A Road Trip Essentials List [2023] + Free PDF

Road trip essentials list feature

The road trips are all fun but can be daunting too about what to pack and what to leave behind. So finally you’re planning a road trip? Don’t fret, you’re in the right place! I’ll present what is my road trip essentials list along with what to pack for a road trip. 

Road Trip Essentials List

While packing for a road trip we tempt to pack everything for you know *just-in-case* I might need it. But that can lead to packing extra. Although even packing less can also cause hassles while on the road. So I am going to put together a road trip essentials list which will cover everything *important* and leave out the unnecessary stuff. 

Update 2023 – Post Covid, I always keep a sanitiser & face mask with me.

In the Car

  • Documents – Driving license & car registration, insurance, and pollution certificate, if in India. 
  • First-aid kit – I can’t emphasize enough how important this first aid is on road. On my recent trip, during the trek on the first day, I fell from one of the stairs on the trail. That hurt my ankle badly leaving me unable to walk. But thanks to the crêpe bandage in the car and the pain-relief gel, I survived the trip. 
  • Tissues – Dry and wet both. Driving in the mountains with open windows is an experience. But that also harms your skin. Wet tissues will come in handy to ward off the dust. 
  • Charging kit – These days we practically survive on our mobiles, tablets or any other electronic gadgets. But what to do if their battery drains and nothing to charge nearby? The gorgeous scenery you just saw will leave you uncaptured or your social media will be lonely which I know you’ll regret. Always carry an extra charger for your car for remote access. 
  • Cash – I am not talking about the big dollars. But the change which you might need on tolls, or treating yourself with snacks. 
  • Flashlight – Yes, I know we all have torches on our mobile phones. But why drain your phone’s battery when a flashlight will do a better job? The last nature trail I was on took me on some dark roads without much light. So, save yourself the pain of using a mobile for a map and torch and purchase a flashlight. Don’t forget extra batteries if the ones run out. Buying one? Check out this flashlight from Amazon.
  • Map – When going to a remote location, always carry a physical map. If one’s not available then download an offline copy from any of the apps. 
Have you read – How to Plan a trip to an unfamiliar place?

Car Essentials

Service – Car service is important before heading on a long road trip. It will make sure that your car is safe for travel & any random breakdowns. Apart from this, some of the things you must make sure to pack for a road trip are –  

  • Spare tire – Always, always keep the extra tire for a flat tire emergency.
  • Car manual
  • Tire tools – Never forget the tools, jack, wheel chock, and lug wrench. If possible even get your hands on them before the day of the travel. Also, keep reflective triangles in mind. 
  • Extra water – Keep extra water, at least 2-3 litres bottle for situations where you might need a coolant. 
  • Extra Car-keys – Keep an extra pair in your wallet or somewhere else in the luggage for emergencies. 

Do you like RV camping? Read these 8 RV hacks for amazing RV camping.

