Road Trip Essentials — A Full Packing List

I think its fair to say that most of us like to travel. It is awesome to hop on a plane and travel to far off exotic places. On the other hand, there is nothing quite like a good old fashioned road trip.

If you’re like me, and the destination is not a ridiculous amount of miles away, you may prefer to drive. Driving allows you to have control over the time, the route and the overall itinerary of the journey. It allows the freedom to explore territory that you may not have ever discovered, and to enjoy the landscape and countryside that you can only experience while driving.

But what do you do if you breakdown, how prepared are you for the multitude of things that can go wrong? We have compiled a list of road trip essentials that every vehicle should have, whether you are traveling across town or traveling hundreds of miles through the countryside.

Our Top 12 Essential Items for Every Road Trip

Car Tire Inflator / Air Compressor Pack

car tire inflator for road trips

Avid Tire Inflator Air Compressorthis powerful little guy will get you pumped! The power supply plugs directly into your vehicle power port.

What could be worse then having a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, in the cold and  snow, only to find out that your spare tire is flat as well. Be prepared with one of these small, light weight tire inflator / air compressors that are specially designed for use in your vehicle. Your tires are exposed to the hazards of the road on a continual basis, you just cannot predict when trouble may arise.

Check out our review of the best portable air compressors for car tires.

An air compressor should be more then adequate in most cases to get you to the help you need, it will refill a moderate to slow leak, allowing you the ability to drive to help. It will give you the peace of mind that you can get through what otherwise might be a very difficult situation while on the road..

As an added bonus, your air compressor can also be utilized to blow up beach toys, balls, air mattresses and much more.

SaleBestseller No. 1
AstroAI Air Compressor Tire Inflator Portable Air Pump for Car Tires 12V DC Auto Tire Pump with Digital Pressure Gauge, 100PSI with Emergency LED Light for Car, Bicycle, Balloons and Other Inflatables
  • FAST INFLATION & ADVANCED ACCURACY: High-quality materials were...
  • PROGRAMMABLE INFLATION: Use the "M" button to set your desired...
  • PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS: One-click to change pressure units among PSI,...
  • WIDE RANGE OF APPLICATIONS: 3 Nozzles and Extra Fuse Included....
  • BUY WITH CONFIDENCE: Easily stow the compressor away in your car...
Bestseller No. 2
CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor, 6 Gallon, Pancake, Oil-Free with 13 Piece Accessory Kit (CMEC6150K)
  • The portable air compressor is proudly made in the USA with...
  • PORTABLE: 6 gallon capacity maximizes portability and stored air...
  • NO MAINTENANCE: Durable, oil-free pump of the 6 gallon air...
  • PRESSURE: 150 Max PSI to ensure adequate cut-inch pressure for a...
  • QUICK RECOVERY TIME: 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI allows for quick...

Portable Battery Jump Starter Pack

car jump starter pack
The NOCO Genius Boost Pro packs a serious punch!

Whether on the road or  in your own garage, you turn the key and your car won’t start….and nothing. no juice!

Your battery has gone dead. You need a Jump Start but help is miles away, there is potentially no phone service, you find yourself alone. Do you want to ask a stranger for help or would you rather just be prepared. A good electric car jump starter pack will provide enough juice to get your car started and to the help you need. It will give you the peace of mind that no matter what happens, you have prepared yourself and have the ability to get yourself started without relying on a stranger and another vehicle, your alternator can now charge your battery and you can rest assured that you can get to the help you need. These babies can jump start up to as many as 50 times without a recharge.

Many electric jump starters can also be used to charge your phone and other electronic devices.

Bestseller No. 1
LOFTEK Portable Car Battery Jump Starter (Up to 7.0L Gas or 5.5L Diesel Engine), 12V Power Pack Auto Battery Booster with Built-in LED Light, Red
  • [STRONG STARTING ABILITY]Our portable charger peak current...
  • [UPGRADE FUNCTION] Our car jump starter uses the latest QDSP 3.0...
  • [MULTIFUNCTIONAL] Our jump pack can be used as a power bank. Its...
  • [ALL-ROUND PROTECTION]Our car starting power supply has...
  • [PACKAGE INCLUDED]Your package includes the following...
Bestseller No. 2
AVAPOW 6000A 32000mAh Car Battery Jump Starter(for All Gas or Upto 12L Diesel) Powerful Car Jump Starter with Dual USB Quick Charge and DC Output,12V Jump Pack with Built-in LED Bright Light
  • Powerful Battery Starter - This AVAPOW A68 car jump starter...
  • Smart Safty Protection - The battery jump starter works with...
  • Portable Car Power Pack - This car jumper is also a car power...
  • Ultra-Bright Led Light - The car battery charger jump starter is...
  • What's In tThe Jump Starter Battery Pack - 1 AVAPOW A68 car jump...

