Road trip Essentials and camping checklist

The Best Road Trip Packing List

Preparation is essential for a road trip and for camping along the way. Having all the necessary supplies and equipment can make the trip enjoyable and a great experience. The last thing that you want to do is to stop and buy things along the way. So be prepared with our best road trip packing list so you don’t forget a thing!

Fall trees at Bear Mountain State Park New York State. Used to show an example of a road trip for this road trip packing list.
Bear Mountain State Park

Road trips are a great way to social distance and to take a safe vacation, but there will be times you need to stop at a gas station to run in for some road trip food, or into the grocery store. It is still a good idea to wear a mask when entering these stores and places with other people. Here is a mask that I love, it’s good enough for exercising so it is comfortable for a few minutes in a store. Here is one that I love for my kids.

The essential items you need will vary based on the duration of your road trip and the location of where you are camping. These are some of the best things on our road trip packing list that we took on our last Road Trip and camping trip to Yellowstone post.

As of today, many of the world’s borders are closed to tourists, and when they open back up will you want to go? Camping is a great way to social distance and a road trip can do the same. We will take a look at some of the essentials that you will need to pack for a road trip or camping in 2020. Especially if you are taking kids along you will find some great essentials that will make your trip easier which is why we call this the best road packing list.

Where is it safe to travel this year?

If you’d like to venture out of the country or farther from your home in the US, here are some of the safest places to travel that are free of the Coronavirus or considered safe to visit.

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Best Road Trip Packing List

3 kids in the backseat of a car holding up road trip snacks.

1. A Cooler

Anyone that has done a long road trip knows that road trip food is a must. But having a good cooler can save you time and money. Trust me this will save you money!

This way you are not always having to stop and eat fast food but you can pack things that you like and that are healthy. Our family loves cold drinks and when we have a proper cooler, we save so much money on cold drinks. Here are two cooler options to help with this.

Small cooler that plugs into your car for a great road trip.

Cooler Option 1 – Portable Electric plug cooler into a Car, Truck, SUV, or RV. We like this because it keeps our drinks and fresh fruit cold. If you have an extra seat or space in the back this makes for a great way to road trip.

Yeti Protable Cooler for Road Trips and Camping
Yeti Portable Cooler

Cooler Option 2 – A Yeti Cooler. If you have not heard of a Yeti or are used to your parent’s old plastic coolers this is not it. Yeti coolers are almost indestructible and high quality. They will keep things colder for longer. Although Yetis are more expensive they will last longer and keep your stuff cold and for multiple days.

2. Electronic Accessories

If you are road tripping with kids you will want to have something for entertainment. These are road trip essentials not only for kids but for the adults. Without these a road trip can turn ugly fast. Even if you are not traveling with kids you will want to make sure you have entertainment for yourself and others that are traveling with you.

Here is a list of items that you should consider packing:

Anker PowerCore 5000 Portable Charger
Anker Portable Charger

A portable charger – If you don’t have enough car chargers you will want to consider taking some extra. Here are some lightweight and small options to charge, cell phones, cameras, tablets, and portable video games.

Consider taking additional power cords to plug in or to split charging at the same time.

Road Trip Entertainment

Universal Car Headrest Mount Monitor - 9.4 Inch Vehicle Multimedia CD DVD Player
Universal Car headrest

If you are looking for the ultimate road trip set up you will want to opt for the Headrest Monitors. They are not only great for DVDs but did you know that they can link up to your cell phone, computer, tablets, and even video game devices like the New Nintendo Switch lite or the Nintendo DS. Here you can get up to 90% off your kid’s favorite video game.

Sony headphones, best headphones for a road trip
Sony Headphones

Head Phones: If you are planing any hiking, biking, or any outdoor activities on your road trip you will want to consider some smaller headphones like earbuds. In the car the kids will probably want something a little more comfortable and earbuds just don’t stay in their little ears. These from Sony work great for kids.

Bridge over the ocean in California to show a road trip for road trip packing list.

3. A Water Bottle

Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t anything like stopping and getting a nice cold Diet Coke or your favorite soda on a trip but you can only drink so much soda. Here are two water bottles that we use and recommend.

Six different water bottles showing the best water bottle for a road trip.

Water bottle option 1 – An insulated Thermo water bottle. This will keep your drink cold for up to 24 hours. I love to add ice and then I have ice in my water all day. It also keeps drinks warm for up to 12 hours. Make your favorite coffee before you hit the road and you still have hot coffee for up to 12 hours.

Lifestraw water bottle with descriptive words about how the filter works.

Water bottle option 2 – Life Straw Water Bottle. We love this water bottle. This is one of our essentials as we lived in Southeast Asia. This water bottle is very durable and easy to carry. The “straw” on the inside will filter any water for you, in fact, you can even fill up your bottle from a river and it will make it drinkable. It also comes with a clip so you can clip it onto your backpack. If you are planning on doing any camping or hiking this is the bottle for you.

