The 25 Best Road Trip Essentials (2023)

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Road trips are one of the best ways to travel and driving is by far our favorite way to explore a new country. Road trips are even easier when you have some road trip essentials to help you on your journey and can make a great road trip even better!

We’ve compiled this list of our ultimate road trip essentials based on our experiences of road tripping through Europe and the USA and across countries including Oman, Mexico, South Korea and South Africa. We’ve included all the best road trip accessories that we’ve found invaluable from charging and entertainment essentials to some unexpected products we take on all our trips!

Road Trip EssentialsPin
Who doesn’t love roadtrips!

The Best Road Trip Essentials

We’ve explored almost 50 countries around the world in rental cars and have a lot of experience with road trips. We’ve put together this list of all the best accessories that we have curated after years of exploring the world by car.

So what do we know about road trips?

We’re huge fans of road trips and have driven through 50 countries across the globe over the past 10 years. From exploring the deserts of Oman to a cross-country USA trip, going off-road in Nambia, and exploring South Korea, we have first-hand experience from thousands and thousands of miles on road trips. We know what you need to pack for the road and what you can leave at home! Over the years we’ve tried and tested countless road trip essentials to try and find the best road trip accessories that everyone should have on their road trips.

Whether it’s exploring National Parks in the USA, cruising around Italy by car, or a long weekend out of your city, we have everything you’ll need to make your next trip more comfortable and enjoyable while you’re on the road. We personally use these items on our trips and consider them our road trip essentials.

We’ve split the list into a few sections to make it easier to follow:

Driver Essentials

Charging Essentials

Electronics Essentials

Capturing the Roadtrip

Our secret essentials

Luggage

Paperwork and Documents

Road Trip EssentialsPin
Road Tripping Route 66 in the USA

Driver Essentials

1 | Phone Holder

A phone holder is one of the most important road trip essentials as most drivers, us included, use their cell phones for navigation!

We have tried almost every type of car phone holder: windshield suction cups, dash mounts, magnetic models with the special phone cases and air vent mounts. After lots of trial and error and frustration, we finally found the perfect phone holder – this model with an accordion-style holder that fits to the air vent – check prices now!

This design is the best phone holder for a number of reasons.

  • it’s single hand operated – just lower your cell into the cradle and it locks into position and to remove it simply lift up
  • the clamps for the air vent are really good quality – they won’t slip
  • it’s a simple design that holds your cell securely

We use this holder on all our road trips now – it works great, is really durable and the phone and cradle don’t fall!

Sale
AINOPE Phone Mount for Car Vent 2024 Gravity Air Vent Car Phone Holder Mount for iPhone with Newest...
  • 👍 THE EASIEST OPERATION & JUST SLIDE IN AND GO: Just slide in your phone, car vent phone mount holder clamps the phone automatically by...
  • 👍 UPGRADED AIR VENT HOOK: This car vent phone holder mount is designed as "Hook shape" and form "Three grasp points" which can firmly hook...

2 | Dashcam

Dashcams are one of the best additions to your car and are worth having on a road trip. You will hopefully never need to use the footage from them, however, a dashcam can save a lot of headaches in the case of a traffic collision. This is a very popular model that’s easy to install, has amazing video quality and is super easy to use – check prices now!

Sale
Dash Cam VIOFO A119 V3 2K 2560x1440P Quad HD+ Car Dash Camera, Ultra Clear Night Vision, 140-Degree...
  • A119 V3 dash cam gps adopts advanced 5MP IMX335 sony starvis sensor and F1.6 7G lens, at 1440P 60fps QHD+, resolution and 60/30 frames per...
  • A119 V3 dashcam has a revolutionary improvement on parking mode, there are 3 solutions under the parking mode to meet different needs, Auto Event...

3 | Bluetooth Earbuds

A set of Bluetooth headphones is an essential road trip accessory. They’re great for passengers who want to relax and listen to a podcast or a movie. I’ve been using a pair of the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 and they are fantastic, plus really good value!

Soundcore Anker Liberty Air 2 Wireless Earbuds, Diamond-Inspired Drivers, Bluetooth Earphones, 4...
  • Incredible Sound Loved by 20 Million+ People
  • Diamond-Inspired Sound: Inspired by the ultra-hard structure of diamonds, Liberty Air 2’s driver domes maintain their rigidity even when...
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Utah was one of our favourite road trip destinations in the USA

Charging Essentials

One of the biggest challenges on road trips is making sure all your devices are charged. We use a few essential accessories to help us keep everything topped up while on the road.

