The Best Road Trip Essentials for Summer and Fall Adventures

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Despite what you’ve seen in slapstick travel flicks, not every memorable automobile adventure needs to be an epic Twitter tale-turned-movie or end at the bottom of a canyon. Despite high gas prices, many are opting for more road trips in light of flight cancellations, lost baggage and other nightmares shared by air travelers. And with the ongoing rental car shortage, hopping in your own ride might be the most convenient way to take a spur-of-the-moment vacation before returning to school or work.

Related: The Best Long Flight Travel Accessories

If the coronavirus still looms large over your travel plans, you’re not alone. A poll last year by Harvest Hosts found that more than 75 percent of American respondents — including many newly-minted remote workers — planned to travel more last year, though over half say they’re hesitant to stay at hotels, and about 20 percent won’t be flying yet. A recent study by Destination Analysts also found that the majority of Americans feel safe taking road trips.

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What Are the Best RV and Trailer Rental Services?

If you don’t already have a tricked-out camper van (like nomadic actress Holland Roden) or prefer not to add extra miles to your ride, Outdoorsy and RV Share are among the best online RV and trailer rental services that let you borrow Airstreams (a favorite among globe-trotting stars like Milo Ventimiglia), towable campers and others directly from their owners. And if you’ve got a driveable or towable travel vehicle that’s collecting dust, you can earn some money while it’s not in use by listing it for rent on the aforementioned platforms.

What Are the Best Road Trip Essentials?

To help you plan a great mini-vacay, the best road trip essentials can help you stay prepared for whatever comes your way — regardless of the route or season. Whether you’re boondocking along your cross-country route or glamping at your final destination a few towns over, we’ve put together a shoppable road trip checklist with items that are fun and functional for boondockers and glampers alike.

Related: The Best Summer Music Festivals of 2022

Some of the essentials on our list include travel essentials such as fully-stocked roadside emergency bags, digital nomad-friendly backpacks and toiletry bags and versatile duffle bags, plus entertainment options for that long and hopefully relaxing road ahead. Below, check out some of our favorite driving essentials for your next summer or fall road trip, many of which are made from sustainable materials so you can hit the road with a lower environmental impact, too.

1. State Packing Cube Set

Available in two colorways, State’s printed canvas packing cubes come in a set of two or three (choose from one large and two small cubes or two large pieces). We like the mesh front panel for quickly peeking inside the cubes, and the top handles make it easy to grab your stuff. You can also customize the cubes with a monogram for the perfect travel gift.

State Packing Cube Set
State Packing Cube Set

State Packing Cube Set

$45


Buy now

2. Business & Pleasure Premium Cooler Bag

For when you want to pull over for a quick picnic, this cooler bag from Business & Pleasure lets you enjoy cold drinks in style. It’s made with the brand’s UV-, water- and mold-proof umbrella canvas and it’s finished with chic leather handles and an eco-friendly printed lining.

Business & Pleasure Premium Cooler Bag
Business & Pleasure Premium Cooler Bag

Business & Pleasure Premium Cooler Bag

$59


Buy now

3. Wey & Fly SUV Air Mattress

This top-rated SUV air mattress is a car camping essential. Four separate segments let you customize the fit to your vehicle’s back area, and the mattress features flocking on both sides for comfort. It’s suitable in temps as cold as -13°F or as hot as 122°F and a 12-volt air pump is included.

Wey & Fly SUV Air Mattress
Wey & Fly SUV Air Mattress

Buy: Wey & Fly SUV Air Mattress $72.98

4. Fulton The Classic Insoles

Need some support while getting your steps in? We’re fans of Fulton’s comfortable insoles, which are great for flat-footed walkers (like us) or anyone who needs arch support. We like that they’re made of sustainable cork (which molds to your feet) and that there’s no trimming required, and we’ve found that the insoles make our feet and knees feel more comfortable, especially during all-day outings.

Fulton Classic Insoles
Fulton Classic Insoles

Fulton The Classic Insoles

$48


Buy now

5. Tushy Travel Bidet

No more worrying about TP at rest stops with Tushy’s travel bidet, which conveniently collapses to save space while staying discreet. It can hold up to 11 fluid ounces of water and features a hinged nozzle with three spout positions, a carabiner and a carrying bag.

