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10 Essentials to Pack for Your Summer Road Trip

Jun 22, 2023
savor your summer adventures even more by using this packing checklist.

Summer is here and if you like adventure, you’re probably already planning a road trip. Nothing truly says summer fun like hopping in the car and heading off to explore a new or favorite destination.

How a Packing List Can Help

Since a road trip offers the flexibility of packing just about everything we want and need for our vacation (without the worry of outrageous baggage fees and packing limitations), be sure to bring it all…or at least the essentials to ensure you're prepped for good times and making great memories.

Here are some summer road trip essentials you shouldn’t leave home without.


10 Summer Road Trip Essentials 

1. Snacks & Cooler for Drinks

Snacks are a major part of any road trip. Not only will you save money by packing your own road trip goodies, but it also saves you time from not having to make so many pit stops. A good mixture of fun and healthy snacks is the way to go! Some healthy snack ideas include fresh fruits and veggies, cheese sticks, beef jerky, nuts, trail mix, and protein bars. Don’t forget a few fun options like your favorite candy or chips since you are on vacation!

Packing a cooler with bottled water, sports drinks, and your favorite caffeinated drink, will not only keep you quench your thirst, but are also a good pick me up to refresh you along the way to your vacation destination. 

2. First Aid Kit, Roadside Emergency Kit, & Basic Tool Kit

Nothing ruins a road trip vacation like a medical emergency. Packing medical essentials can literally save the day when traveling. Things like prescription medications and a first aid kit with the basics is crucial. Including bandages as well as over the counter medicines like aspirin and Tylenol will ensure that you're ready for whatever comes up while traveling.

Never underestimate the importance of a well-stocked roadside emergency kit. Having jumper cables, an air compressor, a tow-rope, a spare tire, flares, and a tire jack, can really save the day when an unexpected vehicle emergency happens while driving. Also, be sure to have easy access to your roadside assistance contact and account info. 

No road trip is complete without a basic tool kit, so you're prepared for any situation that may arise. You never know when a hammer, wrench, screwdriver, or pliers will be needed. Being prepared can help keep everyone safe and smiling, and your vacation on track for fun!

3. Extra Battery Chargers

In today’s world of electronics, it's always a good idea to be equipped with back up battery chargers to keep you plugged in and your battery fully charged. A charging brick is essential for road tripping and ensures you have power when you need it most, especially if you're traveling with more devices than there are charging ports. This is definitely important if you're planning to use your cell phone for GPS directions to your destination. 

4. Season-Appropriate Clothes & a Variety of Footwear Options

The first things we think of when packing for a summer road trip are swimsuits and shorts for fun in the sun. In addition to these essentials, it’s also a good idea to think outside the box when traveling. No matter the season or your vacation destination, bringing along items like a rain jacket and a light sweater or sweatshirt is a smart idea because you just never know how the weather may change. Comfort is key when traveling too, so relaxed-fitting clothes like yoga and cargo pants can make a long car ride much more cozy.

When packing clothes for your summer road trip, don’t forget your shoes! Often, we're so concerned with packing our swimsuits and shorts that we can overlook the need for a variety of shoes for our vacation adventures. If you’re planning to hit the pool or beach, flip-flops work nicely. If hiking is on your road trip agenda, trekking shoes or sneakers are a necessity, as are cute sandals that match your new sun dress.  

5. Bug Spray & SPF Sunscreen
Getting bitten by mosquitos and other bothersome bugs turns your relaxing vacation into an annoying nuisance. Bringing bug spray on your road trip can save the day when it’s the season for these pesky creatures. This is especially important if you're sensitive or allergic to any particular type of bugs. Protecting yourself with bug spray just makes sense and is a sure way to enjoy your summer road trip without annoyance, pain or an allergic reaction.

Any road trip planned for the summer should definitely include sunscreen. Being sunburned is no fun at all and is the quickest way to completely wrecking a good road trip getaway. Not only should you bring sunscreen, but you should use plenty of it…and re-apply often. Be sure to pack a few options that include convenient sunscreen sprays, SPFs made specifically for the face, high quality SPF lotions, and reef safe SPF options that'll help protect the environment. 

6. Toilet Paper
It's so much better to be prepared and not need it than to be without when it's a need. This is especially true when it comes to toilet paper. You never know when a simple roll of toilet paper might come in handy if the roadside bathroom is out of stock. A roll of toilet paper can also be convenient to have in the car for messy spills or sticky snacks along the way. 

7. Water-Resistant Flashlight

No matter when or where you travel, it's always a good idea to carry along a water-resistant flashlight. It’s also smart to choose one that's rechargeable, so there is never a worry about whether the batteries are working when you need it most. Recharge your flashlight by simply plugging it into your car’s USB port so it's ready for you in case you need extra light during your road trip.

8. Empty Gas Can or Charging Cable

Running out of gas (or power) is sure to put a damper on your summer road trip. Bringing along an empty gas can or a charging cable (if you have an electric car), is a savvy move. 


9. Travel Pillow + Travel Blanket

For those longer summer road trip adventures, be sure to bring a travel pillow and blanket. The pillow is great for naps along the way and back support while driving. The travel blanket will come in handy as a cover-up if the AC is too cold and can also be used as a picnic or beach blanket.

10. Cash for Emergencies

Although we live in a digital world, there may be instances where you may need cash during your road trip. Plan ahead and make sure you have dollar bills or even coins for things like parking meters, road tolls, laundry mats, gas station tire air pumps, and more.

Let Your Summer Road Trip Adventures Begin!

This list of essential road trip items will help ensure that you're prepared for a variety of situations during your travels. Planning ahead now means a smooth ride and plenty of great vacation memories for everyone once you hit the road. 


While planning and preparing are a great start to your summer fun, it's important to remember that the fun of a road trip is exploring the unexpected. Maybe you'll end up taking an unanticipated detour and discovering a new spot. The most essential thing to pack in abundance is a good sense of adventure. You'll have a memorable summer while creating some great memories that will last a lifetime!

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