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Illustration for road trip packing list blog
  1. Short-Term
29th June 2021

The ultimate road trip packing list

From snacks to important safety equipment, we’ve put together the ultimate road trip packing list.

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The thrill of a road trip starts way before the journey begins, back when you start planning and packing for your holiday. But without the right preparation, a road trip can quickly start feeling like – well, a very long journey in a cramped space. That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate road trip packing list, for everything you’ll need on the road and at your destination.

10 items you’ll need on the road

Whether you’re a family of four or you’re taking a solo trip, these items will help you stay comfortable while on the road.

1. Put together a playlist

Nothing beats cranking up the tunes on a motorway. We suggest you make a playlist of popular catchy songs that everyone will know and can sing along to.

2. Antibacterial wipes and hand sanitiser

Antibacterial wipes are always a great item to keep in your car, especially if you’ll be eating any sticky snacks. They can also be great for wiping down surfaces in case of a spill or ensuring your hands are clean before digging into a bag of crisps.

3. Important documents

Unfortunately your road trip will quickly become spoiled if you don’t pack all your important documents. This includes your:

  • holiday address
  • driving licence
  • breakdown cover information
  • green card if you’re travelling outside the UK
  • proof of car insurance
  • emergency contact details
  • car manual
  • passport if you’re travelling outside the country
  • spare tyre
  • extra car key
  • paper maps
  • cash

4. Pack a variety of drinks and snacks

Nothing’s worse than feeling peckish when you’re on the road and 30 miles away from the nearest petrol station. Drinks and snacks are a must, and it’s a great idea to pack a variety too. Think water, juice, Coke and lemonade, as well as fruit, crisps, Werther’s Originals and more. Make sure you don’t pack anything perishable that won’t last the journey – nothing’s worse than having to sit in a smelly car for the rest of the trip.

We also recommend stopping off at petrol stations and rest stops where possible. This will allow you to stretch your legs, have a break from driving, replenish snacks, and eat some proper grub if you’re so inclined.

Make sure you also bring a bag for your rubbish, even if it is just an old plastic bag! This will help keep your car tidy for the long journey.

5. Roadside emergency kit

Even if you’ve taken out breakdown cover, it’s important to remember your roadside emergency kit. This includes things like hi-viz jackets, warning triangle, torch, water and power bank. Most of these things can be purchased as a full emergency kit, which can then be stored in your car in case you ever need it.

Take a look at our blog on why you should think WHEELS if you breakdown for what else you might need in an emergency.

6. Travel pillows and blankets

If there are a couple of you and you’re taking turns driving, make sure you bring comfy travel pillows and blankets. This will allow you to rest in comfort between shifts, which will help you stay more alert when driving.

7. USB charger or spare phone cables

There’s nothing worse than a dead phone, especially if you’re relying on your phone for entertainment or maps. Make sure to pack a couple of USB phone chargers, which you can plug into the car and charge on the go.

8. Suntan lotion, sunglasses and hats

There are few things as unpleasant as getting sunburnt or being dazzled by the sun while driving. Make sure you pack things like suntan lotion, sunglasses and hats as your car can become a bit of a heat trap.

9. Road trip games and activities

Kids aren’t the only ones who can benefit from road trip games and activities. If you’re facing long hours in the car, it could be a good idea to prepare some games. You might also want to bring along some entertainment for when you aren’t driving. This includes books, downloaded episodes of your favourite TV programmes, downloaded podcast episodes, and more.

10. Slip on shoes and comfy clothes

You might be switching between driving and resting quite frequently throughout your trip, and the last thing you want to have to do is untie and retie your shoelaces each time. Choose a pair of slip on shoes that you can wear comfortably for long periods of time.

Wearing comfortable clothes is also a must. After all, you’ll be stuck in the same position for quite some time, so it’s a good idea to dress as comfortably as possible.

10 items you’ll probably need at your travel destination

Wait, the planning isn’t over! You’ll want to make sure the following items are packed for when you reach your destination.

1. Swimming costume and beach towels

Assuming you’re going somewhere sunny with a pool or a beach, you’ll want to pack your swimming costume and beach towels. We know that British summers can be a little fickle, but it’s always best to remain hopeful – and who knows, the weather might change in your favour!

2. Umbrella

It’s also a good idea to bring an umbrella with you just in case the weather takes a turn for the worst. Your umbrella can double as a parasol in good weather if you’re so inclined!

3. Medicine

Make sure you bring any medicine you need with you. This could be prescription medication or other medicine like painkillers that you think you might need during the trip.

4. Entertainment

It’s a good idea to download a few films to fill your evenings or pack a few books. After all, what’s a holiday without a little bit of downtime?

5. Camera (or phone with a camera)

Nowadays phone cameras are good enough for taking holiday pictures, but you can always bring a separate camera if you prefer. Pictures are a great way of keeping cherished memories with you and sharing them with others if they’re interested.

6. Flashlight

There should be a flashlight in your emergency kit, but it might be a good idea to pack another for when you’re exploring the area so you don’t accidentally leave your emergency kit flashlight behind.

These really come in handy when you’re going for an early morning or late night walk and your phone has run out of juice.

7. Enough clothing for the duration of your trip

It’s an obvious one, but something that so many of us mess up. Make sure you have enough tops, bottoms, underwear and socks to last the duration of the trip. You might want to consider packing a couple of fancier evening outfits too, just in case you go out for dinner.

Make sure you’re fully prepared for any activities you might want to do. For example, if you’re planning on going hiking, you’ll need suitable shoes. If you’re going skiing, you’ll need extra thermal layers to keep warm.

8. Toiletries

Unless you don’t mind buying toiletries at your holiday destination, it’s a good idea to bring travel-sized versions with you. Make sure to remember everything you usually use in your routine, such as toothpaste, floss, contact lenses, face wash, razors, shampoo and conditioner, moisturiser and make-up. It’s a good idea to pack suntan lotion and after sun lotion.

9. Guide books

Visiting a new part of the UK, or a new part of the world? It’s a great idea to pack guide books for the places you’re travelling to. This is a great way of seeing what sorts of activities or beauty spots are in the area, and you can easily mark any you’re interested in.

10. Face masks

If you’re travelling in 2021 and beyond, chances are you’ll want to take a few face masks with you. Remember, you probably won’t have easy access to a washing machine, so you might want to bring either a pack of disposable face masks or a few reusable ones per person.

Remember to take out car insurance

Wherever you’re going, it’s best to take documentation for your car insurance with you. Whether you need short-term cover just for your trip or an annual car insurance policy, give Sterling insurance a ring on 0344 381 9990. Our policies include European cover, and we can also offer extras like breakdown cover. This ensures that even if the worst happens on your trip and you breakdown, our team can help you get back on the road again.

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