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What To Bring On A Car Trip


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Benni Mead



Embarking on a car trip is an exciting adventure that offers the freedom to explore new destinations at your own pace. Whether you’re planning a cross-country road trip or a weekend getaway, it’s essential to be prepared with the right essentials to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.


In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive list of items to bring on a car trip. From emergency essentials to entertainment options, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s dive in and make sure you have everything you need for a memorable and comfortable car trip.


Before we begin, it’s important to note that this list may vary based on the duration and destination of your trip, as well as personal preferences and requirements. Adapt the recommendations to suit your specific needs and circumstances.


So, buckle up and get ready to hit the road with confidence and peace of mind. Let’s ensure you have everything you need for a memorable and enjoyable car trip!


Emergency Essentials

When it comes to car trips, it’s crucial to be prepared for any unexpected situation that may arise. Here are some essential items to keep in your car in case of an emergency:

  1. First Aid Kit: Stock your car with a well-equipped first aid kit that includes bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, adhesive tape, and any necessary prescription medications.
  2. Emergency Roadside Kit: Include items such as jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, a tire pressure gauge, a multi-tool, reflective warning triangles, and a tire inflator or sealant.
  3. Spare Tire and Jack: Make sure your car is equipped with a fully inflated spare tire, as well as a jack and lug wrench, so you can change a tire if needed.
  4. Emergency Contact List: Write down important phone numbers and addresses, including emergency services, family members, and your roadside assistance provider.
  5. Blanket and Extra Clothing: Keep a warm blanket and spare clothing in your car, especially during colder months, in case you need to stay warm while waiting for assistance.
  6. Non-Perishable Snacks and Water: Pack some energy bars, nuts, and bottled water in case you find yourself stranded and in need of sustenance.
  7. Fire Extinguisher: It’s a good idea to have a small fire extinguisher in your car to handle small fires or prevent them from spreading.
  8. Maps or GPS Device: While most of us rely on GPS navigation, it’s always wise to have a backup map or printed directions in case your GPS malfunctions or loses signal.

Remember, prevention is key, so be sure to get your car regularly serviced before embarking on any long-distance trips. Check your tire pressure, brakes, fluids, and battery to ensure they are in good condition. By being prepared and proactive, you can minimize the risk of an emergency and enjoy a worry-free journey.


Navigation Tools

Getting lost on a car trip can be a frustrating experience. To avoid unnecessary detours and make your journey more efficient, it’s essential to have the right navigation tools at your disposal. Here are some items to consider:

  • GPS Device: Invest in a reliable GPS device or use a smartphone with a navigation app to provide accurate directions and real-time traffic updates.
  • Offline Maps: Download offline maps of your intended route or areas with limited connectivity to ensure you have access to reliable navigation even without an internet connection.
  • Paper Maps and Atlas: Don’t solely rely on technology. Carry a detailed paper map or road atlas as a backup in case your GPS fails or you need a broader overview of the area.
  • Compass: While less commonly used today, a compass can be a valuable tool if you venture off-road or encounter areas with poor signage.
  • Car Charger and Phone Mount: Keep your phone charged and easily visible by using a car charger and a secure phone mount to ensure that you can follow your navigation instructions safely.

By employing these navigation tools, you can navigate unfamiliar territories with confidence and avoid unnecessary frustration and delays. Remember to update your maps and software regularly to take advantage of the latest features and improvements.


Comfort and Convenience Items

To make your car trip more enjoyable and comfortable, don’t forget to pack some essential comfort and convenience items. Here are some suggestions:

