I love road trips!
I think they are the best way to see any country. They offer you the freedom of movement to choose where you want to go and how to get there!
However, it’s important to have a road trip packing list, as there are some items which you need when driving long distances.
If you set off on a road trip without a first aid kit and a charger for your electrical goods, you’re going to be in trouble.
Whether you’re doing a cross-country road trip or a road trip in Australia, this guide will let you know what to pack for a road trip!
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Table of Contents
Road Trip Packing List
Road Trip Essentials
- Driving licence and registration – You won’t get very far without either of these items. They should be the first things you pack before any road trip!
- A copy of your car’s insurance details – Hopefully, you won’t have to use this, but in case you do, it’s handy to have this information available to hand, Make sure you include it wherever you’re driving to!
- Spare tire – This should already be in the car beforehand but double-check to make sure you have one. While we returning from our West Coast of the South Island Road trip in New Zealand, we had to change a tire for an unfortunate driver along the way. Knowing how to change a tire is a useful skill too! If you break down in the middle of nowhere, you could be in trouble if you can’t change one!
- Paper map – You may be able to get Google Maps these days, but if you’re out of wifi reach, or the battery on your phone dies, you’re stuck. Taking a paper map is something you should do on every road trip. A paper map is a good last resort to have in case you’re in a pickle with your phone.
- First aid kit – This may or may not come with the car, but you should bring one along just in case. You never know when you may need one! A first aid kit is an essential part of your road trip supplies. Having one handy could be crucial if you end up in a sticky situation!
- Roadside emergency kit – Another item that you must pack for a road trip, this kit will be of immense use should your car break down. It contains everything you need to fix your car, should you break down. Don’t leave home without it!
Road Trip Accessories
- Flashlight – A flashlight is a handy item to take with you in case of an emergency. If you break down in the middle of nowhere at night, which could be during a road trip in New Zealand, a flashlight will be a godsend!
- Water gallons – These are big containers you can use to store water in during your road trip. They may seem like a waste, but if you’re driving in remote areas, and have no source of water, they could be a lifesaver. You can never have too much water with you!
- Car mattress – The necessity of this item depends on whether you are travelling in a car or a campervan. If you’re in a small car, you won’t have space for it, while you would be able to fit in the back of an estate. If you’re in a campervan, chances are there will already be one in the vehicle. This is an optional item and is necessary if you plan on sleeping in your car during your road trip.
- Eco water bottle – I’m not a fan of plastic. Any chance to cut it out of my life and I will do so. Packing a water bottle for your road trip is vital. You will have a reusable and sturdy to use during your trip and after!
- Flip flops – Flip flops are a useful item to pack for a road trip. It can be uncomfortable wearing shoes all the time, and they are handy to have if you want to go for a stroll while you’re taking a break from driving. I swear by Havaianas, and mine has lasted me a good few years now! They are easily the best brand and last much longer than others. Be careful when it comes to driving in flip flops. It’s illegal in some countries, so it’s best to drive in normal shoes to avoid any issues!
- Toilet roll – This may not seem like an item you need on your road trip checklist, but you never know when it may come in handy. Toilet stops are part of a road trip, and there is no guarantee the toilet you stop at will have toilet roll. Bring your own is being on the safe side!
- Bug spray – This is an item I wish I had during my Adelaide to Darwin Road trip! There were bugs everywhere and every time I stepped out of the car, I was bombarded by them! If you’re heading to a hot country, this is an item you need to take!
- Hiking boots/shoes – These are a great item to pack if you plan on doing a lot of hikes during your road trip. Hiking boots are super comfortable and are ideal to wear while driving too! If you plan on being active during your road trip, you will definitely need a pair!
- Spare money – This is common advice for travelling anywhere, but it’s also true during a road trip! Cash is king in most places, especially in developing countries. Having some spare cash on you will allow you to bail yourself out if you get into any sticky situations. Always keep some spare cash in case of an emergency!
- Ice scraper – If you’re doing a road trip during winter, or in a cold country, you will need an ice scraper. Most cars come with them, but it pays to have your own one with you in case they don’t!
- Umbrella – An umbrella is a handy item to carry around with you on any road trip. It will come in handy if you’re out exploring on a wet day. The weather is changeable in a lot of countries. Having one spare can make a difficult situation that much more bearable!
