Road Trip Must-Haves for Your Car

Nothing starts off summer break better than a vacation! Getting on a plane, train, or automobile, and arriving at a new or favorite destination creates amazing memories for anyone. If you are doing some road-tripping, you will need to pack differently than you would for a plane trip. Consider the riders, because you’ll definitely need to pack more if you’ve got kids, seniors, or dogs. If you’ve got all three…well, you may just have to go full Griswold! We’ve got a list of road trip essentials for your car, so your trip is not just fun, but also safe and comfortable.


Consider these trip factors: The route you are taking, the amount of driving time each way, how populated the route is, what services (gas and food) will be available, and the climate.

  • Flashlight
  • Jump starter or jumper cables
  • Roadside emergency kit
  • Power banks for your devices
  • Multitool
  •  Optionals
    • Dash-cam
    • Portable tire inflator
    • One-gallon gas container
    • Dash-mount GPS (if your car doesn’t have an integrated one)
    • Road atlas or map (if you will be driving a long time in areas with no cellular service)


  • Blankets and pillows/plushies
  • Car window shades
  • Sunglasses
  • Car trash bin (Empty it out at rest stops. Don’t put wet items in it!)
  • A few reusable, waterproof bags. They will get used, trust me.
  • Hoodies and hats (In case you stop in somewhere with the AC blasting or very sunny.)


Food and Beverages

  • Reusable water bottles (Refill them at rest stops or restaurants, then keep using at your destination!)
  • Insulated coffee travel mug (Gotta stay awake!)
  • Small soft-sided cooler for sandwiches, fruit, etc.
  • Small bin for grab-and-eat snacks (granola bars, fruit leather, chips, etc.)


  • First-aid kit
  • Sea-Bands or Dramamine for nausea
  • Sunblock (Yes, you can get sunburned in a car!)


  • Devices (A road trip is a good time to loosen up on screen time restrictions.)
  • Headphones or earbuds for everyone (so you aren’t listening to Taylor Swift, The Little Mermaid, and the Mariners game at the same time)
  • E-reader
  • Audiobooks or podcasts (download them to your device, in case you lose cellular connection)
  • Spotify or Pandora playlists (give everyone a turn to play theirs)
  • Activity books (my kids loved sticker books during road trips)


Packing Tips

  • Use small and medium storage bins that stack.
  • Pack the car in order:
    • The items that will likely—and hopefully—not be used (e.g., some of the safety and health items) at the very bottom or back.
    • The will-probably-use-at-some-point items next.
    • Easiest to reach or to get to should be the things you and the other riders will be using on/off most of the car ride.
  • Make a list of items you are bringing, and check them off as each one is placed into the car. When you’re packing for the return trip, use the same list to make sure you aren’t leaving anything behind.

Have a great time!


Get a FREE In-home or Virtual Consultation

Need help from our professional organizers in the Seattle and Eastside areas? Schedule your FREE consultation with one of our experts today!