10 Essential Items to Pack for Your Next Road Trip

Written By: Alisha McDarris 
It’s summer! And for a whole lot of folks, summer means it’s road trip season! Here at Terradrift, we couldn’t agree more; it’s one of our favorite ways to travel. You get to take your time, snap photos at weird roadside attractions, wander through small towns and state parks, and explore some seriously rad outdoor spaces. 
But before you back out of the driveway, make sure you’re stocked with all the essentials. Load up the trunk with these 10 items (all things we’d never leave home without) and you’ll be prepared for wherever the road may lead.

#1 Map

Sure, there are a plethora of navigation apps available out there, but on a road trip, data and cell service aren’t guaranteed. So it’s always worth it to have a paper map or atlas of the area you’re exploring in case your GPS fails you. It happens. It’s also more fun to follow along and track your route and progress on an actual physical map. Bring a highlighter and you’ll have a fun keepsake when it’s all over.

#2 Hammock 

No road trip is complete without a hammock. Fortunately, the Loafer Hammock is perfectly packable so you can bring one along for every person crammed into the trusty road trip mobile. That way, when you take a hike to a scenic lookout, set up camp for the night, or decide to enjoy a leisurely picnic at a peaceful rest stop, you can swing and sway to your heart’s content.

Hammock set up in between palm trees at sunset

Coalatree Hammock 

#3 Clothes that will take you from mountain to city

Chances are, space is limited in your car, so it makes sense to pack as much comfortable, multi-functional clothing as possible so you can transition from car to mountain to city without missing a beat. A pair of Trailhead shorts and pants and one or two of Coalatree’s quick-tree tees check all the boxes (and look good doing it)!

#4 Cozy layers

Nights on the road can get cold, especially if your journey promises to take you to more northern climes. So pack a cozy layer like the Evolution Hoodie and Joggers. Perfectly suited for curling up in the backseat or gathering around a campfire, the coffee ground-infused fabric will help keep the super soft fleece fresh. And fun fact: the hoodie packs up into its own pocket and makes an excellent camp (or car) pillow.

#5 Power

Chances are, you’ll have to charge a camera, laptop, headlamp or some other battery-powered device while you’re on the road. So don’t forget to bring along a way to juice up all your devices. Consider solar panels or a solar-powered backup battery like those from Goal Zero so you can re-charge your electronics sustainably.

#6 Adventure blanket

Girl wrapper in the Grandview Puffy Blanket in with the red rocks in the background The Kachula Blanket 

Nothing replaces a good adventure blanket when it comes to multi-functional road trip gear. So grab a Kachula Adventure Blanket to use as a picnic blanket, beach blanket, lightweight wrap, even a water-resistant poncho! In cooler temps, curl up with the Puffy Kachula to stay toasty around the campfire. When you make a pit-stop, throw one over the valuables you keep in the backseat to disguise them from passers-by, too, or use it as a table cloth on grungy campground tables.

#7 Camping gear

Guy sitting at his Campsite in a Camper Hooded Jacket Evolution Hoodie 

Sleeping under the stars during your road trip? Don’t forget to double-check that you have all the gear you need to succeed. A tent or hammock, sleeping bag and sleeping pad, and a fully outfitted cook set are vital to enjoying yourself and offering the freedom to sleep and stay wherever the heck the road takes you. Don’t forget to double-check that you have all the necessary parts and pieces, too. I’ve learned the hard way that tents aren’t super effective without poles…

#8 Backpack

Be prepared for anything—hikes, day trips, overnight stays—with a quality backpack. It allows you to toss in all the essentials and explore (or move from car to hostel to dive bar) hands-free whether you’re taking to city streets or the great outdoors. Try the Nomad Packable backpack or Compass backpack on for size.

#9 Snacks and water

Evolution Hoodie 

Don’t skimp on snacks when packing the cooler for a road trip. Bring a little bit of everything: salty, sweet, crunchy, soft, savory, healthy, indulgent, you name it. It will make the time spent in the car more enjoyable. Together with plenty of water (pack at least a gallon jug or two), it’ll also provide ample opportunity to stop, rest, relax, even set up camp wherever and whenever you like, no matter how far you are from the next resupply stop.

#10 Emergency supplies

Finally, whatever you do, don’t hit the road without going prepared. Check that you have jumper cables, extra fluids like engine oil and brake fluid, and your car’s owner’s manual. Ensure you have supplies to address physical needs, too, including a first aid kit, painkillers, motion sickness meds, etc.
Be prepared with everything you need to succeed on your next road trip, then get out there and explore the great wide world we live in. Pack smart and wander on.

Author bio: Alisha McDarris is the co-founder of Terradrift, a sustainable travel and adventure blog and YouTube channel that aims to help folks get outside and explore more and do so responsibly and sustainably via gear reviews, destination guides, sustainability spotlights and snarky how-to’s.

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