If you’re heading on a road trip soon, then the essentials for road trips listed below are a must.

I love road trips as my childhood was spent on the road during the summers. We would visit family and friends and do lots of shopping at antique stores.

From figuring out where you are going to having fun along the way, a road trip can be a blast.

But it can also be a disaster if you’re not prepared. That’s why I think it’s so important to know what you need to have on hand before you start your trip.

With four kids and numerous road trips under my belt, I’ve got a few tips and tricks to make your next road trip the best one yet.

I’ll share my best road trip car essentials so you’ll have everything you need to have a successful road trip so that you save money along the way.

A family road trip has the potential to be super special memory-making fun… or it can be a disastrous Diary Of A Wimpy Kid movie in the making. With my family road trip essential tips, you’ll not only save money on your trip, but you’ll have a blast heading down the road.

No doubt with these road trip essentials travel tips, you’ll make this the trip you’ll want to repeat again and again.

So let’s check out these must-have essentials for road trips so you can get on down the road.

essentials for road trips

Step 1: Get Your Car Road Ready

Before even leaving the driveway, there are a few things that should happen first including getting your essentials for road trips ready. And the most important thing is getting your car ready!

You should have your car looked over by a professional mechanic. Get the oil changed if it’s time (or you’ll be on the road when it’s time), get the brakes checked, fluids checked and any belts and hoses looked over too. Don’t forget to check your headlights and blinkers also. These road trip car essentials will make sure your car is working great and is road ready.

While these may seem like small things to check over, they can cause some serious damage to your car and your wallet if something happens while you’re away. One small minor hiccup could cause a hotel stay which could cost you hundreds of dollars. And that one minor thing can quickly eat into your fun budget.


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Second, double-check to make sure your tags and registration are up to date and the paperwork is located inside your car.

I like to have that paperwork separated into a small wallet that can easily be grabbed in an emergency. These registration holders are nice and the color will be easy to see in the dark.

Also, make sure your car manual is in the glove box just in case you need to refer to it for anything.

essentials for road trips

Check out these other things you may want to keep in your glove box like medical information and emergency contact numbers.

Third, locate your tire gauge and the air pressure amount for your car. If you don’t know what those are, it’s time to do some learning.

Having the correct air pressure in your car tires is so important not only for them to wear evenly, but also for gas mileage. You’re losing money every time you drive when your tires are not inflated correctly.

Crazy to think that these essentials for road trips could end up costing you money on your trip. That’s why it’s better to get prepared now.

Check out these other ways to prepare for a road trip.

essentials for road trips

Step 2: Prepare For The Worst

While most of us are glass half full kind of people and our trip is going to be the most amazing thing ever…there are bound to be some kind of issues at some point. So that’s why we need to always be prepared for the worst with these essentials for road trips.

My husband’s favorite quote is “I’d rather have it and not need it, then need it and not have it.” And boy that motto has sure proved to worth its weight in gold many times.

First, check your spare tire. Do you even have one? If you don’t, get one. If you do, make sure that it’s aired up properly and ready to go.

Do you have the equipment to change it? Do you know how to change it? If you don’t, then it’s time to learn before you need to do it in real life. 

Second, get a AAA membership or check to see what your car insurance offers for towing in case you break down while on the road.

You should also ask if your cell carrier offers a towing service. Verizon will tow your car up to 10 miles free of charge. It’s great to know all of this information just in case you need it.

These road trip essentials travel tips will make sure that in an emergency, you can get the help you need.

essentials for road trips

Third, just in case you need to change a tire, you’re going to need a few more things like these essentials for road trips.

You’ll need a roadside emergency kit and a flashlight. You’ll want to make sure there’s a poncho in there too because I’ve always had back luck with my tires in the rain.

You may not need all the things in the roadside emergency kit if you purchase one of these Car Portable Power Station with Jumper Cable & Air Compressor machines.

Boy, has this thing helped us a lot! Not only can you use it to jump-start your car and air up your tires, but you can also charge your phone or other devices from it. It has been a lifesaver and we aim to get one for every car in our household.

essentials for road trips

Last, prepare for no cell service with paper maps to where you are headed.

