65 Must-Have Road Trip Essentials: Your Complete Packing Checklist

与我们的公路旅行必需品checkl得到组织ist including gear recommendations and a printable packing list to ensure a smooth journey.

A blue sedan is pulled over on the side of a dirt road on a road trip. There are snowcapped mountains and pine trees in the distance.

有一个不可否认的魔法好客场之旅:the freedom of the open road, the opportunity to visit unparalleled sights, and the unique experiences that you stumble upon along the way. However, creating these unforgettable moments requires effective planning and smart packing of the right road trip essentials.

At Bearfoot Theory, we’ve gone on our fair share of road trips and experimented with a plethora of gear – some items have worked well and others not so much. We know that packing for a road trip can easily turn into a stressful part of your journey if organization isn’t your forte – there’s nothing quite as disheartening as realizing you’ve left something important behind.

在这篇文章中,我们兴奋地分享selection of road trip gear that will help you optimize your road adventure to its fullest. You won’t need a tricked-out van or struggle with a daily game of Tetris trying to fit everything into your trunk. Keep scrolling for our road trip packing list that covers the gear essentials for ensuring a safe and amazing time on the road.

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Road Trip Essentials at a Glance

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Kitchen Items

Vehicle Essentials

  • Insurance/Registration
  • Driver’s License
  • Spare Tire/Jack
  • Owner’s Manual
  • Jumper cables orportable self-starter


Clothing, Footwear, & Accessories

Personal Care


Download a printable version here

Road Trip Navigational Tools

While part of the fun of a good road trip might be getting lost and exploring remote back roads, it is crucial to have reliable navigational tools so you don’t end uputterlylost.

Here are our recommendations for road trip maps and apps:

Paper Map or Atlas

Although we all know Google Maps is essential for directions, I persoanlly like carrying a paper map too. Plus, hopefully some of your itinerary will take you off the grid and out of cell phone service.

For that reason, you’ll want to carry a paper map or road atlas. Paper maps are also better than phone apps for telling the difference between a well-graded gravel road and a gnarly 4×4 road.

My favorite paper maps are theBenchmark Road and Recreation Atlaseswhich also detail public lands, camping areas, National Parks, and more.

Shop Benchmark Road and Recreation Atlases at:

a person holds a Benchmark Road Atlas in the driver's seat
A paper map is always handy for road trips. I’ve found some of my favorite roads and campsites using theBenchmark Road and Recreation Atlas.


A GPS is handy for navigation when you don’t have cell service. If you don’t want to purchase a GPS, download Google Maps for offline use or use the appmaps.meinstead. This is a helpful free app that you can use to navigate and find sights and amenities even without cell service.

Just be sure to download the maps.me map for the region you’re going to be traveling in ahead of time so that it will work offline.

Still in the planning phase of your trip? Check out ourroad trip destination ideashere! And if you’re looking for a car camping checklist, head to ourCar Camping Essentials blog post.

Road Trip Apps

Downloading a couple of apps before you head out will make road trip planning easier and will help you find things you’re looking for on the road like campsites, rest stops, amenities, and more.

TheRoadtrippers Appis a handy one too. It lets you save locations on the go, find destination points along your route, and locate lodging, gas, restaurants, and more.

TheiExit Appcan help you determine the best areas to take a pit stop on major highways while you’re traveling.

Gas Buddyis a helpful road trip app that will help you find the cheapest gas prices so you aren’t wasting money when you fill up.

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Road Trip Clothing, Footwear, & Accessories

Packing for a road trip means filling your bags with versatile, well-fitting, and durable clothes that allow you to do a little bit of everything.

You’ll want to have clothing, footwear, and accessories that:

  • Won’t wrinkle
  • Retain their shape (think a little bit of stretch)
  • Wick away moisture
  • Are comfortable to spend full days in

While crazy patterns can be fun, I prefer to pack solid prints that will go with everything. That way, you don’t have to really think about packing specific outfits.

Here are a few of my favorite road trip essentials picks for clothing, footwear, and accessories. For more recommendations, check out the links below.

