I’ve taken multiple road trips in the past two decades and I’ve learned the essentials for an awesome road trip! I’m also a list girl, so it helps when I have a master list to work with while I’m packing. Everything on this Ultimate Road Trip Packing List I’ve needed at one time or another on the road.

Car Emergency Kit

I keep all of these items in a small bin or tote in the trunk area. (excluding the spare tire)

  • Spare tire- most cars come with one, but double check just in case.
  • Jumper cables- Don’t leave home with out these!! I’ve had a dead battery three times in different cars on road trips and it wasn’t from leaving lights on.
  • Car Fluid- extra container of car oil is helpful just in case. A gallon of water for the radiator can come in handy as well.
  • Fix A Tire- this comes in handy in emergency situations. It does ruin your tire, so I recommend this as a last resort.
  • Duct Tape- it fixes almost everything
  • Spare set of car keys

Glove Compartment

  • Car manual- helps when those little lights pop on.
  • AAA Membership Card- or any roadside assistance numbers that you are a member of
  • Copy of Driver’s License, Car registrations and Proof of Insurance
  • Flashlight- always good to have!
  • Pocket knife
  • Multi- Purpose Tool
  • Tire Gauge
  • Matches &/or a lighter
  • Paper Map/ Paper directions

Middle Console

If you don’t have a middle console, have a small tote bag between your seats for these items.

  • Baby wipes
  • Tissue
  • Napkins
  • Extra cash & coins
  • Extra pair of sunglasses
  • Paper & pens
  • Lip balm/ chapstick
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Grocery store plastic bags for trash
  • Advil- I have this listed twice because you want easy access to this stuff!
  • Small microfiber wipe for cleaning
  • Car chargers, extra cords and a multi charger port
  • Aux cord
  • Gum

Personal Items

If space allows, there should be enough of these for each person traveling.

  • Blanket
  • Sweatshirt
  • Pillow
  • Flipflops/ slides- must for car trips!! Easy to put on when stopping for a bathroom break. Easy to take off when climbing back in the car.
  • Water bottle
  • Travel mug- for the coffee drinker
  • Sunglasses
  • Head phones
  • Camera


These should be grouped together in a bin or tote.

  • Towels- 1-3 depending on how many you are traveling with. They come in handy for when it rains, need to wipe off seats from a spill or impromptu splash park.
  • Binoculars
  • Sun Shades for car windows
  • Extra flip flops
  • Paper Towels
  • Wet bag- designated for swim wear, wet clothes or towels. Grocery bag can work as well
  • 2 big trash bags- just in case, I’ve needed them for random things before
  • Batteries for any devices that may need extra
  • Rain ponchos
  • Empty tote bag- impromptu picnics, shopping at a roadside stop, etc.
  • Football or frisbee to throw around at rest stops
  • Toilet paper- you just never know
  • Different sized Ziploc bags- just in case. I always end up needing these for various things.

Personal Products

These are extras and should be grouped together in one bag in the trunk.

  • Toothbrush/ toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Mouthwash
  • Deodorant
  • Feminine products
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray

First Aid Kit

These should be grouped together in a small bin/ bag in the trunk as well.

  • Different sized bandages
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Anti Itch cream
  • Benadryl
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Advil / Tylenol
  • Antacid
  • Tweezers


I personally think every person in the car should pack their own small entertainment bag. It can contain books, puzzles, coloring books, paper, pen and small toys for kids. However there should be some entertainment that everyone can participate in as well.

  • Audio books
  • Movies
  • Travel games
  • Deck of cards
  • Road trip music playlist


  • Medium sized cooler with ice to keep things cold
  • Tote bag for dry snacks
  • If doing picnic lunches, bring a Ziploc full of condiments (ketchup, mustard, peanut butter and jelly)
  • Extra bottled waters


If you’re bringing along your beloved pet make sure to add these to the car.

  • Leash
  • Collar
  • Food
  • Bowls
  • Gallon of water
  • Vaccination records
  • Toys
  • Bed/ pillow/ crate/ blanket- whatever you want to use for a bed
  • Extra Towel to clean muddy paw prints


I hope this Ultimate Road Trip Packing List helps you on your next road trip!!This list is designed for the actual road trip and does not include basics like clothing and toiletries. I plan on making one of those lists soon, so stay tuned! I also left off non essentials because I try not to over pack even if it is a road trip.

For a printable version, click here.

For tips on how to have an amazing family road trip, click here.

What’s something that you have to bring on a road trip?

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