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25 Solo Road Trip Essentials You Should Always Pack
Travel

25 Solo Road Trip Essentials You Should Always Pack

Forgetting road trip musts can make or break your experience, and you definitely don’t want anything to come between you and your escapade.

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7 min read

June 23, 2021

The Golden State has plenty of awesome places to discover on a solo road trip, and we’re always excited to start making a bucket list of must-see places. But, before anything else, packing your solo road trip essentials should be the first and foremost thing to do before venturing out to travel alone. 

Get the tedious task out of the way and get right into the wanderlust spirit. Forgetting road trip musts can make or break your experience, and you definitely don’t want anything to come between you and your escapade. 

The Ultimate Solo Road Trip Packing List

The most important thing you need to consider before jumping in the car is paperwork. Ensure that you are licensed to drive.

1. Documentation 

There are four necessary pieces of paperwork you should have in your vehicle at all times. Your license and registration, proof of insurance policy, adventure pass, and car manual. These are not only good things to bring on a road trip, but definite must-haves you’ll need in case of emergency, especially when on a long journey.

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2. GPS Transmitter

If you’re planning to go off the beaten path, a GPS transmitter is going to be your number one safety ticket. This will allow people close to you to log on and see where you are and send out an SOS call when needed.

Things can and occasionally do go wrong on any trip, and taking a well-stocked kit with you is always advised.

3. First Aid Kit

Hopefully, you won’t actually need to use this item from your road trip supplies list. However, for the sake of emergencies, a small first aid kit is essential. You might be in a location where immediate medical care isn’t available, and a first aid kit can possibly save your life.

4. Emergency Roadside Kit

A neatly assembled roadside assistance emergency kit can get you out of so many annoying scenarios. This solo road trip essential usually features a tire repair tool, tow rope, jumper cables, and other necessities to put in your truck and forget about. But if you ever find yourself in a sticky situation, you’ll be glad you brought it along. 

5. Spare Tires

Getting a flat tire is something that can happen to anyone at any time, especially if your summer road trip is taking you along unpaved roads. Your long road trip checklist shouldn’t go without having a spare tire handy, whether it’s a one-day getaway or a week-long vacation.

As much as we rely on technology sometimes we lose cell reception or it fails. A backup map is one of the most important long car ride essentials.

6. Road Map

We know you probably use your phone map more often, but having a paper map is essential for a long road trip. Your phone may die, you might not have cell service or Internet, or you might venture off to roads not recognized by online maps. A paper map will help you avoid getting lost in these situations.

7. Sunscreen

The sweltering hot sun has no mercy for travelers during the summer months. Invest in good mineral sunscreens from California brands and your skin will definitely thank you later. After all, the last thing you want to deal with on a road trip is sunburns and blisters all over your body.

Staying hydrated on the road is just as important as eating healthy. So, don’t forget a water bottle.

8. Water

Make it a rule of thumb to never travel long distances without water. Calculate how many gallons of water you’ll need for the entire trip. Have your water packed ahead of time just in case you won’t find gas stations or potable water near your destination. 

At minimum, fill a five-gallon jug before you hit the road and refill it every time you come across a gas station. Places like Death Valley get really hot throughout the summer and dehydration becomes a real issue for visitors, making water one of the most important essentials for a long road trip.

9. Non-perishable Snacks

Pack healthy snacks for the road and make sure they last. Hours may pass before you come across a proper diner or grocery store on the open road. Protein bars can definitely keep you going.

10. Flashlight

If you find yourself stranded in the dark or camping overnight at a remote site, flashlights become your best friend. Keep one with you at all times and add spare batteries to your road trip packing list.

11. Sterilizing Liquid

We’re pretty certain that you’re going to come across unhygienic places along your solo road trips. Having sterilizing liquid or hand sanitizer with you will help you avoid so many health hazards and make you feel cleaner in general.

Did you know that a phone charger is one of the most frequently forgotten items? Remember to pack a phone charger to stay connected.