Road Trip Entertainment Packing List

Road trips are all about having a good time, right? Right. Make the drive fun with the following entertainment essentials. I also recommend keeping yourday hiking essentialsin your trunk too so you’re always ready for a spur-of-the-moment hike, should you need them.

Music Playlists

What’s a road trip without music? A good playlist will keep your energy up and will help the miles fly by. Load up your phone with plenty of tunes ahead of time in case you’ll be driving through areas with limited service. I’m a HUGE fan of Spotify.

Podcasts & Audiobooks

If music isn’t your thing or you need a break from rockin’ out, download a couple of audiobooks or a bunch of episodes of your favorite podcasts.

For suggestions, check out ourfavorite outdoor podcasts. TheLibby Appand听得见的are also great resources for downloading audiobooks.


一本书或者两个总是很高兴罗ad trip so you can read in your downtime.

We often like to bring books about the places we’re exploring so we can learn about the area while traveling.

Travel Games

If you’re traveling with kids, games are a great way to keep everyone happy and entertained.

But games aren’t just for kids! Bringing along a deck of cards oryour favorite road trip gamesprovides fun for everyone.


一组耳机或AirPodsare nice to bring on a road trip in case you need a little alone time.


Bring a camera to capture the memories on your trip and check out ourphotography pagefor tips and tricks for taking great photos.

A woman bends down to take a photo with a camera with mountains in the background


Not everyone enjoys journaling or sketching, but a notebook is nice to bring along on a road trip for those who want to record their trip.

If you like to journal or make notes about the places you travel to, pack asmall weatherproof notebook.

ShopRite in the Rain Notebook at:



An iPad or laptop is nice to have along for evenings when you just want to Netflix and chill. Download a few movies ahead of time for easy viewing.

一个蓝色Suburu公路旅行,我把车停在路边n Utah

Road Trip Snacks & Kitchen Packing List

One of the best parts about a road trip is tasty road trip snacks, wouldn’t you agree? Whether you’re a salty or sweet person, having quick and (mostly) healthy snack options can make or break a long drive.

It’s also a good idea to pack some kitchen and cooking gear even if you’re not camping so you can whip up that impromptu picnic.

Here are our road trip snack and kitchen essentials:

Healthy Snacks

Having healthy snacks easily accessible will stop the hanger from creeping in and help you avoid gas station temptations like chips and candy (no judgment though if you want to indulge!)

Some of our favorite road trip snacks are:

  • Veggies and dip, like carrots and sugar snap peas with hummus or Bitchin’ Sauce (if you’ve never tried it, you gotta find it, it’s sooo good)
  • Fresh, easy-to-eat fruit, like apples, bananas, and mandarins
  • Trail mix or roasted nuts
  • Better for you chip alternatives like baked chips, snap pea crisps, and popcorn


A cooler will keep your fruit, veggies, dips, and other snacks cold so you can eat fresh on the road.

If you’re just packing a few cold drinks and snacks, a small, lightweight cooler likeREI’s Cool Haul 24 Soft Cooleris a versatile option.

ShopREI Cool Haul 23 Soft Cooler at:


Reusable Water Bottle

A reusable water bottle is key for staying hydrated and eliminating single-use plastics.

Aninsulated Hydro Flaskwill keep your water nice and cold on hot days. I also like theirstraw lid versionwhich allows you to easily drink one-handed while you drive.

ShopHydro Flask Insulated Water Bottles at:

Water Jug

In addition to saving money and avoiding plastic bottles, having a water jug with you makes for a quick and easy fill-up of your water bottle while on the road and before heading out on a hike. It’s also a smart thing to have in case you break down or run out of gas.

TheGSI Outdoors Folding Water Cube holds 15 liters of waterand has a convenient tap handle that prevents spilling.

Shopthe GSI Water Cube at:


Coffee Mug

Consider bringing an insulated coffee mug for keeping coffee and tea hot on sunrise drives or making sure your beverage stays cold on hot days.

TheHydro Flask 20 oz Tumblerhas a splashproof lid and its tapered design allows it to fit into most cup holders.

