While planning for a road trip, there’s always that long list of items that we all want to pack. Over the years I’ve found a lot of things to be cumbersome and not very useful, while others are completely essential. Here’s a road trip packing list I’ve compiled with some items that I consider absolutely essential!
An Awesome Digital Camera
For many of you, the first item on this list may seem pretty obvious, but a lot of people miss the boat on this one. You want a solid camera that will do well in the daytime as well as with night shots. If you’re not sure what kind of camera to get here are two choices that will do well.
For all around adventure we carry the Nikon AW130 – It’s waterproof, freeze proof, shock proof, takes great photos and records HD video.
For a higher end choice that won’t break the bank take a look at the Sony a6000 – A Mirrorless SLR that’s super light and is a great starter camera for someone who wants to move into the SLR world. I’ve been shooting with a Sony Mirrorless for years and love the fact that it’s lightweight and their low light performance is top notch.
If you plan on getting into any kind of adventure and want to capture it on video a GoPro is an absolute must. If you aren’t sure how much you’re going to use it check out the GoPro Hero 4. If you are planning on capturing and editing tons of high quality video splurge for the Hero 4 Kit.
When I used to take road trips, I would either buy car chargers for my electronics, or try to measure my battery life in miles per minute! Nowadays, I don’t do either! No, I haven’t thrown all my electronics out the window, I just finally purchased a voltage inverter. They plug into your 12v plug-in your car and then allow you to plug standard plugs in on the other end.
With all the electronics most of us are toting around it’s always smart to keep a portable power pack in the car. Contrary to popular belief all portable power packs aren’t made the same, so take a look at this ultra high capacity pack that can fully charge an iPhone 6 times on one charge! Oh and as a bonus, it also has an LED you can use as a flash light :-)
Lauren is an avid wildlife spotter, and I can’t tell you how many times we both want to get a better look at something off in the distance. We always bring binoculars on our trips and have never regretted it.
First Aid Kit
You never know when a disaster (big or small) will strike. Pack yourself a handy little travel first aid kit, and you’ll always be prepared.
Roadside Emergency Kit
Speaking of emergencies, it’s always smart to be ready for those roadside emergencies too. This Roadside Emergency kit, has everything you need in case something goes wrong.
We save tons of money on road trips by bringing a 12-v powered cooler with us. We pack it with ice whenever we leave the hotel and stuff it with food, restaurant leftovers, soda, or whatever else we want to keep cold. It’s a whole lot cheaper than buying beverages and such at roadsides and gas stations.
A Great Thermos
If you’re anything like me, when you hit the road you’ve gotta have a hot drink in the cup holder. One of the things that can drive me crazy though, is when I’m ready for a sip and I end up getting a swig of cold drink instead. For years I was convinced that all thermal cups were designed the same. Then I found this badboy from Klean Kanteen and haven’t had a cold sip since. :-)
While on the road we found ourselves eating with a ton of disposable cutlery. We found that it was both wasteful and not good for the planet. We found these awesome sets from Roaming Cooking and fell in love.
It’s surprising how many times a shovel can come in handy. You don’t need anything huge, just a small folding shovel will do. I’ve used mine to dig out the tires from unexpected snow or ice and fill in spots where I’ve been stuck in the mud.
I know there’s nothing fun or exciting about tire chains, but they’re one of those things that you’ll be glad you packed when you need them. That and in some US States & Canadian Provinces having chains is a legal requirement during the winter months. It’s hard to buy peace of mind, but this is one of those circumstances when you can.
I’ve carried a good folding pocket knife with me for years, and I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve used it. You could also fancy it up with a folding Gerber multi-tool if you’d like, but I get by with my knife just fine.
Whether it’s a full on rain coat or just a water proof jacket, always have one in the car. On our last trip we got rained on in the desert! In addition to helping with the rain a good waterproof set of rain gear works well when you visit somewhere misty like the Smoky Mountians, or even the beach in the Pacific Northwest.
We always bring a sleeping bag with us on road trips even when we are not planning on overnighting outdoors. Many people will bring a comforter or blanket, but they always seem to get bunched up. Sleeping bags are usually light weight, and come with straps or ties so they can tuck away neatly in the car and don’t become cumbersome.
I must say that I used to think traveling with a journal was best left to hipsters and poets. On our last 35-day trip I made it a point to do two things. 1. Bring a journal and 2. Make myself write for 10 minutes each night. By doing this I ended up writing about a lot of little things that I would have forgotten about otherwise.
While I love a great road trip play list or jamming out to one of my Apple Music stations, sometimes it’s nice (especially on a longer trip) to take in a book. Not only can you enjoy a nice piece of fiction while taking in new sites, but you can also have fun discussing your book with the whole family since everyone is listening to it together. Audible has some great promotional deals like the one below for 2 free books, so you can even try this idea out for free!
Good Walking Shoes
I know this is a road trip gear list, but Once you get to your destination you usually end up doing quite a bit of walking. Nothing ruins a trip or a vacation more than sore feet. Also, if you like to wander off the beaten path, like we do, you’ll find yourself wandering into places where flimsy shoes or flip-flops just won’t do. I absolutely love my Montrail waterproof shoes I wear them all day every day and they keep me dry and comfy.
These collapsable trunk organizers come in super handy for keeping all your road trip staples in one sport when you need them, and can then fold down nearly flat when you don’t.
Roof Top Cargo
If trunk space is in short supply the next best thing is to take your storage to the next level and put some items on the roof! With a collapsable roof top storage bag you can move 15 cubic feet of stuff onto your roof and out of the way!
Travel Undergarment Organizer
If you think you don’t need a way to manage all of your clean and not so clean undergarments, you clearly haven’t met the TUO from Origami Unicorn. This handy dandy packing tool helps keep your underthings and accessories neat, orderly, and all in one place. You can see our full review or you can just trust us and check out the TUO here. :-)
If space is at a premium and you can use these handy travel tubes (they’re not just for flying!) to bring small amounts of your favorite toiletries along wth you and save a remarkable amount of space. These Go Gear Travel Tubes are made of silicone so they’re super durable and won’t crack.
Packing cubes are a great way to compress down lots of clothing and other goods to make more space for your suitcases. On top of that, you can get super organized and use different cubes for different days or outfits meaning you can find exactly what your looking for fast without having to unpack your whole suitcase.
Am I forgetting anything from my Road Trip Packing list? If so let me know in the comments below!
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