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
kangsitp Air Compressor Tire Inflator, DC 12V Portable Air Compressor for Car Tires, Auto Tire Pump with LED Light, Digital Air Pump for Car Tires, Bicycles and Other Inflatables
  • Portable Air Compressor - The powerful tire inflator for bike and...
  • Auto Shut Off - The tire inflator with pressure gauge provides...
  • Compact Portable Design - With a built-in air hose storage, the...
  • Multi Purpose Use - The universal valve connector allows a quick...
  • Emergency LED Light - The portable air compressor for car tires...
Bestseller No. 2
Portable Air Compressor for Car Tires, 6000Mah Rechargeable Handheld Tire Inflator, Digital 150 PSI Cordless Air Pump with Auto Pressure gauge, Electric Air Pump for Car, Motorcycle, Bicycle-Black
  • Upgraded Air Tires Compressor- 5 inflation modes meet your...
  • Large Capacity Tire Air compressor - Unlike other air compressor...
  • Fast inflation & Auto shut off - The auto air compressor has...
  • Mini But not Simply - The electric air pump comes with two...
  • Widely Compatible - Our cordless air compressor pump is equipped...

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
ZunDian 1400A Peak 12V Car Jump Starter, Portable Power Station Backup Battery Booster Dual AC/DC Ports Inverter with 260 PSI Air Compressor Tire Inflator, 2.1A USB Port, Battery Clamps - 6 in 1
  • ❃🚗【Very Convenient】: The portable jump starter have...
  • ❃🚗【Multiple Functions】: The rechargeable jump starter is...
  • ❃🚗【Easy Operation】:The mini power station is easy to...
  • ❃🚗【Pump & Charge Fast】: This car starter just need to...
  • ❃🚗【Stable & Safety】: The 6 in 1 power station is stable...
Bestseller No. 2
BUTURE 2000A Car Jump Starter, 22000mAh Lithium Car Battery Charger (8.0L Gas/8.0L Diesel) Portable Quick-Charge Jump Starter Battery Pack with Starting in Car Tech, LCD Screen, Cigarette Lighter
  • 【Heavy-Duty Jump Starter】With super capacity and boosted 2000...
  • 【Exclusive Car Battery Charger】Easier way to reactivate car...
  • 【High-Speed & Multiple Outputs】22000mAh jump starters with...
  • 【Intelligent Jumper Cables】Jumper cables kit for car, updates...
  • 【3-In-1 Lifesaver】This portable jump box with digital LCD...

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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
Lightning X Jumbo Medic First Responder EMT Trauma Bag Stocked First Aid Trauma Fill Kit D
  • Full stock contents listed below in description
  • Easy access zippered oxygen cylinder compartment allows for...
  • Color coded removable pouches in center compartment great for...
  • Padded divider storage compartments on top of oxygen cylinder...
  • Diamond embossed PVC reinforced rigid bottom & sides add water...
Bestseller No. 2
GRULLIN IFAK Trauma First Aid Kit, Tactical Molle Military Emergency Bleeding Control Set for Vehicle Truck Car Adventure Camping Shooting (TAN)
  • ✔ LARGE CAPACITY FIRST AID BASE KIT - Come in robust 1000D...
  • ✔ QUICK RELEASE EMERGENCY KIT - Tear away MOLLE backing quickly...
  • ✔ MILITARY HEMORRHAGE CONTROL STARTER KIT - Consist of one-hand...
  • ✔ UPGRADED IFAK TRAUMA KIT- Added extra basic supplies,...
  • ✔ WIDELY-USED GRULLIN FIRST AID KIT - For Hiking, Trekking,...

 

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.

Bestseller No. 1
GEARWRENCH 165 Pc. 1/4", 3/8" & 1/2" Drive 6 Pt. Mechanics Tool Set, Standard & Deep, SAE/Metric - 80932
  • Country of Origin:China
  • Package length:21.3"
  • Package width:5.69"
  • Package height:13.8"
Bestseller No. 2
Prostormer 228-Piece Mechanics Tool Set, General Purpose Mixed Sockets and Wrenches Auto Repair Tool Kit with Plastic Storage Case
  • ▶ [High Quality Material] - All the tools are made of high...
  • ▶ [Muti-purpose Tools Kit] - This Mechanics tool set includes...
  • ▶ [Complete Varieties] - 228pcs tool kit contains mixed sizes...
  • ▶ [Toolbox Included] - Assortment of necessary tools are in one...
  • ▶ [Great Gift Choice] -This tool kit is easy to carry and...

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
Lush Decor Lush Décor Race Cars Sherpa Throw Blanket, 60" x 50", Blue & Orange
  • Soft, 100% polyester fabric reversible sherpa throw measures...
  • Lush Décor Race Cars throw blanket is the ideal, fun and...
  • A perfect fuzzy blanket for the living room, foot of the bed,...
  • Fun print pattern of multicolored muscle cars against a gray...
  • Throw is easy to care for and safe to machine wash cold and...
Bestseller No. 2
forestfish Fleece Throw Blanket Cozy Soft Portable Travel Blanket Compact for Long Car Airplane Train Rides 60" x 40", Plaid
  • Size: 60"x40" (LxW),Weight:0.68LB.
  • Features: Cozy and soft, Machine washable and no fade, pill...
  • You Get More: The throw blanket comes with a Drawstring bag,...
  • Uses: Couch throw blanket, lap/ knit blanket, travel blanket,...
  • Good to know: Machine washable with cold water, please do not...

