The Bare Necessities: A Packing Guide for Road Trips

April 12, 2016

The essentials for your road trip

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If you've ever taken a long road trip, you know how hard it is to remember all the little things you need. That's why we've devised a go-to packing checklist for you to reference before you hit the road.

Keep in mind that a lighter trunk makes for superior gas mileage. Of course, the specifics of your trip—where you're headed, what time of year it is, how many people you're bringing—will make a big difference in how you pack. Babies and small children require more equipment, and a trip that involves camping or hiking will call for some specialized gear. Still, here's a basic guide of what you'll need to keep you and your fellow travelers safe and comfortable.



·         A GPS unit or smartphone car mount

·         An atlas or paper maps (in case of poor reception)

·         Phone chargers and USB charger port

·         Sunglasses

·         Pillows and blankets

·         Wet wipes for sticky fingers after eating

·         Tissues

·         Garbage bags

·         Music (CDs, streaming apps, an iPod, or satellite radio access)

·         Books and audiobooks

·         Activities and games for kids 

·         A spare car key (packed in a separate bag)

·         An envelope with cash and coins for tolls



It can be hard to find healthy food on the road, so it's a good idea to keep a well-stocked cooler within reach while you're driving. Here are some snack items to pack in your cooler:

·         Beverages such as bottled water, soft drinks, and juice boxes

·         Fruit (grapes, berries, pre-sliced pineapple, etc.)

·         Vegetables (carrots, celery, cucumber, etc.)

·         Hummus or vegetable dip

·         Pre-made sandwiches


Along with the cooler snacks, here are some additional dry foods you might want to bring, depending on your tastes:

·         Crackers

·         Pretzels

·         Bread

·         Trail mix

·         Chips

·         Granola bars

·         Baked goods



Check your trunk for a roadside emergency kit. You should make sure to bring the following:

·         A flashlight with extra batteries

·         Jumper cables or a portable battery with cables

·         Tire pressure gauge

·         A gallon of coolant

·         Motor oil

·         Tool kit with wrenches, pliers, and screwdrivers

·         Flares or triangle reflectors

·         A first aid kit stocked with antibacterial creams, bandages, pain relievers, etc.