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Top Travel Packing List Must-Haves

Top Travel Packing List Must-Haves

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June 18 marked National Wanna Get Away Day — and if the travel-minded “holiday” has inspired you to plan a road trip, we’ve got you covered with some of the best road trip essentials.

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 in past years. Plus, hopping into 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.

Related: The Best Gifts for Travelers

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 fun and functional items for everyone.

Related: The Best Luggage Brands for Every Type of Adventure

Related: The Best Music Festivals of 2024

Some essentials on our list include travel items such as fully stocked roadside emergency bags, digital nomad-friendly backpacks, toiletry bags and TSA-approved items, 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.


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.

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.


Can’t stomach the road — literally? Dimenhydrinate tablets (such as pharmacist-recommended Dramamine) are a glove box must-have and may help those who get nauseous or dizzy in the car. There are also chewable options for kids.


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.

One of our road trip-loving editors swears by these motion sickness glasses for their two kids.

For off-gridding or peace of mind, we’ve found that Goal Zero’s Yeti 1000X portable power station is ideal for keeping the lights in small campers for several hours. We’ve used it to power a mini fridge during long stretches of driving, and it’s also great for laptops, phones, Wi-Fi hotspots and other devices. Pair it with the solar panel (from $300; sold separately) to charge up on sunny days.

Currently our go-to for weekend getaways and week-long trips alike, State’s Hart toiletry kit is roomy enough to hold full-sized products and even unzips to expand, should you need more space. As travelers who love to stay organized, we’re fans of the interior organizers and the zippered compartments with mesh pockets.


When you’re tight on space, a modular approach to packing for every stop can keep you organized and sane. Béis’ set of six packing cubes includes small, medium and large organizer bags; two shoe bags; a zip pouch. We like the mesh front panel for quickly peeking inside the cubes, and the top handles make it easy to grab your stuff.

No coffee snob‘s travel kit is complete without AeroPress three-in-one coffee press, which can make espresso-style, pour-over or French press coffee on the go. We like that the micro-filtration process lets you use a finer grind for smooth, bold flavors — just add your own grounded coffee and hot water, then press down. Use it with paper or reusable stainless steel filters to keep your cup of joe grit-free. (Don’t forget to bring your Burr grinder!)


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.

Drowsy Sleep Co.

Turn the passenger or back seat into your own private spa and throw on Drowsy Sleep Co.’s wraparound silk mask. The soft material and padded design help your eyes feel comfortable without leaving that dreaded hair crease.


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.


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.


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.

The Best Road Trip Essentials 2024: Top Travel Packing List Must-Haves

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.


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 these collapsible water cubes (complete with a spigot) come in handy. Available in 1.3-, 2.6- or 5.3-gallon sizes, this road trip must-have is also great for camping or your home emergency kit.

When you’re not sure about your destination’s water quality, LifeStraw’s discrete stainless steel reusable straw doubles as a filter.


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Depending on your fellow travelers’ vocal chops, this official Carpool Karaoke microphone could be the best or worst idea for a road trip. While passengers can simply belt it out without any technical assistance,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).


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.

Courtesy of Fulton

Need some support while getting your steps in? We’re fans of Fulton’s comfortable Classic 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.

Turn your car into a mobile spa and bring your favorite destinations home with Pura’s portable car diffuser. The brand’s city- and nature-inspired clean scents ($15 and up) last for about 30 days, and include Guy Fox’s musky and sandalwood SoHo, Homesick’s Road Trip, Illume’s fresh sea salt, Anthropologie’s apple orchard-inspired Honeycrisp Oakwood, Nest New York’s Bamboo and more.


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 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.


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.

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.


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.)

JBL’s Jr460 Bluetooth headphones are worth the investment for for kids who love music — and for parents and caregivers who want to protect their young ones’ hearing. They feature a max volume of 85 decibels, active noise canceling, a built-in microphone and up to 20 hours of battery life on a single charge.


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, makeup, 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.

Related: The Best Toiletry Bags for Every Type of Traveler


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.


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.

For those messy passengers, Auto Drive’s backseat organizer has plenty of storage compartments and two cup holders to keep all of those cables, activities and knick-knacks in one spot.

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.


Kenu’s Airvue car headrest tablet mount lets passengers turn the back seat into a mini movie theater.


No more worrying about TP (or lack thereof) 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.


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.


You don’t have to be a kid to break your screen habit (and your boredom) with this LCD doodle board, which Amazon reviewers say is a great replacement for digital tablets. On sale for up to 56 percent off, the 10-inch tablet magically erases with the press of a button.


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.

For compact vehicles, 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.


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.


When nature inevitably 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).

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.


Of course, you’ll want to document your moments, and Kodak’s Mini Shot 3 Retro instant camera is great for analog and digital photography enthusiasts.


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.


Keep passengers warm with Pendleton’s washable 50×60 wool blanket made from sustainable materials. The machine-washable throw’s fringe also adds a stylish touch in your home on wheels.


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.


Zero Breeze’s highly-rated Mark 2 portable air conditioner saved this editor’s recent summer road trip from LA to Vegas, which included a quick stop for the night in 100-plus-degree heat in Las Vegas. 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 travel trailers without AC. Go off-grid with the rechargeable battery, which gives you about five hours of run time.

Duluth Trading Co. Seat Back Bunker
Duluth Trading Co.

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.

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