4 | Inverter

This is one of the most useful items on our list. A car inverter plugs into the cigarette lighter in your car and allows you to charge both an electrical plug and USB from it. This means you can charge almost all of your electronics in your car with an inverter – we charge our phones, laptops, camera, and drone batteries while on the road.

We have tried a few different versions and recommend these two made by Besktek:

The first is very compact and sits in your car cup holder. It’s so small you could mistake it for an actual mug and has one outlet and two USB ports for charging – check prices now!

Sale
BESTEK 200W Car Power Inverter, Car Plug Adapter Outlet Converter with 2 AC Outlets, Dual 4.5A USB...
  • BESTEK advantage:America's first power inverter brand. Provides 200 watts continuous DC to AC power and 500 watts of peak power with 2 AC outlets...
  • 5-IN-1 Design: This car outlet adapter has 2 AC outlets, 2 USB charging ports, which can power 5 devices at the same time. 24 inch power cord...

The second model is a larger, more powerful 300W inverter from Bestek. This is better for higher-power devices such as drone batteries or laptops, or where you want to charge two electrical plugs at a time. This model is a permanent fixture in our road trip packing list – check prices now!

BESTEK 300W Power Inverter DC 12V to 110V AC Car Inverter with 4.2A Dual USB Car Adapter
  • BESTEK Advantage: America's leading power inverter brand. Provides 300 Watts continuous DC to AC power and 700 Watts instantaneous power,...
  • Fast Charging: two 110V AC outlets for charging larger devices such as laptops and tablets, 2 USB charging ports (0-2.4A) for powering USB...

5 | USB Power Bank

We use USB power banks so often on road trips that we now have three of them! They are really useful for charging cellphones and tablets while on the road, especially for passengers in the back seat who may not have access to a charger.

We have tried many brands of power banks and have found that the Anker power banks are the most durable and reliable. The Anker portable charges also feature smart charge functionality so charging will be faster with them.

We have two of these 10,000 mAh Anker Powercore slim portable chargers, which have enough power to charge a cellphone 2-3 times or a tablet once. They charge quickly via USB-C and are really slim so fit into all car storage – check prices now!

Sale
Anker Portable Charger, Power Bank, 10,000 mAh Battery Pack with PowerIQ Charging Technology and...
  • Quality Throughout:Built adventure-tier touch with superior durability and scratch resistance, PowerCore Slim 10000 is premium both inside and...
  • Slim Size, Big Power:One of the slimmest and lightest 10,000mAh portable chargers on the market. Provides 2.25 charges for iPhone 12, 1.6 charges...

We also have a larger Anker Powercore (26,800 mAh) version which has three USB outputs –check prices now!

Sale
Portable Charger 36800mAh,4 Outputs Power Bank, Dual Input 5V/3A External Battery Pack,USB-C in&out...
  • 【Ultra-high Capacity 36800mAh】36800mAh power bank with ultra-high capacity can Keep Your phone running all day. Without extra worry about low...
  • 【4 outputs & 2 Input】This power bank built-in 4 outputs (3A USB C+ 3 USB ) and 2 inputs ( 3A USB C + Micro USB ) ; you can charge 4 devices...
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Driving the Sani Pass in South Africa

Electronics Essentials

6 | Headtorch

A headtorch is one of the most useful accessories we carry on our road trips. It’s great for finding things in the trunk at night and is a welcome addition if you end up needing to change a tire. We have this generic head torch and it works great. It’s rechargeable over USB, lasts a few hours, and is quick to recharge – check prices now!

FX FFEXS LED Headlamp Rechargeable - Waterproof Head Lamp Headlight - Head Lights for Forehead -...
  • BRIGHTEN YOUR ADVENTURES: Elevate your experiences with our Ultra Bright LED Headlamp, boasting an impressive 160 Lumens. Ideal for a range of...
  • RECHARGEABLE TECHNOLOGY: Enjoy the convenience of a Durable USB rechargeable 1200mAh Battery, ensuring extended usage. Explore 5 versatile lamp...

7 | Tablets

We have a Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids tablet for each of our toddlers for road trips and can’t imagine traveling without them. Young children and long drives can be challenging so the tablets are a great way to keep them entertained. The Kids Edition Fire HD comes with a 2-year worry-free warranty that covers accidental damage (we’ve had to call this in for one of ours!) and alloews access to a vast catalog of kid-friendly content –

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8 | Car Vacuum Cleaner

This one is especially useful for those with kids on a road trip! A small handheld vacuum cleaner can really help to keep your car clean and tidy on a road trip – check prices now!

