The Ultimate Road Trip Packing List (Must-Have Essentials!)

by Hans Henzen

Not sure what to bring on a road trip? This road trip packing list covers essential tips and the best things to pack on your next road trip!

Road Trip Packing List: What to Bring on a Road Trip

Best Bags for a Road Trip

Use duffle bags for most of your luggage — it’s easier to stack and squeeze soft bags into any car arrangement that you need. If you’re stopping overnight, pack one bag with sleep essentials and next-day clothes so it’s compact and ready to go.

You can use a soft, wheeled suitcase for this if you have a lot of people. Finally, each person can keep a small bag — like a tote or backpack  next to their own seats for easily-accessible snacks and activities.

  • We use this duffle bag on our road trips–it’s compact, has several pockets for easy organization, and it’s even slash-proof. This duffle bag is great for longer trips or two people who like to keep it simple and share one bag.
  • This insulated tote bag doubles as an ice chest and it folds up nicely when not in use.
  • Daypacks are a must if you want to get out and hike during your journey. We use this small daypack which has an internal padded sleeve for a 3L hydration bladder.

What Clothing to Bring on a Road Trip

Wear clothes that are loose and breathable, and that you’re comfortable being seen in at stops. Dark colors hide dirt, stains, and wrinkles better. Even for long trips, you only need two bottoms and a few tops, especially if you can do laundry at hotels or your destination.

  • A drawstring laundry bag works if you do need to store dirty garments.
  • This portable laundry system wash bag is perfect for doing laundry on the road!
  • Make sure to take weather into account—if it’s often rainy, keep some waterproof items — like travel umbrellas and backpack rain covers — in easy reach, and light layers if it might get cold. (In Norway, be prepared for anything–even snow in the summer!!)

Best Snacks for a Road Trip

It’s cheaper to bring snacks from home than buying them at a gas station, and you have healthier options. Freeze-dried fruit and veggies are nicely crunchy and lightweight, while nuts and seeds can satisfy you with salts and protein.

Mix your items together in ziplock bags to create your own trail mix if you want (add a handful of chocolate chips for something sweet), and keep personal portions on-hand with bulk bags in the trunk so you can refill at stops. Less individually-wrapped items cut down on trash, but if you have favorite snack bars, bring a few anyway.

  • Stock up on nature bars for a quick snack on the road or throw in your daypack for hiking.
  • Bulk bags of trail mix will save time with less trash to pick up, plus it’s better for the environment.
  • Wet wipes make for convenient cleanup. These wipes are even biodegradable!
  • If you have food items that you absolutely need to keep cool and you don’t want to deal with melting ice, this iceless cooler plugs into your cigarette lighter!
  • These stainless steel tupperware containers are awesome for road trips because they are completely leak proof — plus they are non-toxic and eco-friendly!

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