What to Pack for a Road Trip – Comforts on the road

  • Layers – Dressing up in the layers is the best piece of advice I received from my mum. She is always proactive about packing an extra sweater if the weather changes drastically. I know minimal packing is your goal, but things change unpredictably, especially in the mountains. 
  • Blanket – An extra warm blanket will keep you cosy during night travel if you’re doing it. Even in the daytime, when the weather takes a U-turn, this blanket will come in handy. 
  • Travel pillow – The car’s headrest can give your neck lasting pain. Keep one handy, I recommend this
  • Eye Mask – When you’re trying to sleep, avoid that car flashes from the other side to hamper it by keeping an eye mask
  • Reusable Water Bottle – I always carry a water bottle from Milton which keeps the water cool if I’m travelling during sharp sunny days. This one which I use is also my effort for responsible travel. I refrain from purchasing mineral water bottles until necessary.
  • Small water cooler / Jug – Carrying bulk water is always a nice idea when travelling to a remote location. I use this one from Milton
  • Sunscreens – My last trek taught me the sunscreen’s importance. Not any sunscreen but one with at least 40 or 50 SPF. I got sunburnt badly with skin rashes, all because I carried only a 30-SPF sunscreen. Also, Biotique seems to have nice water-resistant sunscreens. 
  • Hand-lotion – Every time you wash your hands, the dry weather of the mountains will make your hands drier. Keep a small lotion bottle handy. I always carry a small bottle of Lakme’s body lotion, it’s non-sticky and easily absorbable. This one can also be used on the face too, especially in hot & humid places like India, this is the best moisturizer. 
  • Sunglasses – Sunglasses not only make pictures pretty but are also useful for saving your eyes from the scorching sun. Ray-ban is a well-renowned brand, and I recommend their aviators.
  • Lip-Balm -I recommend keeping a herbal lip balm in your handbag. I use one from Avon for ages, and it never disappoints. It’s cheap and reliable, with a sweet strawberry taste and an amazing fragrance. I recently bought this pack of 3 from Amazon, you can buy it from here
  • Hand-Towels 
  • Talcum Powder – Traveling in closed areas exposes your skin to all sorts of germs or infections. I too have sensitive skin and I am paranoid about that too. I always carry Oriflamme’s small bottle for minor skin issues. 
  • Disposable Bags – I always carry some disposable bags if I need to clear out some stuff. I recommend using this with a seal.
  • Carry Bags – Paper or Jute bags to keep anything from dirty laundry to wet shoes.
  • Paper Towels – Keep paper towels or an old newspaper for cleaning your shoes. Newspapers also help segregate dirty clothes from clean ones. Those who’re hygiene freaks like me would love to keep their clothes in different areas.
  • Toilet roll – Keep an emergency one. If you’re in India, you’d probably need this. I haven’t seen tissues or rather rolls anywhere in India on the highways except for decent restaurants. 
  • Umbrella / Rain Coat – I can’t emphasize enough carrying either one of them. On our last hiking trip, we carried an umbrella but forgot a raincoat for *the actual hike*. We ended up buying one because who can carry an umbrella while hiking those steep mountains..right?


What to pack for a road trip is a challenging task, let it be tops, jeans dresses, sweaters, or beach wear. I always try to pack light, not more than one or two dresses, but I like my options beforehand. Here are some of the ideas for dresses if you’d like to choose the perfect one for your Instagram pictures. 

I am going to present what you will need the most on a road trip – 

  • Light Sweater – Unpredictable weather can ruin your mood on a road trip. Even a cosy car would need a light sweater when it’s raining outside in the mountains. 
  • Light Scarf– Scarfs are extremely handy when it comes to clothing. Not only in hilly areas but also the coastal destinations. I remember sitting on Puri’s Golden Sea Beach in the evening and the chilly winds from the Bay of Bengal reminded me of a scarf. That happens!
  • Flip-flops – Comfort is my priority in the car and so I always choose flip-flops. 
  • Layers – Layers are the best way to dress for a hike, beach or even a city pit-stop. 
  • Undies – Pack 1 for each day plus one extra pair of undergarments. You never know when you might need to take a dive in the lake. Then you’d be glad to have an extra pair. 
  • Raincoat – If the weather department predicts showers, pack one too. You don’t want to get wet on a trek. 
  • Jacket – A cushioned jacket should keep you cosy in the summer months trek. No need to pack heavy snow jackets or overcoats. I did this mistake, and now I don’t recommend it. But if you’re travelling to snowy places like Kashmir in India, Iceland or Alaska, I’d say pack a snow jacket and leave out the cushioned one. 
  • Shoes – Apart from the flip-flops, pack a nice comfortable pair of sports shoes. If you plan to hike, then those are best to keep your feet comfy. If you plan to ski or glacier hike, pack snow boots, refer here for men & for women here
  • Tampons or Sanitary pads – If hiking in India, plan your sanitary needs in advance. You might not get tampons easily, and talking about sanitary pads is still taboo in rural places. I recommend buying tampons from here and these sanitary pads I use personally. If you like a moon cup, I recommend this
  • Contraception – Always carry whatever means of contraception you use. Especially for India, enough said, a taboo in rural India. 
  • Extra Tees & Pyjamas – One extra pair will be handy if of bad weather or rain. 


Like listening to the radio like me? Going to a remote location can literally cut you off from the FM. So, we better be ready for the extreme and I would like to add entertainment to my road trip essentials list. 

