20 Road Trip Essentials for Your Vacation
These road trip must-haves can help you save money, travel more comfortably and ensure you stay safe on the open road.
A road trip is a great way to see the country. Consider stocking up on these accessories before you go.(Getty Images)
If you're planning a road trip for your summer vacation, you're going to have a lot of work to do before you pack the car and head out of town. You'll need to map out a general itinerary, plan your overnight stops and create a list of must-see sights along the way. And don't forget about all the stuff you need to pack to ensure your family is safe, comfortable and entertained.
While you don't necessarily need a lot of things to make a road trip a success, U.S. News searched far and wide to find the best gadgets and gear that will make your time in the car a little more pleasant, if not completely fun.
As you pack your bags and get ready for an epic road trip, here are a few last-minute items you might want to add to your arsenal.
Snacks and Hygiene
- Check out Boxed.com for specially curated bulk items that are perfect for road trips and other types of travel. From Coppertone sunscreen, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to Fruit Roll-Ups and snack-size packs of Pringles, Boxed.com is a convenient site to order bulk hygiene and snack items in one place with the click of a mouse.
- Gigantic body wipes from Busy Beauty make it easy to wash up when you can't take a shower. They're much bigger than baby wipes and do the same job without leaving you smelling like an infant.
- CVS Health Ultra Soft Cleansing Wipes are perfect for wiping up spills on the go. They're also disposable, so they're ideal to bring along on any trip.
- Disposable toilet seat covers from Amazon.com will help you avoid germs and stay clean when you stop for restroom breaks at gas stations, port-a-potties and campgrounds.
[Read: The Best Family Vacations in the USA.]
Technology and Safety
- Goal Zero's Torch 250 Flashlight is a reliable LED light you can count on in roadside emergencies. This durable light has a built-in USB charging cable, a USB port to charge your phone, a solar panel and other important features that make it a must-have. It offers bright and partially bright modes to save on power, depending on how much light you need at the time, and there are three different ways to recharge it: via the solar panel, a USB source or by using a hand crank.
- Goal Zero's Sherpa 100AC is a portable power bank you can use to recharge tablets, phones, cameras and laptops on the go. It features two USB ports, plus four cables are included and it's lightweight at just 2 pounds.
- A portable tire inflator can be a lifesaver if you find your tires have a slow leak during your trip. This AUTLEAD tire inflator is compact, so it won't take up much space among your other gear in your trunk, and it includes a 10-foot-long power cord and a 3.28-foot-long air hose. It is programmed to stop automatically once it hits the preset tire pressure and it comes with a two-year warranty.
- Jumper cables from AUTOGEN fit easily in your trunk and could save the day if your battery dies and you're unable to start your car while out on the road.
[Read: The Best Family Summer Vacations.]
- Pick up an Oliver Thomas bag like the Wanderlust Weekender Duffel on the company website for your road trip. This $150 bag is water resistant, machine washable and perfect for when you need your luggage to fit in a small space.
- This Clevermade Backpack Cooler makes it easy to bring drinks anywhere without worrying about leaks. The cooler, which comes with padded back and shoulder straps plus organizer pockets, can hold up to 24 cans and ice. It's ideal for road trippers who plan to get out and explore, and need to stay hydrated or keep food fresh.
- Packing cubes from eBags.com let you separate different types of clothing and supplies into individual cubes that can easily fit into luggage or your car's trunk. The durable packing cubes come in a variety of colors and include a lifetime warranty.
- A car back seat organizer lets you arrange essential items on the back of the driver's or passenger's side seat, where they're within reach of small hands. This seatback organizer from Amazon.com has multipurpose storage compartments, a place for a tablet and plenty of other spots to stash key items for your trip.
[Read: The Best Carry-On Luggage of 2019.]
- Electric car blankets allow you to stay warm on the road no matter the temperature outside. This Stalwart electric car blanket takes up very little space, is surprisingly lightweight and plugs into any vehicle with a 96-inch-long cord.
- SleepPhones soft headband headphones let you enjoy the open road while listening to music, audiobooks, meditation, white noise or talk radio. These headphones are expertly padded and typically more comfortable for long-term wear than earbuds. You can buy the classic version or a wireless version at SleepPhones.com.
- Pick up an ergonomic travel pillow from High Sierra if you need extra neck and shoulder support when you ride in the passenger seat. The pillow features supportive memory foam, a front clasp to ensure it stays put and a removable cover that you can wash.
- A battery-operated mini fan from SkyGenius can help you stay cool and comfortable. This fan comes with a rechargeable and replaceable battery, and is ideal for the car and for camping.
[See: 17 Amazing Kid-Friendly Hotels.]
- Cubcoats are two-in-one stuffed animals that transform into hoodies. Your child can cuddle his or her furry friend (options range from pandas and puppies to beloved characters like Mickey Mouse and Spider-Man) that doubles as a soft, zip-up sweatshirt, and you get to save some space in your suitcase.
- If you're flying to another destination to pick up a rental car for your road trip, consider bringing inflatable car booster seats along. BubbleBum offers the original inflatable booster for kids ages 4 to 11 years who weigh between 40 and 100 pounds, and you can buy them on the company website or on Amazon.com.
- Welly offers first aid kits, adhesive bandage packs and more in ready-to-go travel kits. These kits are packed in tin cans so they're immune to the elements and perfect for keeping in your car.
- A kid's travel journal makes it easy for your child to document their road trip and all the fun things they see and do.
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