If you’re going through the back roads you may lose cell service and if you’re lost you’re going to need to know where to go. Adding a couple of more hours to your long trip isn’t fun. Believe me, I know from experience. That’s why I always have these essentials for road trips packed and ready to go.

Plus, if you’re lost, you may need to spend another night in a hotel room so you can get off the road. Having a $5 paper map could save you a $100 extra nights stay and several extra hours worth of gas and food.

Be prepared with a paper map and know how to read one too. Plus, you can make it into some learning fun! You can teach your kids how to read a map and to discover your route before you go.

essentials for road trips

Step 3: Plan For Some Fun Along The Way

With any road trip, the miles seem long, we get tired, and our nerves get frayed. If you are planning on a road trip, you need to purposefully plan to have some fun along the way. It will help make the trip will seem shorter and some fun will help your nerves too.

Don’t know where to start? Just start googling the main roads you’ll be taking. Just look at all the things you can do along Interstate 75. And that’s just a sampling. There’s a great wide world out there to explore.

Ask around. See if any of your friends or family members have discovered new places to visit along the route you are taking.


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If you can’t head off the road for a detour, plan on some fun during your quick pit stops. Get out some bubbles, pick out an ice cream bar from the vending machine or drive-through, play a game of tag, or I-Spy. It’s these family road trip essential tips that will build lasting memories and help everyone’s mood during the trip.

Any way you do it, put some intentional fun into your road trip. You’ll be glad you did and added these essentials for road trips.

essentials for road trips

Step 4: Keep The Driver Awake – A True Essential! 

While most of my kids zonk out as soon as they get into the car, it has always been my mission to help keep the driver awake. And this is truly essentials for road trips.

First, have the driver chew gum. Sugar-free, bubble mint, or double bubble, chew it. We always stock up with those big bags or canisters before a trip. It can be chewed for a while and it helps to have some different flavors too. It’s on the top of our road trip car essentials for a reason because it works.

Third, tell some funny stories. Listening to someone tell stories and laughing about them is a great way to stay awake. Tell jokes or silly stories, either way laughing creates memories and it helps with anxiety and nerves too.

Have you ever played “Would you rather?” Oh my goodness it’s a disgustingly funny way to pass time… especially perfect when you are in close quarters like a vehicle. You’ll laugh (and be surprised) at the choices each family member makes. Plus, you might learn something new about each other. Here’s a post with 100 Would You Rather questions to ask your family on your next road trip.

essentials for road trips

Forth, play good music. One of the best ways to stay awake is to play some good music and sing. Play the songs from your youth or some upbeat songs from today, just sing to it!

Although if you’re extremely tired, sometimes listening to music you don’t know can help too.

Fifth, get some exercise and some fresh air. If you’re tired, get your body moving and that blood pumping. Stop off at a rest stop and do some jumping jacks, some laps, or even some burpees. Getting that blood flowing will help wake you up for sure!

Don’t forget these essentials for road trips on your next trip!

Sixth, stop and go sightseeing. Getting out of the car, getting some fresh air, and doing something different is a great way to get your mind awake. Plus, your body needs some time to stretch.

essentials for road trips

Seventh, get some coffee or caffeine. If your body is just too tired, grab some caffeine to get awake. And a light snack may help too.

Of course, you’d assume coffee has to be one of our road trip car essentials, right? RIGHT!

Pro Tip: A regular hot or iced coffee has more caffeine than any fancy drink. Don’t miss these other ways to save at Starbucks.

Eight, take a nap, switch drivers, or even do both. If you’re too tired, trying to push through can do more harm than good. Sleepy drivers cause more than 72,000 accidents each year according to the CDC. Take a nap, even if it’s a short one. It’s worth it.

Nine, listen to audiobooks. Sometimes I plan to watch special training videos or audiobooks when I’m driving. However, I’ve been known a time or two to miss my turn because I was listening so intently. Eek.

When James and I start to feel the exhaustion setting in, we turn on the Dry Bar Comedy App and that entertains us for hours. Just keep that in mind when you head out on your next adventure with these essentials for road trips.

Lastly, blast the air conditioning on cold. While this may not work for everyone, it works for myself and my hubby. And while the passengers may need blankets, it helps me stay awake while driving and that’s what’s most important.

road trip essentials travel tips

Step 5: Fueling Up

Fuel is essential for road tripping but so is saving on those fuel costs so you can go farther.