Shopthe Hydro Flask 20 oz Tumbler at:

Muli Tool/ Swiss Army Knife

A multi-tool or versatile knife like thisSwiss Army Camper Knifeis always good to have along, whether for slicing apples, cutting rope, or opening that nice bottle of wine.

Shopthe Swiss Army Camper Knife at:


Utensil Set

Saying no to single-use plastics is easy when you have a reusable utensil set with you.

ThisTo-Go Ware Bamboo Utensil Setcomes in a handy holder and is perfect for on-the-go meals whether you’re road-tripping or not. It comes with a fork, knife, spoon, chopsticks, and a bamboo straw.

Shopthe To-Go Ware Bamboo Utensil Set at:


Quick-Dry Towels

A set of smallquick-dry towelsis a great zero-waste alternative for wiping your hands and cleaning up messes and spills. A roll of paper towels works too.

Shopthe REI Quick-Dry Towel Set at:


Reusable Bag

A reusable bag like theREI Stuff Travel Totewill come in handy for those grocery store stops along the way and once you arrive at your destination.

Shopthe REI Stuff Travel Tote at:

A person sits in a camp chair next to a lake on a road trip

Packing & Organizing Road Trip Essentials

Keep your stuff organized and easy to find with these road trip packing essentials.

Suitcase, Backpack, or Duffel Bag

You likely already have a suitcase, backpack, or duffel bag at home that you can use to pack for your road trip, it doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just something to comfortably hold your clothes and other belongings.

If you don’t own one already, we love theREI Co-op Roadtripper Duffel.

Shopthe REI Roadtripper Duffel at:



Aday pack for hikesand other outings is always good to bring on a road trip. It doesn’t have to be big, just big enough to hold water, your phone, camera, keys, snacks, and other hiking essentials.

ThisOsprey Tempestpack has been my go-to for day hikes and adventures for a long time. TheOsprey Talonis the men’s version.

Shopthe Osprey Tempest Pack at:

Packing Cubes

If you’re like me, your suitcase (or duffel) can be a disaster. I tackle this problem by using packing cubes to keep all of my clothing organized while I’m road-tripping. Underwear in one. Socks in another. Pants. Shirts. Each category of clothing gets its own cube.

ShopREI Packing Cubes at:


Toiletry Bag

Having all your toiletries and smaller essentials in one bag makes it easy to find them when you need them.

ThisREI Co-op Shower Roll Bagis a favorite that makes it super easy to access all your toiletries in one place.

Shopthe REI Shower Roll Bag at:


Road Trip Packing List for Personal Care

Getting out of your normal routine can make it a bit more of a challenge to keep up with personal care, but with these essentials, you’ll find your new road trip routine in no time.


UV rays can come through your windows so bring a tube or two of goodmineral-based sunscreen, especially if you’re road-tripping in the summer.

It’s also handy in case you find an exposed viewpoint you want to picnic at or a sunny hike along the way.

ShopSun Bum Sunscreen at:

Lip Balm

Lip balm is always nice to have along in case your lips get extra dry. We prefer lip balm with SPF for sun protection, likethis one.

ShopSun Bum Lip Balm at:

Toothpaste & Toothbrush

Any old toothpaste you have at home will do, but if you want an eco-friendly, travel-size option,Hello toothpaste bitesare a great pick.

ShopHello Toothpaste Bites at:


Bring the toiletries you need from home, like soap or face wash, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant.

If you want to save space, try these refillable 2.5 ozhumangear GoToob+ Medium Squeeze Bottles.

Simply fill them up with your favorite products and pack them in your toiletry bag.

ShopHumangear GoToob+ Bottles at:

Tissues or Toilet Paper

Tissues or a roll of toilet paper are always handy to have in the car on a road trip in case rest stops are under-equipped or you have to pee in the wild.

Just remember topack out and dispose of your toilet paper in the trash.

Hair Brush

You’ll want a way to tame that windswept hair after a long drive, so throw your hairbrush in with your other personal items.

A small, travel-size version likethis oneis always nice to have for trips.

Shoptravel-sized hairbrush at:


Bandanas can be used in many waysand is sure to come in handy, whether as a napkin or as a headband t keep your hair from blowing in the wind when you’ve got the windows down.

