5 Essentials for Road Trips We Never Leave Home Without

A road trip is the perfect way to explore a new place and see incredible sights. But before traveling, we wanted to share 5 essentials for road trips we never leave home without!

Let’s get to it!

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Auto Safety Kit

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5 Must Haves for Road Trips

We live for road trips to find awesome camping and hiking in remote places and have thought of the top 5 things we never leave home without.

The items below will help set you up for success and are based on our personal experiences.

1. All Weather Auto Safety Kit

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All-weather Auto Safety Kit

An all-weather safety kit is essential if you break down or get stuck, need to jump a battery, or something else. The all-weather safety kit we have includes a tow strap, jumper cables, collapsible shovel, reflective triangle, flashlight, and a few other safety gadgets. It is a perfect little car emergency kit.

Having an all-weather auto safety kit helps us be prepared for things that could come up on a road trip or any other unforeseen issue you could face while out in the wilderness.

2. Multi-tool

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Sheffield Multi-tool

A multi-tool is always good to have around. Just this weekend, my hiking poles wouldn’t stay in place, and Pablo had to unscrew the top of the pole to relock them (for height) in place while we were hiking in the middle of nowhere! You just never know when you are going to need tools to do a job while exploring.

Get a versatile multi-tool that is compact and has many functions such as a knife, pliers, wire cutter, serrated blade, saw, Phillips head screwdriver, bottle opener, and can opener. They are lots of different brands to choose from.

Pablo carries around a Sheffield that my Dad gave him as a gift. It is the ultimate outdoor road trip tool.

Do you love to hike? Check out exactly what to wearing hiking in all seasons for gear inspiration!

3. Portable Phone Charger

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Portable Phone Charger

A portable phone charger is so important to have if you don’t have power, electricity, or your car battery dies.

Since we use our cell phones for everything, it is important for us to have a power source for our cell phone.

We use our cell phones for pictures and videos while hiking, GPS maps, trail maps, directions, you name it!

We would never want to be stranded on the side of the road and have no way to use our cell phones. Or lost, and no way to use maps on our cell phones.

4. Cooler

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Yeti Tundra Cooler

We pack our food on every trip!

We always bring our food and never rely on eating out. Typically, there are little to no restaurants or grocery stores where we camp and hike most of the time.

Also, bringing our food helps us stay healthy with food choices and keeps our travel budget in check. We typically only spend $50 on groceries for a weekend road trip.

We literally have 3 YETI Coolers and love how well they store food. If you’re camping in the mountains, the YETI Tundra is a certified bear-resistant food container as well once you lock it. Though the cooler is on the heavy side, it is really durable and keeps our food cold.

Are you interested in local road trips? Then you’ll love our article on how we afford to travel more while spending less!

5. Headlamp

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Headlamp at Camp

A hands-free light device is great to have in case of emergencies and getting around in the dark. We are huge fans of headlamps!

Nothing is worse than having an issue while you are road tripping and not having light when it is dark out! Or, getting to a campsite after dark and not being able to see!

Don’t forget to bring extra batteries for your headlamps (batteries are also essentials for road trips)!

Road Trip Travel Tips Before Leaving Home

Make a road trip checklist before your trip so you don’t forget anything you need to pack.

Before we go on a road trip, we also always do the following before leaving the house:

  • Submit a mail hold
  • Turn the thermostat to where it won’t run as much
  • Leave a spare key with someone of trust
  • Lock all doors and windows
  • Take out the trash
  • Run the dishes
  • Turn off all lights
  • Let someone know where we are going and when we plan to come home
  • If it is summer, we also cut our grass before we leave and water all house plants inside

Road Trip Essentials: Safety Tips While Traveling

Planning is important for any road trip, but it’s especially important if you’re traveling to new places. In addition to planning your route and making sure you have enough food, snacks, and drink for the trip, you should also plan for rest stops, where to get gas, and emergencies.

A little planning can go a long way toward making a road trip safe and enjoyable for everyone.

  • Plan your route
  • Plan gas station stops
  • Take breaks – stay aware and alert!
  • Carry a few different modes of payment – cash and cards
  • Plan where you are going to sleep ahead of time, so when you get there, you have a relaxing place to rest (especially if you are camping)
  • Drive during the day
  • Pack a first aid kit
  • Don’t forget your driver’s license and car insurance
  • Know how to change a spare tire before you get a flat

Pssst… How are you planning your trips? You might enjoy reading about the FREE apps we use to plan epic road trips hiking and camping in the US!

Final Thoughts on Essentials for Road Trips

With a bit of planning and the right gear, it is easy to stay safe while going on road trips. Since most of our trips are to remote areas, we focused on having basic needs met.

