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Despite what you’ve seen in slapstick travel flicks, not every memorable automobile adventure needs to be an epic Twitter tale-turned-movie or end at the bottom of a canyon. Many people are opting for more road trips in light of flight cancellations, fluctuating gas prices, lost baggage and other nightmares shared by air travelers over the winter season. Plus, hopping in your own ride might be the most convenient way to take a spur-of-the-moment summer vacation before returning to school or work.
What Are the Best RV and Trailer Rental Services?
If you don’t already have a tricked-out camper van (like nomadic actress Holland Roden) or prefer not to add extra miles to your ride, Outdoorsy and RV Share are among the best online RV and trailer rental services that let you borrow Airstreams (a favorite among globe-trotting stars like Milo Ventimiglia), towable campers and others directly from their owners. And if you’ve got a driveable or towable travel vehicle that’s collecting dust, you can earn some money while it’s not in use by listing it for rent on the aforementioned platforms.
What Are the Best Road Trip Essentials?
To help you plan a great mini-vacay, the best road trip essentials can help you stay prepared for whatever comes your way — regardless of the route or season. Whether you’re boondocking along your cross-country route or glamping at your final destination a few towns over, we’ve put together a shoppable road trip checklist with items that are fun and functional for everyone.
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Some of the essentials on our list include travel items such as fully stocked roadside emergency bags, digital nomad-friendly backpacks and toiletry bags and versatile duffle bags, plus entertainment options for that long and hopefully relaxing road ahead. Below, check out some of our favorite driving essentials for your next summer or fall road trip, many of which are made from sustainable materials so you can hit the road with a lower environmental impact too.
1. Stanley 40-oz. Quencher H2.0 Flowstate Tumbler
Staying hydrated is one of the most important things while traveling, which is why Stanley’s TikTok-beloved 40-oz. Quencher tumbler is a road trip essential. We love the cup holder-friendly design and stainless steel vacuum insulation that keeps your drink icy for up to two days or hot for up to seven hours. It comes in more than a dozen colors and the splash-free Flowstate lid lets you sip your beverage three ways.
2. Dramamine Motion Sickness Tablets
Can’t stomach the road — literally? Dimenhydrinate tablets (such as pharmacist-recommended Dramamine) are a glove box must-have for anyone who tends to get nauseous or dizzy in the car.
3. Hook + Albert Leather Toiletry Kit
Hook + Albert’s genius leather toiletry kit has three zippered sections in a fold-flat design that makes it easy to keep your skincare, grooming products and other personal care essentials organized.
4. State Packing Cube Set
Available in two colorways, State’s canvas packing cubes come in a set of two or three (choose from one large and two small cubes or two large pieces). We like the mesh front panel for quickly peeking inside the cubes, and the top handles make it easy to grab your stuff. You can also customize the cubes with a monogram for the perfect travel gift.
5. Business & Pleasure Premium Cooler Bag
For when you want to pull over for a quick picnic, this cooler bag from Business & Pleasure lets you enjoy cold drinks in style. It’s made with the brand’s UV-, water- and mold-proof umbrella canvas and it’s finished with chic leather handles and an eco-friendly printed lining.
6. Wey & Fly SUV Air Mattress
This top-rated SUV air mattress is a car camping essential. Four separate segments let you customize the fit to your vehicle’s back area, and the mattress features flocking on both sides for comfort. It’s suitable in temps as cold as -13°F or as hot as 122°F and a 12-volt air pump is included.
7. AeroPress Portable Travel Coffee Press
No coffee snob‘s travel kit is complete without an AeroPress, which uses a “rapid, total immersion brewing process” that lets on-the-go baristas pull the perfect cup of coffee or espresso-style shots. Just add your own grounded coffee (ideally a medium-find grind) and water, then stir and press.
8. STDY Roadside Emergency Kit
You can never be too prepared on the road, which is why (in addition to a first aid kit and a portable charger) a roadside emergency kit is also one of the top driving essentials we recommend keeping in your vehicle. This one includes a safety vest, a reflective warning triangle, 7.6-foot jumper cables, a whistle, tools, basic first aid items, gloves, PVC tape, tire repair tools and other road trip must-haves for your RV or car.
9. Altec Lansing Kid-Safe Active Noise-Canceling Headphones
For the kiddos, Altec Lansing’s active noise-canceling headphones can connect to devices via Bluetooth or an auxiliary cable, and offers up to 15 hours of battery life. These comfy headphones are great for protecting hearing for kids ages 7 and up as the volume is limited to 85 decibels, and they’re IPX4 rated for withstanding a little bit of splashing.
10. Regal Games Travel Bingo Set
You won’t be bored in the car and in the car bored with this set of four travel bingo cards (available in other games). Small enough to be stowed away in the glove compartment or seat pocket, each reusable card has fingertip-friendly shutter slides and large print that’s easy to read for kids and grown-ups.