  • Music Playlist
  • Audio Books, Kindle and/or Books.
  • Podcasts
  • Netflix/Youtube – I always download a few movies, and TV shows from Netflix for my road trip or even for any sort of travel. 
  • Games

Photography Gear

  • Camera – Road trips are memorable. Carry a point-and-shoot, DSLR, mirror-less camera or simply an instant camera.
  • Batteries
  • Selfie stick – I recommend this one. 
  • Tripod – If you’re travelling in a group or solo, tripods are extremely useful to capture everyone in a single frame. You don’t need to ask strangers to click on you & even then not like the picture. So, get one for you.
  • GorillaPod – GorillaPods are extremely useful for getting those Insta-perfect pictures. I recommend this. If you would like to have something reliable, try this one of a higher range from Joby especially for cameras.

My last piece of advice would be to pack light. This road trip essentials list has practically everything you might need.

Suggested Read – How to reach Sangla Valley from Delhi?

Do you have any other tip you think is useful on a road trip? I am a sucker for tips, do share with me and I’ll add it to my road trip essentials list 🙂

Planning a road trip through the USA or specifically PCH? Read this guide about 75 Highway 1 PCH Road Trip Stops for off-beaten places on this American track. 

What items from my road trip essentials list do you always pick and what do you think I missed? Do tell.

Also,  make sure to follow along on my Instagram account for the latest updates and adventures.

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My Favorite Posts –

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How to Save Money for Travel even with Debt

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A Road Trip Essentials List

How To Choose a Camping Site in a Forest

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Prague in 2 Days

Places to visit in Vienna

Taj Mahal – The Mausoleum for the iconic love story

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– Shivani

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  71. Dani says:

    This post is great! Super helpful. I have a similar one on my site, but not nearly as detailed as this. Good going! 😉

    1. Shivani says:

      Oh such nice words, glad you liked the compilation 🙂

  72. Great packing list! Ive always got the wet wipes too, but haven’t quite managed to pack light enough yet haha! 🙂

    1. Shivani says:

      ha ha I feel you, that’s an ongoing process 😉

  73. Love road trips and love that you’ve put together this neat little checklist!

    1. Shivani says:

      Thank you so much 🙂

  74. This is a great list! I take road trips all the time, and I don’t think you left anything out.

    1. Shivani says:

      Wow, I am so glad to know that 🙂

  75. savvydispatches says:

    Great post! I’ve read some other people’s roundups of road trip essentials but they always seem to miss tools for your vehicle – which is actually one of the most important things! Thanks for remembering these, I will keep this post in mind for my next roadtrip. 🙂

    1. Shivani says:

      Glad I could help 🙂

  76. This is such a complete and useful list! I don’t know why but I always forget my raincoat home! Thanks for sharing!

  77. nailahhayward says:

    Very comprehensive list. When I take a road trip I tend to overpack…with all that room in the trunk and the back seat (if I don’t have traveling companions) I put stuff in that I probably won’t need. Better to have a list so I stay on track!

  78. I am the WORST packer! I needed this list so bad!

    1. Shivani says:

      Glad you liked it 🙂

  79. Sally White says:

    Love your list. I picked up a stole in Nepal years ago and carry it everywhere like a security blanket- lightweight and perfect to ward off chills- I never realized what it was called until you named it lol.

    1. Shivani says:

      ha ha, glad I called it out 🙂 A stole is absolute necessity 😉

  80. Great list! Long road trips require essential stuff to make you feel comfortable all the time. We recently drove 15 hours in one day and I must admit that a few basic items can make a difference between being miserable and feeling at ease!

    1. Shivani says:

      I agree! 15 hours in a day can be hectic and having basic comforts with you is a big help.

  81. THis is a great list – paper towels and tissues I always keep in the car, even if just going down the road. sunglasses too! esp in the winter here you need them.

    1. Shivani says:

      Yeah, sometimes, even I used to forget sunglasses, but not anymore 🙂

  82. Nice post. I’ve never done a road trip before and always thought about doing one in the United Arab Emirates. You’ve given me great ideas. Thank you!!!

    1. Shivani says:

      Glad you liked it 🙂

  83. Great list! You’ve come up with some things we hadn’t thought of (our list is more camping-focused https://intentionaltravelers.com/the-essential-packing-list-for-your-epic-camping-road-trip/). Thanks for sharing.

  84. Nice blog! I never forget my diary! 🙂

  85. A good book, music and sun glasses are mjust for me for a road trip! Lovely read 🙂

    1. Shivani says:

      I feel you 🙂 I never forget these things on a trip as well 😉

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