A Complete Guide For What to Bring on a Road Trip
Road trips are one of the best ways to experience the world. By swapping the airport for the open road, you can learn how the journey is just as special as the destination.
Still, spending hours, days, or even weeks on end in a car can be grueling. Road trip veterans will agree that long-distance sitting is quite the sport. Plus, you may have limited access to the things you need when you’re on the road. It’s imperative that you have everything you need to make your road trip as safe, comfortable, and enjoyable as possible.
If you’re planning your next road trip, check out Autio’s complete guide on what to bring along. Trust us—you don’t want to leave these essentials behind!
You want to stay as comfortable as possible when you're on the road. If you find that air conditioning and cushy seats aren’t enough to keep you cozy, you might be missing a key piece of the puzzle.
When you can’t seem to get comfortable in your car, you might want to rethink your choice of clothing.
We love denim—and we can’t deny the utility of cargo shorts—but these thick fabrics might be doing you a disservice. Not only can they be quite restricting, but they’re also not breathable. If you’re the comfiest when your legs are crossed or want to prevent your hottest areas from getting even hotter, look into stretchy fabrics.
Sweatpants, running shorts, and yoga pants are some of our road trip go-tos, but there’s a whole world of travel-friendly pants waiting for you. There are endless options made of polyester, nylon, or spandex to choose from, so if you want the feel of sweatpants and the look of jeans or chinos, you can have the best of both worlds.
Road trips can be synonymous with hot weather—and few showers. To stay fresh on the road, you’ll want clothing that responds well to both heat and body odor.
While polyester shirts provide a lightweight, moisture-wicking option, they also trap body odor quicker than any other fabric. The last thing you want is a car full of stinky road trippers!
One of our favorite fabrics for the road is merino wool. You might be thinking that wool is for cold weather, but merino wool is a lightweight, antimicrobial fabric that prevents body odor. You can wear merino wool shirts for several days before they’ll need to be washed, making them a go-to for road trippers, backpackers, and travelers of all kinds.
No matter where your trip takes you, weather can be unpredictable. Even if you're planning a trip to Death Valley, it’s always good to be prepared. At the very least, bring a rain jacket anytime you set out on the road. Waterproof pants and boots may also end up being a lifesaver.
It’s also important to understand the difference between waterproof and water-resistant clothing. In terms of its ability to keep you dry, waterproof will always beat water-resistant. While a water-resistant jacket can keep you dry in a drizzle, a waterproof jacket will keep you comfy in even the heaviest rain.
While your journey will take you to some amazing places, it may also include long drives through the middle of nowhere. This means that you need to keep your car stocked with the essentials to avoid any and all emergencies.
Personal Care Items
Your list of personal care items and toiletries is personal, but there are some must-haves we always bring on the road with us:
- A toiletry bag (with a toothbrush and toothpaste!)
- Hand sanitizer and wet wipes
- Reusable water bottles
- Travel pillow
- Lip balm
- Toilet paper
Whether your essentials are keeping you smelling like a flower, feeling squeaky clean, or just helping tidy up trash that’s accumulated on your trip, you’ll be glad you covered all of your bases.
When you travel through the middle of nowhere, there may not be anywhere to buy food for miles. Even when there are places to fill your stomach, your fine dining options are usually limited to fast food joints and gas stations.
Take it from us; it is best to stick to a healthy diet when you’re trapped in a steel box.
At the bare minimum, you should always stock your car with nutritious snacks like trail mix, granola bars, and peanut butter sandwiches.
Depending on the length of your trip, it may also be a good idea to bring a propane- or butane-fueled stove and a cooler. That way, you are no longer at the mercy of fast food and can cook full meals whenever you want. Plus, cooking is always cheaper than eating out. Just remember to bring some dish soap as well!
Anything can happen on the road, and it is always wise to be ready for dire situations. From medical emergencies to car problems, don’t leave your home unprepared. In fact, many of these items are good to keep in your car at all times, road tripping or not.
First Aid Kit
While you hope never to use it, a comprehensive first aid kit is a must for all road trippers. According to the American Red Cross, the first aid essentials you want in your kit include dressings, bandages, cloth tape, antibiotic ointment, and antiseptic wipes.
You'll also want aspirin and a cold compress in case you get a headache on the road, and a few specialized first-aid items like an emergency blanket, non-latex gloves, hydrocortisone, and an oral thermometer.
Bring it all together with an emergency first aid guide to walk you through the basic care for all kinds of possible injuries or ailments you might encounter on the road.
With a comprehensive first aid kit in your trunk, you’ll be ready to handle whatever life throws at you.
Roadside Emergency Gear
You’ll want to bring a reliable car on the road, but roadside emergencies happen to the best of us. Here are some things to keep in your car to keep your car on the road:
- Flare or flare alternative
- Jumper cables
- Lug wrench
- Portable jump-starter
- Spare tire
- Tire inflator
These essentials won’t create a permanent fix, but they’ll help you get your car safely to an area with cell service where you can call AAA. Of course, don't forget your driver’s license when you set out amongst the world nomads.
Sometimes our reliance on smartphones can come back to bite us. There’s a good chance you’ll drive through areas without any call service, leaving you without directions.
To avoid getting lost, it’s always a good idea to have a satellite-powered GPS in your car. You can even go old-school and carry physical maps of the areas you're traveling through.
Even if you’re planning on staying in motels or Airbnbs, it’s always a good idea to keep sleeping bags in the car. In an emergency, your car might be stranded in a cold area. Sleeping bags will allow you to stay warm when heat is not an option.
A tent may also provide some flexibility if you’re running behind schedule, can’t find a place to stay, or just want to have a spontaneous camping trip while you’re on your adventure.
Other amenities like a travel mug, a daypack for hikes, and a flint to start fires can also help you make the most of your spontaneous camping day.
Without proper preparation, long road trips can result in hours of boredom. Before you depart, make sure to download many hours of podcasts, music playlists, comedy albums, and books on tape. HereHear offers unbeatable audio tours of destinations across America, providing you and your fellow travelers with interesting, high-quality entertainment that connects you to the land you’re passing through.
Of course, you can't forget a portable charger for all of your devices, cameras and tablets included. The last thing you want is to be 4 hours into a 14 hour road trip and realize your phone charger is all the way back home.
It’s also never a fun time to bring a deck of cards, books, and board games if you get burnt out on electronics. Plus, no matter your age, road trip games like iSpy, Punch Buggy, or the Alphabet Game are always a good time.
Road Trip With Autio
Comfort is king—but so is being prepared for anything life throws at you. With this road trip checklist, you'll realize that half the fun really is getting there.
Now that you have everything you need, it’s time to hit the road with HereHear. Make your journey even more memorable with a travel companion you won’t want to leave the house without.
Whether you’re off to get lost in a big city or seek inner peace among natural beauty, you can download Autio for all the information you need to make the absolute best of your adventure.
Make a First Aid Kit | American Red Cross
Water Resistant Versus Waterproof Jackets | REI