17 road trip essential packing list items for adults and kids

Hit the road, Jack.

Well actually, no matter your name, the time to take a road trip is now, and we’re here to help you get ready to go.

Since flying during the pandemic still makes many wary, the best alternative is getting in the car and heading out. Another added perk of road tripping in an RV or camper is that you can also avoid the sky-high hotel and vacation rental prices and spend your savings on having an amazing time seeing our beautiful country.

From finding a vehicle big enough to take you and your family across the country safely and making sure you have the right navigation to having enough food, drinks and necessities to sustain you on the road, road tripping is no small feat.

Below, find a road map to help you plan your next four-wheel getaway, with recommendations to help you avoid any detours along the way.

An RV in the forrest

The ultimate way to road trip is in an RV, as your bed, kitchen and living area can travel the country with you and saves money on pricey hotels.

Browse for the perfect RV on RVShare, with options for how you want to travel. Choose between two different towables or go all-in with either a Class A or a Class C motorhome, no truck or trailer required. RVShare has pickups and drop-offs all over the country, so planning your roadie adventure just got that much easier.

TripAdvisor app on a smartphone.

Trip Advisor is a one-stop shop for all your travel needs, from tickets to your car rental.

Head over to the car rental tab of the site and then browse available rides in more than 60,000 locations worldwide. Choose to look by destination to help you plan a trip from scratch, or look up your nearest airport or city to see what vehicles they have to offer you and your crew. Then, if your road trip includes the need for hotels or sightseeing, Trip Advisor can help with booking those, too.

A GPS system
Best Buy

Two roads diverged in an interstate — and you should choose the one best traveled on.

While we trust you may be an expert navigator, having some backup on a long trip is a good idea. Best Buy agrees, which is why they have an entire page of customer-reviewed GPS systems designed for traveling. Prices start at as little as $99 and many can be quickly mounted to your car or RV’s dashboard for a seamless journey from point A to point B.

An AAA safety kit.

Safety first.

Whenever you get in the car, it’s a good idea to be prepared for anything. Add a few thousand miles onto that and you definitely need an emergency car kit, just in case. Sold on Amazon, AAA sells a 42-piece kit that has everything from jumper cables and a flashlight to a first aid kit and a poncho.

A man and a woman sit on an airplane wearing gray neck pillows

Traveling long distances can really be a pain in the neck.

Alleviate that ache with Ostrichpillow and their Go Neck pillow designed for just this problem. The pillow wraps around any sized neck and provides comfort for the driver when sitting alert at the wheel all day, as well as for the passengers who can now easily lean over and take a nap without straining or waking up with that horrible post-car-sleep stiffness.

A gray lumbar pillow
Sleep Number

For back to work or getting back on the road, keeping your spine in good health is a must.

The Lumbar Pillow from Sleep Number isn’t just for your bed. Take the memory foam support on the road with you, helping to keep your posture perfect and back comfortable, even when at the wheel for long periods of time.

A six-port USB charger

When traveling with multiple people or just multiple devices, make sure you all are fully charged up and ready to go.

This USB charger from Amazon has six ports to keep iPhones, Androids, gaming consoles and your GPS all juiced up for the duration of your trip, without having to untangle cords or fight over outlets.

Two car seats with an organization system on the back full of toys and kid's things

Happy kids in the backseat make for happy drivers and an overall great road trip.

Keep the backseat organized and fully stocked with the kid’s favorite things like snacks, water bottles, toys and more with the set of two over-the-seat organizers from Amazon. The middle section can hold tissues or wipes for messy hands, while the top part of each organizer is perfect for a tablet or small screen, complete with a plastic touch-enabled screen protector.

A car essential oil diffuser and a tube of oil in a brown bottle

Nothing brings more joy than a fresh-smelling car.

From Marie Kondo’s line of life-enhancing products, this essential oil diffuser for the car is sure to spark joy for those who travel. Simply plug the device into the cigarette lighter port in your car, add a few drops of oil and let the calming scent waft through your car, making for the most zen or road trips.

A pink and blue checkered cooler bag

Keep road trip snacks and drinks cold and wet swimsuits off the car’s seats with the waterproof and insulated tote from Herschel.

The tote can hold 32 liters of gear, sodas, or anything else you need to chill on the way to your destination, with zipper closure to prevent spills on the journey. Better yet, once poolside, the bag is also waterproof and a great place to store used suits and towels when loading back into the car.

A yellow Hydro Flask water bottle with straw lid
Hydro Flask

Keep the whole car hydrated and mess-free with these bottles from Hydro Flask.

For the adults on the trip, check out the large 40-ounce bottle, with a straw lid for easy sipping while driving. For the kiddos in the backseat, grab a few of the smaller 12-ounce bottles for just $29.95, which also come with a spill-proof straw lid and a rubber bottom to help little hands hold on tight.

An array of KIND bars
KIND Snacks

Be kind to your body and remember to fuel up while on the road.

Kind Bar has a new online-only package that is perfect for the whole family and easy to pack up when on a road trip. The variety pack comes with 20 bars and includes eight different flavors, from dark chocolate cherry cashew to maple glazed pecan and sea salt and more.

Three boxes of crackers on a red background with a cheese board in the middle
Moon Shot

Whether you’re traveling to the moon or just a few states over, these snacks will help fuel your journey.

These health-conscious crackers from Moonshot are organic, non-GMO and created with the climate in mind, so you can snack guilt-free. The variety pack is perfect for road trips, as it comes with all three flavors to share amongst the car, including Sourdough Sea Salt, Rosemary Garlic and Tomato Basil.

A 24 pack case of pink, blue, white and orange Gatorade

Keep the whole crew hydrated on your journey with Gatorade Zero.

Stock up on your favorite flavors and never get bored, as this variety pack has four different flavors to rotate through on your trip. The Gatorade multi-pack includes 24 bottles of Orange, Berry, Glacier Freeze and Glacier Cherry, all of which come in a 12-ounce bottle perfect for kids and adults on the road.

Three Starbucks coffee energy drink cans

Save time and money on the road by eliminating coffee stops and stocking up on your Starbucks ahead of time.

Head over to the Amazon storefront for everything Starbucks and see what ready-made drinks they have to offer. Start with a Frappuccino for the morning and then transition to one of their Refreshers or energy drinks for the nighttime drives you need an added burst of energy for.

A tin set of road trip trivia cards
Gentleman’s Hardware Trademark

Just because school is out for the summer doesn’t mean learning is off the table, too.

Play an educational road trip game while you explore the country with the trivia set from Gentleman’s Hardware. The card game includes 100 trivia questions that span our great 50 states, covering everything from the largest ball of twine to state capitals and more.

A kid's activity book for road trips

Keep your tiny backseat drivers occupied with this three-in-one activity book from Amazon.

The Ultimate Backseat Book is full of interactive maps, games and reading to keep your kiddos busy and stimulated as you drive to the next stop on your road trip. The three-in-one combines road trip must-reads including the “Kid’s Road Atlas” to help explain where you are going, “Are We There Yet” for trip tracking and puzzles and “Coast-to-Coast Games” to keep them busy looking out the window or working on brain teasers.