11. Fulton The Classic Insoles
Need some support while getting your steps in? We’re fans of Fulton’s comfortable insoles, which are great for flat-footed walkers (like us) or anyone who needs arch support. We like that they’re made of sustainable cork (which molds to your feet) and that there’s no trimming required, and we’ve found that the insoles make our feet and knees feel more comfortable, especially during all-day outings.
12. Lelior Voyage De Luxe Car Diffuser
Turn your car into a mobile spa with Lelior’s chic Le Bonaparte car diffuser, which plugs into any USB port to transform small spaces (up to 250 square feet) into a relaxing oasis with your favorite essential oils. The French fragrance brand also offers luxe hotel-inspired scents, including ones that evoke the Ritz-Carlton, the 1 Hotel South Beach, the Wynn Hotel and more.
13. Audible Subscription
When the reception is spotty but you want to catch up on audiobooks and podcasts while driving, Amazon’s Audible lets you download titles so that you can listen offline. New subscribers get 30 days free and one free credit, and Prime members get two free credits to use on titles that’ll stay permanently in their digital library. Sign up here.
14. Drive Auto Car Trunk Organizer
Drive Auto’s genius collapsible car trunk organizer is made of water-resistant 600D canvas and expands to two sizes and nine compartments. The adjustable straps, outer mesh pockets and tie-down straps make it a must for anyone who wants to keep their ride tidy.
15. GummiShot Energy Gummies
For when you find yourself nodding off but don’t have time for a coffee stop, GummiShot’s energy gummies can help give you a boost of plant-based caffeine to keep you on the road.
16. Hidaway Collapsible Insulated Bowl with Lid
Our go-to for car camping and trailer travel, Hidaway’s collapsible silicone bowls are perfect for when you’re tight on space. This one-quart option includes a lid and insulated sleeve and we love how easy it is to fold up and throw in a backpack or picnic basket. (Other sizes and designs are also available.)
17. Ucomx Nano 3-in-1 Wireless Charger
Tired of fumbling for a charging cable for your Apple devices? This three-in-one charger folds easily into a compact, travel-friendly size and can charge up your Apple Watch, AirPods, iPhone and other MagSafe- and wireless charging-capable devices.
18. Tushy Travel Bidet
No more worrying about TP at rest stops with Tushy’s travel bidet, which conveniently collapses to save space while staying discreet. It can hold up to 11 fluid ounces of water and features a hinged nozzle with three spout positions, a carabiner and a carrying bag.
19. Cabeau Evolution S3 Neck Pillow
Get some shut-eye in the passenger or back seat with Cabeau’s best-selling Evolution S3 neck pillow, which has a memory foam core and an ergonomic design that helps protect your neck and allows you to breathe and sleep comfortably.
20. Eco Flow River 2 Portable Power Station
Don’t get caught without power — stow Eco Flow’s River 2 portable power station into your trunk. This compact 600-watt generator weighs less than eight pounds and can keep up to six appliances running during your off-grid adventure. It takes just one hour to fully charge with an AC outlet, and you can plug in the optional solar panel to charge it under the sun — making it one of the most versatile and convenient (not to mention budget-friendly at under $300) power stations out there.
21. Bagsmart Large Hanging Toiletry Bag
Whether you’re ending up at a hotel or just want to freshen up at a pit stop, this hanging toiletry bag makes it easy to stash all of your bath and body products, jewelry and other road trip essentials into a convenient carryall. And when you are ready to fly, the bag features a separate bag that follows TSA 3-1-1 liquids rules, making it easier to breeze through airport security.
22. Kenu Airvue Car Headrest Tablet Mount
Kenu’s Airvue car headrest tablet mount lets passengers turn the back seat into a mini movie theater.
23. Everywhere You Go: A Guided Travel Journal
Document your adventures in Compendium’s Everywhere You Go travel journal, which is filled with creative prompts, inspiring quotes and blank note pages (think packing lists and contact info) so you won’t forget a thing about your trip.
24. JoyTutus Pickup Truck Waterproof Tent
This six-foot-long truck bed tent makes it easy to turn your ride into a shelter for shut-eye or a quick rest, thanks to the padded floor and quick setup. It’s made of 150D waterproof polyester and has three windows for catching the sights or fresh air.
25. Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones
Don’t love your driver’s soundtrack? Sony’s WH-1000XM5 headphones (also available in black) are perfect for audiophiles, frequent travelers and anyone who wants excellent automatic noise canceling (Auto NC) and sound for listening to music, making calls and other situations where you need to cut out distractions. Our go-to amid noisy surroundings, these super-comfortable wireless headphones also include a 3.5-millimeter cable for when you want to plug in (such as an airplane entertainment system), and they offer up to 30 hours of battery life on a single charge.
The four beamforming microphones deliver crystal-clear voice pickup for phone and video calling, and we like the speak-to-chat mode (which automatically stops the music so you can hear ambient sound) and the intuitive touch control settings for the volume, activating Auto NC, voice assistants and more.