  • Pillows and Blankets: Make yourself cozy and comfortable by bringing travel pillows and blankets to catch some rest during long drives or when taking breaks.
  • Sunshade and Window Shades: Keep the car interior cool and shielded from the sun’s glare by using sunshades for the windshield and window shades for the side windows.
  • Travel Snacks and Drinks: Pack a variety of snacks like chips, granola bars, and trail mix, along with a cooler filled with refreshing beverages to keep you fueled and hydrated throughout the trip.
  • Cooler or Insulated Bag: Keep perishable food items and beverages fresh by bringing a portable cooler or insulated bag. It also helps to store any leftovers from meals on the road.
  • Travel Mugs and Reusable Water Bottles: Bring travel mugs for hot beverages like coffee or tea, and reusable water bottles to reduce waste and stay hydrated during the journey.
  • Tissues and Wet Wipes: Keep a supply of tissues and wet wipes handy for quick cleanups, wiping surfaces, or freshening up while on the go.
  • Trash Bags: To maintain a clean and organized environment in the car, carry small trash bags to collect and dispose of any trash or empty food wrappers.
  • Travel-sized Toiletries: Don’t forget items like hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and basic toiletries to freshen up during restroom stops or when camping overnight.

By having these comfort and convenience items on hand, you can create a more pleasant and hassle-free environment throughout your car trip. Remember, the little things can go a long way in enhancing your overall travel experience.


Snacks and Drinks

No car trip is complete without an assortment of delicious snacks and refreshing drinks to keep hunger at bay and boost your energy levels. Here are some snack and drink ideas to pack for your journey:

  • Granola Bars and Energy Bars: These convenient snacks provide a quick and sustained energy boost during long drives.
  • Trail Mix: A mix of nuts, dried fruits, and chocolate or yogurt-covered treats offers a tasty and fulfilling snack option.
  • Chips and Pretzels: Crispy and savory snacks like potato chips or pretzels satisfy cravings for something salty and enjoyable.
  • Fresh Fruits: Opt for fruits like apples, grapes, or berries for a healthy and refreshing snack that also provides natural hydration.
  • Veggies and Hummus: Prepare a small container with chopped carrots, celery, or cucumber along with your favorite hummus for a nutritious and crunchy snack.
  • Sandwiches or Wraps: Make some pre-packed sandwiches or wraps with your favorite fillings to enjoy a substantial meal option while on the road.
  • Bottled Water: Stay hydrated by bringing an ample supply of bottled water, especially when traveling in areas where access to clean water may be limited.
  • Juices and Sports Drinks: Pack individual juice boxes or sports drinks for a refreshing alternative to plain water and to replenish electrolytes on longer journeys.
  • Sodas and Sparkling Beverages: If you prefer carbonated drinks, consider packing some sodas or sparkling water to enjoy as a treat.
  • Coffee or Tea: Bring your favorite coffee or tea bags along with a travel mug to enjoy a warm and comforting beverage on your car trip.

Remember to pack your snacks and drinks in a cooler or insulated bag to keep them fresh and cool during the journey. Having a variety of tasty treats and hydrating options will make the trip more enjoyable and keep you fueled for the adventure ahead.


Entertainment Options

To make those long hours on the road more enjoyable and pass the time, it’s important to bring along some entertainment options. Here are a few ideas to keep you entertained during your car trip:

  • Music: Create a curated playlist or bring along your favorite CDs to enjoy music that sets the mood and keeps you engaged throughout the journey.
  • Podcasts or Audiobooks: Download podcasts or audiobooks to listen to fascinating stories, informative discussions, or engaging novels that can make the hours fly by.
  • Travel Games: Play classic road trip games like “I Spy,” the license plate game, or the alphabet game to keep everyone entertained and engaged.
  • Portable DVD Player or Tablet: If you have passengers, a portable DVD player or tablet loaded with movies or TV shows can offer a great way to enjoy entertainment during the trip.
  • Travel Journals: Encourage creativity and reflection by providing travel journals or notebooks for passengers to jot down their experiences, sketch, or document interesting sights along the way.
  • Travel Guides and Magazines: Bring along travel guides or magazines related to your destination, allowing you to research more about the places you will visit and gain inspiration.
  • Portable Gaming Devices: If you are a fan of video games, bring along a handheld gaming console or gaming apps on your phone or tablet to indulge in some gaming fun.
  • Language Learning Tools: Use language learning apps or audio programs to brush up on your language skills and make the most of your travel time.

Remember to balance your entertainment choices with engaging conversations and enjoying the scenery along the way. Staying entertained during the journey can make the car trip feel more exciting and make the time pass more quickly.


