Road trips are an awesome way to travel. There’s nothing like setting out on the wide-open road and not quite knowing what adventures await you.
Road trips allow you so much more freedom, flexibility, and opportunities to find some true hidden gems you otherwise might not have discovered. 2020 unexpectedly turned into the year of road trips for many, including us.
Our epic Croatia road trip really made us fall in love with this type of travel!
While covering many miles on the road, we tested a number of road trip accessories and narrowed down the ones that can really take your trip to the next level.
So if you, too, are planning an epic road trip, here are 20 long car ride essentials that will help make the drive so much smoother.
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Before Hitting the Road
Before hitting the road, there are some important items you’ll want to make sure you have with you. These include your car’s registration, proof of insurance, and a copy of your driver’s license. In addition to these documents, you’ll want to ensure you have the roadside assistance number for your car’s manufacturer or your auto insurance saved in your phone for easy access.
It’s also a good idea to have a roadside emergency kit on hand. Hopefully, you will never actually need to use these items, but in the unlikely event of an emergency, you’ll have everything that you need. If you’re driving in remote areas, you might also want to consider having a portable gas container in the trunk.
Now that we’ve got the practical items covered, it’s time to move on to the fun stuff! Whether you need minivan camping accessories or are looking for the best car accessories for road trips, this list has it all covered.
Must-Have Road Trip Accessories in 2021
Entertainment for Road Trips
Make documenting memories on your road trip even more fun when you pack a retro polaroid camera! Taking pictures with just your phone is a great way to capture moments, but sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the digital world and document photos the good old-fashioned way – with print photos. An instant camera like this one by Fujifilm should be a suitcase staple on any road trip.
No vacation is complete without an epic playlist and the best Bluetooth speaker to listen to it on. That’s why the Oontz angle speaker from Cambridge Sounds is a must-have road trip accessory in 2021. This small wireless Bluetooth speaker gives you some surprisingly BIG sound with a range of up to 100 feet. I personally own the 1st and 3rd generation speakers from Oontz and absolutely love them.
Noise Canceling Headphones
A good pair of noise-canceling headphones are one of the best road trip accessories you can invest in. These come in handy if you need to get work done while on the road, and are absolutely essential for keeping the peace during long family car rides. My favorite noise-canceling headphones are these ones from Bose, but Beats offers great headphones as well. Mpow is a good budget-friendly option to get for kids so you don’t have to worry about their headphones getting lost or broken.
If you’re going on a road trip, you need to take a GoPro with you! These small, but mighty, action cameras can be mounted almost anywhere and are perfect for capturing your journey. If you’re looking for a camera to add a little extra fun to your trip but also won’t break the bank, GoPro is the only way to go.
Road Trip Accessories for Dogs
Dog Car Seat
One of the best things about road trips is the fact that you can bring your furry friends with you! This dog car seat is perfect for small pets as it is waterproof, anti-collapse, durable, and comes with a clip-on safety leash. A dog car seat is great for helping your dog feel more secure and letting you drive worry-free.
Collapsable Water Bowl
A collapsable water bowl has got to be one of the best pet accessories I own. Not only are these perfect for road trips, but they are also super practical for hiking, long walks, and trips to the dog park. They fold up quickly and fit perfectly into any backpack, and they also come with a clip so that you can clip the bowl onto almost anything for easy access.
Food & Drink for Road Trips
Every road trip requires a solid cooler. When choosing a road trip cooler, you’ll want something that will keep ice frozen for all those hours on the road, but that is also easily portable. You’ll also want to make sure that it is leak-proof because nobody likes a wet car seat. This cooler from Igloo is the best road trip cooler you can get your hands on. It can keep items cold for up to four days, is sturdy, and easy to maneuver.
Cutting down on excess plastic is something that is so easy to do, especially when you’ve got your own good quality water bottle. The best water bottle I’ve ever owned is by S’well. They literally make the best water bottles, ever. This stainless steel S’well water bottle is BPA-free and keeps drinks cold for up to 36 hours, or warm for up to 18 hours. These bottles are extremely durable, come in a variety of designs and colors, and don’t have that gross plastic-y taste.
Road Trip Snack Storage
Is your road trip really complete without any snacks? To avoid pricey gas station food or stopping at the drive-through, packing some solid snacks is essential. Some of our favorite road trip snacks are:
- Sweet & salty trail mix
- Banana bread muffins
- Dark Chocolate Blue Diamond Almonds
- Carrots & celery
- Strawberries & blueberries
If you’re going to be bringing perishable snacks like sliced fruit or veggies, keeping them fresh on the road is essential. This S’well Stainless Steel Food Container is perfect for storing the best road trip snacks and even keeping cooked food warm for up to 7 hours. These food containers are sturdy just like the S’well water bottles, easy-to-clean, and completely spill-proof.
Portable Espresso Maker
Coffee-lovers rejoice! This tiny, handheld espresso maker is super simple to operate and fits into any backpack. All you have to do is add your favorite ground coffee into the filter basket and pour hot water into the water tank. In just a few moments, you’ll have a freshly brewed cup of espresso ready to enjoy! This espresso maker can fit up to 50ml of water, making it the perfect size to share with your travel buddies.
