Taking to the road can be a truly relaxing and rewarding experience, but if you find yourself a while down the road before realising you left something important at home, it probably won’t be as relaxing as you thought. Here are a few items you simply cannot go on a road trip without (and a few of my own personal touches from my own experiences along the deserted gravel road).

Car GPS by Marcin Wilchary (Flickr)

Map or GPS

This should only be ignored if you know where you’re going (and I don’t mean the male “I know where I’m going” quip). In fact, even if you do know where you’re going, you can’t lose out by stuffing a map or GPS into your cubby hole for safe keeping. It’ll only there if you need it.


Whatever your chosen medium, be it a mixed CD or iPod, no road trip is ever complete without some good music – and in my experience, not without a few old school jams you can sing along to. Some recommended goodies: “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson, “Country Roads” by John Denver, and “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey.

Packed Car by Simon Dogget (Flickr)

A companion

No road trip is ever fun without someone to share it with. Whether this is your partner, best friend, dog, or family member, a companion will make the difference between a terrible and enjoyable journey.

Cell phone

No, I don’t mean so you can spend the entire trip browsing Facebook or chatting to your friends. This is here for emergencies – as you don’t want to get a flat tyre in the middle of nowhere with no way to call for help. You can also download some Travel Apps if you have a smartphone to help you plot your route, learn some vital facts, and check the weather of your chosen destination.

Padkos by Daveynin (Flickr)


Travelling on a rural road in the middle of nowhere is never the best time to be struggling with hunger pangs. Pack a picnic basket or cooler box full of snacks for the road, such as biscuits, rusks, and a flask of hot water for a tea stop; lunch items like sandwiches or rolls pre-packed in re-sealable bags; and some snacks like biltong, nuts, chips, or whatever takes your fancy. Don’t forget the water!


Stock your car with hand sanitiser, sanitary wipes, a roll of toilet paper, and a First Aid Kit filled with plasters, motion sickness tablets, antiseptic, bandages, etc.

Camera by MSVG (Flickr)


“It’s about the journey, not the destination”. We’ve all heard this quote, but if you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, away from the skyscrapers, you’ll realise the truth in this saying. Find a pretty spot on farmlands, a mountain pass, or near the sea to stop off for a snack and make sure you get a good couple of shots while you’re at it! After all, a road trip is better documented.

Comfortable items

Provided you’re not the driver (or the navigator), you’re entitled to a little shut eye, so include a small blanket and neck pillow. If you’re travelling with kids, don’t forget to kit them up with pillows, blankets, and other comforts in the back seat – this will help them to fall asleep and give you and your partner some quiet time to reflect along the roads.

First Aid Kit by Papertygre (Flickr)

Emergency car kit

Make sure you get your car checked completely before heading out on any long road trip. However, you can’t avoid the inevitable and if the worse happens, ensure you’re equipped with an emergency car kit with items like a spare tyre, jack, jumper cables, motor oil, a torch, a bottle of water, and a spare tank of petrol (optional).

Comfortable clothing

When you’re stuck in a car for a good couple of hours, there’s nothing more frustrating than not feeling completely comfortable, so by all means, pack those tight skinny jeans for later. Put on a comfortable tracksuit and take some clothes to change into on arrival. Another great tip is to pack a change of clothes in an easily accessible overnight bag so you don’t have to scramble for any items from your fully packed suitcase.

Car Key by Caitlinator (Flickr)

Spare keys

Despite your raised eyebrows, you’ll be surprised how often car keys get lost on holiday. Bring along a spare set and give it to your partner to keep so that in case of emergency, you’ll still be able to drive back home.


This includes your driver’s license, car license, insurance card, credit cards, hotel bookings, and contact numbers of roadside assistance – as well as certified copes of all of the documents you’re taking with you. If you’re travelling out of the country, pack your passports and necessary visas too.

Audio Books by Michael Casey (Flickr)

Reading material

Be they books, kindles, or audio books, these items can help to pass the time. You’ll also be able to get in a good few hours of reading which you may never have found time for otherwise.


Pack a bag filled with car appropriate games such as magnetic snakes and ladders, travel bingo, or even just a ball or Frisbee to let off some steam when you stop off for lunch.

Messy Trunk by Statefarm (Flickr)

Car chargers

These items can be plugged into your car’s cigarette lighter to charge cell phones, laptops, iPods, and more so you don’t find yourself stuck without power on a long car journey.

Rubbish bag

You’ll need a rubbish bag or plastic bag to store all of your rubbish in, from chip packets to banana peels.

What other items do you recommend bringing along on a road trip?