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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

Packing for a road trip involves a lot more than remembering your car keys (although that definitely helps!). Heading out on the highway? Pack these 20 items before you go.

RELATED: 4 common stay-at-home habits that will help you earn toward your next trip

Cooler full of snacks

PB&J, yogurt, string cheese, fruit cups and more offer a nice trail mix alternative, but make sure to bring along a cooler so these items stay fresh! Here’s one that keeps cool items cool and hot items hot!

Travel pillow

When you pull over at a rest stop, snooze in comfort with a pillow designed specifically for life on the go. This road trip-friendly option is an Amazon top seller, compresses easily and is budget friendly.

Orbitz Rewards membership

Don’t leave travel rewards on the table! Join Orbitz Rewards before heading out and earn up to 5% back in Orbucks on your hotel stay, good toward your next hotel stay. These rewards are instant so each stay will help fund the next! Plus, the more nights you stay, the quicker you’ll earn your way to perks like TSA-Pre✓®, Orbucks back for checked bags and more. It’s free to join.

Jumper cables

Jumper cables are a road essential, plus they’re affordable and easy to store in a trunk. These Justin Case Jumper Cables come with a complimentary one-year roadside assistance membership!


They’re not just for the toddler set. Use wipes to clean up in-car messes, impromptu handwashing or for other sticky situations you face along the way. Use the disinfecting version to wipe down surfaces in restaurants, and hotel rooms or vacation rentals, for added peace of mind.

An inspiring playlist

Don’t underestimate the importance of a good playlist—this will be the soundtrack to your road trip, after all! Use an app like Spotify to create playlists around different themes or vibes that suit your terrain, from lonesome highways to sun-drenched beaches.

Day pack

You don’t want to dig through your luggage to pick out your essentials every time you leave the car. Instead, pack all your hiking-exploring essentials in a day pack that will be ready to go when you are.

AAA membership

Whether you carry the card or store your membership info on the app, AAA offers motorists benefits like travel discounts, free identity theft protection and, most, importantly, 24/7 roadside assistance.

Windshield sun shade

Have you ever sat on a scorching hot leather car seat or touched a sun-seared steering wheel? Not fun. In summer, car interiors can get hot—really hot! But a windshield sun shade doesn’t just protect you from a seared bottom; it also protects your car’s electronics from melting down—think LCD screens and GPS devices for starters.

Reusable water bottle

Quench your thirst the affordable and eco-friendly way—with a reusable water bottle. We especially love the colorful designs from Simple Modern.


Even if you’re not someone who typically has to pop one of these chalky wafers after every meal, roadside diner food and sitting idly behind the wheel does take its toll. Pack a roll ahead of time so you don’t end up hurting in the middle of the night when stores are closed.

Smartphone tripod

Stop trying to artfully lean your phone against a backpack or water bottle and instead invest in a simple tripod already! We like the JOBY GripTight whose legs wrap easily around objects like tree branches.

A good gas app

Gas prices do matter when you’re potentially racking up thousands of miles. Use a gas app like GasBuddy to find the cheapest prices at the pump, wherever you are.

Portable phone charger

This one’s nice to have for peace of mind, if you ever find yourself away from a power source longer than expected. Give your cellphone a boost on the go with a backup like the RAVPower portable charger, a 16750 mAh battery pack that works for both iPhone and Android devices.


Plan on letting your arm dangle out the window? Unless you enjoy a crispy appendage, bring sunscreen and use it! SunBum offers a terrific line of products at fair prices. Bring a hat and sunglasses, too!

Air freshener

Long-haul road trips can mean you’re eating three meals a day in your car. If you’re not okay with greasy fast food stinking up your vehicle, get a car air freshener to diffuse the McOdor.

Empty gas can

We hope you don’t run out of gas, but it happens! The last thing you want is to walk a mile to the nearest gas station only to discover it doesn’t sell gas cans, so buy a plastic one beforehand just in case.


The world is going digital and that’s a good thing, but there will still be times out on the open road when metered parking and toll roads call for having change handy. Just keep in out of sight while parked!

Smartphone cord

You probably already keep a cord plugged into your car, but if you’re ditching your regular set of wheels for a rental, don’t be like us and forget to transfer it to the rental (and back again at trip’s end).

Quirky tchotchkes from your home city

Making friends along the way is one of the most rewarding parts of a road trip. Arm yourself with some instant icebreakers in the form of little trinkets from your hometown that you can hand out to friendly folks en route. For example, if you’re from Chicago, you might opt for one of these Chicago hot dog air fresheners. Or, if you’re from California, you might share a Golden State backpack pin.

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Tagged: Feature

Note: Orbitz compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Jason Heidemann & Martina Sheehan

Jason Heidemann & Martina Sheehan

Jason and Martina are the editors of the Orbitz Travel Blog.

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