Clothes? Check. Tent? Check. Phone charger? Check. Passport? Uh oh.
Remembering everything you need to pack for a road trip is a nightmare.
So here’s my complete road trip packing list (with a printable PDF) so that you never forget anything ever again.
Let’s get into it…
Road Trip Packing List
Road trip packing list: The boring, but super important stuff
Let’s start with the boring stuff first:
1. Passport & Visa
Alright, first thing’s first… if you’re leaving your home country to road trip abroad, do not forget to take your passport!
If you do it’s going to be one hell of a short road trip 🙃.
Same goes for the visa… if you need one for where you’re going, make sure to pack it!
2. Driving license
Your driving license…
You’re almost certainly going to need to show it if you’re picking up a rental car and you’ll definitely need it if you ever get pulled up by the police (for speeding as you go back home to get your forgotten passport…).
3. Car insurance documents
If you’ve got car insurance (and I mean you should considering it’s a legal requirement in most places around the world), keep a physical copy of the documents in your car or at the very least note down the phone number you need to call if you get caught up in an accident.
I personally keep the phone number in the wallet section of my phone, but it’s up to you what you prefer.
It’s always useful to carry a little bit of cash around with you in case you run into a toll road or you can only pay for parking with cash.
I wouldn’t carry much. I normally carry a bit of change and maybe a note or two.
5. Your route
I personally don’t print off my route because I prefer to just use my phone, but if you’re one of those that likes to have backups, print your route off.
Alternatively you can use an app called maps.me which will give you offline maps for when you’re in areas with dodgy signal.
Download it here for iOS and Android.
I’ve got an entire post on the best travel apps for travellers, which might be worth checking out before you leave.
Road trip packing list: Keeping your car on the road
I mean if your car isn’t working, there’s not going to be much of a road trip is there?
Here’s everything I pack to keep me and my car safely on the road:
6. Spare tyre & knowhow
Tyre blowouts aren’t all that uncommon, which is why I always like to keep a spare tyre in the back.
If your car didn’t come with a spare tyre (unfortunately most modern cars don’t), go online or pop to a local garage and grab one that’s specific to your car and grab yourself a tyre changing kit whilst you’re there.
Once you’ve got it, you need to pack your brain with some knowhow on how to change it (try this YouTube video)…
7. Car emergency kit
God forbid that you ever find yourself in an accident, but just to be safe I’d recommend packing an emergency car kit. Inside it’ll have a warning triangle, safety hammer, flashlight, gloves and everything else you’re going to need to safely sort yourself out in an accident.
8. Car manual
I know, I know… You’ve had your car for years and there’s nothing that you don’t know about it.
That’s what I thought too until the electrics stopped working and I couldn’t work out how to manually shut the rear window in torrential rain…
Just shove it in the glove compartment and forgot about it.
9. Car fluids
Driving down the road with the sun blaring down on your dirty windscreen is not fun, believe me.
Make sure you’ve got backup windscreen wash.
I’d personally pack some car engine coolant too.
You might also want to grab some oil, but if your car has recently been serviced and you’re going on a short road trip, you should (should…) be fine.
10. Spare fuel canister
If there aren’t many places where you can fill up on your route, it might be worth investing in a small fuel canister so you haven’t got to worry about running out of fuel on a creepy-ass road in the middle of nowhere.
Road trip packing list: Staying comfortable & entertained on the road
Needless to say you’re going to spend a lot of time in the car. So you need to be comfortable whilst you’re in there and you need to keep yourself entertained too.
Here’s all of the things I pack to make the countless hours in the car a little more bearable:
11. Road trip playlist
Some might argue that this is the most important thing to ‘pack’ – a good road trip playlist.
Download and create yourself a road trip playlist on Apple Music, Spotify or whatever you use before you leave and enjoy some tunes on your drive.
12. Phone charging cable (x2)
There’s no road trip playlist without a fully charged phone.
Assuming you can charge your phone in your car, I’d recommend packing 2 charging cables so that there’s no arguing between you and your fellow roadtrippers with regards to who gets to charge their phone next.
If you can’t charge your phone via the car, I’d recommend packing a portable battery pack and charging it from there instead.
If you can’t agree on the road trip playlist or if you’re absolutely sick to the back teeth of the person you’re road tripping with (it happens, I know), headphones are a God send.
Plug them in and forget that the other person even exists.
14. Travel pillow
If you’re lucky enough to be the passenger, pack yourself a travel pillow so you can kick back, relax and sleep whilst the other person drives… it’ll do your neck wonders and stop your head from flopping about the place.
You’ve got your pillow; I also like to bring a couple of blankets to keep myself warm.
In the winter I normally pack at least a couple!