Tushy Travel Bidet
Tushy Travel Bidet

Buy: Tushy Travel Bidet $29.00

6. Kenu Airvue Car Headrest Tablet Mount

Kenu’s Airvue car headrest tablet mount lets you turn your back seat into a mini movie theater.

Kenu Airvue Tablet Mount
Kenu Airvue Tablet Mount

Buy: Kenu Airvue Car Headrest Tablet Mount $49.95

7. Rightline Gear Midsize 6-Foot Long Bed Truck Tent

This six-foot long truck bed tent makes it easy to turn your ride into a shelter for shut-eye or a quick rest, thanks to the floorless design and quick setup.

Rightline Gear Midsize 6' Long Bed Truck Tent
Rightline Gear Midsize 6' Long Bed Truck Tent

Rightline Gear Midsize 6' Long Bed Truck Tent

$94


Buy now

8. Audible Subscription

For when you have spotty reception and want to catch up on audiobooks and podcasts while you drive, Amazon’s Audible lets you download titles so that you can listen offline. Plus, through July 31, Prime members can get three free months of Audible Premium Plus and three free titles that’ll stay permanently in their digital library; after the trial, you’ll pay $14 per month. If you’re eligible, sign up here.

Amazon Audible Subscription
Amazon Audible Subscription

Audible Subscription

$15 per month


Buy now

8. Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones

Don’t love your driver’s soundtrack? Sony’s WH-1000XM5 headphones (also available in black) are perfect for audiophiles, frequent travelers and anyone who wants excellent automatic noise canceling (Auto NC) and sound for listening to music, making calls and other situations where you need to cut out distractions. Our go-to for noisy surroundings, these super comfortable wireless headphones also include a 3.5-millimeter cable for when you want to plug in (such as an airplane entertainment system), and they offer up to 30 hours of battery life on a single charge.

The four beamforming microphones deliver crystal-clear voice pickup for phone and video calling, and we like the speak-to-chat mode (which automatically stops the music so you can hear ambient sound) and the intuitive touch control settings for the volume, activating Auto NC, voice assistants and more.

 

Sony WH-1000XM5 Bluetooth Headphones in White
Sony WH-1000XM5 Bluetooth Headphones in White

 

Buy: Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones $398.00

9. Foval Car Power Inverter

When you’re traveling with digital nomads (or tech-obsessed passengers), this 200-watt car power inverter has two 110-volt outlets and four USB ports so you can charge up to six devices.

Foval Car Power Inverter
Foval Car Power Inverter

Buy: Foval Car Power Inverter $25.99

10. Thisworx Car Vacuum Cleaner

All of that extra mileage likely means more messes, too. Thisworx’s car vacuum cleaner conveniently plugs into your car or RV and features a HEPA filter, three attachments and a 106-watt motor to suck up dirt, crumbs, ash, pet hair and other debris.

Thisworx Car Vacuum Cleaner
Thisworx Car Vacuum Cleaner

Buy: Thisworx Car Vacuum Cleaner $31.00

11. Away The Travel Neck Pillow

Get some shut-eye in the passenger or back seat with Away’s travel neck pillow, which has a foam core, quilted padding and an adjustable string so you can customize your comfort.

Away The Travel Neck Pillow
Away The Travel Neck Pillow

Away Travel Neck Pillow

$55


Buy now

12. Béis The Expandable Overnighter

This laptop-friendly convertible bag from Béis has all of the compartments, pockets and space you need for one day or three. The expandable design, key leash and luggage handle passthrough round out this stylish quilted travel carryall.

Beis Expandable Overnight Bag
Beis Expandable Overnight Bag

Béis The Expandable Overnighter

$128


Buy now

13. Dramamine Motion Sickness Tablets

Can’t stomach the road — literally? Dimenhydrinate tablets (such as pharmacist-recommended Dramamine) are a glove box must-have for anyone who tends to get nauseous or dizzy in the car.

Dramamine Motion Sickness Tablets
Dramamine Motion Sickness Tablets

Buy: Dramamine Motion Sickness Tablets $11.99

14. Awoken Unisex Urinal

When nature calls, don’t be caught squirming in your seat until the next rest stop. This unisex urinal lets anyone — including kids — relieve themselves in the car without spillage (for safety and sanitary, we don’t recommend using it when you’re at the wheel).