First, make sure you check out all the gas stations that are available along your route. We’ve made that mistake before and got gas cards for gas stations that weren’t available where we were going. It pays to do a little homework before you leave on what’s available.

Check out more ways to save on gas.

Second, use gas-saving apps to find the best deal on gas.

The third essential item for fueling up is gloves and hand sanitizer. These days you can’t be too careful and they are truly essentials for road trips now. I keep a bottle of sanitizer and a box of gloves in each of our cars.

Fourth, don’t go into the store unless you are paying or peeing. If you’re paying at the pump with a gift card, then you shouldn’t have to go inside. Going inside to pay can lead to some pricey snacks which reduces your road trip fun money. Remember, that anything you pay for at a gas station costs double or more than what you’d pay at a grocery store.

If you don’t like your kids to pee at a gas station, learn about my mom hack for bathroom breaks on the road.

road trip essentials travel tips

Step 6: Keep Your Electronics Handy & Charged

With a family of 8 on the road, we sure do like to keep our electronics handy, charged, and ready. Not only are the kids constantly on their devices, but they think they would die without them…cue the drama.

The first thing we can’t be without is a Car Power Inverter Charger.  It’s great at keeping my laptop charged while I’m using it, but it can also charge three other devices at the same time. It’s a godsend for road trips.

Second, a phone holder is the best way to stay hands-free and keep an eye on your route. Plus, many states require hands-free cell phone usage and it’s just safer.

These are great essentials for road trips.

road trip essentials travel tips

Step 7: Keep Your Eyes On The Road

Obviously, this seems simple. But with all the distractions going on inside your car, you need all the help you can get with these essentials for road trips.

The first essential item is a good pair of sunglasses for driving. While I usually stockpile cheap sunglasses, a good pair of anti-glare sunglasses for driving is a must.

Check out these tips when picking out a pair for daytime driving.


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The second thing I love using on road trips is this extra-large rearview mirror. Our old van was notorious for having blind spots and this eliminated it. This mirror just slides over your other one and you can basically view all around your vehicle.

Now if you have a newer model car or SUV, you may not need it with all the new technology that is out there. But let me tell you, this could save you thousands in repair bills because you’ll be able to see everything around you.

road trip essentials travel tips

Step 8: Prepare For Sickness

Getting sick on the road used to be an every time occurrence. While we were driving through the mountains, almost every one of my kids got sick.

Here are a couple of things you can do to prevent it and/or for easier cleanup with these essentials for road trips.

The first thing is to help prevent it. Now with colds and flues, it’s not so easy. But if your family gets car sick, you can try to prevent it ahead of time and avoid the mess.

Motion sickness bands use acupressure to prevent nausea. Although I haven’t tried them yet, other people have left rave reviews on them. Since this isn’t a medicine it might be worth the price to try.

Dramamine is great to have on hand just in case your little ones get car sick. I’ve used these before on a dinner cruise without any ill side effects.

Digize is a Young Living Essential Oil that helps in the aid of digestion but also helps relieve symptoms of motion sickness. Everyone was starting to feel woozy so I quickly added a few drops to a car essential oil diffuser recently and it worked great. None of us lost our lunch.

If they do get sick, a trick I’ve always used is to keep several Ziplock bags within arms reach that have paper towels inside each bag. The towels absorbed the liquid. Then we simply add the liquid-filled Ziploc to another plastic bag making sure there’s no leakage.

Then I use a couple of drops of essential oils on my hands and wave them in front of the air conditioning vent to quickly dissipate the nice smelling oils throughout the car.

Make sure to keep some wet wipes handy in case it gets extra messy.

So as you can see, here are the must-have essentials for road trips to bring with you on your trip. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a trip without really taking the time to find and get what you need.

I hope you’ve learned all the tips to make your next road trip a fun and successful one.

And with these family road trip essential tips, you’ll not only save money on your trip, but you’ll have a blast heading down the road together.

YOUR TURN: What must-have essentials for road trips do you bring along with you? Let me know in the comments below!

essentials for road trips
The Best Road Trip Essentials For Ultimate Fun & Success