These are Your Must-Have Items to Pack for Your Next Road Trip

My family travels extensively. We work remotely and spend the majority of our year on the road. There are some things that just make traveling easier and more enjoyable. Buckle up with these must-have items on your next trip. Each item has a link to make it easy for you to find and purchase. I am an Amazon affiliate. I’m recommending products that I use or want myself. While you won’t pay anything extra for using my links. I can receive a small compensation for sending business their way. Thanks!

If You are the Navigator

You need the Roadtrippers Plus app. I plan every single trip with this app. I have it on my laptop, my desktop, and my phone. It is the BEST trip planning tool I have ever used (I used a lot of them before I found this.) It is very user-friendly. I find interesting stops along the way that I might have missed. My favorite thing about it is that you can add so many more stops on this than the average trip planning tool. I regularly update my stops. I take out the places we’ve been and put in the places I want to go. It gives me distance, it estimates my fuel cost, it saves my itinerary. It makes everything so much easier to see at the glance with the maps it provides. It is my go-to for all things road trip. I just love it. I tell everybody about it because it’s really a great tool. Finally, it dawned on me, I should see if they have an affiliate program because I’m constantly giving them free advertising. They do! So, here’s my link if you use the code BTR5QTP, they will give you a $5 discount.

If You are Going to be Spending Time Outdoors

When we travel, it’s usually to visit a National or State Park. We hike nearly every day. We like to go fishing, camping, backpacking, hunting, if it includes the outdoors, count us in.

Here are my outdoor essentials:

If you hike, you’ve probably tried lots of different water bottles. There are dozens of brands and materials. I don’t like Nalgene unless I’m camping because the water gets hot too quickly. Also, I hate if a bottle doesn’t fit in my cup holder. Those are great for boiling water. But, when I’m hiking, I want my water cold. When it comes to coffee- I’m a Yeti girl. I have a coffee cup and a rambler.

But, my favorite water bottle is a Hydro Flask. I like this one because it has a flex cap straw. It’s easy to clean. It’s very durable. I also like it because it’s more lightweight than other metal water bottles I’ve owned. Everyone in my family has a Hydro Flask. We each have a different color. They come with different caps if you prefer not to have a straw (my husband isn’t a fan of straws). They also come in several capacities. I like the 24 oz. because it doesn’t add much weight to my pack. Everyone knows reusable water bottles keep plastic out of landfills. This one will also keep your drink cold for hours. This Hydro Flask was the best thing ever last summer when we were doing a lot of hiking in the desert. Also, it fits in my cup holder- which is super important to me on travel days. You can see my yellow one peeking out of my pack in the above picture.

On long hikes or areas where we need more gear, I carry a pack. But, on short hikes, a bottle sling is nice. This one is lightweight and frees up your hands for rock scrambling or taking photos. My son really likes having a bottle sling.

Speaking of taking photos…This little accessory is possibly the best item I’ve purchased this year. I love to take pictures when I hike-lots of pictures. But, it’s a pain in the neck to get my cell phone in and out of my pack every time I want to take a picture. I miss shots of wildlife wrestling with zippers and pockets. I also carry a pack for a reason-I want my hands free. So, I don’t want to keep my phone in my hand while I hike. Inevitably, I drop it. Women’s clothes (especially my typical light weight running shorts and tank top ensemble) don’t usually have deep pockets to keep my phone safe but accessible. It drove me nuts. Until I saw someone on a trail with this little gadget. Then, I was on a quest to find one too.

It basically turns your phone into a lanyard. It’s a game changer for snapping quick photos. Also, since buying it, I use it sometimes when I’m not hiking. If I’m just running quick errands and I don’t want to carry a purse, I just wear my phone crossbody and put cash in my pocket. I love it. Plus, it’s inexpensive. It’s only $10 and comes with 2 lanyards and 4 replacement pads. It’s very durable and well made too and is compatible with all phones with a full-coverage case.

The next item is also electronic related. Jackson carries a solar power bank/cell phone charger on long hikes. I like the security of knowing that if we get lost, we won’t also have dead batteries. Charlotte and I carry this when we go backpacking as well. This one also has a built in flashlight. When fully charged, the flashlight lasts 100 hours. There’s a carabiner with an attached compass. So, clip it right on your pack. There’s a wireless charging option. So, you don’t have to carry cords.

The last item is a little embarrassing. But, nevertheless it is essential. I always have it when I’m hiking, boating, hunting, or camping. What can I say? Sometimes, you just can’t hold it. It’s called an Easy Peezy. Needing to pee in the great outdoors may be a piece of cake for men. But, for women…it’s complicated. This is a game-changer! It allows women to pee standing up. I’ve never had a mess with this either. It doesn’t splash or overfill. It comes with a waterproof drawstring bag to store it in. Just wash with soap and water or you can even put it in the washing machine. It folds up and fits in a purse. It’s great if you have to use a nasty porta-potty and you don’t want to touch a dirty toilet seat. It’s great in the winter if you are snow-shoeing or doing other outdoor activities when it’s cold. Because you won’t have to pull your pants all the way down, you can stay warm and discreet. TMI? Maybe. But, trust me. You need this.

