5 road trip essentials to bring in a packing list – Expert View

As a wanna-be roadtripper, I always wonder what should I bring when I'm on the road. If you do not know, just ask. That's why I reached out to a bunch of road trip bloggers/experts and ask them this question:  

What are the 5 road trip essentials to bring in a packing list?​

​And below are their responses. There are many interesting perspectives from these experts! 

Let's start with Courtney! I asked for 5, and she came back with 10 on the list! Totally amazing insights! ​

Courtney Caldwell | RoadAndTravel.com

1) Have good directions in print and with GPS - They don't always match so best to have both - Make sure someone at home has your route

2) Make sure you plan your route destination around known weather patterns during certain times of year ie: Driving through mid country during May - August is Tornado season. July - October is Hurricane season

3) Make sure you have an emergency kit in your car that includes water, bandages, rope, blanket, ​tools, umbrella (for heat and rain), food, any meds you take or may need, kneeling pad (for changing tires or getting under car, flash light, change of clothes.

4) If children are along, make sure they have all the entertainment for the duration of the trip. Kids get bored easily. If they're not happy, your dream road trip could turn into a nightmare. So toys, snacks, games, diapers (if necessary), pillows, blankets.

5) Plan your hotels or campgrounds well ahead of time. Most people do road trips during the summer, busiest time of year. If you wing it, you could find yourself sleeping in your car because hotels, motels and campgrounds fill up.

6) Plan your daily route and how many miles you'll drive. Fewer hours if driving alone as the road can make you sleepy. Stop and take breaks every couple of hours to stretch you legs. There are tons of roadside cafes along all major freeways now. Try to keep your driving during daylight hours for best success.

7) If you're driving back routes, more scenic, make sure you have a clearly defined map of where you're going each day. Always keep at least one family member apprised of your route or route changes in case you disappear, have an accident, etc. You should also have an ICE number in your phone (In case of an emergency) so in the event you have an accident, police can call someone without delay.

8) Never go off road alone.

9) Check in with one family member or friend each day. It's not just your personal safety, but parents, friends, etc worry.

10) Have AAA for your car or some other roadside assistance. AAA is the best

11) Make sure your car is road-worthy to avoid breakdowns. Have your vehicle completely checked out, change of oil (bring a can with you too), clean windows, clean engine, and make sure it will be able to withstand the duration of the trip. Breaking down in another state is no picnic. Make sure your heater and A/C work.

12) And last, depending on how long your road trip is, good idea to identify the local PDs in each city through which you drive and keep a list of their cities and phone. You never know.

​Source: RoadAndTravel.com

​Victoria has a very good approach too, list out useful tools/gadget for a car road trip: 

Victoria Price | CookingVincent.com

Credit CookingVincent.com

1) Leatherman Juice Multi-Tool—This has saved my bacon at least once a trip.

2) A plug-in cooler—Because after the first day of Fritos and McDonalds fries, it’s time to go back to green juice and yogurt.

3) Binoculars—Not just because I love birds, but because there are always amazing things to see on the road.

4) iPod—Loaded with your favorite music and great Audiobooks. Road trips are made for singing out loud and off key to your favorite songs.

5) An actual road atlas. Because phones and nav systems can never give you the big picture lie a paper map can.

Kristine from Cars.com is also a great highlight. Learn so much from her! 

Kristine Varela | Cars.com

Credit: Cars.com

While I’m sure many of the experts you’re reaching out to are covering the technical basic must-haves for a road trip (emergency kit, first aid kit, flashlight, extra washer fluid, etc), here are some must-haves to make road tripping with the whole family tolerable (and even pleasant):

1) A “kids bag”: Make traveling with kids easier by packing all of their essentials in one easily accessible bag. It should include things like bottles, baby food, diapers, medicine and a change of clothes. When you don't have to dig through a car trunk rife with suitcases, getting into PJs at the hotel late at night is so much easier.


2) Fun, healthy snacks: Instead of animal crackers, get creative with pureed fruits put into freezable, squeezable pouches like the Sili Squeeze (which stays cold). Kids will love slurping up a chilled cherry lime slushy.

3) Polaroid-Style Camera: Invest in a modern day instant camera (like the Fujifilm Instax Mini) along with some fun scrapbooking materials. Ask the kids to take pictures along the way, and they'll have the instant gratification of immediately seeing pix of their silly faces. Then they can use the snaps to track road trip memories in scrapbooks. (Note: Tape is safer than glue in the car).

4) Window Clings: Stock up on packs of window cling stickers before the drive for affordable, creative and reusable fun. The kids will love turning the car windows into a giant sticker book. Busy kids = happy road trip.

5) Fresh Playlists: Elevate car crooning to a new level with in-auto karaoke. Download your family’s favorite songs and lyrics to an audio-playing device (even an iPhone) and have everyone take turns impersonating their favorite singers. Bring along toy microphones, or keep it low-tech by singing into a hairbrush or your thumb. Teens can pitch in by taking videos and editing them on the go.

