If you want to travel this summer but don’t want to get on a plane or bus, a road trip might be your best bet. Traveling by car allows you to explore new places while limiting exposure to new people. With the roads open in front of you, there is no limit to where you can go or how long your journey can be.
Whether you’re exploring national parks, trying the best bite to eat in the country, or just driving across a state border, we’ve compiled a list of the most important items you need to bring with you on your trip. And if you want to learn how to plan a safe trip during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.
. Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Pack; $ 160
Osprey’s Farpoint 40 Travel Package was named the Best Overall Backpack for 2020 by US News & World Report and will help you carry everything you need from your car to your campsite and back again. This backpack has no lack of clever design features such as a blind belt and hip belt, lockable zippers and a back wall lined with mesh to prevent chafing on long hikes. The backpack can hold 20 to 40 pounds and is designed for a larger frame. So if you need something smaller, the Fairview 40 is another great travel backpack option that will be great for many road trips in the future.
Buy it: Osprey
2. MLVOC Memory Foam Travel Pillow; $ 20
Cars aren’t necessarily the most convenient place to take a nap, but when you’ve been on the road for hours, your decisions dry up quickly. The next time you know you’re going to be in the front passenger seat or staying in the back for a few days, try MLVOC’s 4.5-star memory foam travel pillow. The pillow itself offers 360 ° support and its flat back adapts to your neck and ensures an individual fit. In addition to the pillow itself, you will receive an eye mask, earplugs and a travel bag so you can easily take the entire kit with you on the go.
Buy it: Amazon
3. Soundasleep queen size air mattress; $ 120
With a 4.3-star rating on Amazon and a placement on numerous best-of lists, the SoundAsleep air mattress is a must if you want to spend a few nights camping during your road trip. Just press the one-click pump to inflate – ideal for campers who want to avoid nocturnal animals in a hurry – and the bottom is covered with a SureGrip absorbent material to prevent slipping. Available in Queen, Twin and Twin XL sizes, the mattress gives you options in case you want to inflate it on the back of a truck or RV.
Buy it: Amazon
4. National Geographic Road Atlas 2020: Adventure Edition;; $ 18
You don’t always get great service on a road trip. So if you don’t have bars or just want some travel inspiration, National Geographic’s is it Road Atlas 2020: Adventure Edition gets you exactly where you need to go … even if it wasn’t where you imagined it would be. With updated street maps for all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, and even Puerto Rico, you’ll never get lost again. This atlas also includes recommendations for sightseeing and profiles of America’s 24 best national parks. That makes him a portable tour guide that’s even better than Alexa.
Buy it: Amazon
5. AAA Premium Road Kit; $ 26
While no one wants to imagine suffering an accident on a road trip, it is also good to be prepared for it. This 42-piece road kit comes with sturdy jumper cables, tape, a screwdriver, zip ties, and more in case you need to make quick repairs. Everything is packed in a compact carry bag so you can just throw the car in and take it with you from one highway to the next.
Buy it: Amazon
6. UE Boom 3 portable speakers; $ 149
All great road trips should have a great soundtrack. Enjoy your favorite music along with the sounds of the wilderness (or the tranquility of a hotel room) with this portable bluetooth speaker from UE Boom. These speakers last up to 15 hours when fully charged and offer a powerful punch through with their high-quality surround sound. They’re also incredibly durable: the speakers are completely waterproof (they can literally float) and they’re designed to handle drops and bumps with ease.
Buy it: Amazon
7. Society6 face masks; $ 14
One of the most important items for today’s road trip is a face mask. And whether you like cats, forest beetles, the solar system, or comics, Society6 has a design for pretty much everyone (over 1000 options!). No matter which one you choose, all masks have an inside pocket for disposable filters and are made of a pleated, double layer of fabric to ensure a firm and secure fit. It’s also a smart idea to bring a pack of disposable masks with you just in case.
Buy it: Society6
8. Otterbox Trooper 12 cooler; $ 200
No matter what your road trip involves – whether visiting Yellowstone or the country’s largest string ball – you should always have a cold drink to enjoy after a long day. This 12 liter soft cooler from Otterbox holds ice for up to three days and is leak-proof to prevent spilling. The cooler is equipped with a mounting system that allows you to customize it with accessories such as an adjustable cup holder or a drybox clip. It’s even equipped with a carabiner bottle opener for easy access.
Buy it: Otterbox
9th and 10th power bank and car charger; $ 30- $ 35
Even if you spend most of your time sightseeing, it is a good idea to charge your phone for taking pictures and connecting with loved ones back home. The standard Otterbox quick charge power bank is designed to charge two devices at the same time, so you and a friend can charge even when you are not in your car. The charger includes a USB-A to USB-C cable and is compatible with most popular devices.
When charging in the car, you can’t go wrong with Otterbox’s Fast Charge Car Kit. You get charging speeds that are up to 3.6 times faster than a base model, according to the manufacturer, and the cable has been bent / bend-tested a whopping 3000 times to ensure it lasts as long as you’d expect on the road .
Buy it: Otterbox (power bank; car charger)
11. Otterbox Dash and Windshield Car Mount; $ 16
You will likely be using your phone’s navigation app while exploring new places, but you want to make sure you do it safely. Keep an eye on the road – and get where you want to go with the Dash & Windshield car mount from Otterbox. It’s designed so that you can insert and remove your phone with just one hand. The adjustable arms can be extended to fit even the largest phones without blocking the buttons. If you prefer a slightly lower car mount this Beam Electronics vent mount is a great alternative.
Buy it: Otterbox
12. and 13. Instant coffee and cold brew concentrate; $ 12- $ 50
Any road trip veteran will tell you that the most important part of a long drive is staying awake and alert. Enjoy hot coffee on the go – and actually drink a decent cup – with these instant coffee packets from Starbucks. All Starbucks instant coffees are made from 100 percent arabica beans. All you have to do is pour your package into a cup, mix it with hot or cold water and enjoy.
If you want something colder and much stronger, check out Java House’s cold brew concentrate bowls. Just as easy as making instant coffee, all you have to do is pull the cap off the pod, pour over ice, add water and stir. It’s easy enough to do, and it helps with stopping at expensive cafes on the go. Make sure you bring some portable cups so your coffee stays as fresh as it was the minute you made it.
Buy it: Amazon (Starbucks instant coffee; Java House Cold Brew Concentrate)
14. first aid kits; $ 22- $ 125
Accidents happen, and this 299-piece kit from First Aid Only has almost everything you could need for basic emergencies. With bandages for cuts and scratches, creams and cold packs for burns, simple pain relievers, alcohol wipes and much more, this lightweight and easy-to-stow kit is an indispensable travel companion.
If you want something fancier – but no less useful – check out this unique first aid kit from Uncommon Goods. The kit contains essential first aid items such as multi-purpose tape, bandages, and antibiotic cream, all of which are stowed in tiny canisters that fit perfectly into a flashlight tube. This is a great kit to take with you when you travel outside of the car … and even more handy when you are out walking at night. Whatever kit you bring, don’t forget a thermometer. With the small chance you’ll feel sick – even if you’ve worn your mask and washed your hands – it’s important to have just in case.
Buy it: Amazon (299-piece first aid kit); Occasional goods (flashlight first aid kit)
This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss can earn commission on purchases made through these links.