12. Portable Charger and Cables

Portable phone chargers are absolute road trip musts and can truly be lifesavers. If you rely heavily on your phone for navigation and keeping in touch with family at home, you’ll be reassured to know that your devices won’t die (however, always plan for potential loss of service).

13. Multi-Purpose Tool

Opening cans? Removing a splinter? Dislodging a nail? You can do all that and more with a tiny and lightweight multi-purpose tool in your bag. We promise that once you travel with this essential for a long road trip, you won’t be able to go without it ever again.

14. Painkillers and other Necessary Medication

If you take any sort of medication regularly or semi-regularly, you already know you’ll need to bring it along. Painkillers are also good things to bring on a road trip since driving in a confined space for a long time can sometimes cause annoying headaches.

Motor oil is sometimes referred to as the lifeblood of an engine, which is why it's important to have access to extra at all times.

15. Motor Oil

This is often an overlooked road trip essential that many people don’t consider a problem. If you continue driving despite being low on oil, you might seriously damage your vehicle and get yourself into an even more annoying situation. Having a separate can of oil is always a good idea in case your engine needs topping up.

16. Blanket

Whether you’re driving through cold stretches or need to spend a night in your car, a sustainable, California-made blanket or sleeping bag can be a good thing to have on your road trip packing list. Besides, chilly nights are best spent cozying up, staring at the stellar night sky

When you’re traveling between different climates, layering is your best friend. Layering pieces can be worn with multiple outfits.

17. Layers of Clothes

Even when you’re embarking on your solo trip in the summer, having a sweater and warm jacket is always a good idea. Temperatures can drop rapidly over the course of the day in certain places, and you definitely don’t want to get sick on your solo trip due to not packing enough layers.

18. Portable Wifi Router

A portable WiFi router is a good thing to bring on a road trip if you don’t want to lose connection to your family and friends at home. As long as you don’t go too off the grid, you’ll be able to connect your devices to a pre-packaged portable WiFi router and stay online at all times.

No one's too cool for a cooler. Take a portable cooler with you if you want to keep your snacks and other food cool and away from insects.

19. Cooler

If you have enough space in your car, consider bringing a cooler along for your trip. You’ll have more options for food and drinks when you have a cooler to keep them at the right temperature for longer periods of time.

20. Toiletries

Unless you’re checking into hotels where toiletries are already provided, you’re going to want to have a small bag of absolute essentials with you on the trip. You can buy a pre-made bag from most general stores. But if you’re assembling your own, don’t forget a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, shampoo, hairbrush, bug spray, and baby wipes.

A sleeping bag will keep you warm and comfy while camping, having a road trip snooze, or just driving on a chilly day.

21. Sleeping Bag

A good quality sleeping bag is a remote camping essential you can’t forget at home. Not only will it keep you warm at night, but this solo road trip essential will also keep the bugs away. During cold nights, your sleeping bag is your savior.

22. Canister Stove and Portable Cooking Pots

Sure, you can survive on pre-made snacks and meals for a while. But if your solo trip is destined to go on for a prolonged period of time, a portable stove is a must-have thing on your long road trip checklist. Many canister stoves can also be bought with a recommended cooking pot, so make sure you pack that as well.

Travel journals are the answer to making sure our feelings and emotions are remembered from our best and worst trips.

23. Journal

While a journal is not a must-have on your road trip packing list, it’s a great way to document your thoughts, memories, and feelings on paper. This will help keep your mind clear, as well as give you priceless stories and memories to look back on later in life.

24. Speaker

What’s a road trip without music? Boring, we say! If you’re going to be on the highway for a while, you’re going to need feel-good music to keep you company. And yes, your car probably has speakers. But if you step out for a hike, plan an overnight camping stay, or spend a day at the beach, your speaker will blast good tunes for you to vibe.

25. Camera

You can definitely take pictures with your iPhone, but nothing beats the quality you get from a professional photography camera. You might run out of storage on your phone, and we all know how annoying that can be. Take plenty of pictures with your camera and once you come back home and look through them, you'll realize how this was an absolute solo road trip essential.

What’s the one solo road trip essential you can’t live without? Let us know in the comments below. 

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