Road Trip Packing List

Road trip packing list – 18 items that are actually useful

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As the warmer months approach it is time to start planning a road trip! Whether you are heading abroad, crossing states or taking a staycation this ultimate road trip packing list will have your cruising covered in comfort. Continue reading for tips on clothing items to handy electronics, games to keep entertained and handy road trip hacks.

Road trip packing list

1. Phone holder

Over the past decade, laws on phone use while driving have increased and penalties have become harsher (and rightfully so). This has pushed the importance of hands-free phone kits. I like this phone holder as all you need to do is clip the base to your air vent, pop a magnet in between your phone and case and ta-da, the phone sticks to the base! Handy for using maps (quick tip – hit ‘go’ in WiFi/4G and the directions should work when out of signal) and playing tunes, two essential road trip items.

2. Hydration tablets

A new and welcomed addition to our road trip packing list, hydration tablets or sachets help the head the next day. A British doctor recommended this hangover remedy while we were travelling around Cuba (yes rum I am looking at you). This is one of our most popular items bought by you via our Amazon recommendations.

Fancy Cuba? Car hire is not impossible but availability is limited. There are taxi collectivo (taxis) which take you from A to B if you don’t mind someone else doing the driving. Check out our Cuba guide for details on itineraries, accommodation, currency, and scams.

3. Mosquito/midges repellent

Those blasted wee menaces are out to ruin every trip. In warmer climates, mosquitos come out to play at dusk which is a PITA when you want to watch the sunset. We have used DEET repellents like Off in the past but moved to repellents without DEET after a year of constant bites. DEET melts plastic so keep it away from your laptops. In Scotland, we don’t suffer from mossies but we do have our own equivalent, midges. They don’t carry malaria but can leave nasty marks. Repellent is one of those road trip must haves in our books.

If you don’t like the sound of DEET, try the alternatives Avon So Soft U.S/UK or Smidge – UK only.

4. First aid kit

Boring but essential. If road tripping around somewhere with mediocre health care records be sure to choose a first aid kit with needles and 100% buy travel insurance before you leave. I had to use ours with True Traveller in Vancouver. They paid back my GP fees plus my two trips to the physio speedily so come recommended by us.

Find out: was it blogging that made me sick?

5. JBL Clip Music Speaker

We love music. We actually chase gigs around the world, so no road trip is complete without a soundtrack. This JBL Clip 2 – U.S/ JBL 2 – UK is economical, durable, loud and actually waterproof! The clip allows you to hook it onto bars and bed posts. If your wandering friend loves music too, what about a Spotify gift card U.S? Play tunes on 3/4G or download albums for when you are out and about. You can also make playlists and/or listen to Spotify’s ‘Release Radar’ which is individually tailors to your personal taste.

6. Anker battery pack

I love these small Anker battery packs. Charge before you leave your accommodation and use it to recharge your phone once it’s drained by maps and music. You can even use it to charge your portable music speaker.

Read more:This is the best post I’ve seen on packing!” quote by a reader

7. Versatile roadtrip clothing: Poncho

This is the first year that I’ve road tripped with a poncho and it won’t be my last. This garment is bigger than a scarf so great for covering up during the air con tug of war (I like it down, Craig wants it up). It also doubles up as a picnic blanket for romantic lunches. Avoid looking like a backpacker in Peru, check out this attractive wool poncho.

Hey lads! Travel trouser for men – our review

8. Eco water bottle + picnic kits

This Summer I am pledging to go single-use plastic free where possible. For Craig’s birthday, I researched extensively plastic free bottles and two stood out. The practical Tree Tribe and Nature Gulp (UK only). I went for the Nature Gulp which came with no plastic packaging.

Can you go plastic free – here’s our beginners guide

If you don’t want to go full picnic basket, pack collapsible cups (U.S)/ UK. Handy for some fizz at the end of the day and lets you contribute to sustainable travel by avoiding plastic throw-away cups. So no to plastic cutlery, pick up the wooden kit instead.

Roadspiration: Ireland is so much more than Dublin! Check out this Ancient East road trip

10. Hiking boots/shoes

There comes a time where even the most sloth-like amongst us have to stretch our legs and with the potential scenery a road trip takes you through you’d be mad not to hike the hills. When shopping for hiking boots and shoes you want to test their water resistance, support, breathability, comfort, weight and of course, the look.

I wear, and have done so since 2015, Salomon trek trainers. I prefer to not have anything touch my Achilles tendon after hurting them during the West Highland Way (96 miles from Mallaig to Fort William in Scotland). I love how light they are for carrying in day bags and also how attractive they are. Their Contagrip® soles offer support as they do not bend when attempted to fold in half. I use Leukotape on my ankles, this prevents blisters as this tape does not budge. This technique was recommended to me by a serial trekking Canadian while hiking Maderas Volcano in Nicaragua.

Craig now wears Scarpa walking boots, swapped from his previous Salomon boots since the Scarpa have a leather outer. Leather offers another layer of water resistance but on the downside, they are heavier. Craig pretty much wore his Salomon every day for three years so both come highly recommended depending on your need.