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First Aid Kit

road trip first aid kit
A First Aid Kit can easily slide under your car seat

It is critical to purchase a first aid kit to have in your car in the event of medical emergencies.  It is ideal to purchase a kit that can withstand consistent travel and use and that can be kept in an organized manner. Make sure that the kit you purchase will be sufficient for most injuries, including adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes, antibacterial ointment, and antiseptic wipes for scrapes and cuts. This is not an item to skimp on, there are great kits in the $20.00 – $30.00 range that can handle everything from a little scratch to a serious fracture.

Bestseller No. 1
First Aid Only 299 Pieces All-Purpose First Aid Emergency Kit (FAO-442)
  • Emergency Care: A total of 299 essential first aid supplies for...
  • Set Include: Adhesive fabric and plastic bandages, antibiotic...
  • Convenient Packaging: Fabric case with clear plastic pockets for...
  • Compact and Spacious: Two separate layers with individual...
  • First Aid Care Ideal For: First aid care for home, travel, and on...
Bestseller No. 2
Johnson & Johnson All-Purpose Portable Compact First Aid Kit for Minor Cuts, Scrapes, Sprains & Burns, Ideal for Home, Car, Travel and Outdoor Emergencies, 140 Pieces
  • 140-piece Johnson & Johnson All-Purpose Portable and Compact...
  • All-purpose, compact first aid kit includes essential first aid...
  • Emergency kit includes a variety of Band-Aid Brand Adhesive...
  • Includes full size 0.5 oz Neosporin plus Pain Relief topical...
  • Travel first aid set also contains Tylenol Extra Strength...

 

Mechanics Tool Set

road trip mechanics tool set
Beefy Mechanics Tool Set. Check out our review for one that fits your needs.

If you’re not an auto mechanic, or if you don’t do a lot of your own repairs (not only on your vehicle, but around the home in general) you won’t need a huge killer set of mechanics tools. However, if you are traveling in your car, you are going to want an assortment of tools that can handle the repair of some minor issues that may prevent your car from working. A good example of this might be loose battery cables, the replacement of a tail or headlight among several other potential problems.

SaleBestseller No. 1
CRAFTSMAN Mechanics Tools Kit with 3 Drawer Box, 216-Piece (CMMT99206)
  • CORROSION RESISTANCE: Mechanics tool set has a full polish chrome...
  • MINIMAL ARC SWING: Tool sets for mechanics include 72-tooth...
  • INCREASED TORQUE: Mechanical tool set has 6-point socket with...
  • QUICK SIZE IDENTIFICATION: Large Markings
  • Meets Or Exceed ASME Specifications
SaleBestseller No. 2
DEWALT Mechanics Tools Kit and Socket Set, 142-Piece, MM (DWMT73802)
  • Socket sets include 72 tooth count ratchets which allow for a 5...
  • Ratchets include a low profile directional lever to help reduce...
  • Mechanics tools have full polish chrome finish for corrosion...
  • Hard stamped markings on sockets and wrenches for easy...
  • Knurled beauty rings help reduce slippage for hand tightening...

Blankets

road trip blankets
Car blankets can serve a variety of purposes: warmth in a vehicle breakdown, or as a ground throw while working under your vehicle in a harsh environment. Make sure you have a couple of quality blankets in your car at all times.

Purchase good quality, heavyweight woolen blankets, they are very durable and and long lasting. Wool also provides exceptional warmth and is a superior natural insulator, even when wet! Try to purchase a wool blanket that is non-scratchy and fire resistant. There are several brands that contain these characteristics. Consider spending an additional $15.00 and purchase a waterproof/ Fire Retardant blanket as well.

Bestseller No. 1
Stalwart - Electric Car Blanket- Heated 12 Volt Fleece Travel Throw for Car and RV-Great for Cold Weather, Tailgating, and Emergency Kits by Stalwart-BLACK/WHITE
  • CAR ADAPTABLE- This soft 12-volt electric blanket plugs into any...
  • LONG CORD- Equipped with a 96-inch-long cord, even passengers in...
  • LIGHTWEIGHT AND WARM-This lightweight auto blanket has thin wire...
  • GREAT GIFT- This travel throw is the perfect cold weather...
  • PRODUCT DETAILS- Dimensions: 59” (L) x 43” (W), Cord length:...
SaleBestseller No. 2
Authentic Mexican Blanket - Picnic Blanket, Handwoven Serape Blanket, Perfect as Beach Blanket, Picnic Blanket, Outdoor Blanket, Yoga Blanket, Camping Blanket, Car Blanket, Woven Blanket (Sky Blue)
  • ⭐ HANDMADE PREMIUM MEXICAN BLANKET: Our serape and baja...
  • 🧘 THE PERFECT YOGA BLANKET: Take this high-quality Mexican...
  • 🌅 VERSATILE & STYLISH: Perfect for every adventure, these...
  • 🌟 SOFT & DURABLE: Twin bed size (50x75 inches), lightweight (3...
  • 🎁 GIFTS THAT GIVE BACK: An original and authentic handmade...