GNG Handheld Car Vacuum Cleaner 12v Portable Cordless Vacuum with Car & Wall Rechargeable...
  • [ Professional Unique Patent Design ]- Two charging cables! NO more using extension cables to clean your car and NO need to charge it repeatedly...
  • [ Strong Suction ]- Stop struggling with your small vacuum cleaners ! Use our 6000 pa vacuum cleaner with a high-power 106 W lithium ion battery!...

9 | Portable Fridge

This is one road trip essential that we wish we’d purchased sooner. A portable fridge saves money on road trips as you don’t have to keep buying cold drinks or snacks – we stock up in the supermarket and fill up the fridge. Having chilled fruit and water also makes it much easier to eat more healthy on road trips and having the option of running a proper fridge in your hotel room is great.

We have an Alpicool K18 portable fridge for our road trips and it works great. It is powered off the cigarette lighter while the car is running and there is a power cable to keep it running in your hotel room – check prices now!

Sale
Alpicool K18 Portable Car Freezer,12 Volt Refrigerator, 19 Quart (18 Liter) Fast Cooling 12V Car...
  • FREEZES WITHOUT ICE: -4°F(-20°C) deep chilling down performance ,can be a frigde and freezer. Run great with your small solar system as well.
  • STORAGE SPACE: Exterior Size- 23"x 13.2"x 11.4". 19 Quart(18 Liter) capacity.

10 | Seatback Organiser

A seatback organizer is invaluable for storing electronics in the car. It fits most car seats and holds lots of stuff for easy access – check prices now!

Sale
Reserwa Back Seat Car Organiser Step Mat Back Seat Storage Bag with Clear Display Tablet Holder and...
  • 【USB&Headphone Slits】Our Reserwa car organizer include 2 Hole for Headphone&USB,you can charge your iPad or use headphone when you use the...
  • 【Premium Materials &Waterproof】Our Reserwa car back seat organizer is made of premium quality than others,The Seat Back Protectors uses...
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Greece was one of our favorite countries for road tripping

Capturing the Roadtrip

Have you ever been on a road trip if you don’t have the photos to prove it? We carry two cameras in addition to our cellphones on our road trips (although we never leave them, or anything valuable, unattended in the car.

11 | Instant Camera

Everyone has cellphones and cameras on road trips but we love having our instant camera. Instant photos are a brilliant way to capture memories on the road. We have two instant cameras, the Instax mini and wide, and love both.

The Fuji Instax mini is great for selfies and indoor photos, plus it’s smaller so easier to carry –

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The Fuji Instax wide produces much large instant photos and we love it for outdoor photos when we’re visiting new places – check prices now!

Sale
Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera (Black)
  • Automatic extending 95 millimeter f14 lens with two focus zones (0.9 to 3 meter and 3 meter to infinity)
  • Optical viewfinder. Tri-pod socket. Four size AA 1.5 V alkaline batteries (Best with Polaroid AA batteries). Dimensions- (not including...

12 | Action Cam

We’ve used our Osmo action for family videos and photos on our road trips for the last few years and love it. It’s small, waterproof without an extra case, and is really durable – check prices now!

Sale
DJI Osmo Action - 4K Action Cam 12MP Digital Camera with 2 Displays 36ft Underwater Waterproof WiFi...
  • Dual Screens: Osmo Action’s dual screens allow you to capture it all with the touch of a button. A vivid front screen lets you frame yourself...
  • The RockSteady technology combines EIS with complex algorithms, delivering stable, shake-free footage no matter how heavy the action gets.
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Our home Ireland is one of our favorite road trip destinations

Essentials We Take on Every Trip

We have a few random (but extremely useful) items that we recommend packing on every road trip:

13 | Reusable Mug

If you don’t already own one, a good quality reusable insulated mug is a must for road trips. They keep your drinks hot or cold for hours, plus they’re good for the environment as you can avoid single-use disposable cups. We use this Contigo mug and it keeps our coffee warm most of the day – check prices now!

Contigo Byron SnapSeal 2.0 Stainless Steel Insulated Travel Mug - 24 oz - Leakproof SnapSeal Lid,...
  • SEAL IT IN - Leak-proof lid (when closed) for on-the-go convenience. This Contigo coffee travel mug is ideal for commuting.
  • FOR THE LONG HAUL - THERMALOCK double-wall stainless steel insulation keeps drinks hot up to 9 hours or cold up to 21.

