Outbound Collective logo

The ultimate list of road trip essentials

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

Planning a road trip? Whether you’re going on a day trip or trekking across the country, reference this list for items you’ll thank yourself for bringing on your journey. From music/podcast recs to yummy snacks and travel apps, we've got you covered. Need lodgings? Be sure to check out KOA before you go!


Listening to podcasts can feel like having friends in the car. Some are entertaining, others informative - there's a genre for everyone! Here are some of our favorites.


    Music is critical for a road trip! It sets the mood, helps you fight through seemingly endless gray skies, and overall provides entertainment. Here are a few playlists to add to your must-listen list.

    Photo: gbarkz


    There will never be enough snacks. Add these ones to your pre-trip grocery list.

    • Trail Mix
    • Perfect Bar
    • Dried Fruit
    • Chips/Pretzels
    • Granola Bars
    • Reese’s Snack Mix
    • CraveBox Care Package (mix of 45 different salty and sweet snacks!)
    • Fruit Snacks
    • Green Pea Snack Crisps
    • Seaweed Snacks
    • Smart Sweets
    • Blue Diamond Almond On-the-Go Snack Packs
    • Clementines
    • Sea Salt Dry Roasted Edamame
    Photo: Sinitta Leunen


    There truly may be an app for everything. These four are especially useful on the road.

    • The Outbound App- For finding incredible local adventures (with GPX tracks) where you can stretch your legs
    • Waze- For getting to your destination with the fewest delays
    • GasBuddy- For finding the cheapest gas prices on the road
    • KOA- For finding great family-friendly camping locations along your trip
      Photo: Karsten Winegeart


      Hygge on the go!

      • Cozy Blanket
      • Neck Pillow
      • Memory Foam Seat Cushion
      • Car Mattress (for longer trips/potential overnight car sleeps)


      Make sure you have all the electronic things to charge your devices for navigation, safety, and entertainment.

      • USB/AUX cord
      • Portable Phone Charger
      • Mini Car Vacuum Cleaner
      • Headphones
      Photo: Kampus Production

        Car Accessories

        These gadgets can make your road trip easier, keep your car cleaner, and help you bring the right stuff you need.

        • Cell Phone Mount
        • Roof Rack/Cargo Carriers (for extra storage)
        • Air Freshener/Diffuser
        • Car Seat Gap Filler
        • Back Seat Organizer
        • Waterproof Seat Cover (for pets!)
        • Mini Car Waste Bin (can fit right in your car’s cup holder!)
        • Folding Car Trunk Organizer
        • Portable Car Desk/Tray
        • Stick-on Window Shade


        An unofficial survey found that (insert high percentage here) of all road trip stories include some kind of a vehicle mishap. Be prepared.

        • First Aid Kit
        • Ice Scraper
        • Jumper Cables
        • Snacks
        • High power flashlight
        • Orange reflective safety cones

        Additional Handy Items

        Don't forget the extras!

        • Cooler
        • Reusable Coffee Cup/Thermos
        • Reusable Water Bottle
        • Picnic Blanket
        • Stain Remover
        • Wipes
        • Hand Sanitizer

        Find awesome lodgings across America with KOA!

        Cover Photo: About Maps

        We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

        Do you love the outdoors?

        Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


        10 Things you need to do in Baja

        wyld honeys

        Journey to Wyoming’s premier snowmobiling destination: Togwotee Mountain Lodge

        Samuel Brockway

        Hiking in comfort: a review of Danner Mountain 600 Evo boots

        Meghan White

        A peek through God's window

        Heather Arnold