Cleaning and Organizing Supplies

A clean and organized car can greatly enhance your comfort and overall experience during a car trip. Here are some cleaning and organizing supplies to bring along:

  • Trash Bags: Keep your car tidy by having a few small trash bags on hand to collect any garbage or waste that accumulates during the trip.
  • All-Purpose Cleaner and Wipes: Pack a small bottle of all-purpose cleaner and some wipes to quickly clean spills, wipe surfaces, and freshen up the car’s interior.
  • Microfiber Cloths: Use microfiber cloths to quickly and effectively clean windows, mirrors, and any surfaces that require a streak-free finish.
  • Car Vacuum: Consider bringing a portable car vacuum to easily remove dirt, crumbs, and debris from the seats, floor, and hard-to-reach corners of the car.
  • Car Organizers: Maximize your car’s storage space by using organizers such as seat-back organizers, trunk organizers, or storage bins to keep your belongings neatly organized and accessible.
  • Grocery Bags or Reusable Shopping Bags: Use these bags to organize and separate items, like dirty laundry or wet swimwear, and prevent them from mixing with clean belongings.
  • Carabiners and Hooks: Attach carabiners or hooks to the back of seats or in the trunk area to hang coats, hats, and bags, keeping them off the floor and within easy reach.
  • Collapsible Trash Can or Laundry Hamper: If you’re traveling for an extended period, a collapsible trash can or laundry hamper can help you collect and contain dirty clothes or accumulated trash.

By keeping your car clean and organized, you’ll have a more pleasant driving experience and find it easier to locate your belongings when you need them. Regularly tidy up and remove any trash or clutter to maintain a comfortable and stress-free environment throughout your car trip.


Miscellaneous Items

Aside from the essentials mentioned earlier, there are several miscellaneous items that can come in handy during your car trip. Here are a few additional items to consider packing:

  • Cash and Coins: Keep some cash and spare change on hand for toll roads, parking fees, or places where card payments may not be accepted.
  • Cloth or Towels: Pack a few extra cloths or towels that can serve multiple purposes, such as wiping spills, drying hands, or providing extra padding or comfort.
  • Extra Batteries and Charging Cables: Carry spare batteries and charging cables for your electronic devices, ensuring you can keep them powered up throughout the journey.
  • Sunscreen and Bug Repellent: Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays and pesky insects by having sunscreen and bug repellent readily available.
  • Extra Set of Car Keys: Keep a spare set of car keys in a safe place, separate from your primary set, in case of loss or emergency situations.
  • Travel Blanket or Picnic Mat: A lightweight travel blanket or picnic mat can be useful for impromptu picnics, rest stops, or as a barrier on the ground for outdoor activities.
  • Travel-sized Umbrella: Prepare for unexpected rain showers by packing a compact and portable travel-sized umbrella.
  • Bungee Cords and Tie-Down Straps: These versatile items can secure loose items, create makeshift clotheslines, or assist with securing luggage on a roof rack or in the trunk.
  • Insect Repellent and After Bite Cream: If you plan on spending time in nature or camping, bring insect repellent and cream to soothe any bug bites.

These miscellaneous items may seem small but can make a big difference in your comfort, convenience, and preparedness during your car trip. Tailor your packing list based on your specific needs, destination, and planned activities to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.



Preparing for a car trip involves more than just packing your bags and hitting the road. By considering the essential items we’ve covered in this article, you can ensure a smoother, more comfortable, and enjoyable journey.


From emergency essentials and navigation tools to comfort and convenience items, snacks and drinks, entertainment options, cleaning and organizing supplies, and miscellaneous items, each category plays a crucial role in enhancing your car trip experience.


Remember that personal preferences and the specifics of your trip may require slight adjustments to the list mentioned here. Customize your packing list to suit your needs and destinations.


By being prepared, organized, and entertained, you can focus on the joys of the open road and the destinations that await you. Enjoy the freedom, flexibility, and adventure that a car trip offers, and create lasting memories with your travel companions.


So, pack your bags, secure your essentials, and embark on a memorable car trip knowing that you are equipped with everything you need for a successful and enjoyable adventure.