Whether it’s a short two-day trip or a multi-week vacation, embarking on a summer road trip is a fantastic way to see and experience unique areas often overlooked when traveling by plane. You’ll have the freedom and flexibility to go where you want when you want, making it a viable vacation option for most budgets.
There are several essential items you should consider taking along when planning a road trip. Check out these road trip essentials for adults and children, from phone accessories and tech to entertainment and safety equipment so you can have a fun and stress-free summer adventure.
It might be a relaxing trip to the beach, a sightseeing tour of the National Parks or a long drive to visit family members. Still, no matter where your final destination is, you’ll want to bring along a few helpful accessories. Before hitting the road, always make sure you have your driver’s license, car registration and insurance information accessible.
Some road trippers still prefer to navigate using physical maps, but most use GPS apps on our handheld devices to show directions and travel information. Having a sturdy dashboard or air vent phone mount, like this convenient WixGear magnetic mount, allows you to see your screen to view directions or access your music without dangerous distractions.
Since you’ll likely be spending prolonged periods away from electrical outlets, having either a portable charger or USB car charger is vital for keeping your phones, tablets and other devices charged. Some vehicles may feature built-in USB ports, but having extra charging options when carrying multiple passengers is a bright idea.
As long as you’re not someone who gets car sick easily, bringing along a tablet to read, play games or watch movies, like a Kindle or iPad, can help pass the time for both kids and adults.
Though chatting, playing games and singing along to your favorite songs can be a fun way to pass the time, there will undoubtedly be moments when you’ll want to relax by listening to your own music or podcast. The Tozo T10 Wireless Earbuds are a great road trip essential for children and adults, as they are incredibly portable, waterproof and can last 30 hours when paired with their charging case.
Experiencing glare reflecting off the body of another car disrupts your vision, making it dangerous for everyone on the road. Keeping a pair of affordable high-quality polarized sunglasses in your car can be a lifesaver. The RIVBOS Polarized Sunglasses feature a lightweight and flexible frame so you won't have to worry about them breaking.
Between stopping for meals, having a cooler to keep your snacks and drinks cool is one of the must-have essentials for long road trips. Since space might be limited, choosing a smaller soft cooler bag will likely be your best option.
When it’s your turn to take the wheel, you’ll likely want a cup of hot (or iced) coffee to keep you awake and alert on those long stretches. By investing in an insulated reusable thermos, like this 16-ounce model from Hydro Flask, you can reduce the number of disposable cups used while also ensuring your drink stays at the ideal temperature for hours at a time.
Just like an insulated coffee thermos that helps keep your coffee warm, an insulated water bottle, like the stainless steel model from Simple Modern, keeps your water cool and refreshing even in hot weather. You can refill reusable water bottles along the way to cut down on plastic waste.
Getting proper rest is also crucial on long road trips. Sleeping in a car is rarely the most comfortable, but with travel pillows like the TRAVELREST Memory Foam Pillow, it is much easier to get some needed shut-eye. Plus, you can bring this pillow along on your next flight as well.
You can always choose to bring along a cozy blanket from home, but compact travel blankets are another excellent road trip essential, as they won’t take up much space in the car. This microfleece blanket can keep you warm and comfortable when trying to get some sleep or when the AC becomes just a little too chilly.
When there’s bright sunlight shining through the car windows, it can be difficult to sleep or see the screen when watching movies. Window shades are a great road trip vital for children, as they’ll keep the sun out of their eyes without completely blocking the view.
As fun as road trips are, long drives can sometimes feel a little monotonous. No matter your age, everyone can enjoy a fun road trip game, like license plate bingo. Kids, in particular, will have fun trying to pick out different states’ designs to get five in a row.
One of the best parts about road tripping is stopping at any park, roadside attraction or area that seems interesting. Having a small, lightweight and water-resistant daypack allows you to take a quick hike or carry your essential accessories and personal items when stopping to explore a new location.
Never leave home on a long drive without packing a quality pair of jumper cables. The last thing you want is to be stranded in the middle of nowhere and unable to start your car. These 25-foot Energizer Jumper Cables come with a convenient carrying bag and will quickly help jumpstart a dead battery.
Along with jumper cables, a trusty car jack is necessary in the case of a flat tire. Hopefully, you won’t have this issue, but it is always important to be prepared for any scenario.
Every car should have an emergency kit, whether self-made or pre-stocked. The First Secure Emergency Kit has most of the repair equipment you’d need if you were to run into any trouble on the road, including first aid essentials.
If you plan on driving through remote or unfamiliar areas, chances are you might hit stretches with no cell service. In those cases, having a physical road map can help you stay on the correct route without getting lost.
We’ve all become more familiar with hand sanitizer in the past year, and storing a few travel-sized bottles in your vehicle is ideal for situations where soap and water aren’t available.
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Matthew Young is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.