 

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
Red High Strength Car Tow Towing Strap Belt Racing Drift Rally Hook Universal
  • Universal high strength towing strap, perfect for race/track...
  • Easy direct fit install for most vehicles.
  • Holds up to 5,000 lbs.
  • Size: Approximately 11" x 2" (276mm x 50mm)
  • What's Included - Tow Strap, Bolt, Nut.
Bestseller No. 2
Dorhea Racing Tow Strap Red High Strength Tow Strap Universal Cars Set Belt Nylon Strap Traction Rope Trailer Hook Compatible with Front or Rear Bumper Towing Hooks Decorative Trailer Belt (Red)
  • Material and color: Made of quality double stitch nylon with...
  • Bright and easy to find - Safety color ensures that you can...
  • Easy to use and fits great - Compatible with handlebars, forks,...
  • Heavy duty soft loops tie down straps compatible with ATV,...
  • Package include- One set of tow strap (1 pcs strap+1pcs bolt+1...
Bestseller No. 3
TOMALL Universal Car Decorative Trailer Tow Strap Red Car Tow Belt for Car Bumper (ONLY Decoration)
  • 【Specification】Made of high-quality ABS+NYLON material,...
  • 【Unique Design】Foldable design. By turning the small wrench,...
  • 【Cool】In the appearance, it forms a strong color impact,...
  • 【Easy to Install】Just remove the tape and paste it on the...
  • 【Package】Car Decorative Strap (Red) *1, Small Wrench *1....

 

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.

SaleBestseller No. 2
FitJoy Gluten Free Pretzels, Honey Mustard Twists, Grain Free, 4.5 Ounce Bags (2 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 golden honey mustard flavor...
  • NO ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS OR GMOS: With ingredients like sunflower...
Bestseller No. 3
FitJoy Gluten Free Pretzels, Hatch Chile Lime 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 hatch chile lime flavor and...
  • 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 Ruger Compact Pepper Gel with Belt Clip – Reinforced Trigger with Twist Lock Safety (Max Protection - 35 Bursts)
  • POWERED BY TWO INDUSTRY LEADING BRANDS : Manufactured and filled...
  • GEL IS SAFER WITH GREATER RANGE: Pepper gel does not atomize like...
  • GREATER PROTECTION AGAINST MULTIPLE THREATS: 0. 67 oz gel pepper...
  • FASTER, EASIER, MORE ACCURATE AIM: Belt/pocket clip option for...
  • SECURE – Reinforced trigger with twist lock safety prevents...
SaleBestseller No. 2
Mace Brand Personal Defense Safe Trainer Inert Practice Water Cartridge – Includes 1 Water Practice Cartridge – Perfect for Practicing Shooting and Reloading your Pepper Spray
  • PRACTICE WATER CARTRIDGE – The Mace Brand Safe Trainer Water...
  • EASY TO USE – To use the Mace Safe Trainer water inert spray,...
  • ALWAYS STAY READY – Always stay prepared by having refill...
  • STORAGE: Store water cartridge in cool dry areas away from heat,...
  • MACE BRAND – "Mace" is Pepper Spray, but not all pepper spray...
SaleBestseller No. 3
POM Pepper Spray Black Flip Top Pocket Clip - Maximum Strength OC Spray - Self Defense - Tactical Compact & Safe Design - 25 Bursts & 10 ft Range - Powerful & Accurate Stream Pattern
  • POMClear - 1.4% M.C. w/ UV Dye - Strongest Legal Formula For...
  • Flip Top - Safe, Accurate & Easy To Use Patented Firing System -...
  • POM Clip – Tactical & Stealth For Everyday Carry – Easy...
  • POM Bands - Patented Index Ring - w/ 10+ colors - Personalize...
  • POM - Next Generation Pepper Spray - Perfect Gift - Provides...

 

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.

Bestseller No. 1
Peerless 0231805 Auto-Trac Light Truck/SUV Tire Traction Chain - Set of 2
  • Fastest, easiest installation of any traction product.
  • The item fits the following tire sizes-225/55-19 849, 225/60-18...
  • Worry-free self-tightening ratchets provide automatic tightening...
  • Easy installation and removal in minutes
  • Eliminates loose chains and retightening stops
Bestseller No. 2
Security Chain Company Z-575 Z-Chain Extreme Performance Cable Tire Traction Chain - Set of 2,Silver
  • Manganese alloy cross members provide superior, all-around...
  • Fast, secure installation and removal, with no need to move the...
  • Better compatibility with anti-lock brakes, traction control,...
  • Meets S.A.E. Class “S” clearance requirements or vehicles...
  • Low potential for damage to vehicle body and mechanical...
Bestseller No. 3
Security Chain Company SZ137 Super Z6 Cable Tire Chain for Passenger Cars, Pickups, and SUVs - Set of 2
  • Designed for cars, 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,...

 

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!