The Ultimate Packing List For Any Road Trip

No matter the destination or hours spent inside your crumb packed vehicle, there’s a trunk full of necessary items you need to make your journey worthwhile.

The Ultimate Packing List For Any Road Trip

Road trips are the ultimate form of travel. There’s nothing quite like the whispering views outside your window pane, the silky breeze sifting through your hair, or the wild sense of wander your heart tends to brink between the reflective and still fleeting feelings. Time passes by as if everything and nothing exists all the same while. We sit in our seats, bums numb with twinkling stars, thinking about the ones we love, what’s for dinner, and when the next bathroom stop will be. What we do with our waiting time justifies what we’ve done and who we are.

No matter the destination or hours spent inside your crumb-packed vehicle, there’s a trunk full of necessary items you need to make your journey worthwhile. Preparation is key to a successful voyage. From car care to personal care, this is your quintessential list all things #vanlife. Taken from personal experience, I’ve thought of just about everything you need to make your time on the road an easy, peasy routine.

Bookmark this page for future reference, should you must.

Grand Teton National Park

Pit Stop.

For The Car

Firstly, the most essential care unit you must consider in order to have a successful road trip is the vehicle itself. AAA isn’t available in every remote location around the nation (though, it’s pretty darn close), so be sure you are extra cautious of the materials brought to help your car in need.

  • Spare Tire
  • Emergency Car Kit
  • License and Registration
  • Car Insurance
  • Driver’s ID
  • Your AAA Card (or equivalent)
  • Tire Chains
  • Hands-Free Phone Mount
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Off to the side of the road in Oregon.

Joshua Tree National Park.

Classic road signs.

Gloomy Southeastern Oregon.

Navigation and Accessories

Additional accessories, including maps and sprays, can be equally as important. This way, you won’t have to spend a bunch of money on meaningless items at the local Walmart for what you accidentally forget. Mark each item on this list with the intention to ensure you have everything you need.

  • Bug Sprays
  • Large Reusable Water Bottles
  • Reusable Straws
  • Paper Maps (we all need to learn how to read them)
  • Toilet Paper (you never know)
  • Flashlight
  • Umbrella
  • Reusable Shopping Bag
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Reusable Travel Film Pouch

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Van life.

The boys.

Big yellow van by James Barkman.


Sometimes, rational thoughts linger for only so long. The kids in the back will become cranky and maybe your best friend’s dry conversations become loose with tragedy and boredom. It’s time to bust out a few items when your phone no longer has service, so aim to stay connected with a different approach.

  • Books
  • Notebooks and Pens
  • Phone (obviously)
  • Phone Chargers
  • Your Favorite Camera (DSLR or Film)
  • Camera Batteries
  • SD Cards
  • A Deck of Cards
  • iPad w/ Downloaded Movies or Games (Netflix, anyone?)
  • Headphones
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Vintage cars pulled in some local junkyard.

Stay Comfortable

Sitting in the same position for long periods of time does a number on your body and mind. Items like mints and extra pillows help ease the tension we experience during the long haul.

  • Sunglasses
  • Pillow
  • Your Favorite Travel Mug
  • Extra Blanket
  • Socks
  • Flip Flops
  • Sunscreen
  • Painkiller / Nausea Medication
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Our buddy, Niles, in the van.

Personal Care Kit

Self-care is important, particularly for quick grabs you might need out of your bag from the trunk. This list runs anywhere from smaller needed items, like toothbrushes and deodorant, to more unthinkable products like face wash and baby wipes.

  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Feminine Hygiene
  • Baby Wipes (this is for everyone, okay, not just your babies)
  • Day Bag (something bigger than a “purse” to carry one-off items for day use)
  • Hairbrush
  • Tissues
  • Hair Ties
  • Toilet-tree bag (toothbrush, deodorant, makeup, etc.)
  • Face Wash (wipes are easiest)
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Gloomy weather on a windy road.

For The Cooler

C’mon. We all have our favorite snack, our beloved beverage of choice, and an even more well-deserved can of beer waiting for us until we turn into the hotel parking lot or camping spot. We long for the crunch of Taki’s or Trader Joe’s tenderly sweet cherry plums. Here are some food groups to consider when packing the cooler full of ice before you head out.

  • Fruits (bananas, apples, and frozen blueberries are a fan favorite)
  • Chips and dip (try hummus for a cleaner diet)
  • Carrots and celery
  • Canned drinks of choice
  • Kettle Corn
  • Protein packs: meats, cheeses, and nuts
  • Almonds
  • Smoked Jerky
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Homemade Cookies (because homemade just tastes better)
  • Pickles
  • Boiled Eggs (if you’re fancy)
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Film Stuff Sack

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Camping near Banff, Canada.

Be Minimally Conscience With Your Suitcase

The purpose of travel is to chase that fleeting feeling of wonder, experience new and refreshing cultures other than your own, and regenerate yourself away from the monotony of daily life. Don’t make things more challenging for yourself with your packing list, travel is supposed to take the stress away.

We tend to underestimate the power of keeping things simple when it comes to packing clothes, so learn my favorite tips and tricks by packing like a minimalist here.

On the road.

Happy Road Tripping!

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