Few things say summertime quite like getting in your car, rolling the windows down and bopping along to your favorite playlist. If you’re lucky, you have a chance to take this to the next level and plan yourself a full-blown road trip. For some, your ideal road trip is planned down to the number of pit stops while others prefer to travel a bit more spontaneously. Either way, a little planning and organization on the front end of the trip will only help to ensure you have the best possible vacation. I’ve taken the guesswork out of the planning process to bring you a list of essentials that are a must for your next summer road trip.


These days, many people just hop on their cell phones and plug in the address of their destination for directions. The only problem is that depending on your location, you could end up without cell service. Rather than getting stuck in a strange place without knowing where you are, there are a few backup plans you can prepare with.

If you are savvy with a map you can be prepared the old-fashioned way and keep a map in the car. You’ll want to be sure the map encompasses the full area you’ll be traveling over the course of your trip.

For the more technologically-inclined, consider downloading The Dyrt before you head out. Not only can you plan out your trips right in the app but it has a feature that allows for offline use. This can be very helpful if you’re out of service range but are in need of finding a gas station or a rest stop. A little prep with this app and you can support any leg of the trip– on or off the grid.

This app also helps with finding places to camp out which is perfect for a summer road trip!

First Aid

While the summertime is a great and long-awaited time of year for many, it also comes with some hazards to be on the lookout for. Having a first aid kit on board can help you and your co-travelers get back to enjoying themselves if they find themselves crossed with a common summer affliction.

It may be easiest to purchase an already curated kit so you get the basics and an easy to stow case and then add in other traveling first aid essentials. Ideally you want to be prepared for anything but with limited space, be sure your kit at least covers these common ailments: allergies, sun burns, insect bites, poisonous plant rashes, dehydration, motion sickness, and headaches.


A road trip pretty much begins and ends with your vehicle’s ability to withstand the journey you’ve planned. As much as we’d like to avoid it, things go wrong. While some instances may require some emergency assistance, there are some situations you can be prepared for so that you can get back on the road safely. Consider putting together a comprehensive roadside kit to help keep you and your passengers safe and possibly get back on the road faster.

For those traveling with children, you will want to consider the time delay involved with any emergency situation. From low stress level situations to the more drastic, it’s likely going to require your undivided attention. A great way to keep your kids calm and occupied is by making sure to bring a device with their favorite movie or game on it. It may also be a good idea to download these items directly to the device in the case that your emergency situation transpires somewhere out of service. To ensure the kids are completely at ease, you’ll want to make sure they each have a pair of headphones that fit comfortably. If you only have one device they are sharing, you’ll want to have a headphone splitter on hand as well so they can both be fully tuned in.

Helping the kids remain stress-free during your time of crisis allows the adults to be focused on handling the situation without distraction. But let’s be honest, these devices will be handy to occupy the kids well outside of emergencies. For longer trips, they’re an absolute must!


While we’re on the topic of technology there are a few items to have handy in the car for a highly successful road trip. First and foremost arechargers. Everyone is likely to have at least one device and depending on the length of the trip, burning through battery power is to be expected. There are usually a limited number of ports available as well, so having a fully charged portable power bank as a backup will be helpful.

Even though many devices function off of rechargeable batteries, you will want to check all of your equipment to see if bringing back up batteries is necessary. Having a few AA, AAA or even D batteries on hand may come in handy for flashlights, handheld electronics, or certain items in your emergency kit.

Less pressing but just as helpful are gadgets that support your tech in the car. Having a solid phone mount will help to keep your phone out of the way, while still in view. This way if you’re using it for directions or playing your audio from the phone, it doesn’t become a hindrance or safety hazard. Additionally, having some kind of tech case that can store and protect any chargers, power banks and wires will keep everything organized and readily accessible for when their time comes. 

The nice summer weather will lend itself to some beautiful natural scenery and great lighting, so if you have a good camera, now is the time to get it out. Snap some memories to reminisce on after the trip. These days it’s common to just use your phone but the pictures rarely make it to the printers. Consider an instant camera so you have the pictures immediately as you go along your trip.


Being comfortable during a road trip means way more than just packing a pillow. There isn’t the option to check your luggage for added leg space when you’re driving to your destination so packing strategically becomes a matter of comfort and ease of access. Utilize different bags to keep your trip supplies organized.

The clothes you pack for the vacation itself can and should be in one bag. Toiletries and outer layers like rain coats or hoodies should be packed separately and left in a place that can be reached. Having a backup change of clothes in this easy-to-access bag allows for easier maneuvering through your plans. If you know there’s a nice beach spot or hike you’re stopping at along the way, having the items and clothing in this separate, more accessible day-bag will make your day plans a breeze.

What’s a road trip without your favorite snacks? No one wants to sit in a car for hours on end, possibly a little bored, possibly quite hungry. The longer you go without eating, too, you may start to get uncomfortable, and as some call it, hangry. At the same time, you’re trying not to over-pack the car so limiting your options to a few snacks for variety should be a good way to get you through your travels.


It’s hard to totally have all your bases covered when you’re traveling. Especially in the instance of road trips when you’ve tried to pack lightly or things were possibly lost at rest stops– things are bound to turn up missing.

When you arrive at one of your destinations, you’re usually pretty exhausted or in need of some down time to properly feel settled in. There’s not always time or energy available to go replace or just purchase any last minute items that you may need. One easy hack around this is to have a delivery app downloaded so you can have any essential items brought right to you. These Gopuff reviews from iPhone users attest to some pretty commonplace situations that the service has come in handy for. From needing diapers or pet food to snacks and alcohol or even over the counter medicines, same day delivery keeps your plans right on track.

Taking the time to get all these things set before your trip will help you have peace of mind and focus on the more fun parts of your vacation. Being this organized within your vehicle also ensures that no matter what kind of road tripper you are, spontaneous or tactful, you’ll have everything you need to have a great time.