- Waterproof jacket – This is an essential item if you’re travelling to a country where the weather is variable. Backpacking Ireland would require one. You never know when the weather is going to change! As someone who has done road trips in the wet, if you want to get out and have a look around, you’ll need a jacket. Otherwise, you will get soaked!
Essential Electrical Goods for a Road Trip
- Portable charger – This is an essential item to pack for a road trip. If you travelling large distances you won’t have ample opportunity to charge your electricals. A portable charger will allow you to charge your phone and other devices while you’re on the go!
- Bluetooth/Wireless hands-free kit – If you want to use your phone while you’re driving, you’ll need a wireless hands-free kit.
- Camera – While most smartphones have a camera nowadays if you’re in photography and want to take high-quality photos, you’ll need to invest in a camera. There are plenty to choose from and a Go Pro is a good one to choose if you want one that can take good photos and videos while you’re on the move!
- Car charger – As well as a portable charger, you’ll want to have a charger that connects to the cigarette lighter in your car. This will give you two options for charging your electricals and ensure there isn’t a fight over who gets to use the charger during your trip!
- Aux cable – If your car has an aux outlet, you’ll want to invest in an aux cable so you can play your favourite tunes! A road trip playlist is an essential part of any journey, and an aux cable will allow you to enjoy those tunes while you’re on the road!
Clothes and Accessories You Need To Pack For a Road Trip
- Sunglasses – If there’s one thing I hate while I’m on a road trip, it’s the glare of the sun getting in my eyes. Buying a good pair of polarised sunglasses will solve the problem! I’m a big fan of Oakley Frogskins, and make sure they are with me on whatever road trip I’m on!
- Scrubba Laundry System – A portable may seem like an odd item to pack for a road trip, but if you’re travelling long distances in a campervan, you won’t have much opportunity to wash your clothes! Taking the Scrubba laundry system with you will enable you to wash your clothes on the go, and not worry about finding somewhere to wash them!
- Suncream – If you’re on a road trip such as driving from Adelaide to Melbourne, where it can get hot, you will need suncream. If you plan on being out and about during your trips, you will need suncream to protect you against the sun’s harmful UV rays.
- Trtl Travel Pillow – I find it difficult to sleep in cars and aeroplanes. One of the main reasons is that I struggle to sleep when I don’t have neck support. I’m not a fan of those U-shaped monstrosities that you see everywhere nowadays. The Trtl travel pillow is an elegant solution to the problem, and doubles up as a scarf too! I highly recommend it if you plan on driving long distances!
- Car Cooler – This is an optional item, but if you plan on taking drinks and some food on your trip, a car cooler is a handy item to have with you. It enables you to store your drinks and food securely and keep them cool at the same time!
- Blanket – As someone that has slept in a car before, a blanket is a great item to pack for your road trip! It can get very cold when sleeping in cars or campervans during the night. A blanket will allow you to keep warm during those cold nights. Plus, it also doubles up as something to sit on during the day if you’re out and about!
- Towel – If you’re planning on going to the beach or you need to shower while you’re on your road trip, a towel is essential. If they aren’t provided where you are staying, you will need one too!
- Pack of cards – A pack of cards is a great item to pack if you want to add a bit of fun to your road trips. Cards are versatile and there are a number of games you can play with them too! You could also take some travel games with you too! I’m a big fan of this one, and love playing it while I’m on the road!
- Day pack – A day pack is a good item to take with you in your car if you plan on getting out and about on your road trip. I’m a big fan of the Bobby Anti-Theft Backpack and take it with me wherever I go. It stores your items safely and securely, and has space for everything you need on a day out!
- Swiss Army Knife – This is a handy item to have with you no matter where you are travelling. A Swiss army knife can solve a lot of issues you may have, taking one with you while you’re doing a road trip will help mitigate any potential issues you may have!
This may seem like a lot of things to take on a road trip, but each of them serves a purpose.
Some are more important than others, and it depends on where you are going and what vehicle you’re driving as to whether you pack certain items.
Hopefully, this list has given you an overview of the travel items you need to pack for a road trip!
Are there any items I’ve missed from this list? What items do you always take with you on a road trip?
Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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Tom is a travel addict who first left England to spend a year Down Under. Not satisfied with this, he then went to New Zealand, about as far away from home as he could get. He is now planning his next adventures in Europe and Canada while maintaining this blog. Check out the about me page to learn more!