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.

Bestseller No. 1
EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump, Digital Tire Inflator
  • CONVENIENCE: Plug directly into Cigarette Lighter Socket of your...
  • MULTIPLE USES: Inflate tires on cars, bikes, sedan and midsize...
  • Capacity: DOES NOT SUPPORT truck tires, for instance: light truck...
  • EASY TO READ: 4 Display Units: PSI, KPA, BAR, KG/CM; LED...
  • PREVENT OVER INFLATION: Auto shut off when reaching the desired...
SaleBestseller No. 2
VacLife 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
  • [FAST INFLATING SPEED & EASY TO USE] Simply plug this auto tire...
  • [AUTO SHUT OFF] This car air pump uses simple and useful...
  • [LED LIGHTING & 11.5 FEET-LONG RANGE] With LED light, our...
  • [4 Extra Nozzles] Our tire pump's has 4 extra nozzles which allow...
  • [BEST SERVICE & WARRANTY] We promise a full refund or a...

Electric Car Jump Starter

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
BEATIT QDSP 800A Peak 12V Portable Car Lithium Jump Starter (up to 7.2L Gas or 5.5L Diesel Engine) Battery Booster Phone Charger Power Pack with Intelligent Jumper Cables
  • BEATIT B10 PRO is the most compact portable size and light weight...
  • With a peak of 800 Amps (UL2743 Certified) - it's able to jump...
  • 12,800mAh power bank designed with dual USB output(5V/2.1A) 10W...
  • Advanced QDSP (Quick Discharge Start Power) technology, it makes...
  • BEATIT exclusive extended jumper cables solved the problem of too...
Bestseller No. 2
DBPOWER 2000A 20800mAh Portable Car Jump Starter (up to 8.0L Gas/6.5L Diesel Engines) Auto Battery Booster Pack with Dual USB Outputs, Type-C Port, and LED Flashlight
  • 【SUPER POWERFUL & COMPACT】This compact (7.5*3.4*1.4-inch) &...
  • 【HIGH-SPEED CHARGING PORTS】Aside from normal charging ports,...
  • 【SAFETY GUARANTEED】The advanced intelligent protection clamps...
  • 【3-IN-1 MULTIFUNCTIONAL LED FLASHLIGHT】The battery jump...
  • 【3-YEAR WARRANTY】 All of our jump starters are extended to...

Learn how to jump start your car with this video.

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 Piece All-Purpose First Aid Kit, Soft Case
  • Contains 299 essential first aid supplies for treating minor...
  • Clear plastic liner in nylon case for organization and easy...
  • Soft sided, zippered case ideal for home, travel and on the go...
  • Not made with natural rubber latex
SaleBestseller No. 2
Be Smart Get Prepared 100 Piece First Aid Kit, Clean, Treat and Protect Most Injuries with The kit That is Great for Any Home, Office, Vehicle, Camping and Sports. 0.71 Pound
  • Manufactured by the #1 leading manufacturer of First Aid Kits in...
  • This Kit meets United States FDA Regulatory Standards as a...
  • Fully organized interior compartments provides quick access. The...
  • Compact size case measures 7.5in x 2.5in x 6.8in, is portable and...
  • Features Easy Slide Latches that securely locks into place.

 

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
Crescent 170 Pc. General Purpose Tool Set - Closed Case - CTK170CMP2
  • Updated version of the best selling CTK170CMP, this new set has a...
  • Contains a carefully selected assortment of hand tools needed for...
  • Set includes 1/4 inches, 3/8 inches & 1/2 inches drive tools (SAE...
  • Tools meet stringent new ANSI and ASME specifications and come...
  • All tools contained in a sturdy, folding plastic case for easy...
SaleBestseller No. 2
DEWALT Mechanics Tool Set, 205-Piece (DWMT81534)
  • ACCESS: The 72 tooth ratchet allows for a 5 degree arc swing...
  • DURABILITY: The set comes in a durable blow mold case, keeping...
  • COMFORT: The anti slip screwdriver provides maximum comfort...
  • DESIGN: Sockets and box end wrenches incorporate DEWALT...
  • VARIETY: This set comes with an array of sockets, wrenches,...

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.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Stalwart 75-hblanket Electric Car Blanket- Heated 12 Volt Fleece Travel Throw for Car and RV-Great for Cold Weather, Tailgating, and Emergency Kits by -BLUE
  • 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: 96"....
SaleBestseller No. 2
Sojoy 12V Heated Smart Multifunctional Travel Electric Blanket for Car, Truck, Boats or RV with High/Low Temp Control (60"x 40") (Checkered Black & Burgundy)
  • 12V Heated Smart multifunctional Travel Cars, SUVs, Trucks...
  • Equipped with thermostat and 3 level heat control for additional...
  • Quick to Heat-up & Great for cold winters, road trips, camping,...
  • 100% soft, high-quality polyester fleece with heat gives users a...
  • 30 Day Time Period for Free Returns!

