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Prepping for a road trip requires more than just making sure you have your license and registration together. There's a long checklist of utilitarian items—we're talking jumper cables, spare tires, roof racks—that need to be in order before hitting the road, and focusing on those tends to take up the bulk of planning and packing. That's where we come in: We're here to remind you of the little things that deserve a spot in the car to make your travel go that much smoother.
Pick up an info-packed field guide that'll give you a unique insight into your destination, invest in a smart gadget that ensures you never have to endure bad diner coffee, and don't forget a blanket from one of the most iconic textile companies to see you through impromptu roadside picnics. It's all here in our list of the best road trip essentials—make sure you have everything squared away before your big trip.
Field Guides: Desert Southwest
Pick up one of Wildsam's Field Guides for an insider look at your destination. Each one is chock full of interesting info that goes beyond a simple map; for example, this one on the American Southwest includes tips on where to find the best burgers in Moab, Utah, and how to take desert photos like a pro.
This neck pillow is made from memory foam that conforms to your neck, providing possibly the most comfortable nap you could take in a moving vehicle. Because the cover is removable (and machine-washable), it's low-maintenance, too.
Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker
For those early morning starts, skip the Starbucks drive-through and treat yourself to an espresso on the go, courtesy of this lifesaver of a gadget. Brew your own coffee in minutes and enjoy it straight from the lid to minimize clean-up.
First Aid Kit
Preppi's handy kit has everything you could ever need: From gauze to antibiotic cream to nitrile gloves, it's got you covered for every worst-case scenario.
72-Hour Merino Tee
Listen, road trips generally mean that you won't have access to a laundry machine for quite some time—make it easier on yourself by packing clothes that can handle it, like Proof's 72-hour Merino wool tee. It's engineered to be moisture-wicking, odor-proof, and temperature-regulating.
Stay Hot Keep Cold Bottle
Keep your hydration levels up with a reusable bottle. Double-wall stainless steel provides enough insulation to keep water cold for up to 24 hours, and hot drinks like coffee or tea warm for up to nine.
Vintage Steel Cooler
Stave off hunger by keeping snacks at the ready. Coming in at a 54-quart capacity, Coleman's vintage-inspired cooler has plenty of space for groceries. It also has comfort-grip handles so you can carry it from your car to the campsite with ease.
Yakima Camp Wool Throw Blanket
Go off the beaten path for your next meal. Hit up a local shop or market for lunch ingredients, and make the most of a scenic destination with a picnic. Pendleton's iconic camping blankets make a great base for any impromptu dining.
Clean Strength Antiseptic Hand Sanitizer
Gas stations and public restrooms don't have the most hygienic track record, so come prepared with an antiseptic hand sanitizer that won't dry out your skin. This one by Kiehl's is infused with eucalyptus and rosemary for a fresh scent.
Road Trip Games: 50 Fun Games to Play in the Car
As anyone who has ever spent multiple hours in a car with young kids will tell you, anything that will keep them preoccupied for long stints of time is absolutely a road trip essential. This collection covers everything from I Spy to bingo.
A pair of sleek shades is a must. Walden Eyewear's are designed to block up to 92% of light, reducing the glare from the sun and minimizing eye strain while you're on the road for hours.
Unless you went old-school with a map or standalone GPS device, chances are you're getting your navigational know-how from your smartphone. Make sure it never runs out of juice (and that you, subsequently, never get lost) by having a portable charger on-hand.
Food Storage Containers
Hours on the road breed hunger; stay prepared by bringing a few of these little canisters along for the ride, filled with snacks. They're durable and lightweight, designed not to spill, and way more eco-friendly than plastic baggies.
Rockstar Headphone Splitter
Make shared headphones a thing of the past with this portable audio splitter. It can connect up to five different headphones at once, so your backseat passengers can listen to the same podcast or playlist.
Malleable enough to squish into a crowded trunk yet roomy enough (30 liters, to be exact) to hold all your essentials for a weekend trip, Osprey's duffel is all you need in the way of a suitcase. Because you can carry it with the handle, as an over-the-shoulder bag, or even as a backpack, you'll get mileage out of it even when your trip is over.
It's time to upgrade that car freshener. Sleek, silent, and compact enough to fit into your cup holder, this aromatherapy diffuser can run up to six hours with the essential oil blend of your choice.
PLAY Everyday SPF
Driving with the windows down makes for a scenic trip—just don't forget to slather on the SPF beforehand. Supergoop's factor-5o lotion absorbs quickly and won't leave you feeling sticky in the heat.
Universal Phone Car Mount
For hands-free navigation, you need a phone mount, and iOttie's best-selling option comes with over 127,000 reviews to back it up. It even has a magnetic base tab to keep cables organized and out of the way.
Essentials Training Sweatpant
Ultra-soft with four-way stretch, Rhone's sweatpants make up the perfect road trip uniform (or any kind of travel uniform, really).
National Parks Scratch-Off Map
Consider this your gift to yourself for when you're back from your trip. The 12" x 16" poster is a great way to commemorate your travels and add some decor to bare walls at once.
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