Summer was weird last year and I predict the coming summer will look somewhat the same. We’ll be throwing the beach resorts out the window and going with lower profile vacation ideas, like cross-country road trips and camping adventures.

I’m actually all for the summer road trip route. There’s nothing better than heading out with your closest friends or hitting the road solo. But before you put your foot on the gas, you want to make sure that you pack these road trip essentials.

From tech that you’ll want on the road to products for women that will make your life easier, you’ll definitely want to bring the things on this list with you.

Road trip essentials: tech and electronics

Flashlights: portable LED

Having a phone with you is great but it simply will not do. I highly recommend adding a flashlight to your road trip list of essentials, along with one (or even two) battery-powered LED flashlights on your trip.

Your phone battery dies fast when your camera flash is the only light you have on-hand. So, save your phone battery and bring along an emergency light so you can always see!

Portable charger: Anker PowerCore 26800

Speaking of dead phone batteries, you’ll want to bring yourself a portable charger like the Anker PowerCore 26800. I carry a similar charger with me pretty much everywhere because you simply don’t know.

While I wouldn’t recommend using one of these to charge a laptop (though I have in a pinch), it’s great for keeping your phone or tablet batteries charged.

Portable bluetooth speaker: Sony SRS-XB12 Mini

Not only do I bring a portable charger with me everywhere, but I also cart along a Bluetooth speaker like the Sony SRS-XB12 Mini. You never know when you want to share your music with the rest of the group!

You don’t need to go all-out on this, pick something packable and reliable for your solo road trip essentials. It doesn’t need to take up a whole bag to itself to provide quality sound, go with something small and impactful.

Car charger: Anker

When you’re building a cross-country road trip essentials list it makes sense to add a car charger, I happen to like the one by Anker because it has two USB slots and they make generally good electronics products.

If you’re listening to music or podcasts via your phone during your drive, you’ll want to have a way to make sure that you don’t lose your battery. The second charging slot can help you charge a second device or a friend’s phone.

Tablet: iPad Pro

I get that not everyone has the cash for an iPad Pro, but it’s on my long road trip essentials list because it’s my main tablet (and back-up computer). I use it for everything from watching my favourite films and shows to posting on this blog.

My iPad serves as my main (and only) reading device (I download books through my local library when I’m on the go). I use it to watch Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ and watch content I own through Apple TV. I have an Pencil 2 that helps me keep a journal, create blog outlines and take meeting notes. Finally, I add the Magic Keyboard to turn it into a fully-functioning computer so I can work.

If you want something less expensive, I’d recommend going with something like the Amazon Fire tablet. While the screen quality isn’t the same as the iPad, you can still do everything you want on it.

Road trip essentials: clothing + comfort

Sunglasses: Ray-Ban polarized aviator sunglasses

Sunglasses are a must-have when it comes building a fun road trip essentials list, and Ray-Bans are by-far my favourite glasses maker. I know they have a higher price tag on them but you just can’t go without that superior style.

Even if you go with a cheaper pair of sunglasses for your road trip (no judgement here), you’ll want to make sure that your sunglasses are polarized. Polarized lenses help reduce glare and reflections while making it easier to see in really bright situations.

Comfy pants: plus size leggings

You can travel in whatever kind of pants you want to but I highly recommend going with something ultra-comfortable like a pair of leggings. Don’t be that person who heads out in jeans—I’ve done it before and you’ll regret it on hour two.

You want to pick a pair of pants that you can move around in. Sitting in tight, non-stretch pants is incredibly uncomfortable so go with soft, stretchy and comfy. We’ve even put together a list of our favourite affordable leggings just for you!

Travel pillow: Tallgo memory foam pillow

So long as you’re not going to be the sole driver the whole time, having a travel pillow with you is smart. I recommend going with something like the Tallgo that’s made of cushy, comfortable memory foam because it’ll make all of the difference.

Unlike when you’re flying on an airplane, you have a little more flexibility with your road trip packing so you could, theoretically, bring along a regular pillow. But travel pillows are packable, take up less space and ideal to use. [LINK TO TRAVEL PILLOW ARTICLE TBD]

Travel blanket: soft, cozy cashmere

It stands to reason if you’re going to bring a pillow along you should probably bring an accompanying blanket as well. When it comes down to it, any old blanket will do.

But if you’re going to be travelling for a long time you’ll want to be as comfortable as possible, which is why I recommend a soft cashmere blanket.

Comfy shoes: easy-to-remove flip-flops

When you’re on a road trip, you want to make sure that you have shoes that are both comfortable and easy-to-remove. For this, I’d recommend a good ol’ fashioned pair of flip flops like these by MAIITRIP.

However, if it’s not quite warm enough for full-time flip flops (or they’re just not your thing), you could check out my favourite walking shoes.

Road trip essentials list: beauty and wellness

Sunscreen: Sun Bum face stick

You should almost always wear sunscreen, whether you’re headed out to the beach or you’re walking around in the snowy wintery sun. You don’t need excessive heat to get a sun tan (or burn).

When you’re planning for your road trip, I recommend bringing a separate sunscreen for your face, like the Sun Bum face stick. Then something else for the rest of your body, like All Good sport sunscreen.