 

Flashlight + Extra Batteries

 

emergency road trip flashlight
This solid flashlight not only puts out killer rays, its a great baton in the event you need to ward off an attacker!

The reasoning to carry a flashlight in your car are obvious. If you breakdown, have a flat or need to look under the hood you must have flashlight! Please don’t rely on your phone flashlight here, you need a separate flashlight for your car. As an added note, there is nothing worse then finding your flashlight with dead batteries, so please carry enough extras that they can keep your flashlight going. Consider a scenario like this; what if you have no choice but to walk for help? You certainly do not want to run down your phone battery by using the flashlight app! Please, carry a flashlight!

As a bonus, a heavy duty flashlight can be used as a very effective baton in the event you need to defend yourself.

We reccommend the Maglite LED 3-Cell D Flashlight. This baby throws off some big light and is heavy and hard to ward off potential attacks.

 

Car Tow Strap / Chain

car tow strap
If you find yourself stuck in a rut, mud or the snow, you are going to need a way to get pulled out!

Help may arrive with people passing by, but don’t count on them having the necessary equipment to get you out of your fix. For most cars, a tow strap is more than adequate. For large vehicles and trucks you may consider a chain.

Check out a good selection here:

Bestseller No. 1
JCHL Nylon Tow Strap with Hooks 2”x20’ Car Vehicle Heavy Duty Recovery Rope 20,000 lbs Capacity Tow Rope for Car Truck Jeep ATV SUV
  • 2 inch x 20 feet Yellow High Strength Polyester Strap, 20,000Lb...
  • Extra heavy-duty tow strap made from high tensile strength nylon...
  • Universal Use: Heavy duty tow strap 3"*20 ft, 20,000 LB capacity...
  • 2 forged safety hooks with retaining clips, ZINC coated finish on...
  • Storage Bag: come in a storage bag, Roll up the strap and secure...
SaleBestseller No. 2
ALL-TOP Nylon Heavy Duty Tow Strap Recovery Strap Kit : 3 inch x 30 ft (35,000 lbs) 100% Nylon and 22% Elongation Snatch Strap + 3/4 Heavy Duty D Ring Shackles (2pcs) + Storage Bag
  • Strap Material: 100% Nylon N66! Genuine Elasticity: 22%. Feel the...
  • Length: 9m / 30 feet. Width: 76 mm / 3 inches.
  • Breaking strength: 35,000 lb. Lab-Test Report available.
  • Reinforced Eye Loops + Neoprene Protector sleeves + Premium...
  • Lifetime Warranty! Lifetime Hassle Free Replacement! 100%...
Bestseller No. 3
Mytee Products (4 Pack) 2" Chain Ratchet Straps w/RTJ Tie Down Roll Back Tow Truck Car Hauler
  • Pack Size: 4 Pack
  • Commercial Grade Auto Towing Straps
  • Ratchet w/ G70 12" Chain Extension
  • 2" x 8' Strap with RTJ Cluster Hook
  • Working Load Limit: 3,335 Lbs, Webbing Capacity: 12,000 Lbs

 

Water Container

emergency road trip water jug
An abundance of water is critical for any road trip. A couple of gallons could save your life.

The importance of carrying extra water in your car cannot be overstated.

Next to oxygen, water is the most essential thing to life, we all know this, so don’t get stuck somewhere without it!

Not only will water sustain your life if you find yourself stranded in some remote area when you breakdown, it can be used to add water to an overheated radiator or flush out a wound in the event someone is injured. We recommend carrying, at a minimum, 2 gallons of extra water.

Make sure the water container you use is durable and that it has a lid that screws on tightly.

There would be nothing more frustrating and potentially dangerous, to find that your water container had leaked or that it had burst due to shifting in your vehicle. Choose a water containers that suits your needs and your vehicle best, but once again, make sure it is at a minimum of two gallons, is durable and has a lid that fastens tightly. Rotate or refresh your water supply regularly, especially in the winter as your water supply may freeze.