Awoken Unisex Urinal
Awoken Unisex Urinal

Buy: Awoken Unisex Urinal $12.69

15. Everywhere You Go: A Guided Travel Journal

Everywhere You Go: A Guided Travel Journal
Everywhere You Go: A Guided Travel Journal

Document your adventures in Compendium’s travel journal, which is filled with creative prompts, inspiring quotes and blank note pages (think packing lists and contact info) so you won’t forget a thing about your trip.

Buy: Everywhere You Go: A Guided Travel Journal $13.73

16. GummiShot Energy Gummies

For when you find yourself nodding off but you don’t have time for a coffee stop, GummiShot’s energy gummies will give you a boost of plant-based caffeine to keep you on the road.

GummiShot Energy Gummies
GummiShot Energy Gummies

Buy: GummiShot Energy Gummies $9.97

17. Hydro Flask 64-Ounce Wide Mouth Water Bottle

There’s not always a rest stop on those long stretches, and that’s when Hydro Flask’s 64-ounce water bottle comes in handy.

Hydro Flask 64-oz Wide Mouth Water Bottle
Hydro Flask 64-oz Wide Mouth Water Bottle

Buy: Hydroflask 64-Ounce Wide Mouth Water Bottle $61.24

18. Calpak Car Organizer

Available in a variety of stylish colors, Calpak’s genius car organizer is made of water-resistant material and expands to three compartments so you can customize the size to fit your space. The collapsible storage pice has a carrying handle and interior pockets, too.

Calpak Car Organizer
Calpak Car Organizer

Calpak Car Organizer

$78


Buy now

19. Bellroy Toiletry Kit

Bellroy’s toiletry kit has interior pockets to keep your skincare, grooming goods and other essentials organized while you’re on the road.

Bellroy Toiletry Kit
Bellroy Toiletry Kit

Bellroy Toiletry Kit

$99


Buy now

20. Duluth Trading Co. Seat Back Bunker

Whether you’re traveling with kids or very bored backseat drivers, Duluth Trading Co.’s Seat Back Bunker has plenty of pockets for stowing away road trip entertainment and other essentials.

Duluth Trading Co. Seat Back Bunker
Duluth Trading Co. Seat Back Bunker

Duluth Trading Co. Seat Back Bunker

$90


Buy now

21. Surviveware First Aid Kit

Accidents — hopefully, minor ones — can happen anywhere, and this first aid kit by Surviveware is packed over 200 basic medical emergency items such as bandages, splints, wound dressings, tweezers, a first aid guide and more, all in a water-resistant 600D nylon storage bag.

 

Surviveware First Aid Emergency Kit
Surviveware First Aid Emergency Kit

Buy: Surviveware First Aid Kit $125.95

22. Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool Washable Blanket

Keep passengers warm with Pendleton’s eco-wise wool blanket, which is made from sustainable materials and measures 54 inches by 60 inches. The machine-washable throw’s fringe also adds a stylish touch in your home on wheels.

Pendleton Washable Eco-Wise Throw Blanket
Pendleton Washable Eco-Wise Throw Blanket

Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool Washable Blanket

$149


Buy now

23. Fjällräven Tree Kånken Backpack

The Swedish accessories brand is beloved for its boxy backpack, which got a recent eco-friendly upgrade. Fjällräven’s new Tree-Kanken bag is made of sustainably sourced fabric made from spruce and pine trees, and side pockets and straps make it a great everyday backpack that’s roomy enough for day trips.

Fjallraven Tree Kanken Backpack
Fjallraven Tree Kanken Backpack

Buy: Fjallraven Tree Kanken Backpack $114.95

24. Gentleman’s Hardware Road Trip Trivia Car Set

You won’t be bored in the car and in the car bored with this road trip trivia card set by Gentleman’s Hardware. Small enough to be stowed away in the glove compartment, this set comes with 100 cards that’ll test your knowledge of the U.S. of A.

Gentleman's Hardware American Road Trip Trivia Set
Gentleman's Hardware American Road Trip Trivia Set

Buy: Gentleman’s Hardware American Road Trip Trivia Set

25. Bagsmart Large Hanging Toiletry Bag

Whether you’re ending up at a hotel or just want to freshen up at a pit stop, this hanging toiletry bag makes it easy to stash all of your bath and body products, jewelry and other road trip essentials into a convenient carryall. And when you are ready to fly, the bag features a separate bag that follows TSA 3-1-1 liquids rules, making it easier to breeze through airport security.

