Packing Essentials For Your Summer Road Trip

Thelma and Louise is one of my all-time favorite road trip movies, and every time I watch a clip from the movie I want to take to the road on a new adventure.

There is something about the freedom of being able to turn off on a new unknown road or stop over for a break whenever you feel like it that makes road trips so appealling – all the opportunities for spur of the moment trips.

But if you’re going for a long trip that will last at least a couple of days, you will need a little more planning – other than the usual packing list with clothes and toiletries, here is a list of the essentials when packing for a road trip…

Rags, Wipes and Tissues

You would be surprised to find just how grateful you will be that you brought that rag along in the last moment, or that you remembered to bring the wet wipes and a toilet paper roll. The only thing you can be sure will happen is that at some point of your road trip you will spill something, you will need to wash your hands and you will need to find a toilet – and the last one will not be the most hygienic..!

Crucial Contact Numbers

Be sure to have contact numbers for your insurance agency for auto and homeowners, in case something happens and you need to reach them. Also have other numbers handy such as a family member, police and emergency numbers. Don’t rely on your phone but jot the numbers down in a notebook – if you need insurance, look at WorldNomads, and if you’re road tripping with a caravan take a look at the Caravan Club website as items in your caravan may not be covered by regular insurance.

The Travel Outfit

I always marvel at how classy the girls in old 50’s movies look when they step out of their convertible cars in high heels and wrinkle free skirts. It’s yet a mystery how they manage to pull that off, and I don’t suggest anyone taking on the challenge. Instead, dress comfortably, and wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off. If you are lucky to have a convertible, however, there is one thing you could learn from the classy 50’s girls: the head scarf – without it your hair will be a mess and surprisingly greasy already after a few hours – trust me I made that mistake once myself.

Many Small Snack Packs

Bringing snacks on a road trip is as obvious as bringing car keys for the trip to actually work – but there is a risk that you will run out of snacks before you even hit the high way. To avoid this, repack all your snacks into smaller bags so that you can store some away for later during the day.

Picnic Bag Essentials

The best part about road trips is that as lunch time approaches, you can stop over by a lake or other resting area along the way and have a picnic. Don’t bother bringing real plates and cuttlery, but stick with paper plates and plastic cups and cuttlery instead – do bring a proper knife and cutting board though, and a bottle opener. Best Picnic Baskets

GPS and a Map

Whether it’s an app on your iphone/blackberry, or an actual GPS device in your car, knowing exactly where you are and which roads you should be on is one of the best ways to make sure that you stay on track. Even if you do decide to take a different road than the one your GPS has chosen for you, it will be easy to get back on the right track later on. However, DO NOT use Apple’s own map, we’ve all heard of how dangerously wrong it can be (read: Apple Map Fails). We use an app called “Pocket Earth” which has been incredibly useful! Bring along a normal map of the areas you will be driving through as a back-up, since you can never trust technology to 100%.

Road Trip Music

The number one essential is of course to have some good road trip songs, preferably tracks you can sing along with. One of my favorite ways of finding good road trip music is via, where others put together and share their playlists. Simply search for “road trip” playlists and you will find some great music for the road!

App it Up

After enough sing-along road trip songs you will want to entertain yourself with something different, and for that there is no better and more travel-friendly thing than apps. But aside from games, also download some other useful apps like the weather so you know what to prepare for down the road.

Electricity Power Inverter

To prevent running out of battery with your phone, laptop and everything else you bring along, invest in an electricity power inverter.

These devices turn the charge from your car’s battery into electricity to power most small electronic devices like laptops and phones.

Just plug it into your cigarette lighter and it covnerts in the direct current (DC) from the battery to the alternating current (AC). An alternative is to bring a portable charger that you have charged up before hand, and recharge it again when you stop for the night at a caravan camping station.

Finally, unless you haven’t already thought of it, make sure you have an emergency toolkit in your car with an orange flag and flares in case you need help, a spare tire and a flashlight.

Travel Pillow Reviews of the Best Pillows for Comfort

(photo credit: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4)

12 Responses to Packing Essentials For Your Summer Road Trip

  1. Dariece - Goats On The Road May 16, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    Great list!

    For me, the music, food and map are the most important. I loved scouting out where we were going next when we road-tripped through South Africa for 5 weeks.

    Stopping for picnics are always fun, just pull over and enjoy. We had a small cooler (ice-box) so we could have cheese and sandwiches 🙂

    Good times!

    • Sofia May 24, 2013 at 9:36 am #

      That sounds like a trip of a lifetime, did you have your destinations planned out beforehand or did you wing it?

  2. Becky Padmore May 16, 2013 at 11:28 am #

    We’ll need this list soon, we’ll be going on a road trip in the South of France. Just hoping the weather is going to be better than here!

    • Sofia May 24, 2013 at 9:34 am #

      Southern France, lovely! A friend of mine took a road trip there last summer, she loved it 🙂

  3. Stef May 16, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    Yes road trip music is important!! Here you find my Top 25 Road Trip songs:

    Have a nice weekend and enjoy your travels!

    • Sofia May 24, 2013 at 9:37 am #

      Thanks for sharing your road trip music Stef, some great classics there!

  4. Agness May 17, 2013 at 7:43 am #

    I love road trips the most. Remember my last one to Malaga, we took a car and just drove by the whole place. Just laughing, listening to music and taking photos. Great time. As for packing essentials, we agree – good music and GPS are always needed!

  5. Peter Lee May 18, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    Hahahaha…wrinkle free skirts for girls, Good one. I love all the points and simply want to write one word for you post- Thank you.

  6. 2 Digital Nomads May 19, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

    Great list indeed, but most of ll GRAET PHOTOS. I love the colors in your photos, what’s the secret?

  7. Heather May 20, 2013 at 4:56 am #

    Great tips! Having a fun soundtrack can be a sanity saver, especially if you’re stuck in traffic. Though when my mom and I roadtripped across Portugal, we enjoyed listening to the local radio stations. I’d also recommend packing a few plastic bags to collect garbage until you can find a trash can. No slipping that candy bar wrapper out the window!

  8. Adam May 21, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    I had never heard of share my playlist.. This is a great idea, I think some people would have wicked playlists for their road trips!

  9. sarah May 27, 2013 at 2:06 am #

    Careful with that head scarf in the convertible, no one wants to pull an Isadora Duncan…