The Ultimate Road Trip Essentials Checklist

I’ve been on a fair amount of road trips in my day. From a camper van in Chile’s Atacama Desert to Northern Thailand, the American Southwest and even Tahiti, there’s nothing as freeing as taking your own vehicle and sticking to your own timeline.

Given it’s one of my favorite ways to travel, I’m sharing everything I’ve learned from the last few years of taking road trips around the world. This is my ultimate checklist, the only one you’ll ever need:

For your vehicle:

4x4 camper iceland
Road tripping in Iceland – unforgettable

Maybe you’re taking your own vehicle, or maybe it’s a rental. Either way, there are a few absolute essentials, as well as things that’ll just make the journey easier and a little bit sweeter:

For yourself:

An amazing road trip in Utah
  • Water bottle (and fill it up every chance you get)
  • Snacks (I love dried fruits, nuts, granola bars, popcorn, and sandwiches, as they don’t make a mess, and the last thing you want is to be in a car that smells like eggs)
  • Travel mug + cutlery (for coffee and lunch takeouts)
  • Hammock, in case you find a nice spot in nature to relax (this one from ENO is big enough for 2, but I love it for just me because I like to stretch out)
  • 2-3 quick-dry tank topst-shirts, or long sleeve shirts
  • 2-3 quick-dry shorts or pants
  • 1-2 pairs of leggings
  • 1 set of sleepwear
  • Enough underwear and socks for the trip
  • 1 pair of hiking/running shoes and 1 pair of flip flops
  • rain jacket
  • sweatshirt or 1 fleece jacket, and a large scarf (it gets cold at night)
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Swimsuit (if applicable)
  • quick-dry towel
  • Hanging toiletry bag
  • Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash (bring dry shampoo and wet wipes if shower isn’t available)
  • Personal skincare
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Insect repellent
  • Hairbrush and a small mirror (or just use your car’s rearview mirror!)
  • Toilet paper
  • DivaCup (read my honest review here if you are new to the cup)
  • A daypack
  • First-aid kit and personal medicine
  • Personal alarm, to keep on hand at night or in an unfamiliar area for safety (this one from Nathan also has a strobe light for startling an assailant)

*If you plan on camping, check out my car camping checklist here.

*Check out my favorite natural travel toiletries here.

Entertainment and goodies that will make a big difference

road to hana
My favorite photo from the Road to Hana
  • An offline music playlist and headphones (not everyone wants to listen to the same song 5 times)
  • Kindle and audiobooks (click here for some of my favorite road trip audiobooks to listen to)
  • iPad (for some late-night Netflix, if needed)
  • Writing materials
  • app for offline maps (great for trails too!)
  • Portable charger
  • Cash for state park entrance fees
  • Camera for amazing photo ops

COVID-19 Road Trip Essentials

  • Cooling face mask with UV shield
  • Hand sanitizer (this one from Dr. Bronner’s actually smells nice and isn’t gloopy)
  • Documentation: proof of vaccination and/or negative PCR test documents (check each of your chosen destinations to see what you need)

I hope this helped you to find more ease for your next road trip. Knowing what to bring and cutting out the guesswork makes it so much easier, and that much more fun.



How to plan a road trip in 4 easy steps

The best road trip audiobooks

*Most of the links in this post are affiliate links. Any purchase you make through them supports this site at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!