Top Ten Road Trip Essentials

group of friends on road trip

I love that the warmer weather is starting to show it’s beautiful face around here because that means road trip season is upon us!

Road trip season is pretty limited in the Midwest so that means that once it’s warm enough to roll the windows down (sometimes even with the heat on my feet!), I’m in the car and ready to go.

I grew up taking countless road trips with my parents so it was only natural to carry on that tradition when Nathan and I met. And even more natural for us to keep doing when Lily was born.

So today, I’m sharing my top ten road trip essentials with you today! And if you’re looking for more travel tips, check out these travel posts!

Music or Audiobooks

While Nathan and I do love having long, important conversations in the car, good music is key for those other moments. I’m a big fan of pop, rock, and 80’s music – pretty much anything I can sing along with. Acoustic and jazz put me to sleep in the car so I always opt for something more upbeat. Some of my favorite songs include:

  • Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’
  • Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Golden Earring – Radar Love
  • B-52’s – Roam
  • Maroon 5 – Maps
  • Bastille – Pompeii
  • Modest Mouse – Float On
  • White Snake – Here I Go Again

You can also check out these awesome summer audiobooks for families if you’d prefer books over music.


What’s a good road trip without snacks, right?! We love making homemade granola bars, trail mix bites, or packing other snacks. Hummus, cheese, and nuts are some of our favorites.

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Beverages are a must-have for any road trip for me, but they’re especially important if we’re driving during the night and I need to be awake. There’s something about regularly drinking something (even water) that keeps me much more awake. I love bringing water and making tea on the road as well.


We don’t always use it, but I pretty much always have our GPS handy. I’m all for the scenic route unless we need to be somewhere at a certain time or the weather isn’t ideal.

Just be careful to not rely too much on your GPS. Knowing the route ahead of time and looking for any construction detours can help you avoid missing a turn or losing too much time.

Slip-On Shoes

So maybe this isn’t essential for everyone, but it definitely is for me. I loathe wearing shoes in general so confining my feet for hours on end is pretty much hell for me. (I do keep my shoes on in a plane though.)

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Blankets or sweatshirts

I can’t seem to maintain a normal temperature on road trips and I also am prone to carsickness if it’s too warm so blankets or sweatshirts are a must-have. I love cranking up the AC and regulating my temperature with a blanket. A pillow is another good addition if you’re lucky enough to be able to nap in a vehicle.


I love taking photos on road trips whether we’re in the car or not. And I always have it handy because I never know when I’m going to have an awesome photo opportunity. Some of my favorite photos from our trip to California were from a random scenic overlook where I fed squirrels Cheetos. 

And if you’re trying to enjoy nature on your road trip, this is a must!

Baby Wipes

These are life-savers for those long trips where you need to freshen up, but don’t plan on showering any time soon. I’ve done many wipe-downs with these and while they may not scrub the dirt clean like soap and water, they’re excellent easy substitutes. Your fellow passengers will thank you as well.

Car Emergency Kit

You never know what will happen on road trips so doing a little preparation and making sure you can handle some car problems before you go is always an awesome idea. My car knowledge is lower than my sports knowledge so I opted for something already put together like this Emergency Road Assistant Kit, but you can easily make your own, too!

Personal Emergency Kit

This could include a ton of things depending on where you’re going and for how long you’ll be there. Extra medications (or extra deodorant if you’re me), first aid kit, cell-phone charger, hand sanitizer, motion sickness pills, toilet paper (for the rest-stops that may not be as well-equipped!), etc. I like to overpack and bring enough things for an entire army to survive off of for a week it seems, but I doubt you need to go that far.

Save these essential road trip ideas for later and pin them to your favorite travel board!

top ten road trip essentials