Having just returned from a San Francisco to Austin (and back again) road trip, I am uniquely qualified to share my road trip essentials. From must-haves to luxury items and everything in between, I have plenty of suggestions. I’m sharing things you already know to bring (like cute shades) and some things you might not initially think of (like a travel towel for when you happen to stumble upon a gorgeous hot spring). Taking a road trip is all about spontaneity and possibilities, but it’s so much more enjoyable when you have what you need. Pack these items, and you’ll be ready to conquer your wanderlust in style.
The open road is calling your name, and you are ready to answer that call. You’ve piled all your stuff in the car, and you’re pumping your favorite tunes on the radio. After a long day of driving, there is nothing more inviting than jumping in a cool swimming hole or relaxing in a hot spring. Not only is this towel stylish, it’s also big enough to keep you covered and warm on your way back to the car.
While we’d like to hope that your entire road trip will be sun-filled, if you’re going to be traveling in various climates, you should pack a rain jacket. Bonus points if it’s cute.
Throw in a Throw
You’re not going to regret dedicating some space in your car to a throw blanket. You’ll use it on your lap to feel more comfy while you drive, as a wrap when you’re sitting by a fire, to picnic on, or as a colorful tablecloth when you’re feeling fancy.
In Case of Emergency
Make your parents happy and be prepared when it really matters—with a roadside emergency kit. Now you won’t have to worry about accidentally draining your battery when you sit in the car jamming out while watching the sunset. This one even comes with a first-aid kit.
Let’s be honest: You’re probably not going to shower every day. When you have to get up in time to watch the sun rise over the Grand Canyon, you’re not going to want to take the time to wash, dry, and style your hair. Luckily, with dry shampoo you can make your rarely-washed locks look and smell fresh.
Not only is this bag stylish, it’s also perfect for packing for a road trip. You don’t want to bring a lot of clothes, and you should make sure the ones you do pack can all pull multi-duty. And this bag has a traveler vibe to it so you can keep your bohemian spirit alive on the road.
Sunglasses are essential because they serve so many purposes: They protect your eyes from the glaring sun on your hikes, help you safely drive when the sun is setting, and can even hold up your less-than-fresh hair when you don’t have a headband. Plus, these sunglasses are unisex so you can share them with your travel buddies.
This delicious, all-natural face stick is perfect for chapped lips or cheeks. You can use it anywhere on your body, which means this multi-tasking essential is a serious space saver.
Having protein-packed snacks like this yummy granola means you won’t have to rely on fast-food restaurants or gas stations.
Got Your Back
This backpack is water resistant, small, and colorful. You’ll be easy to spot on the hiking trail.
If you like a sip of something to warm you up on chilly nights, pack this flask. It hooks to your belt or backpack for ease, and the pattern fun and reminiscent of classic camping gear.
Really long road trips tend to get uncomfortable along the way. Having a pillow for napping or to put behind your back is key to staying pain-free while you sit for long hours.
Having comfortable travel clothes is a must. This dress is comfy during the day, and you can easily dress it up to go out to dinner at night.
Set it to Music
Music helps you make memories, and having a bluetooth speaker allows you to take your music wherever you go. Just imagine listening to your road trip soundtrack while you wind down around the fire making s’mores.
This one really is something of a bonus, but having a compact table in a box. It seats four and only weighs 18 pounds, which means someone could easily carry it to a gorgeous view where you (and three of your friends) can dine and toast your incredible trip.