35 Items You Need for Your Next Road Trip

Hit the highway in comfort and style with these travel heroes.

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March 09, 2021

Before you hit the open road, make sure you have all the essentials you'll need for a stress-free trip. From comfortable good-to-haves (like pillows and blankets) to safety just-in-cases (like first aid and emergency kits), you'll be glad you traveled prepared. Whether you're hitting the road for a day or two weeks, make sure these easy-to-pack items are in tow.

ESSENTIAL GADGETS

$21.99

Texting and driving is never an option. And in some states, just holding your phone to talk while driving is against the law. If you want to stream a Spotify playlist or run Google Maps, invest in a phone mount to ensure those hands remain at "10 and 2."

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$13

There won’t be a peep from the backseat with this tablet headrest mount. It adjusts to fit any size tablet and is compatible with nearly all headrests. The kids (or adults) in the back won’t be asking “are we there yet?” because they’ll be too absorbed in their movie or game.

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$66

You’ll probably bring several gadgets on your road trip, including smartphones, tablets and e-readers. So gather them up, then power them up. There’s nothing worse than getting an hour into an all-day trip and having the iPad in the backseat run out of juice. We suggest bringing one or more portable chargers for the car, and make sure they work with the devices you plan to charge. Despite what’s written on the packaging, not every charger will power up all the devices they claim they can charge.

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$110

This mobile hotspot features super-fast Wi-Fi internet speeds and long-lasting battery life, providing the ultimate internet experience from anywhere right when you need it most.

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$25

Roadside photo-ops will be a breeze with this handy mini tripod. This flexible tripod grips to any surface — from a tree to a fence — and has a reliable rubber grip that secures a smartphone.

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SAFETY

$43

Before you plan your road trip itinerary, you should pack your emergency roadside kit. It’s not the fun part of road trip planning, but it’s the most important. A good car kit should include, at the very least, jumper cables, a spare tire, signal flares and a flashlight. Emergency items such as spare socks, a blanket and granola bars are good, too. If you’re traveling in colder climates, check out our winter car kit for ice and snow essentials.

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$99.95

A run-of-the-mill power source can re-juice your phone after hours upon hours of GPS navigation and playlists. This one can also jump-start your car. (Seriously. The cables are included.)

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$12

Building a fire just got a lot easier with this handy fire starter that produces sparks in any weather or altitude. It has an ergonomic thumb guard for comfort and an attached emergency whistle, in case you need to call for help.

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$12

Road trip or not, keeping a first aid kit in the car is always a good idea. This 140-piece kit includes essential wound care supplies, like cleansing wipes, gauze pads, assorted bandages, rolled gauze, antibiotic cream, itch-stopping cream, acetaminophen caplets, an instant cold pack and much more.

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$10

You can’t always depend on Google Maps, especially when driving in rural areas. Even popular National Parks and National Forests can have spotty cell service. As a backup, you can download maps to use offline from Google Maps, and tucking an actual map in the backseat pocket isn’t a bad idea either.

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COMFORT

$27

Never struggle to find a comfortable sleeping position in the car again with the Trtl Travel Pillow. This neck pillow combines hypoallergenic fleece with hidden internal neck support to hold your head and neck in the best position for sleeping, preventing stiff necks and sore shoulders.

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$99

Meet the hardest-working travel throw in the business: Unpacked, it’s a 52-by-75-inch insulated comforter that's lightweight, washable and super cozy.

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$23 - $28

After hours of driving, take a break in this lightweight travel hammock. It’s quick to hang after a long day on the road and packs down into a small pouch for easy storage.

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$7 - $21

Whether you're washing off at your campsite or at a rest stop, this soft, microfiber towel will dry quickly and can be used over and over during your trip.

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$19.99

With all due respect to those mysterious rear-view-mirror trees, when you plan on spending serious time on the highway, you need a substantial and sustainable air scrubber. The porous activated charcoal in this baby will purify the stale air in your car instead of hitting it with chemicals, and it'll combat the effects of left-behind takeout for up to a year.

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HEALTH + HYGIENE

$8.59

Nip motion sickness in the bud with these acupressure wristbands that provide effective relief from all forms of travel sickness without causing drowsiness or other side effects. There are even Sea-Bands for kids that come in cool patterns and colors.

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$26 (Pack of 6)

Keep everyone's hands clean with this alcohol-free foaming sanitizer that's safe and gentle enough for babies. We love Babyganics for the whole family because the formula kills 99.9-percent of common bacteria; it's made without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, artificial fragrances and dyes; and it's dermatologist-tested and non-allergenic.