Kristine Hernandez from EasilyDo mentioned some good snack and enough water bottle to keep you hydrated. 

Kristin Hernandez | EasilyDo.com

Regarding your question: we think a road trip shouldn't start without having these things packed.

  1. A first aid kit - it's better to be safe than sorry.

  2. Good shoes for hiking and walking - you never know when a gorgeous hike is around the corner.

  3. Healthy snacks - you can only have fast food so many times.

  4. A good playlist - so you don't get sick of the same songs.

  5. Solid water bottle- cuts down on plastic waste and you can refill it whenever you stop.

    Credit: EasilyDo.com

Nick has 2 attempts for this questions, both are very good views: 

Nick Charles | Itsaroadtrip.com

At first, Nick takes a very spiritual approach.

Five essentials for a road trip:

  1. Sense of adventure

  2. Spontaneity

  3. Google Maps and paper map

  4. Roadside Assistance

  5. Water

Well, I do a follow up with him for something more concrete.

"Jimmy - sorry for the abstract reply - I was in a philosophical mood." 

The first thing for me is good maps - I like to get off the beaten path and use the Delorme and Benchmark maps. This may seem old fashion with the internet, but one of the things that motivated me to write the itsaroadtrip.com blog was the scarcity of information available on the computer. For example - punch in Redding to Reno and all you get is a map, no info. Eyes on the ground is essential.

Second, and not in order, is my fishing gear.

Third, all weather gear - i.e., chains, blankets, water, spare truck, trailer parts since I like to go places with no services.

Fourth - books about the history of the places I want to go. I like background info and like to envision what the places looked like a hundred years ago.

Fifth - a camera to record stuff

Credit: itsaroadtrip.com​

Melanie | Drive.sg

In answer to your question, 5 essential things to bring on a road trip:

1. Playlist of upbeat music to keep you awake on a long drive. You can even sing along to the songs!

2. Snacks to sustain yourself if you’re unable to get a full meal in

3. Water to keep yourself hydrated

4. Hard copy of maps in case your GPS does not work

5. Contact list of all the emergency numbers you will need

Credit: Drive.sg

Beth Blair | TheVacationGals.com

What are the 5 road trip essentials to bring in a packing list?

1. Emergency necessities. Pack anything needed for a worst-case scenario. Besides planning for something common like a flat tire think about the weather, terrain, and time of year. For example, if driving through the desert in the summer having water is imperative, whereas

If driving up north during the dead of winter, when temperatures dip well below zero, blankets and head-to-toe winter gear is necessary.

2. Maps/GPS/Apps. Today most people have access to navigation via smartphones or navigation embedded in the car. The key here is to make sure equipment is charged, destination(s) are pre-entered, and any helpful apps are downloaded before leaving for the trip.

3. Snacks and beverages. Comfort is always a good thing when on a road trip, especially if encountering traffic or missing an exit.

4. Entertainment. Music, audio books, or classic road trip games make the time on the road fly.

5. Camera. Again, smartphones are all in one but if using a traditional camera, have it handy as you never know what photo ops might pop up. If traveling alone, bring a selfie stick. You never have to be left out of a picture again – even on a solo road trip.

Credit: TheVacationGals.com

Sofia | InsightGuides.com

When setting off on a road trip, our essential packing items to bring would be the following:

1. Music- What is a road trip without some music to play on those long hours in the car? Bring more music than you think you will need. It will add to a fun atmosphere, and great for sing alongs if traveling as a group (if you can all agree on a song)

2. A travel guide - Insight Guides offer travel guides to locations all around the world. They help you find the most exciting destinations and scenic views, along with handy local information on where to stay and what to eat. Make the most of your road trip with a travel guide.

3. Map - Whichever format you decide. Bring a GPS, your phone, or even a paper map if you are up for a challenge. Having a map handy at all times is definitely an essential so you can travel with ease.

4. All vital information and packing needed in an emergency situation - Make sure you bring your ID, first aid kit, water bottle, snacks and toiletries. Bring travel size bottles of your shampoo and conditioner to save space in your packing.

5. Positive attitude - Road trips can be fun, but it is not always going to be an easy ride. Whatever happens on your journey, remember it will make for great stories and exciting memories when you return home.

Credit: InsightGuides.com

Janice Waugh | SoloTravelerBlog.com

Five essentials for a road trip:

  1. Sense of adventure

  2. Spontaneity

  3. Google Maps and paper map

  4. Roadside Assistance

  5. Wate

    Credit: SoloTravelerBlog.com

Awalsh | Spine-Health.com

1) A towel or pillow to place in the small of your back

2) Ice pack

3) Heating pad

4) pain medication

Credit: Spine-Health.com

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Conclusion

Well, car road trip is a wonderful experience. While you are so excited, keep in mind the list of road trip essentials that you should pack too. A good preparation will ensure a successful road trip! ​In my opinion, a tire inflator will do it best when it comes to emergency where your car breaks down suddenly. 

So what do you think of the expert views on road trip essentials? Let us know in the comment. ​