TheNomadix Bandana Toweladds even more versatility with its absorbent microsuede material, SPF 50 protection, and anti-odor properties.

Shop the Nomadix Bandana Towel at:

Body Wipes

Sometimes it’s nice to freshen up after a long drive, or maybe you’re hiking and camping on your road trip as well. A pack of wipes is always on our road trip packing list so we have the option to clean up a bit in a pinch.

TheSea to Summit Wilderness Wipesare our favorite because they’re gentle on the skin and they are compostable (although you still need to dispose of them properly in the trash).

Shop Sea to Summit Wilderness Wipes at:

Vitamin C/Immune Boosting Tablets

We like to pack hydration tablets on any adventure, and if they’re immunity-boosting that’s even better.

TheseNUUN Immunity Hydration tabletsare easy to throw into your bag and pop into your water bottle when you need an extra boost.

Shop Nuun Immunity Hydration Tablets at:


Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is always good to have readily available, especially these days. We lovethis all-natural one from Dr. Bronners.

Shop Dr. Bronner’s Hand Sanitizer at:



While you won’t always need something like Advil or Ibuprofin, we like to include it on every road trip packing list since it can be a lifesaver when you get a killer headache and need it.

A woman takes a selfie out the window from the passenger seat on a road trip

Miscellaneous Road Trip Essentials

These items are necessarily ‘essentials’ but they can make your road trip more comfortable and trouble-free.


I don’t know about you, but I consider a pillow a road trip essential (especially if you’re the passenger)!

Bring a comfy pillow from home or an inflatable pillow if you’re short on space. ThisNEMO Fillo Pillowis compressible, lightweight, and awesome for camping, backpacking, and napping in the passenger seat.

Shop the NEMO Fillo Pillow at:


Whether you’re reading in bed, going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, or rummaging around your car, you’ll want a headlamp nearby.

TheBioLite Headlamp 325is a go-to piece of nighttime gear that’s ultralight and rechargeable with a USB cable.

Shop the BioLite 325 Headlamp at:


A small blanket is a nice item to have along in case you find the perfect picnic spot or if you just need a little extra warmth at any point on your road trip.

We loveRumpl’s cozy, packable blankets– they won’t take up much space in your car and they come in all kinds of fun colors and patterns.

Shop Rumpl Blankets at:

Quick-dry towel

Be ready for those impromptu swimming hole dips with a lightweight, quick-dry towel like theNomadix Original Towel. It’s also sand resistant, so if you’re heading to the beach, you don’t have to worry about tracking loads of sand back to your car.

Shop Nomadix Towels at:

First-Aid Kit

Stay safe and be prepared in case of an emergency by having a car first aid kit that has been personalized to your own medical needs.

ThisMy Medic MyFAK First Aid Kitis equipped with all kinds of expert-picked first aid and trauma supplies. You can strap it to the back of a headrest for easy storage or just toss it in the back so it’s there when you need it.

We love that it comes with a small tearaway pouch that you can fill up with essentials and take on day hikes, backpacking trips, and other short adventures as well.

It’s more expensive than some other first aid kits, but it also has more supplies and lifesaving equipment than most.

Shop the My Medic MyFAK at:

Phone Charger & USB Cord

You’ll be surprised how quickly your phone battery will drain when using navigation mode and a variety of apps on your phone so it’s good to be able to charge from your vehicle.

If your headlamp and camera come with car-compatible chargers, bring those along too.

GPS Communication Device

I’d argue that theGarmin InReachis a road trip essential if you plan on exploring remote backroads where there is no cell phone service.

如果你打破,Garmin InReach allows you to send custom text messages no matter where you are or to call for medical help if you are in an emergency situation.

It also has a GPS and some helpful navigation tools for when the navigation apps on your phone won’t load.

My boyfriend Ryan is a Type 1 Diabetic, so when we are in the van or hiking, the Garmin InReach gives me added peace of mind.

Shop the Garmin inReach Mini at:


It’s always handy to have a little bit of cash on hand in case you come across a farmers market or a roadside stall or if you plan on camping at more remote campgrounds, which are typically cash-only.

