Essentials for the Perfect Roadtrip

It’s not always possible to travel abroad, so why not the next best thing? Who doesn’t love a good road trip? Whether with a friend or road tripping solo, there is always plenty to see and do along the way.

On weekends during the warmer months whenever I am not travelling, I am out on the road always exploring, and seeing and doing new things.    Unlike travelling abroad, road trips take a relatively short time to prepare for.  Whether it is a day road trip, weekend road trip, or week long road trip, it is necessary to be prepared with all of your road trip essentials packed and ready to go.


Since the majority of my road trips are spontaneous and only for a day or two, there is very little planning involved.  I just have to grab my road trip essentials and hit the road.  When going on a longer road trip, there is a little more planning involved but my road trip essentials always remain the same.

Plan a Day or Weekend Roadtrip

Many times when I am taking a spontaneous day or weekend road trip (which is often), I will just grab my road trip essentials (which I keep packed year round), hop in the car and drive.  There are times though that I am taking a road trip to do or see a specific thing and for a longer period of time.  When deciding in which direction I want to drive for a short road trip, my destination will be determined by what I am in the mood to see or do.  These are some things that I take into consideration:

  • do I want to explore small towns
  • do I want to head to the beach
  • do I want to do some wine or beer tasting.  If this is on the agenda, make sure you have a designated driver with you 
  • do I want to shop (this will never be on my list of considerations lol)
  • do I want to hike or explore the outdoors
  • do I just want to drive and take in the scenery


Once I have decided what it is that interests me and what I’m in the mood for, I’m off!  But not without grabbing my Timmies first (it’s a Canadian thing).

You can't always rely on cellphone service when on a road trip so make a paper map one of your road trip essentials
You can’t always rely on cellphone service, so a map is essential when going on a roadtrip

Longer Roadtrip

  • I map out my route on the paper map (google maps doesn’t always take you the most scenic way)
  • determine if I want to stop and spend a night or two along the way
  • if driving a considerable distance, where do I want to stop
  • what hotels are available where I want to stop
  • are there any sites that I want to see or hikes that I want to do at this stop.  I always try to schedule my overnight stops at a location that offers something that peaks my interest
  • if I decide not to stop and drive straight to my destination, what activities and/or adventures are there at my destination
  • are there day trips I might be interested in doing from my final destination

For a longer road trip, there are many more things to be taken into consideration.  The first thing to consider is where the final destination will be.  I have an easy way of doing this, at least it works for me.  I have a road map (that’s right, an actual paper map) that I highlight every road trip I take.  I don’t usually like to go to the same destination more than once, as I prefer to have new experiences.  I pick a spot on the map that  hasn’t been highlighted yet and that is the direction that I start driving towards.  Once the destination has been determined, I go through my list of Road trip Essentials.

Once I have made all of these determinations it is time to prepare my home for my absence, load up my Roadtrip Essentials, and hit the road….with Timmies in hand.

It doesn’t matter how organized and prepared you are during the planning stages of your road trip, you won’t be going anywhere if you haven’t paid attention to your vehicle.  Afterall, your vehicle is your primary essential for a successful road trip.  Make sure that it is in tip top shape.

Essentials for the Perfect Roadtrip

Preparing Your Vehicle is Essential for a Successful Roadtrip

When I am preparing my vehicle for my road trip, I go through my checklist and make sure that all of the essentials have been checked off:

  • car maintenance
    • oil change
    • proper tires (snow tires if roadtripping in the winter)
    • tires filled with air
    • check brakes
    • make sure windshield wipers are working
    • fluids are topped up (oil, washer fluid, power steering fluid)
  • check all break lights, head lights, tail lights and signal lights
  • have an emergency roadside kit on hand
    • booster cables
    • car jack
    • flairs
    • flashlight
    • blanket
  • spare tire in case you get a flat tire
  • driver’s licence and insurance
  • it is always a good idea to have a CAA or AAA membership in case you require roadside assistance
  • clean inside and outside of vehicle
  • full tank of gas
Before going on a road trip, it is essential that your vehicle is serviced and in working condition.
Maintain your vehicle before going on a roadtrip

Roadtrip Essentials….Just in Case

The car is now in tip top shape and ready to go. It is time to start packing.  While these items are not always essential for your road trip, they are important to have on hand….just in case:

  • map (I never depend solely on google maps, just in case service is not available)
  • phone charger
  • pillow and heavy blanket
  • umbrella
  • bug spray
  • sun tan lotion
  • toilet paper
  • garbage bag
  • hand sanitizer
  • good tunes
  • small first aid kit:
    • small
    • gauze
    • bandaids
    • polysporin
    • advil/tylonal

I keep these items packed in a bag and ready to go whenever I am.  It cuts down on the last minute packing.

Essential Personal Items for a Successful Roadtrip

The amount of personal items you pack will of course depend on the length of your road trip, but it is always a good thing to be prepared in case an emergency arises.  Even for a day road trip, I bring these essential personal items with me:

  • fully charged phone
  • camera
  • lots of water
  • snacks (nuts, apple, grapes, cheese, crackers, veggies).  I love a good picnic!
  • clothing:
    • light jacket
    • comfortable walking/hiking shoes
    • change of clothes
    • bathing suit
    • towel
  • comb/brush
  • toothe brush and toothe paste
Before leaving on your road trip, make sure that you have all of your road trip essentials packed and ready to go
Your roadtrip essentials are now packed and you are ready to hit the road!