If You Have Kids or You’re a Kid at Heart

These are my picks for keeping the kiddos happy on a long trip.

Do you know about Paint by Sticker?

They are like the classic paint by number books we had when we were kids. But, these are better. Instead of messy paint, stickers are used to create your painting. They are really beautiful images. The pages are heavy cardstock and perforated. They are easy to tear out and hang. I’m going to be honest. I love these books myself. They are so fun and relaxing. They are a great way to pass the time on the road.

Ready for a blast from the past?

This is the Auto Bingo I had as a child. Did you know you can still buy them? Good old fashioned screen-free fun is waiting. Who will complete their card first?

If you are a parent, you know that road trips with kids mean packing a lot of stuff. There’s the toys and the snacks. There’s blankies and sippy cups. These organizers are great. They have lots of pockets and double as tablet holders for movie time. Even better, you get a 2 pack for one low price.

My daughter is thirteen and she still LOVES Squishmallows.

Squishmallows are a plush toy. But, they are super soft and squishy. They aren’t fiber filled like a typical stuffed toy. So, they keep their shape. This makes them the ideal travel pillow. I keep stealing my kids Squishmallows in the car because they are better than any travel pillows I’ve ever had. Plus, they are so darn cute.

Time to Eat

It’s typical for us to have an eight hour day in the truck. Nobody wants mom to get “hangry.” These items make road life easier for everybody.

I’m gluten-free. Which means, it’s tough to find something that I can eat at the typical gas station/convenience store. I don’t always want greasy fast-food either. I would much rather have real homecooked food than a day-old burrito or a rubbery hotdog from a truck stop. So, I usually take leftovers from last night’s dinner for my road trip lunch. I just reheat my meal in the microwave before we leave and then pack it in a vacuum insulated food jar. Then, I have a hot meal at lunch instead of another sad peanut butter sandwich. Stanley has been around since 1913. They literally invented vacuum insulation fused to steel bottles. They are a sustainable company and their products last a lifetime. I like this particular one because it has an attached spork and it’s wide mouth makes it easier to clean.

We also have a Stanley thermos and lunchbox. They make great products.

If you are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle while traveling, you may want to consider a portable blender. You can mix up a protein shake or a smoothie pretty easily and stay on track. This is also helpful for making baby food if you are traveling with little ones and want them to have fresh food. It’s also considerably cheaper to make your own iced coffees rather than pulling through a drive through.

This one is a to-go cup with a small blender attachment. It’s self cleaning and convenient.

I think a cooler is an absolutely necessary item for a road trip. But, I like this one because it has different compartments. It keeps things nice and organized.

I think the absolute best ice packs are made by Yeti. We love Yeti products. We have a cooler, several different cups, and different size ice packs. The ice packs are great because there’s no mess. They won’t leave a puddle in your cooler. We use them everyday.

Safety First

There are a few items you need to have in your vehicle for safety measures. The unexpected can and does happen. These are items that have gotten us out of trouble in the past.

First, you need a road atlas in your car. I know carrying an atlas is considered “old school.” Most people rely on GPS these days to direct them. However, we have driven in places throughout America this year where there is no GPS or cell signal. In one scenario, we were having mechanical issues with our truck. The atlas really helped us a lot. We were able to reroute to another town where we could get help. We travel with an RV. So, my atlas is made for truck drivers because we are traveling with a very tall and very long trailer that doesn’t fit just anywhere.

If you look in our truck on a road trip, you’ll always find a jump starter.

You’ll need to make sure the amperage on the jump starter is enough for your battery. We have a diesel pick-up. So, we use a 1200 amp starter. If you have a compact car, you’ll need about 800 amps. Other important features on this essential tool are an air compressor for a flat tire and a flashlight to illuminate under the hood. Ours also has an AC outlet and 3 USB outlets.

When our last jump starter finally wore out, we went and bought another one the following day. We’ve used it a lot to help other travelers with breakdowns.

You’ll also need a few tools. Maybe the easiest way to have everything you need is to pick up a good Roadside Emergency Kit. I like this one because it has a high visibility vest, gloves, a tow strap, and a shovel. It also has a hand crank flashlight. These are really useful items that aren’t included in a lot of kits. This particular one also has a first aid kit included.

If you are a female solo traveler, you may want to consider a personal self-defense device. There are a lot of options out there. I have several. But, I was browsing Amazon and this looks better than the products I have.

This is a pepper spray with a built-in siren and disorienting flashing light. The spray has a red marking dye mixed in to brand the assailant. It also has a UV dye to help identify the attacker. It connects to your cell phone to instantly make an emergency call and share your location with five trusted contacts. It has all the bells and whistles.

Well, there you have it. Now, you are ready for your trip. If you need some travel inspiration, check out other posts on my blog. Have a great time!

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