14 | Duct tape

Things break on the road – it’s just a fact of life! Plus is always happens just when we don’t want it to. We always pack a roll of Duct tape and it has helped us out in so many ways! Duct tape can fix (at least temporarily anyway) most things that break on the road so having a roll of it in the trunk can be a lifesaver. If you are going on a shorter road trip then roll a length of tape around a sharpie pen to avoid having to take the large roll with you – check prices now!

Sale
Duck Brand Max Strength Duct Tape, Silver, 1-Roll Pack, 1.88 Inch x 45 Yards, 240201
  • High tensile strength for heavy duty hold for pros or DIYers wanting something stronger
  • Co-extruded tape with waterproof backing for long-term repairs and all-weather performance making it ideal for bundling, sealing, waterproofing...

Road Trip Essentials Tip: if you are travelling with young kids then this tip might be useful! We use duct tape to make sharp edges safer in our accomadation – we tape some packaging or whatever we have to end to sharp corners!

15 | Ziplock bags (large)

From holding food and snacks to protecting electronics from water or organizing out things, ziplock bags are simply brilliant. Try to get the 5L/1 gallon heavy-duty versions as we find they work best and you use time and time again – check prices now!

Ziploc Gallon Food Storage Bags, Stay Open Design with Stand-Up Bottom, Easy to Fill, 120 Bags Total
  • Four 30 count boxes of Ziploc Gallon Storage Bags lock in flavor and safely store and transport fresh food, snacks and other items
  • Ziploc brand Storage Bags include a Stay Open Design – they stay open when you want them to, making them really easy to fill, almost like...

16 | Wet wipes

Wet wipes are one of the most indispensable items you can take on a road trip. We use them for everything like cleaning up spills and wiping down dirt off the upholstery – check prices now!

DUDE Wipes - Flushable Wipes - 6 Pack, 288 Wipes - Unscented Extra-Large Adult Wet Wipes - Vitamin-E...
  • BILLIONS OF BUTTS WIPED: We make flushable wipes—billions of 'em—assembled right here in the USA. We started this hole revolution against...
  • EXTRA LARGE FLUSHABLE WIPES: When it comes to flushable wipes, size matters. And we're big. Because nobody wants a little wipe after a big...

17 | Window blinds

Anyone traveling with kids or back seat passengers will know how annoying bright sunlight can be. These blinds wrap over the entire door and offer full coverage from the sun in the back seat. We love them! – check prices now!

SHADESOX Car Side Window Sunshade (2-Pack) | Window Shade for Baby in Car | Universal Fit for 99% of...
  • SUN SAFETY & COMFORT FOR LITTLE ONES: Specifically designed for babies, kids, and children, our shades provide optimal window shade for your baby...
  • UNIVERSAL FIT, EASY TO INSTALL, & DURABLE: Tailored for universal compatibility and designed to fit almost every car (max 44.3" by 20"), our car...

18 | Picnic blanket

We take a small packable picnic blanket on all our road trips and it’s super useful. We highly recommend the Monkey Mat range of picnic blankets which we’ve used for the last few years. We love that it has weighted corners so it’s easy to spread out. It’s also waterproof and sand simply falls off it when you pick it up – check prices now!

Monkey Mat - Original Mat | Lightweight Water/Sand Repellent Picnic Travel Blanket with Corner...
  • AS SEEN ON SHARK TANK - 5' x 5' mat in attached 6" x 6" ultra compact pouch, so nothing gets lost.
  • EASY TO CLEAN - Water repellent, soft, durable, lightweight ripstop nylon - spills, grass, sand, dirt, etc shake right off!

19 | Microfibre Towels

Microfibre towels are amazing and we take a couple on all our road trips. They are super lightweight, pack down incredibly compact, and most importantly dry very fast.

Road Trip Essentials tip: We recommend picking up some microfibre towels in dark colors as they don’t show stains as easily as the lighter colours do.

check prices now!
PackTowl Personal Quick Dry Microfiber Towel for Camping, Yoga, and Sports , Astral Current, Body -...
  • Quick-drying microfiber towel for camp, beach, sport, and travel
  • Super absorbent fabric soaks up four times its weight in water; wrings out easily

20 | Audiobooks

Audiobooks are fantastic for road trips – especially long drives. We use Audible.com for all our audiobooks and they have a great selection for kids too – try Audible now

Try Audible now

Road Trip EssentialsPin
Driving through Namibia was incredible

Luggage

Let’s face it, one of the most stressful things about road trips is trying to get everything in the car! We have a few packing essentials to help us on our way:

21 | Packing cubes

Packing cubes are probably the greatest luggage invention ever! We’ve used them for years traveling around the world and they are invaluable on road trips. They help you pack more into your bags and keep things super organized.

