Person on a road trip using a map

A Road Trip Planning Checklist: Ultimate Essentials

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Planning a road trip takes mental power – so much so that you could forget something essential. Luckily, the internet exists, and you found this list! Time to buckle up because we're about to dive into the ultimate road trip planning checklist.

Road Trip Essentials

Alright, let's talk about the bare necessities. Whether your destination is a small town or a beaming metropolis, this list will ensure your journey is smooth sailing from beginning to end. From safety to comfort, this is what you'll need.

Checklist of road trip essentials

Important Documents

First things first, grab your documents! Your driver's license, vehicle registration, and insurance are the most important. Remember any necessary permits or passports if you plan to cross a border. Once you have your paperwork so on point, the world is yours to adventure.

An Emergency Kit

Safety first! Pack that emergency kit like you're prepping for a zombie apocalypse (hopefully not, but you never know). A Swiss army knife, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a small fire extinguisher – you name it! It's better to over-prepare than under-prepare for the curveballs the road might throw your way.

Person packing a road trip emergency kit

Navigation Tools

Getting lost might lead to unexpected adventures, but let's save those for the scenic route, shall we? Whether you're old-school with a trusty map or high-tech with a GPS, make sure you've got your navigation game under wraps. You can also scope out the different map apps to find one that warns you about accidents, like Waze.

Car Essentials

Your car is your trusty steed on this epic journey, so treat it right! When road trip planning, you need to make sure your car is roadworthy. If it hasn't had service in the last 6 months, you might want to save yourself future headaches and take it to a local mechanic prior to your trip. Spare tires, jumper cables, and an extra gallon of gas are other road-worthy essentials.

A Cooler With Snacks

No road trip is complete without a bit of snacking along the way. You'll want to pack a cooler with your favorite treats and a meal or two to keep your stomach from growling or getting hangry with your co-pilot. But not just any cooler will do; you'll want something that can go the distance and keep things fresh no matter how long your trip is! PS: A Cubix Cooler, which stays cold for 5 days, can help.

A Cubix cooler packed with snacks for a road trip

Comfort Must-haves

Travel pillows? Check. Blankets? Check. Let's make sure every mile feels like a cozy Sunday afternoon nap. Don't forget your travel tumbler for your road trip coffee fix.


The sun's out, and the fun's out, but let's remember to protect yourself from those UV rays. Slather on that sunblock like your skin depends on it — because it does, even if you're inside the car. Nothing ruins a road trip like a sunburn, but luckily, it's avoidable.


Let's keep you feeling fresh and fabulous, even when you're miles away from civilization. A morning pitstop calls for a good tooth-brushing if you're driving overnight. Also, pack a roll of toilet paper for when nature calls unexpectedly. Other nice-to-haves are hairbrushes, travel-size soaps and products, and a trusty bar of soap.

Hygiene Items

Hand sanitizer, wet wipes, plastic bags for trash, and you're set for a clean journey. Wet wipes and sanitizer will be incredibly convenient for those public gas station bathrooms.

Extra Cash

While we live in an increasingly cashless society, having a little extra dough on hand never hurts. You never know when you'll stumble upon those roadside hidden gems that only accept cold, hard cash.

person paying with cash


Download those playlists, audiobooks, and podcasts to keep your ears entertained and spirits high, even on the longest stretches of highway. To keep the little ones busy, a good movie on a phone or tablet will do the trick – or a game of I Spy With My Little Eye!

Your Camera

Epic road trips are an excellent excuse to bring a camera to capture your adventurous moments. A phone can work, but a camera, even a disposable one, can increase pixel quality. But if a phone is all you have, bring the selfie stick - we won’t judge!

person on a road trip using their camera

Extra Clothing

Weather can be unpredictable, so make sure you're ready for anything Mother Nature throws your way. A warm rain jacket, extra socks, and hiking shoes should be good enough to survive the elements.

Final Thoughts On Planning A Road Trip

There you have it, a road trip planning checklist that ensures nothing gets left behind. From coolers with snacks to emergency items, you can enjoy a leisurely journey knowing that you've left no stone unturned. Here's to making memories that'll last a lifetime!