You now have all of the essentials for the perfect road trip and you are off!  Don’t forget your Timmies, and your free Roadtrip Essentials checklist! Where are you headed on your road trip?


Kelly xoxo


61 thoughts on “Essentials for the Perfect Roadtrip

  1. Michelle Segrest

    These are really fantastic tips! I just love road trips, especially spontaneous ones, but I usually wish I had planned a little better because sometimes I miss out on something that would have been really cool to see or fun to do! So these checklists are really helpful so you get the most out of your road trip. I love that you map out your route on paper maps! I’m old school like that too! Also, good idea to bring a designated driver if you want to do wine tasting or beer breweries!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sarah Camp | In Search of Sarah

    Great tips! I am not one for road trips (I get car sick) but it looks like I’ll have to find a way around that for this year and explore some places around me within driving distance! I work at a car dealership – so I am a huge proponent of making sure your vehicle has been maintained and ready to go!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nicole Anderson

    Even when there are no international travel restrictions, a road trip can be a great way to see some fabulous sites up close. This, of course, is even true when you go overseas as well, the most recent for us being a road trip through the west coast of Norway, up past the Arctic Circle. The main thing no matter where you choose to go (aside from weather and road conditions), is to ensure there are things worth seeing along the way to relieve/break-up the monotony of driving. As someone who has limited knowledge about cars, I found the checklist you included here to be really helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kelly

    Timmies is a roadtrip essential for sure! I am actually roadtripping from Vancouver to Saskatoon next week (my fiance goes to school there) as we are bring his stuff home since everything is online in the fall. This post is great for planning since its 16 hours each way and I’ve never done a road trip that long!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Niry Fidelis

    Kelly I would also add “trekking shoes”…. (I didn’t see it here in your list) so that you can enjoy some hiking and trekking along the way! What you say?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Melissa

    I love road tripping! I have been taking more of them recently and am currently planning an across the US road trip. These are some really great tips, many of which I make sure I do every time. I do have to remember to bring a map though. I always rely on my phone, which I haven’t had trouble with yet, but when I do take an across the country trip I feel like I may definitely run into some problems with signals. I always tell myself I need to bring a map, but never do. Great points about getting the car ready as well-it is a lot of work for the car, especially long distances, and it’s always great to be prepared!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just One Passport

      I usually can rely on my phone, bu if I’m driving through remote areas or through mountains, the service is very spotty and sometimes non-existant. If you are travelling across the US, I highly recommend bringing a map with you.


  7. Sandy N Vyjay

    We absolutely love road trips. They are such an immersive way of traveling. These are some really sensible and practical essential tips. One of the most important one is of course regarding your vehicle and ensuring it is in perfect condition.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Brian

    Road trips are a huge part of our lives, so I can definitely appreciate your tips. We do a lot of weekend and extended weekend getaways and I think good snacks are one of the most essential components to a good road trip 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Kathleen

    I love a good road trip. It’s a good thing too because we drive a lot. You are right about the paper map. They come in handy a lot of times, especially when you’re away from civilization. We also always have toilet paper, hand sanitizer and wet wipes. Sometimes there is just no water or proper bathroom. I would add that if you have kids, things to keep them occupied in the car are a must. Enjoy your Timmies.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Kendra

    Great tips! Good tunes are a priority for me 😉 I love looking at physical maps too. I also like looking up random, obscure things to see along the way, it’s entertaining to find roadside attractions.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Freya

    Ok now you’ve made me feel like an irresponsible roadtripper LOL. I definitely don’t do half of the car checks that you mentioned, but maybe I should! Great checklist 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. bye:myself

    Sometimes I have the feeling that I’m only travelling so I can organize my trips. And organizing road trips is just wonderful: A new plan for almost every day – yeyiii, count me in. Since I’m not driving but depend on public transportation, I’m taking road trip planning to the next level.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Jackie

    Kelly, we could be excellent travel partners. (For one reason, you won’t find me planning a shopping trip either!) This post is perfect timing for me, because right now, road trips are on my radar. It looks like you’ve thought of everything, including several items to pack I might have overlooked. I especially like that you have a paper map that you’ve highlighted. What a great idea! Thanks for the inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just One Passport

      One day we should go on a roadtrip together (or a beach holiday). I imagine most of us will be roadtripping for the forseeable future though. Definitely no shopping for this girl. It’s not my favourite past time lol.


  14. backpackandsnorkel

    I have stopped using paper maps a long time ago. For most parts of this world, google maps allows you to download offline maps, which I do and I have never had problems. But, just in case, I always have a second map app with another offline map handy.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Archana (@TravelSeeWrite)

    With the COVID19 situation, we are going to see a lot of people take road trips in their own cars instead of taking a flight or a bus/train. The tips you had shared for the perfect road trip are so useful and true for any country. I can’t wait to go on a road trip.

    Liked by 1 person

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