Vehicle Road Trip Essentials

I won’t go into too much detail in this section because you should really have these basic necessities in your vehicle at all times, whether you’re road-tripping or not.

These include:

  • Driver’s License and Registration
  • Proof of Insurance and Contact Info
  • Your Car Operation Manual
  • Spare Tire and Jack
  • Roadside Emergency Kit
  • Jumper Cables (or aself-starting jumper)
The back of a yellow VW van with 2 bikes near to a

We hope this road trip essentials checklist helps simplify packing for your next epic adventure. Now tell us: where are you headed and what’s on your road trip packing list?

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  1. I love these lists! As busy as a work week can get, lists like this will help get me outside sooner and more often. I think it would be great if you had a PDF document in the form of a checklist, so I could gather items on the fly and know that I have them ready or loaded into the car/truck/van/camper. Just an idea for this page and great lists.

  2. I like your advice about bringing a spare tire and knowing how to change should be part of the road trip necessities. We won’t know what would happen to us on the road during our trip. One possible problem that might arise would be a flat tire. Having a spare tire will allow us to change it immediately. However, if you’re not capable of doing it on your own you can call someone to assist you. This happened to me a few years ago, good thing I keep the contact details of my roadside assistance service provider which responded to my call immediately. Having this will lessen our worries. You might want to check the blog I’ve read a few weeks ago which provides a list of tips on handling a road trip like a pro. here is the link:https://blog.beepbeep.ph/road-trip-essentials/

  3. I found your article interesting to read the must haves list for the road trip. There are lots of thing which I never remember to bring with me on the road trip. Thank for sharing these checklist.

  4. What a great, comprehensive list. You can also add roadside assistance, it can be a lifesaver when we broke down 9 days into our trip. Loved the roadtrippers app as well. However, we made the rookie mistake of not getting a gas card until halfway through.

  5. Great checklist! One addition that we were glad to have on our recent road trip was our checkbook. During the Covid era, we prefer not to handle cash, and some campgrounds didn’t take cards, but writing a check and leaving it in the envelope worked great.

  6. These modules are all great Lots of information and quite a few things i wouldn’t ever have thought of. However, why do i need to resubscribe every time i want one of your checklists? Seems like there one subscription should “do” and there should be a place i can just download what i want.

    After requesting 3 or 4, it now tells me my request is successful but wont sent the mail with the download link.

    This is irritating for me and would seem to create lot of duplicate ‘subscriptions” for you.

    1. Hi Linda! Thanks for sharing that with us and our apologies for the inconvenience. There’s not a straightforward solution to this unfortunately as it would require us building out some sort of a membership page where people can login and download all the resources they want. At this time the way we have it set up is the easiest way for our readers to get the specific resources they want delivered to their inbox. It doesn’t result in duplicate subscriptions on our end as your email address is only added to our list once, and I am seeing that the emails for the checklists you’ve requested have been sent. Perhaps check your spam folder or try doing a search for Bearfoot Theory? If you’re still having issues please email me at contact (at) www.kst-corp.com and I’ll help get this resolved personally. Thanks again – we’ll keep your feedback in mind and will see if there’s a way we can improve this process

  7. A night hike, river tubing, or secret single-track – you never know what adventure may arise while traveling. Don’t miss out because you don’t have the gear. Below are gear staples for us on any adventure:

    Rain jacket
    Water bottle
    Dry bag (waterproof)
    Bandana or Buff headwear

  8. Thanks for your wonderful work! Fun and practical — a breath of fresh air!

    I’d like to add two items that simplify and improve road trips for us:

    — A small (maybe 8-inch square) “front-seat bin” for each traveller. Keep your small personal items — sunglasses, reading glasses, snacks, medicines, phone, and so — on in one designated place to ensure that you don’t have to root around to find your things.

    — Small waterproof duffle for each person’s shoes — hiking shoes, sandals, comfy campsite shoes. Keeps the car cleaner and, again, ensures that things are “where they’re supposed to be”!

    1. Hi Roy, these are great suggestions! We love tips for staying organized. Thanks for sharing!