26. Foval Car Power Inverter
When you’re traveling with digital nomads (or tech-obsessed passengers), this 200-watt car power inverter has two 110-volt outlets and four USB ports so you can charge up to six devices.
27. Thisworx Car Vacuum Cleaner
All of that extra mileage likely means more messes, too. Thisworx’s car vacuum cleaner conveniently plugs into your car or RV and features a HEPA filter, three attachments and a 106-watt motor to suck up dirt, crumbs, ash, pet hair and other debris.
28. Béis The Convertible Weekender
This laptop-friendly convertible weekender bag from Béis has all the compartments, pockets and space you need for one day or three. The removable bottom compartment (which doubles as a packing cube) and padded laptop sleeve, wide opening, key leash and luggage handle pass-through combine to make it the ultimate versatile carryall.
29. Zero Breeze Mark 2 Portable Air Conditioner
Not every camper van or trailer has modern upgrades, but Zero Breeze’s highly-rated Mark 2 portable air conditioner can keep you cool. It has four fan speeds and three cooling modes (including an “on-demand” setting for conserving energy), and it’s great for tents, small rooms and recreational vehicles. Go off-grid with the rechargeable battery, which gives you about five hours of run time.
30. Awoken Unisex Urinal
When nature calls, don’t be caught squirming in your seat until the next rest stop. This unisex urinal lets anyone — including kids — relieve themselves in the car without spillage (for safety and sanitary reasons, we don’t recommend using it when you’re at the wheel).
31. Duluth Trading Co. Seat Back Bunker
Whether you’re traveling with kids or very bored backseat drivers, Duluth Trading Co.’s Seat Back Bunker has plenty of pockets for stowing away road trip entertainment and other essentials.
32. Hydro Flask 64-Ounce Wide Mouth Water Bottle
There’s not always a rest stop or convenience store on those long stretches where you can stop to buy drinks, and that’s when Hydro Flask’s 64-ounce water bottle comes in handy.
33. Surviveware First Aid Kit
Accidents — hopefully, minor ones — can happen anywhere, and this first aid kit by Surviveware is packed with more than 200 basic medical emergency items such as bandages, splints, wound dressings, tweezers, a first aid guide and more, all in a water-resistant 600D nylon storage bag.
34. Pendleton Washable Wool Blanket
Keep passengers warm with Pendleton’s washable wool blanket, which is made from sustainable materials and measures 54 inches by 60 inches. The machine-washable throw’s fringe also adds a stylish touch in your home on wheels.
35. Kodak Mini Shot 3 Retro
Of course, you’re going to want to document your moments, and Kodak’s Mini Shot 3 Retro instant camera offers the best of both analog and digital worlds. Plus, it’s currently on sale for 35 percent off.
36. Halo Bolt Portable Charger and Car Jump Starter
Equipped with two USB charging ports and a 120V AC wall outlet, this portable charger can also be used to jump-start your car battery with the included jumper cables. It’s also got an LED flood light for staying safe and visible in the dark and comes in a handy carrying pouch.
37. Nexar Beam GPS 1080p Dash Cam
Popular among rideshare drivers, a good dashboard camera can provide peace of mind in the unfortunate event of collisions, or to capture stunning road trip views. Nexar’s GPS-enabled Beam 1080p HD dash cam captures 135-degree wide video and syncs with the brand’s iPhone or Android app, which can create post-accident reports with key crash information (such as driving speed, location, G-force impact and video footage) that you can send to your car insurance company.
The device can start recording immediately when it senses even minor impacts (even when you’re parked), and it comes with a 32 GB SD card for on-device video storage as well as unlimited cloud storage.
38. Yeti Hopper Flip 8 Cooler
If your vehicle is tight on space, Yeti’s compact Hopper Flip 8 cooler can fit a six-pack or whatever else you need to keep cool in between stops. The DryHide shell means it can take a beating in the rugged outdoors, and when used with a combination of Yeti’s ice packs and regular ice, the cooler can keep contents cold for two or more days.
39. Carpool Karaoke The Mic 2.0 Wireless Microphone System
This could be the best or worst idea for a road trip, depending on your fellow travelers’ vocal chops. While passengers can simply belt it out without any technical assistance, this official Carpool Karaoke microphone lets everyone recreate their favorite Late Show with James Corden bits while embellishing their performance with echo effects and lights. The microphone and speaker can stream audio from a music app or smartphone via Bluetooth, or you can connect it to your car’s FM tuner. The rechargeable battery promises up to six hours of non-stop karaoke (or auditory torture).
40. Sanmitti Car Back Seat Organizer
You may be living a freewheelin’ driver’s life, but your car doesn’t need to look the part. Keep your car organized on trips and in everyday life with this back seat organizer, which contains pockets, fold-down trays (perfect for holding tablets to keep passengers entertained), water bottle holders and other storage compartments.