Hiking shoes | road trip packing essentials

11. Waterproof coat – road trip essentials

I have certainly won in the cost per wear games. This Marmot waterproof jacket comes with me everywhere. I love the slimline fit, the colour and the fact that it folds away into its own pocket! It also helps that it keeps me dry.

Roadspiration: the most popular Scottish road trip, the North Coast 500

12. Headtorch

I know what you’re thinking, I have a phone but those choosing a tent as their home will know the importance of a separate light for midnight toilet stops (remember the tissues and flip-flops).

13. Flip-flops

If you are staying in hostels with communal showers, take some flip-flops to avoid having to share the germy floors. My Havaianas are still going strong, six years later. These flops were made for walking!

14. Safe bag

Keep your belongings safe in communal dorms or busy hotels with this Pacsafe safety net. We survived 17 months of travel with our belongings intact.

How to use the Pacsafe safety net

  1. Place your electronics, passports, and money in a bag
  2. Pull the Pacsafe net over the bag and close the net around it
  3. Secure the wire string around a non-moveable object like a bedpost or radiator
  4. Pop in the clip and close with a padlock (this one is TSA approved) Throw a coat or scarf over the bag and you are locked and loaded

After 2.5 years of ‘the net,’ we’ve upgraded to the more expensive Pacsafe backpack which has the net hidden beneath the fabric and the lock is subtle.

15. High factor face creams

I love the sun but I love my life more. Take skin cancer seriously, even in overcast weather the sun can have an impact. We go factor 30 or above. I’m also vain, invest in a factor 50/60 face cream to avoid wrinkles. If splashing out I go for La Roche-Posay (Santa, you there?)

16. Neck sleep scarf

This is the hottest travel gift for 2017 but this item is not for the driver! If you are lucky enough to be the passenger and are prone to the nodding dog, wrap this around your neck {U.S only}/Sleep neck scarf U.K for a better sleep.

17. Hand Sanitiser

Because you never know where you have to go to the loo. Baby wipes too, great for cleaning hands and spills. I also suggest packing a few plastic bags for dirty shoes and food rubbish.

18. Day bag

We tend to use our 20-litre day packs which unzip off our 80-litre Vango rucksacks. There’s enough room for food, a raincoat, and camera.

19. Waterproof cover

Keep your camera dry in potential downpours by covering up your day bag with this bag cover. It unfolds out of the bag, pulls over the daypack, a drawstring then pulls the bag around the day pack and clips around the middle for additional security. There’s a neat pouch which attaches to your day bag for when it is not in use.

How to pack for a road trip

We adopt the three bag policy – 1 large, 1 weekend and 1-day bag.

  • A larger rucksack (swear by this Vango 80-litre with zip off 20-litre day bag) or cabin sized case like our Cabin X One (I love this hybrid case!) which stays in the car packed full of your your daily threads and toiletries.
  • A smaller weekend bag (like our Cabin Zero carry on) to move overnight and next day clothes into for one night stays which you don’t want to lug your big bag to
  • A day bag for the camera, waterproofs and snacks.

This is a great technique for a cross-country road trip packing list since some stays will be one night only (I recommend the U.S road trip San Fran to NYC going down south).

Save money: Quote CZTWOSCOTSABROAD for 10% off your next Cabin Zero purchase 

Fun things to bring on a road trip

Driving for hours on end requires some kind of entertainment. Here’s a list of road trip games to keep you amused and the driver awake

  • Name a celebrity, next person names a celeb whose name starts with your celeb’s second name
  • I’m going on a road trip and I have packed (must name all items mentioned previously)
  • Singing game – player one sings a lyric, player two takes last lyrics and starts new song etc
  • Would you rather… be a cyclops or human spider? The weirder the better
  • 21 questions – yes or no answers only, guess the object/person
  • Never have I ever (drink water, stay hydrated)
  • A-Z of pop songs/artists/90s movies etc

What food to bring on a road trip?

This is a tough question because it depends on how long you are travelling for and in what temperatures. Non-perishable foods such as cereal bars, crisps (potato chips), jelly sweets are great for snacks but not for meals.We live on banana rolls for breakfast! Water is essential, remember to bring a durable bottle with you to reduce your plastic footprint.

Road trip tips

Serious advice here, before taking a road trip remember to do an overall audit of the car. Check the oil and water levels, the tyre pressure, functioning spare tyre and brake action. If you are hiring a car, take photos of the previous damage to avoid being stung when you return the car (trust me, I used to be a car check in chick!) Don’t drive past a petrol/gas station without filling up in remote areas. If you see the empty button flash, hit zero on the mileage and do not go above 40 miles).

Be sure to have breakdown cover and know how to access it (note down the number in case your phone battery dies and/or you have no phone coverage). Hot destinations will require you to book accommodation ahead (like the North Coast 500 in Scotland), ensure they have parking. What tips have I missed? Tell me in the comments below.

What to bring on a road trip conclusion

There’s no better feeling than independence and that’s what a road trip holiday brings! This packing guide has been curated by a seasoned road tripper and details truly useful items to make your tour comfortable.

Useful? Why not save for later?

Road trip packaging list / Road trip items

What have we missed out on this
things to pack for a road trip list?

Comments 4

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  1. I looked a these and I’m going on a road trip and I didn’t hear one thing about music! Happy music or any music really keeps kids teenagers and adults happy!

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