29 Essentials Every Traveler Should Bring on A Road Trip in 2020

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Road trips have become more popular than ever. Find out what to bring on a road trip in 2020.

Traveling by car allows you to explore new areas without a hurry. You are the one in charge. It’s the experience of ultimate freedom.

I don’t know about you, but packing for a road trip is not as much fun as the actual trip itself. Still, the car is not going to pack itself. 

What should you bring on a road trip? The question should actually be more like this:

What should you NOT forget to bring on a road trip?

Everyone knows the stress of packing. What if you forget something important? This is an unpleasant feeling and can easily keep you awake the night before hitting the road.

That’s why I have put together the 29 most important things I always take with me on a road trip. 

At the end of the article, you will find the perfect checklist with all the items listed. Get inspiration, pack your things, and hit the road!

What to Bring on A Road Trip
The 29 Essentials

1. Travel pillow

If you are not behind the steering wheel, a travel pillow offers the best comfort. Instead of putting your head against the window (as many of us have tried and know that our shoulders do not thank us for it), you should bring the perfect pillow. It can be an all-round neck pillow, a U-shaped car seat headrest, a standard square pillow, or the typical headrest pillow. 

2. Spotify playlists 

A great road trip needs an excellent playlist. Create them on Spotify with the best sing-along tracks before you go. Make sure you download them from home over WiFi. That way, you will avoid using valuable mobile data. 

Dave and Deb from ThePlanetD compiled a list of the 50 best road trip songs for the long drive.

3. Audiobooks and podcasts 

It is also pleasant to take a break and listen to a captivating novel or podcast as much fun as it is to have a sing-along session. Whether you travel alone, with family, partner, or friends, there are audiobooks matching every group. Tripsavvy put a list together with their opinion on the 12 best audiobooks for road trips in 2020.

4. Map or GPS

Today, most smartphones have a GPS or Google Maps installed. Nevertheless, you should bring an old school map with you on your road trip. Imagine your phone dies, and you lose track.

5. Camera

Be sure to capture every moment of your journey with a camera. Bring your camera and make sure you document every fantastic event.

Do you love capturing the world around you with your camera? All over the world, digital nomads live their travels. Grab your camera and get going!

6. Reusable water bottles and large water bottles

Reusable water bottles are your savior on a car journey. Fill them the day before departure and let them cool in the fridge overnight.

Also, make sure to bring a six-pack of large water bottles if you get stranded or run out of water. 

7. Lemonade

Only drinking water can get rather monotonous. Make sure to bring your favorite lemonades to sweeten the trip.

8. Cooler + cooling elements 

This one speaks for itself. With a cooler, you can keep your drinks cold and refreshing. It is also a great companion when you buy snacks or food that needs to be cooled. Think about cooling elements as well! 

9. Snacks 

Snacks are the most important thing you should bring along on a road trip. How often hasn’t a tasty refreshment made the trip much more fun? I prefer to bring dried fruits and nuts, protein bars, biscuits, salt sticks, carrot and cucumber sticks, grapes, and apples and chips. These snacks are also very suitable for the beach! Also, they do not smear in the car and do not need cooling. 

10. Gasoline can 

The end of fuel is every driver’s nightmare. That is why a full gas can in the trunk is a must. 

11. An additional tire

Even though it is implausible to get a puncture, it does happen from time to time. Therefore, bring an extra tire and a tripod jack with you. This way, you can get back on the road in no time at all. 

12. Car charger

A dead phone can bring a lot of frustration. Not only does it mean no music, but it also separates you from everything. Of course, this can be refreshing at times. But when you are on the road, a charged and connected phone is essential. A car charger or power bank will suffice.

13. License and registration

Driving without this is illegal. Make sure you bring it with you. 

14. Car insurance papers (copy)

Bring a copy of your car insurance with you in case an accident happens. 

15. Identification and health insurance

You never know when you need to show Id. Bring your health insurance papers, too, to make sure you can get treatment. Check which states you are insured. Take out travel insurance if necessary.

16. Roadside emergency kit

Band-aids are not the only thing that can prove useful in an emergency on a road trip. A roadside emergency kit should consist of at least a warning triangle, reflective vests, a tire pressure gauge, jumper cables, flashlights, and an additional set of batteries. 

17. Toilet rolls

Bringing a few rolls of toilet paper is always a must. You never know if the toilets in the rest areas are supplied. Even if they are, it is still preferable to use your own. 

18. Kitchen paper

Bring a few rolls. They are great when you eat a snack, stop for a picnic, or need to wipe up something spilled in the car.

19. Hand sanitizer

Being on the road means that you cannot wash your hands every time you need to. Therefore, bring a few bottles of hand sanitizer with you.

20. Toiletries

Do not forget to pack soap, sunscreen, deodorants, cosmetics, and towels. 

21. Toothbrush and toothpaste

Pack a new tube to make sure you have enough. 

22. Bug spray

Nobody likes a swarm of bugs in the car. Also, don’t forget a mosquito spray.

23. Appropriate clothing

Pack clothes that fit in all weather conditions. Be careful not to pack too many shoes. Take only the bare essentials, such as sandals, hiking boots, and a pair of sneakers. This way, you will have some for every occasion.

Try to compromise on the size of your suitcase. Hand luggage is undoubtedly the best, as it does not take up much space in the trunk. Bring items that you can wear several times.

24. Sunglasses

Sunglasses are a must. This applies to both the driver and the passengers. You will, by all means, need them on a sunny day.

Are you heading for the beach? Get inspired by our 61 beach packing list item ideas.

25. Cash

Make sure that you bring money in addition to your card. You will need it in some places. That can be when having to feed a parking meter, or if your card suddenly doesn’t work.

26. Camping chairs

A camping chair isn’t necessarily taking up that much space. With a folding chair, you can easily store it in the trunk. This way, you do not have to search a bench or sit on a picnic blanket when you take a break. 

27. Picnic blanket

If you do not feel like bringing a camping chair (or do not have the capacity), a picnic blanket is a perfect substitute. Take a break, get outside, and enjoy a delicious lunch on the blanket.

28. Thin blanket 

In summer you probably won’t need it as often. However, it is always a good idea to bring one on a road trip. I would recommend a thin one. That way, it will not take up valuable space in the car.

29. Car Games 

Play car games like highway bingo, the License Plate game, Scavenger Hunt, storytelling, name that tune, guess a celebrity, and more! It’s the ultimate fun.

The two road trip travelers Iain and Jack wrote an article about the 26 incredible word games to play in the car. Some of them we used on our last road trip, and it was a lot of fun!

The ultimate Packing List For What to Bring on A Road Trip

The ultimate road trip packing list. Make sure to hit the road with everything packed for your trip.

Do you bring anything on a road trip that is not on the list? Let us know in the comments section!

"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." – Lewis Carroll

Have a great road trip!

Maya is a travel expert and the co-founder of LiveYourTravel. She is a passionate nomadic traveler and writer who loves to explore new places, cultures, and people. Join her here on Live Your Travel, where she shares her best travel tips and priceless hacks with you.

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