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This assortment of towelettes is a league of essential-oil superheroes: Defeat gas-station bathroom germs, freshen up after the A/C kicks out in the middle of nowhere, combat carsickness and wind down at the end of a long day with their aid.

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$12.99

Spare yourself the stress and strain of blindly reaching into the backseat, and snag this seriously convenient tissue holder. The chic black case clips right onto your passenger-side visor, so you can reach it without taking your hands off the wheel.

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$15.99

We love this mini humidifier that can even make a car feel a little more spa-like. It extends and contracts to fit into a variety of vessels, from water bottles to mugs, so there's never a reason to not be moisturizing your skin.

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$15

Whether you're spending a little time outside or a lot of time outside, it's always smart to keep insect repellent nearby. This 100-percent DEET formula offers more than 10 hours of protection against insect-transmitted diseases, including Zika and West Nile viruses.

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$14

Sleeping away from the comforts of home can come with some restless nights. Melatonin helps you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and wake up feeling refreshed. And since Natrol is a drug-free sleep aid, you won't wake up feeling groggy.

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$54 - $69

Cruising with the top down is the epitome of a road trip, but it’s also the epitome of sun exposure. Pack polarized sunglasses, a hat and plenty of sunscreen. Active brands, such as Coolibar and Athleta, make stylish UPF clothing that helps block the sun’s harmful rays. It doesn’t replace sunscreen, but it’s a great second line of defense.

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ORGANIZATION

$11

Keep your car clean and organized with this hanging trash bin with a 1.85-gallon capacity and leak-proof interior bag.

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$18

You may not need it, but you'll be happy it's there if you do. This ultra-light packable daypack has a 25-liter capacity, multiple pockets and adjustable, breathable straps for comfortable all-day use. Plus, it can be stuffed into its own zippered pocket for space-saving storage and compact portability.

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Truth be told, every trip calls for a laundry bag — hunting for clean undies is nobody’s idea of a good time. That said, a pre-sorted discard pile is especially important when you find a laundromat in the middle of nowhere and want to take care of business ASAP. Tuck one of these into your glove compartment and thank us later.

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FOOD + DRINK

$199.99

A cooler is a road trip must. Instead of a giant cooler out-of-reach in the trunk, keep your drinks in a small cooler bag. YETI’s Hopper Flip 8 is large enough for eight soda cans but small enough to throw around your arm for a pull-off picnic or impromptu hike.

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$16

Stay hydrated on the road with BPA-free Bobble Bottles that filter out impurities on the go, so you can fill up at the campground or rest stop water fountain worry-free. And with so many color options, no one will get their bottle mixed up in the car.

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$31.95

This portable brewer will brew a delicious cup of coffee, espresso or cold brew right over your mug. The total immersion brewing system means there's less grit than with a French press, and it's super-fast, too.

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$15.99 (Set of 4)

Useful for storing everything from travel-size toiletries to trail mix, these reusable containers work for jet setters or families always on-the-go. Not only are they eco-friendly and BPA-free, but these collapsible beauties also help save money on snacks. Fill them up before road-tripping to prevent overspending on pre-packaged goodies at convenience stores.

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$29

When fast food isn't your speed, this one-and-done kit — which includes a serving fork, a utility knife, scissors, a cutting board, a spatula, a wine opener, tongs, a ladle, a rice paddle, a carabiner and folding stainless-steel utensils — is ready to turn your roadside-farm-stand haul into the greatest picnic of all time.

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$230

The eco-friendly BioLite Campstove 2 is pure genius. It doesn’t need fuel, and the heat created from burning just a handful of kindling converts into usable electricity that can be used to recharge your gadgets. Cook dinner, charge your phone and feel good about your carbon footprint — what more could you ask for?

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ENTERTAINMENT

$129

Go on, celebrate reaching your destination with an impromptu dance party. This lightweight Bluetooth speaker fills your space with home-stereo-system-quality sound and claims less real estate in your luggage than a rolled-up pair of jeans.

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$159.99

Cut down your packing weight by bringing a Kindle instead of a stack of books for lounging by the fire. The latest generation of Paperwhite Kindles are now hot tub-ready, too; they're waterproof, so they'll survive an accidental dunk.

Buy It
$19.95

It’s time to get started on that road-trip memoir. (It’s also a good idea to keep must-have details on paper since your smartphone will go blank in a "No Service" zone 50 miles from your destination.)

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