Our best road trip packing list continues with our camping checklist. Many of these items can work for both road trips or camping.

4. Screen Free Activities

I try not to worry too much about screen time when we are traveling. But when you are driving and camping even kids get bored on screens. So I always make sure to pack a few screen free activities for myself and the kids. Here are a few of my favorites:

Four books with activities for kids to do in the car on a road trip.

I love activity books for my kids! The best way to keep it interesting is to add a variety so they don’t get bored with the same thing. This pack on Amazon comes with 4 different books that will keep your kids entertained for hours. Make sure to get a new set of colored pencils to make it special and fun (crayons will melt in the car)

Informative image of activities for kids to do on a road trip.

This awesome road trip box game set is more fun than anyone should have in a car. My favorite feature of this game set is the road trip countdown. It comes with customizable cards that your kids can design and follow along on the trip. No more “are we there yet”. It also comes with a license plate scavenger hunt game. Everything you need in one box set! If you’re taking kids on a road trip, you need this box set.

5. Stay organized on your road trip

There is nothing worse than being out on the road in the middle of your road trip and not being able to find something that you know you packed. The best solution for this is to stay organized as you drive. Here are a few things to help you stay organized and make your road trip easier.

Shower caddy in a car for an organized road trip
Photo credit: Electric Momsense

6. Car Safety

You always want to prepare for the unexcepted. I would definitely recommend taking these road trip essentials if you are going to be traveling far from home and/or on back roads.

  • I love this roadside emergency kit. It is small enough to fit in your trunk and includes everything you would need in an emergency including a first aid kit.
  • Always make sure to pack plenty of water in case you end up getting stuck somewhere.
  • Carry a portable gas can in case you run out of gas. You may never need this but if you do you will be so grateful that you planned ahead.
Looking from the inside of a tent to the woods outside.

Ultimate Camping Gear List

Camping and road trips go hand in hand. Don’t miss our ultimate camping gear list to help you plan the perfect camping trip too.

This is where camping and getting away from reality really take helps us recharge our batteries. This is where we also reconnect with each other. This where memories and bonds are created. Some of my best memories have been on USA road trips or camping with my family.

Posts you will want to read before your camping or road trip.

Pinterest image with text that says "The Best Road Trip Packing List"

How do you pack clothes for a long road trip?

The best way to pack clothes for a long road trip is to keep it simple. Pack 5 to 7 days of clothes, then plan on stopping to do your laundry every 5 to 7 days. This will save you room in your suitcase and in your car. Use packing cubes inside your suitcases to keep yourself organized.

Try bringing some bags that have soft sides, like duffle bags, this will help you pack your trunk more efficiently. It’s amazing where you can squeeze a duffle bag into the car.

What kind of food should I bring on a road trip?

The best kind of food to bring on a road trip is food that will not spoil easily. Some of the best ideas are:
-Trail mix
-Crackers and cheese or peanut butter
-String cheese
-Beef Jerky
-Favorite drinks

How often should you let your car rest on a road trip?

You should plan a stop every 2 to 3 hours to give yourself and your car a rest. You should get out of the car and walk around for a least 5 minutes. It is best to keep your engine off for at least 15 minutes. This will allow your car a chance to cool off. Also this will keep you alert while you are driving.

What can you not eat on a road trip?

There are a few foods that may upset your stomach that you should not eat while on a road trip here are a few examples:
-Greasy foods that may cause gas and upset stomachs.
-Foods with lots of salt, this will cause you to retain water and feel bloated.
-Dairy if it upsets your stomach at all.
-Acidy food such as tomatoes because this could cause heartburn or indigestion.


May 30, 2020 at 4:41 pm

This is really informative! Great list.

May 31, 2020 at 5:58 am

Love a lot of these! I will never go on a road trip without my lifestraw Go bottle and some camping chairs in the back. You never know when these will come in handy!

June 7, 2020 at 10:48 am

Awesome list for roadtrip lovers!

June 15, 2020 at 1:28 pm

This is such an amazing and practical list. Definitely must haves for a road trip

June 15, 2020 at 1:40 pm

Great post, very informative!

June 23, 2020 at 1:33 pm

Omg.. these tips are so practical. Detailed info clubbed in a stunning way. I am definitely saving this link as the lockdown here in Toronto is now planning to enter stage 2 and road trips are a life saviour. I would surely tag this page on one of my upcoming posts on my blog.

    June 26, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    Thank you, Bosky! I’m so glad you liked it. I’m glad to hear Toronto is entering stage 2. I think road trips will be the best way to travel this summer all over the world 🙂

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