Must have gear for every road trip

“Shoot, that’s a cool-looking trail, we should have packed our hiking gear.”

“Sure would have been nice to have some snacks on this voyage, Dad.”

“Oh crap, we have a flat.”

We’ve all said or heard these at one point or another on a trip, and with a little bit of planning, you can minimize the amount of “wish I hads” that happen while traveling.

No matter if you are hitting the road in the family SUV or a huge Class A RV, don’t forget to pack these items:

A Good Camera


Photo: Anthony Quintano/Flickr

Got a new smartphone? Then you have a pretty decent camera with you at all times. Now get out there and snap away.

Inflatable paddleboard


This one fills all the requirements for general fun on the water. Good paddlers can run whitewater on a SUP, or they are awesome on flat lakes and streams with gentle currents. Plus, they fold up and stow away easily, making them the perfect piece of gear to take your adventures on the water.

Portable fridge

Portable fridge

Photo: Pinterest

They are pricey, but if you are serious about road tripping, they will save you both time and money in the long run. Models by ARB, Dometic, Waeco and other high-end portable fridges have both a freezer section and a fridge section and can operate off of both 12v and 120v. Don’t leave home without it.

Family-sized First Aid Kit


Photo: Adventure Medical Kits/Flickr

Believe me, someone’s going to get a boo-boo. Be prepared and pull out the necessary medical supplies from your kit. Adventure Medical Kits makes some great prepackaged kits that are perfect for road travel.

Emergency fix-it toolbox


Photo: Wonderlane/Flickr

Forgo the el-cheapo items found in bundled kits and make your own. Jumper cables, headlamp, folding lug wrench, jump box, flat repair kit, fix a flat, flares, jack, electrical tape, duct tape, socket set, electrical connectors. Don’t forget a good quality air compressor. Also, roadside insurance coverage is a huge plus, but still bring along your own tools just in case.



Photo: Seatosummit/Flickr

Yep, less is more when it comes to road tripping. In your backpack, pack with modular stuff sacks, which makes for good organization and packing. Load your backpack with a camp cookset, a minimal assortment of clothes, hygiene kit and other items that you’d pack on a trip. Pull out what’s not needed for a day hike, and get out on the trail.



Photo: Stephen Depolo/Flickr

Get to the corner store quickly, cruise around the campground, hit a few scenic trails, or use them as an emergency shuttle if you experience a breakdown in your rig. Pop a hitch mounted rack on the back of your vehicle and your bike is safe and ready for the road.

Apps and Maps Apple Maps

Photo: Janitors/Flickr

Load you your phone with plenty of trip-helping apps and maps. See our post here on that.

Tech kit


Photo: Ian Mackenzie/Flickr

Beyond apps and maps, make sure to pack a Ravpower device for media storage (shareable movies, music, photo storage), a backup battery with USB ports and a small inverter that plugs into the 12v outlet in your vehicle.

We’ve done a road trip from Florida to Maine a list very similar to this one camping in our Honda Element (we usually tow it behind our RV) for about a month. You can do it, too, and it makes for easy access to National Parks, roadside attractions and quick stops at trailheads and restaurants. Good times.

Ready to hit the road? Tell us what you pack and where you are heading on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.