Though hard life lessons, as well as a little foresight, we never leave home without these 5 road trips essentials:

1.     All Weather Auto Safety Kit

2.     Multi-tool

3.     Portable Phone Charger

4.     Yeti Tundra Cooler

5.     Head Lamp

Ready for more planning tips? Get our FREE camping and hiking packing guide!

We hope this article helps you plan, stay safe and have fun exploring the outdoors!

Thanks for reading,

Ashlee + Pablo


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We’d love to hear from you!

Which of these road trip essentials are you using?

Tell us where you are road tripping next!

Do you have a story you want to share about a time you wish you had brought one of these items?

Ashlee Fechino

Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation writer and founder of The Happiness Function based in Oklahoma. Her goal is to help inspire people to build a life they love by sharing how simple and fun it is to travel locally, connect with nature, and explore off-the-beaten-path. You don't have to spend a lot of money or use a ton of vacation time to explore close to home. Ashlee holds a BS degree in Biology and MS in Environmental Policy & Sustainability and has a passion for the outdoors. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo! They camp in their Aliner often and love road trips and hiking.

16 Comments

  1. Burt Randall on April 4, 2022 at 3:45 pm

    Hi, Ashlee + Pablo !! This article is awesome and informable…have fun guys next time you go hiking and camping !!

    • Ashlee Fechino on April 6, 2022 at 12:17 pm

      Hi Uncle Burt! Great to see a comment from you! Thanks for reading. Sending you love.

  2. Linda (LD Holland) on April 9, 2022 at 9:23 am

    We do love to road trip and don’t always go as prepared as we should be. Relying on an emergency number should not leave us without a car emergency kit! We finally left a phone charger in the car – and usually remember to make sure it is fully charged. And I am sure that headlamp might show me how much we have lost under the seats of the car!

    • Ashlee Fechino on April 12, 2022 at 3:42 pm

      Hi Linda – Thanks for commenting and sharing more about your road trip planning. Haha, yes, you can use the headlamp for so many things – like tracking down things that fell under the seat. We can relate! Happy road tripping!

  3. simplyjolayne on April 9, 2022 at 10:17 am

    The benefit of a road trip is that you should have space for some of these must-have essentials. Great tips for being prepared on the road.

    • Ashlee Fechino on April 12, 2022 at 3:40 pm

      Hi Jolayne – that is one of the perks of road trips – bringing all the creature comforts. Thanks for reading. Have a great spring!

  4. Lasma on April 9, 2022 at 10:42 am

    These are so essential and yet I often forget about these things. So I’m going to save this article and use it as a check list for my next trips 🙂

    • Ashlee Fechino on April 12, 2022 at 3:40 pm

      Hi Lasma! Thanks for reading. So glad you found it helpful. Safe travels.

  5. Ashley on April 9, 2022 at 1:45 pm

    Yes the headlamp is a must! You would think I’d learn my lesson by now, but I always seem to forget it..

    • Ashlee Fechino on April 12, 2022 at 3:39 pm

      Ashley – we can relate. It is easy to forget. We keep one in the car now at all times.

  6. Alaina Thomas on April 9, 2022 at 5:03 pm

    My portable phone charger has saved me many times during travel! Thanks for sharing this list.

    • Ashlee Fechino on April 12, 2022 at 3:38 pm

      Hi Alaina – YES! We totally agree. The portable phone charger is a MUST!!

  7. Coralie on April 9, 2022 at 6:10 pm

    Great tips here – I loved and have saved the checklist for “before leaving home”. Thanks for sharing

    • Ashlee Fechino on April 12, 2022 at 3:37 pm

      Hey Coralie – thanks for reading! Happy travels.

  8. Timmy V on May 6, 2022 at 3:56 pm

    We’ve definitely learned the hard way a few times, so we have a “go box” at the ready with headlights, TP, mini propane tanks, candles, lighters, fire starters, towels, EXTRA SOCKS (can’t emphasize that enough) etc that stays in the camper. Despite that, we always forget something. Last year, it was all our food on one trip! Making a good list and checking it off is really critical nowadays because we boondock almost exclusively, having given up on trying to find spots in any of the state park campgrounds here (impossible). PS: We also have a Ranger 12, with soft dormers. Ours is a ‘19 that we bought at the end of 2018. We were tempted to sell it but I’m so glad we didn’t.

    • Ashlee Fechino on May 10, 2022 at 12:54 pm

      Hey Timmy! Thanks for leaving a comment. We enjoyed reading your travel tips. Oh my gosh – it would be such a bummer to forget all your food. Hopefully, it was easy to get more along the way. So cool you have an Aliner too! Aliner Family!

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