We recommend this water container.

It water container has the size capacity needed, has a screw on lid and has a wide, square bottom surface area to prevent tipping.

 

Emergency Snacks

fitjoy protein bars
We cannot think of a better choice then FitJoy Protein Bars to have in your emergency kit!

If you break down, hopefully all the necessary components and equipment are with you to help you get back on the road quickly!

However, in the event you find yourself in the position of having to wait out the storm or wait for help to arrive, due to a breakdown or even an accident you are going to need some healthy snacks to help sustain you.

Protein bars are great in this case, they have a long shelf life.  They also contain the ingredients that your body needs to provide the strength and energy needed to wait out any mishap.

We have reviewed several protein bars for this purpose, and highly recommend the FitJoy brand. They are incredibly healthy, contain the essential ingredients. (And they taste good)

  • Protein Bars
  • Gluten Free
  • Grain Free
  • High Protein Snacks
  • Low Sugar
  • Low Carb
  • 20g Protein Bar 
  • Contains NO Maltitol

Many, if not most of the protein bars on the market today contain the controversial ingredient maltitol. Maltitol is commonly used as a sweetener and has mild to potentially extreme side effects. FitJoy protein bars contains no maltitol, and use only the healthiest of ingredients.

Bestseller No. 1
FitJoy Gluten Free Pretzels, Sea Salt Twists, Grain Free, 5 Ounce Bags, 6 Pack
  • GRAIN FREE PRETZELS: Our pretzel sticks might fool you, but they...
  • CASSAVA AND CHICKPEA FLOUR: Going beyond gluten free pretzels,...
  • GREAT TASTE AND TEXTURE: Tossed in sea salt and baked to crunchy...
  • NO ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS OR GMOS: With ingredients like sunflower...
  • VEGAN CERTIFIED: we changed our formula and swapped organic honey...
Bestseller No. 2
FitJoy Gluten Free Pretzels, Sea Salt Sticks, Grain Free, 5 Ounce Bags, 6 Pack
  • GRAIN FREE PRETZELS: Our pretzel sticks might fool you, but they...
  • CASSAVA AND CHICKPEA FLOUR: Going beyond gluten free pretzels,...
  • GREAT TASTE AND TEXTURE: Tossed in sea salt and baked to crunchy...
  • NO ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS OR GMOS: With ingredients like sunflower...
  • VEGAN CERTIFIED: we changed our formula and swapped organic honey...
Bestseller No. 3
FitJoy Gluten Free Pretzels, White Cheddar Twists, Grain Free, 4.5 Ounce Bags, 6 Pack
  • GRAIN FREE PRETZELS: Our pretzel twists might fool you, but they...
  • CASSAVA AND CHICKPEA FLOUR: Going beyond gluten free pretzels,...
  • GREAT TASTE AND TEXTURE: Coated in white cheddar flavor and baked...
  • NO ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS OR GMOS: With ingredients like sunflower...

For further information on FitJoy, visit fitjoyfoods.com

Mace / Pepper Spray

key chain pepper spray
Have pepper spray or mace on hand to protect you and your family. Be prepared!

99% of people out there are good decent people, its that 1% that we should be concerned with.

God forbid you ever have to use it, be prepared in the event that you do.

These small, easy to use canisters pack a punch. They are not lethal, yet can stop the biggest of bears in their tracks, how much more so a man or woman that has bad intentions. All of the women in my life, and many of the men, are equipped with a canister of mace or pepper spray. Keep a canister that is easily accessible in the car always, take it with you when you are walking alone or even with friends. A good rule of thumb for women is to keep one in the car at all times and carry a second can in your purse, these little babies are sure to send any assailant  crying for his mommy!

Many of these products also have a seat belt cutter as well as a device that can easily break windows in the event of an emergency.