Lip balm: Burt’s Bees

I don’t go ANYWHERE without my Burt’s Bees lip balm (seriously, I haven’t since I was like 16). It’s one of my very few absolutely cannot live without products. There are a few other Burt’s Bees products I can’t go without.

When you’re road-tripping, especially cross-country, it’s probable that you’ll come across different climates and dryness. That’s where lip balm comes in. It can help ensure your lips aren’t chapped and bugging you!

Body wipes: Bliss lemon and sage

Body wipes can come in real handy when you’re on your road trip, especially when you’re not able to get to a washroom as quickly as you’d like.

Having a pack of Bliss (or something like it) on hand can make you feel more clean and confident. You’ll never know when they’ll come in handy, but you definitely don’t want to get caught without if you need them.

Travel tissues: Reeflex car canister

You don’t want to get caught without tissues when you need them, using the sleeve of your coat to wipe your nose is decidedly not classy. That’s where something travel-friendly like the Reeflex car cannister comes in.

You can throw one of these in the car and you’re ready for your road trip. Alternatively, you can go with something small and packable like a pocket-sized pack of tissues for in your bag.

Hair ties: Invisibobble

Hair ties are crucial for road tripping if you have any length of hair that can fall into your face. I’ll be completely honest, I ONLY use Invisibobbles. They are the only ties that work comfortably in my hair.

With curly hair, finding the right products is crucial. I’ve tried using cheaper knock-offs but they just don’t work properly, this is one of those cases where the original is truly better.

Hand cream: Aveeno Skin Relief

Hand cream is essential to my beauty routine and right now I’m using a cheap and quality option in Aveeno. I have psoriasis and get eczema on my hands when I travel to drier locations so it’s essential that I always have lotion.

I usually bring a hand lotion than a separate cream for my legs, arms and other patches of psoriasis. For that, I tend to go with George’s Special Dry Skin Cream which helps reduce itching.

Dry shampoo: Batiste

I’m not a huge user of dry shampoo myself but sometimes when you’re on the road you simply run out of time to get ready. That’s where a cheap and easy dry shampoo, like Batiste comes in.

Even on a well-planned road trip, you can still come across situations where plans change and you don’t have a proper place to get ready. Quick-and-easy solutions like dry shampoo can really help you keep yourself together.

First aid kit: Small Primacare personal kit

Accidents happen when you’re on the road and it makes sense for you to bring a few things that could help in a situation where someone gets hurt. Something small and simple like the Primacare KB-7411 should work in most situations.

However, you don’t have to actually purchase a first aid kit. You can make one pretty easy, so long as you have a small bag to carry the items in. You’ll want to pack things like bandaids, gauze, hot and cold packs and whatever else you might need.

Personal cleaning products: Hand sanitizer and wipes

While our use of cleaning products like hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes has gone up with COVID, but even in non-health crisis situations, you should absolutely be bringing these along.

Make sure everyone on your road trip crew hand enough for themselves or bring a collective pot that everyone can contribute to. I would also recommend bringing some electronic wipes with you as well. Screens get really dirty.

Road trip essentials: packing

Backpack or handbag: Travelon convertible bag

When it comes to travelling, I tend to gravitate between a backpack and a crossbody for the hands-free experience. I really like the Travelon convertible bag because it can be a backpack or a shoulder bag.

When you’re travelling, it makes sense to use an anti-theft bag that has capabilities like RFID blocking and slash-proof construction. That way your things stay that much more safe!

Secret wallet: Pacsafe bra wallet

There are a ton of ways you can keep your money and cards safe but if you’re travelling in unfamiliar territory, stashing at least some of them away in a secret wallet like the Packsafe bra pouch is a great idea.

You clip this to your bra that way your money and cards stay safe and away from prying eyes and clepto hands (seriously, people can be gross). You don’t have to travel with these, but why not?

Packing cubes: Dot&Dot

I practically live out of packing cubes these days and I can’t sing their praises loud enough. They help keep all of my clothes organized and easy to access, plus it makes my bag easier to pack overall.

You can get packing cubes in a variety of sizes, but I’m slowly learning that having a single-sized cube set like Dot&Dot can be helpful for most of your things. I have a few smaller cubes for undergarments and a larger one for bigger items like sweaters, but most of the time I use medium cubes.

Laundry bag: Dalykate backapack

The first mistake I made when I started living out of my suitcase was purchasing a crappy laundry bag without straps. It was simply a sack with a strap and I absolutely don’t recommend it. Instead, get an actual backpack laundry bag like the Dalykate.

This particular bag has a large sack where you can store dirty laundry, then a mesh bag at the front where you can put your soap and dryer sheets. You can also use the top strap to hang the bag on the back of the bathroom door so it’s easy to throw your clothes in.

Hard case luggage: Ben Sherman Nottingham

Personally, I prefer hard case luggage, like the Ben Sherman Nottingham, over soft case bags. I feel like my things are safer and less likely to be damaged at the airport. Of course, the road trip isn’t the airport so a cute duffle bag would work in this case.

Regardless, you’ll want to make sure that you have a sturdy bag that you trust to keep your belongings safe and organized in. Base the size of your bag on the length of your road trip. If you’re only going for the weekend, you don’t need a huge bag.

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Headed out on the road this summer? I've gathered a list of 24 things you MUST bring with you. Check out this road trip essentials must-pack list.

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