The best thing is they’re cheap (you really don’t need the expensive ones). We’ve used the Amazon Basics models for years and despite their low price they are really hard-wearing – we’ve never had one fail on us.

Amazon Basics Slim Packing Cubes
Amazon Basics Medium Packing Cubes
Amazon Basics Large Packing Cubes
Amazon Basics 4 Piece Packing Travel Organizer Zipper Cubes Set, Slim, BlackPin
Amazon Basics 4 Piece Packing Cubes for Travel, Travel Organizer Zipper Cubes Set, Medium, BlackPin
Amazon Basics 4 Piece Packing Travel Organizer Zipper Cubes Set, Large, BlackPin
Amazon Basics Slim Packing Cubes
Amazon Basics 4 Piece Packing Travel Organizer Zipper Cubes Set, Slim, BlackPin
Amazon Basics Medium Packing Cubes
Amazon Basics 4 Piece Packing Cubes for Travel, Travel Organizer Zipper Cubes Set, Medium, BlackPin
Amazon Basics Large Packing Cubes
Amazon Basics 4 Piece Packing Travel Organizer Zipper Cubes Set, Large, BlackPin

22 | Dry Bags

Dry bags are extremely useful if you are traveling in wet weather or need to store damp items – check prices now!

Osprey Ultralight 20L Waterproof Dry Sack, Shadow Grey
  • Premium efficiency and design
  • Storage tuned to the each season

Emergency Equipment

23 | First Aid Kit

It’s always worth being prepared so make sure to pack a first aid kit in your car and know exactly what’s in it. You will hopefully never have to use it but if you do it’s there! – check prices now!

Sale
First Aid Kit – 291 Pieces of First Aid Supplies | Hospital Grade Medical Supplies for Emergency...
  • First Aid Supplies: The Thrive Travel First Aid Kit is packed with must-have pieces of hospital-grade medical gear. This complete home first aid...
  • Complete Kit: Safety essentials stay put in a durable rip-stop nylon and vinyl fabric case. Extensive inner pockets keep contents stored neatly...

24 | Car Tire Inflator

We always make sure to pack an inflator in the trunk when on road trips. They are extremely useful, especially if you have a slow puncture or need to top up your tires. Having correctly inflated tires will also reduce your fuel consumption on longer trips so it’s worth keeping them topped up to the correct pressure. This model plugs into the 12v socket in your dash – check prices now!

FORTEM Tire Inflator Portable Air Compressor 150 PSI, 12V Electric Bike Pump for Car Tires and...
  • Portable and Compact - Take your Fortem air compressor for car with you and be ready for any emergency. The 14ft reach cables are stored inside...
  • Multi-purpose - Perfect for car, truck, suv, motorcycle tires. Includes three nozzle attachments for sports balls, air mattress, pool toys and...

25 | Jump Starter

Having a battery jump starter is extremely useful to have on hand just in case your battery dies. Simply charge up the jump starter, connect to your dead car battery and start your car. It’s really easy to use and will save a lot of headaches should you need it- check prices now!

Sale
HULKMAN Alpha85 Smart JumpStarter 2000 Amp 20000mAh Car Starter for up to 8.5L Gas and 6L Diesel...
  • [START COMPLETELY DEAD BATTERIES]: Powerful and safe to start your completely dead car battery. 2000 Amps peak cranking amp, especially for...
  • [COMPREHENSIVE INDICATOR PANEL]: A user-friendly 3.3-inch smart screen provides you with all the information about operational status, battery...
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Driving in South Korea was amazing, but make sure you bring your IDP

Paperwork and Documents

When traveling it’s always important to have your documentation in order and with you, especially if you’re traveling abroad to another country:

Passport

Car rental companies in some countries will need a copy of your passport before you can rent a car.

Drivers license / International Drivers Licence

You’ll also need your driver’s license and the credit card you used to make the booking to allow you to rent the car. Some countries require an international driver’s license – an international driver’s license is effectively a translation of your driver’s license. You typically need to pick up an International Drivers Licence in your home country prior to travel.

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Road tripping at Lake Como Italy

Happy road tripping!

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