16. Windscreen and window covers
If you’re going somewhere cold, pack a winter frost cover that’ll stop your car windscreen from freezing over. If you’re going somewhere hot, it might be worth packing a thermal windscreen cover so that your car isn’t sizzling hot when you get back in.
You might also want to pack individual window shades to stop you from burning up in the sun.
Pretty straightforward one this one…sunglasses.
Pack ’em, otherwise you ain’t gonna be able to see squat as you drive in the sun.
If you’re one of these people that somehow doesn’t get sick whilst reading in a car, pack a book or two to read whilst the other person drives and keep yourself entertained.
If you’re the driver… well, you can pack a book for when you stop, maybe?
Eating food more or less defines being comfortable, doesn’t it?
If you’ve got the space, pack a cooler so that you can keep your food (and beers) cold and fresh.
Just don’t forget to pack the ice!
20. Plastic reusable bags
Having a dirty car is one of my pet peeves.
If I have muddy shoes, I’ll throw them straight into a reusable bag and get changed into some clean shoes that I feel comfortable driving in. I’ll force my passenger(s) to do the same 😊.
I also have a couple of plastic bags specifically for rubbish (usually for chocolate wrappers from the cooler).
Road trip packing list: Day trips
As comfy and as warm as it might be, you’re not going to want to spend all day in your car, are you?
Hopefully not anyway, otherwise you might as well skip this next bit…
Here’s everything you should pack for your day trips between the time on the road:
21. Foldable chairs
I’ll be honest I was close to putting foldable chairs as the number one thing to pack on this list.
For me there’s nothing better than getting out of the car, stretching out my legs and admiring an incredible view whilst sat on my foldable chair with a blanket and some biscuits (preferably cookies).
Bring along a foldable chair for your next road trip and you won’t regret it – trust me.
22. Refillable bottle
Save money and the environment by investing in a good reusable bottle.
I originally bought a simple plastic bottle when I first got one, but I ended up investing in a filter bottle so that I could use it abroad knowing I wouldn’t die from dodgy drinking water.
Top tip: Go into restaurants and pubs and ask them to refill your bottle – 99% of the time they won’t mind and it means free water 😁.
23. Hiking gear
Assuming that you’re going to be doing lots of hiking (what else are road trips for?!), remember to pack your hiking gear…
- Weather appropriate clothes
- Hiking boots
- Waterproof coat
- Trekking poles
If you’ve got a camera that’s separate to your phone, remember to pack it so you can get your best shots for the ‘Gram.
Oh and remember to pack spare batteries and charging cables if needs be too.
25. Spare shoes
Like I mentioned earlier, I like to bring a spare pair of shoes that I can change into if my other ones get muddy or wet.
I usually just go for hiking shoes and then comfy trainers that I can wear out and about.
Planning on camping out in the wild?
Don’t forget to bring your tent.
You’re also going to want to bring sleeping bags, pillows, pegs and everything else that you normally need.
By now you’ve got about a dozen items on this list with nowhere to pack them.
So remember to bring yourself a backpack that’ll fit everything that I’ve mentioned inside.
Road trip packing list: Personal care
Last but not least, you need to look after yourself so that you can keep yourself a) healthy and b) from stinking like ass 😊:
28. Toilet roll
Assuming that you’re going to be driving and exploring most of the day, chances are you’re going to come across very few toilets…
My advice is to pack some toilet roll just to be safe.
PS I’m not advising on shitting in the wild, just to be clear; I’m just advising precaution in case you know, it comes out of the blue (it happens to the best of us, alright?!).
I’m just gonna list off a bunch of toiletries that I normally pack:
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Shampoo and shower gel
- Shaver (if you’re road tripping for a while)
- Lip balm
30. Paracetamol & Ibuprofen
I can’t tell you how many times these bad boy’s have helped me out on the road.
Grab your filter bottle and some paracetamol and ibuprofen and you’ll feel back to normal in no time.
31. Bug spray
Pack bug spray.
I don’t care if you’re going to rainy Scotland or sunny Australia, pack some bug spray – just trust me on this one…
32. Hand sanitizer
The world is a dirty place and you’ve gotta keep those germs out of your car.
Pack a hand sanitizer and stay clean.
Hand sanitiser is also good if you do happen to need your toilet roll 😉.
33. First Aid kit
This is just one of those things that’s good to have in general.
If you haven’t already packed a first aid kit, pack it – especially if you’re out road tripping in a place with poor healthcare because you might struggle to get ahold of the basics like plasters.
Download the road trip packing list PDF
And that’s it. That’s my complete road trip packing list.
If you’re old school and would prefer to print a PDF of the entire list, hit the button below and download it to whatever device you’re viewing this on.