trip games

However, there are plenty of other options. Just bring along your phone and charger, and you’ll have more entertainment than previous generations could have dreamed of. Download shows or movies so that you don’t have to stream them or get stuck when service becomes spotty. 

Shows and movies are an excellent way to pass the time because you know how long they’re gonna be— three more episodes and we’ll finally arrive at the destination!

Bring headphones so you can keep jamming when others are trying to sleep. Audiobooks, stand-up comedy, and podcasts are fun alternatives to listening to music.

Last but not least, making exciting stops will help break up the driving time and make memories along the way. Stop and pick some strawberries if you’re driving through the country, or visit the best burger joint in the next big city you pass through on your way to your favorite national park.

Pulling off at a scenic lookout and getting some fresh air on a lawn chair might be just what you need to feel refreshed for the rest of the journey. Breaking up the trip with stops is good for morale, allows you to get out and stretch, and helps fuel the trip with more energy and excitement.

Travel Tips

Road trips are exciting and sure to usher in memories to cherish for years to come. By nature, they’re long. A road trip is a journey, so it’s best to be prepared. Make sure you bring a car that’s up for the trip and “just in case items” like a spare tire and jumper cables.

Pack the car with whatever you need to stay clean and comfortable, bring your favorite snacks, wear clothes that help you relax, and bring whatever entertainment options you like. Remember your charger as well!


Effects of coffee on driving performance during prolonged simulated highway driving | National Library of Medicine

Are Protein Bars Good for You? | Healthline

6 Fun Road Trip Games for Adults | Real Simple

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