 

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:

SaleBestseller No. 1
Neiko 51005A Heavy Duty Tow Strap with Safety Hooks | 2" x 20' | 10,000 LB Capacity | Polyester
  • SUPERIOR STRENGTH: premium polyester webbing construction,...
  • HEAVY DUTY: drop forged and heat treated solid metal hooks with...
  • WEATHER RESISTANT: high visibility yellow strap works in all...
  • DURABILITY: classic woven pattern for added durability and...
  • 10,000 LB MAX. CAPACITY: ideal for towing vehicles in roadside...
SaleBestseller No. 2
RHINO USA Recovery Tow Strap 3" x 20ft - Lab Tested 31,518lb Break Strength - Heavy Duty Draw String bag Included - Triple Reinforced Loop End to Ensure Peace of Mind - Emergency Off Road Towing Rope
  • SUPPORT A SMALL FAMILY CO. - Buy From a Father/Son Business in...
  • THE ULTIMATE RECOVERY STRAP - Made from Rhino USA's Exclusive...
  • HEAVY DUTY DRAWSTRING BAG - Carry Bag Strong Enough to Hold 10+...
  • CONFIDENCE & PEACE OF MIND - Knowing you Have top Quality...
  • GUARANTEED 5-STAR EXPERIENCE - If you aren't 100% Satisfied for...
Bestseller No. 3
Hardware Factory Store HFS (R) 2" X 30', 4.5 Ton 2 Inch X 30 Ft. Polyester Tow Strap Rope 2 Hooks 10,000lb Towing Recovery
  • 2 inch x 30 feet Yellow High Strength Polyester Strap
  • 10,000Lb Break Strength Capacity - Actual Rated Capacity of...
  • 5,000Lb Recommended Vehicle Weight - Safety Rating to accomodate...
  • 3,300Lb Working Load Limit - Safety Rating Industry Standard 3:1...
  • Includes 2 forged safety hooks with retaining clips, ZINC coated...

 

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. 1
FitJoy Protein Bars, Gluten Free, Grain Free, High Protein Snacks - Low Sugar, Low Carb, 20g Protein Bar - Grandma's Lemon Square, 12 Pack of 2.11 oz. Bars (Packaging May Vary)
  • GRAIN FREE: Made with zero wheat, corn, rice, or other grains,...
  • LOW CARB PROTEIN SNACKS: Our Lemon Square bar packs 20 grams of...
  • GREAT TASTE: Not too tart, not too sweet, this healthy snack...
  • SOFT, FLUFFY TEXTURE: Now with a fluffier recipe, our lemon...
  • NATURALLY FLAVORED WHEY PROTEIN BARS: These snacks contain low...
Bestseller No. 2
FitJoy Mini Protein Bars, Grain Free, Gluten Free, Low Carb, High Protein Snacks - Keto and Kid Friendly, Low Sugar 6g Protein Bars - Grandma's Lemon Square, 16 Pack of .67oz Fun Size Bars
  • NOW GRAIN FREE: Just like the full size bars, our mini bars are...
  • ON-THE-GO: Introducing the FitJoy fun size protein bar. It's made...
  • GREAT TASTE: Not too tart, not too sweet, our Lemon Square bar...
  • KETO FRIENDLY PROTEIN SNACK: Packing the macros you want with 6...
  • KID APPROVED: These mini bars are perfect for kids, whether they...
Bestseller No. 3
FitJoy Keto Protein Puffs, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Corn Free, Soy Free, High Protein, Low Carb Snacks, Honey Sriracha (6 - 1.05oz Snack-Size Bags)
  • GRAIN FREE AND GLUTEN FREE: Not only are these airy, crunchy...
  • PACKED WITH PROTEIN: Unlike other protein crisps or cheese puffs,...
  • GREAT TASTE: With real ingredients you can name, like red bell...
  • NO ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS: Just like all FitJoy products, our low...
  • FROM THE MAKERS OF FITJOY PROTEIN BARS: Want something sweet to...

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.

 

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
Yaktrax Traction Chains for Walking on Ice and Snow (1 Pair), Large
  • Durable, low profile traction cleats fit over shoes and boots to...
  • TIG welded steel links ensure durability in the most rugged...
  • Low-profile ladder pattern design provides enhanced heel-to-toe...
  • Natural rubber sling remains elastic and secure even in sub-zero...
  • Available in S, M, L, and XL to fit most shoes and boots,...
Bestseller No. 2
Snow Chains
  • Kenn Sealey
  • Netherwood Press
  • Kindle Edition
  • English
Bestseller No. 3
Fireflies
  • Prime Video
  • English

 

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!