Bagsmart Toiletry Organizer
Bagsmart Toiletry Organizer

Buy: Bagsmart Large Hanging Toiletry Bag $27.99

26. Kodak Mini Shot 3 Retro

Of course, you’re going to want to document your moments, and Kodak’s Mini Shot 3 Retro instant camera offers the best of both analog and digital worlds. Plus, it’s currently on sale for an extra 15% off when you clip the coupon on the Amazon product page.

Kodak Mini Shot Portable Instant Film Camera
Kodak Mini Shot Portable Instant Film Camera

Buy: Kodak Mini Shot 3 Retro (reg. $165) $159.99

27. Halo Bolt Portable Charger and Car Jump Starter

Equipped with two USB charging ports and a 120V AC wall outlet, this portable charger can also be used to jump-start your car battery with the included jumper cables. It’s also got an LED flood light for staying safe and visible in the dark and comes in a handy carrying pouch.

Hlao Bolt Portable Charger Car Jumper
Hlao Bolt Portable Charger Car Jumper

Buy: Halo Bolt Portable Charger and Car Jump Starter $101.29

28. STDY Roadside Emergency Kit

You can never be too prepared on the road, which is why (in addition to a first aid kit and a portable charger) a roadside emergency kit is also one of the top driving essentials we recommend keeping in your vehicle. This one includes a safety vest, a reflective warning triangle, 7.6-foot jumper cables, a whistle, tools, basic first aid items, gloves, PVC tape, tire repair tools and other road trip must-haves for your RV or car.

STDY Emergency Roadside Assistance Kit
STDY Emergency Roadside Assistance Kit

Buy: STDY Roadside Emergency Kit $39.99

29. Nexar Beam GPS 1080p Dash Cam

Popular among rideshare drivers, a good dashboard camera can provide peace of mind in the unfortunate event of collisions, or to capture stunning road trip views. Nexar’s GPS-enabled Beam 1080p HD dash cam captures 135-degree wide video and syncs with the brand’s iPhone or Android app, which can create post-accident reports with key crash information (such as driving speed, location, G-force impact and video footage) that you can send to your car insurance company. The device can start recording immediately when it senses even minor impacts (even when you’re parked), and it comes with a 32 GB SD card for on-device video storage as well as unlimited cloud storage.

Nexar Beam 1080p Dash Camera with GPS
Nexar Beam 1080p Dash Camera with GPS

Buy: Nexar Beam GPS 1080p Dash Cam $129.95

30. Yeti Hopper Flip 8 Cooler

If your vehicle is tight on space, Yeti’s compact Hopper Flip 8 cooler can fit a six-pack or whatever else you need to keep cool in between stops. The DryHide shell means it can take a beating in the rugged outdoors, and when used with a combination of Yeti’s ice packs and regular ice, the cooler can keep contents cold for two or more days.

Yeti Hopper Flip 8 Cooler
Yeti Hopper Flip 8 Cooler

Yeti Hopper Flip 8 Cooler

$200


Buy now

31. Carpool Karaoke Wireless Microphone System

This could be the best or worst idea for a road trip, depending on your fellow travelers’ vocal chops. While passengers can simply belt it out without any technical assistance, this official Carpool Karaoke microphone lets everyone recreate their favorite Late Show with James Corden bits while embellishing their performance with echo effects and lights. The microphone and speaker can stream audio from a music app or smartphone via Bluetooth, or you can connect it to your car’s FM tuner. The rechargeable battery promises up to six hours of non-stop karaoke (or auditory torture).

Carpool Karaoke Microphone Speaker
Carpool Karaoke Microphone Speaker

Buy: Carpool Karaoke Wireless Microphone System $30.10

32. Sanmitti Car Back Seat Organizer

You may be living a freewheelin’ driver’s life, but your car doesn’t need to look the part. Keep your car organized on trips and in everyday life with this back seat organizer, which contains pockets, fold-down trays (perfect for holding tablets to keep passengers entertained), water bottle holders and other storage compartments.

Sanmitti Car Backseat Organizer
Sanmitti Car Backseat Organizer

Buy: Sanmitti Car Back Seat Organizer $25.99

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