In an effort to be more green, bamboo cutlery is a great sustainable solution to reducing plastic waste. You can use bamboo cutlery the same way you would use a reusable water bottle. Instead of grabbing a plastic fork when you stop to get food on the road, bring your own! This set of bamboo travel utensils comes with four complete sets of cutlery, each with its own unique carrying case – a great option for families or groups traveling together. Each cutlery set includes a fork, knife, spoon, chopsticks, straw, and straw cleaner.
Tech Gadgets for Road Trips
When going on any long car ride, one of the best road trip gadgets is having a charger that allows you to power up multiple devices at once. This car charger supports three types of charging ports including USB, Type-C, and 2 cigarette lighter sockets allowing you to charge up to 5 devices at the same time.
When on the road, you’ll likely be making unplanned stops at interesting locations along the way. Whether you’re stopping to check out a breathtaking viewpoint or to explore a national park, it’s always a good idea to have a power bank on hand. You never know when and where you might need to charge your device and if there will be any outlets around. A power bank like this one is ideal as it can charge an iPhone nearly 7 times.
Car Vacuum Cleaner
One of the must-have in-car accessories that many people overlook is a handheld vacuum cleaner. When you’re spending so many hours in your vehicle, crumbs and dirt become almost inevitable. Keep your car spotless with a cordless vacuum cleaner that is easy to store, and can get to all of those hard-to-reach places.
While on the road, you need to be prepared for every possible situation. It’s always good to have some extra cash or a credit card on hand that you can store in a secure place like this portable lockbox safe. Additionally, having a safe can give you peace of mind, especially when you know you are traveling with valuables or important documents. This portable safe can be easily secured to another object and can be opened using a key or custom three-digit combination.
Magnetic Car Phone Mount
Out of all the road trip car accessories out there, the one that is crucial to making your life easier on the road is a quality magnetic car phone mount. The convenience of these things is unsurpassable, especially when you are using your phone as a GPS. This magnetic car phone mount is sturdy, has incredibly strong suction, and allows you to position your phone at the perfect angle.
Backseat Car Travel Organizer
When packing for a road trip, it can be difficult to stay organized in such a small space. Sometimes your trunk just isn’t enough, and the backseat isn’t an option. One of the best car organization accessories available is this car organizer from Amazon. It fits over the backseat perfectly and is ideal for storing items that might be damaged in the trunk, or even worse, spill during the trip. It doesn’t take up much space and can easily hold laptops, tablets, headphones, toys, and even drinks.
A trunk organizer is one of the best car travel accessories you can own. They’re even super practical to have in your vehicle, even when you’re not going on a road trip. Trunk organizers can be used for storing and organizing road trip snacks and groceries, and they can also be used as an emergency kit.
If you thought packing cubes were only for air travel, think again. Packing cubes have become a staple on our list of must-have road trip accessories because they help keep everything so much more organized. Families can easily pack all of their clothing into one suitcase, with one larger packing cube dedicated to each family member. They are also practical for organizing clothing into different categories like shirts, pants, pajamas, etc. This set of packing cubes even comes with a dedicated laundry bag for storing dirty clothes.
Additional Road Trip Gear
No matter what time of the year you choose to embark on a road trip, it’s always good to have a waterproof blanket on hand. You never know what the weather will be like when you arrive at your destination or if you’ll have to make an unanticipated stop along the way. A waterproof blanket ensures that you always have a dry place to sit, and provides additional warmth for those unexpectedly chilly evenings.
Quick Dry Towel
A quick-drying travel towel is a must-have when it comes to road trips. They are lightweight and compact, and great to have on hand for impromptu beach days or dips in the lake. It does take a bit of getting used to because the material is different from the big fluffy towels you typically dry with at home, but it is super absorbent and dries ultra-fast.
As long as you’re not the one driving, one of the must haves for long road trips is the classic neck pillow. Whether you’re sitting on the passenger side or got the unfortunate spot in the middle of the backseat, you’re going to want to have a neck pillow if you expect to get any rest on the road. This neck pillow is made with memory foam and is super cozy.
Car Trash Can
One of the road trip essentials that many people miss is an in-vehicle trash can. When you’re on the road for an extended period of time, you begin to collect wrappers, empty snack bags, drink bottles, tissues, you name it. In an effort to keep your home on wheels clean, getting a trash can is one of the best car road trip accessories you can buy. This one from Amazon is super practical and comes with a starter pack of 20 liners.
If you’re going to be traveling as a family, or with friends, one of the best travel accessories you can buy are these car window shades. Car window shades are especially useful when driving for long periods of time in the sun. They block over 98% of UV rays and protect passengers and pets from glare and overheating. This pack comes with four car window shades that are easy to fit onto your window and conveniently fold up quickly for storage.
An umbrella is something that can be easy to forget when packing for a road trip, let alone a wind-proof one. You never know when you might unexpectedly get stuck in a torrential downpour, so having an umbrella on hand is a good idea. This umbrella windproof and travel-sized, so it won’t take up too much precious space in the car.
Best Car Gadgets and Car Travel Accessories Summary
And there you have it! Twenty travel gadgets and accessories that will make your road trip more comfortable, enjoyable, and most of all, safe.
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