Bestseller No. 1
SABRE Pepper Spray Keychain, 25 Bursts of Maximum Police Strength OC Spray, Quick Release Key Ring For Easy Access, Finger Grip for Accurate Aim, Twist Lock Safety, 10-Foot Range, Assorted Colors
  • MAXIMUM STOPPING POWER – Maximum strength formula is backed by...
  • #1 BRAND TRUSTED BY POLICE AND CONSUMERS WORLDWIDE - Including...
  • PROTECTION AT A SAFE DISTANCE AGAINST MULTIPLE THREATS -...
  • EASILY ACCESSIBLE - Quick Release Key Ring provides access to...
  • FREE TRAINING - Packaging includes link to free training video in...
Bestseller No. 2
SABRE Pepper Spray Keychain, 25 Bursts of Max Police Strength OC Spray (5X Other Brands), Quick Release Key Ring For Easy Access, 10-Foot Range, Finger Grip For Accurate Aim, Assorted Color Multipacks
  • #1 PEPPER SPRAY BRAND TRUSTED BY POLICE AND CONSUMERS WORLDWIDE:...
  • MAXIMUM STRENGTH: SABRE's professional-grade OC Spray is backed...
  • MAXIMUM STOPPING POWER AT A SAFE DISTANCE: Impressive 10-Foot...
  • EASY ACCESS IN STRESSFUL SITUATIONS: SABRE is one of the only...
  • STAY SABRE SAFE WITH FREE TRAINING: We believe you should feel...
Bestseller No. 3
SABRE Self Defense Kit With Pepper Spray And Stun Gun Flashlight, 25 Bursts of Max Police Strength OC Spray, 10-Foot Range, Painful 1.60 µC Charge, 120 Lumens, Rechargeable, Safety Switch, Holster
  • PERSONAL PROTECTION YOU CAN TRUST: SABRE is the #1 pepper spray...
  • MAXIMUM STOPPING POWER: SABRE's professional-grade OC Spray is...
  • PROTECTION AT A SAFE DISTANCE AGAINST MULTIPLE THREATS: Pepper...
  • EXTREME STOPPING POWER: Stun gun delivers a painful 1.60 µC...
  • STAY SAFE WITH FREE SAFETY TRAINING: Feel secure with every SABRE...

 

Small Shovel

car emergency shovel
On this Jeep, the shovel is mounted on the exterior. You may prefer a small collapsible shovel that will fit easily into your trunk.

Your driving down the road and you suddenly get a flat, you quickly pull over onto the shoulder of the road and your car sinks into a foot of mud or snow. Its a soft shoulder and you are stuck, if only you had a shovel to dig your tire out, you could soon be on your way. This, and several other scenarios are a pretty good possibility when on a road trip. Be prepared, carry a small shovel to dig yourself out. Not very expensive, yet priceless should you ever need one. Throw one in the trunk for the piece of mind it will provide.

We recommend the Tabor Tools Folding Shovel or the Rhino USA Folding Survival Shovel.

 

Tire Chains

Whether you find yourself on the freeways of Detroit or traveling over a mountain pass in Nevada, maintain the ability to keep your vehicle moving in the event of snowy roads. It a great idea to throw a pair of snow chains in your car in the event of such a situation.

These new chains are easy to install and can literally be a life-saver! When ordering make sure you know the size of your tires.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Security Chain Company SZ429 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain for Passenger Cars, Pickups, and SUVs - Set of 2
  • Designed for pickups and SUVs with very limited operating...
  • Fast easy installation with no need to move the vehicle
  • Designed-in rubber tightener means there is no need to stop and...
  • Better all-around traction performance than conventional tire...
  • Better compatibility with anti-lock brakes, traction control,...
Bestseller No. 2
Security Chain Company QG2228CAM Quik Grip Light Truck CAM LSH Tire Traction Chain - Set of 2
  • Includes cam and non-cam chains, regular, heavy duty and cold...
  • Provides optimal traction to your vehicle
  • Comes with the cam tool and step by step instructions for easy...
  • Alternative to cable chains
  • PLEASE NOTE:  Chains should be fitted to tire before actual use....
Bestseller No. 3
Snow Chains, 8 Pack Tire Chains for Pickup Trucks Car SUV Heavy Duty Chain for Tire Width 205-235mm
  • 100% Manganese Steel: Resistant to low temperatures of minus 60...
  • Compatible Size: Tire chains for pickup trucks are adjustable and...
  • Easy to Install: Adjustable tension straps make it easy to mount...
  • Perfect for A Variety of Roads: Such as snow, mud, or ice. Steel...
  • Anti-Side Skid: Cross chains provide better traction to prevent...

 

Bonus: Pet Emergency First Aid Kit

pet emergency first aid kit
Don’t forget about your best friend. A small backpack of goodies.

Just like you, I love my pet. In my case its Ranger, the Blue Heeler cattle dog.  In a separate small backpack I store two days worth of dog food, a dog treat, collapsible bowl, a brush, extra water and just in case, a dog emergency kit. Storing a bit of extra water in in your pets own separate water bottle makes access much, much easier.

Finally, most, if not all of these items can be easily stored in one or two plastic containers and placed in your trunk. Depending on the type of vehicle you own, you can purchase the size and shape that fits you best. As a parting note, I always have a hat, gloves and coat in my vehicle, its easy to do and invaluable when needed.

We sincerely hope you have found this article helpful.

SAFE TRAVELS!