30 Things You Need for the Best Summer Road Trip Ever

By Adrienne McIlvaine
Photo Courtesy: Amos Bar-Zeev/Unsplash

The concession guy at your local movie theater knows you by name and you’re already ripped from hauling your cooler to the beach every other day. So, what’s next on your list of summer adventures? When it’s blue skies as far as the eye can see, a road trip is the perfect opportunity to shake up your summertime routine.

Whether you’re planning a quick camping trip or heading out for a long weekend at an Airbnb, the key to pulling off a successful road trip is preparation. We’ve rounded up the best and most essential tools, gadgets and other items you’ll need for the best summer road trip ever.

Get Organized

ULEEKA Car Backseat Organizer

It’s easy to treat your car like a trash can when you’re on the road. Plus, kids are well-known for leaving their toys all over the back seat. But you can say goodbye to all that clutter with this next-level ULEEKA car organizer that ensures your car is neat and clean so you can focus on driving.

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The mesh organizer easily slips over any standard car seat and keeps everything you and your passengers might need within easy reach. There are pockets for books, toys, bottles and even a see-through pouch for tablets and other electronic devices.

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The Go-Everywhere Tote

YETI Camino Carryall

Any seasoned road tripper will tell you having a durable, easy-to-carry tote bag is absolutely essential for any kind of trip. Not only does it give you extra storage inside the car, this YETI Camino tote bag is also perfect for those times you drive by a picturesque picnic area or spot a hidden trail that begs to be hiked.

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The Camino can handle everything from an impromptu beach bonfire to a day at the pool with ease. The weather-resistant exterior is thick enough to withstand punctures and scuffs, while the rounded bottom is reinforced for extra protection. Plus, the looped attachments make it easy to attach extra gear, so you’re ready for wherever the day takes you.

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Want to Play a Game?

Cat’s Cradle Book Kit

Cat’s Cradle is a fun and easy-to-play game that’s perfect for passing the time on long car trips. Plus, it doesn’t involve refreshing a social media feed or getting carsick! And the best part? It’s compact enough to have two or three on hand for when everyone in the car wants to play.

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The 36-page, fully illustrated guidebook is spiral-bound and comes with step-by-step instructions on how to make five classic string figures: Jacob’s Ladder, The Witch’s Broom, The Cup and Saucer, Eiffel Tower and, of course, Cat’s Cradle. The included loop of string has a colorful tie-dye pattern that really makes the figures pop!

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Start Packing

Bagail 6 Set Packing Cubes

Packing for a road trip is like playing an elaborate game of Tetris, where you need to get everything to fit just so. The durable exterior of these Bagail 6 Set Packing Cubes has a handy mesh cover so you can quickly see what’s in each cube, and the finished interior seams protect clothes and delicate items. These colorful, practical cubes are designed to fit into suitcases, backpacks and other luggage to help you make the most of the space you have.

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One set comes with two cubes of each size: slim (13.7 inches by 5 inches by 4 inches), medium (13.7 inches by 9.8 inches by 4 inches) and large (17.5 inches by 13.7 inches by 4 inches) for a custom packing solution.

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Charge It Up

6-Port USB Car Charger

Cell phones, tablets, cameras: Nearly everything you might need for a road trip needs to be charged at some point, and this 6-Port USB Car Charger from Jelly Comb can handle it all. Its six charging ports ensure you’ll always have an open slot for a last-minute battery emergency, and the slim profile fits easily into most center consoles.

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The stick packs a powerful punch with a 65-watt, 13-amp rapid charging design that identifies your accessories and distributes power quickly and efficiently. The 12/24-volt input locks into any standard car charger and is made of durable, long-lasting material. And the 4.6-foot-long adapter cable means it’s always within reach.

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Never Miss a Moment

VAVA Wi-Fi Dash Cam

A dashboard camera should be at the top of your list of things to buy before hitting the open road. This VAVA Wi-Fi Dash Cam is a smart investment, thanks to a built-in GPS tracker, 360-degree rotatable lens and powerful night vision sensor. You should always expect the unexpected, but that doesn’t mean you have to be caught off guard.

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Weighing in at just over a pound, the camera is Wi-Fi-enabled and has a fully functional mobile app that can share photos and videos from the road directly to social media. And you don’t ever have to worry about leaving your car in a parking lot, thanks to a parking mode that monitors your car’s surroundings even when the engine is off.

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Stay Safe

DeftGet First Aid Kit

Along with a spare tire and a jug of water, a first-aid kit is one of those things you should always have in your car. This 163-piece DeftGet First Aid Kit is a must for road trips because a skinned knee, twisted ankle or campfire burn doesn’t care if there’s a doctor or hospital nearby.

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Every piece is FDA-approved and built to medical-grade quality standards. The zippered case measures 8.2 inches by 5.1 inches by 2 inches and comes with a flashlight, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, safety pins and bandages. It even comes with a multitasking tool and safety whistle!

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Work Hard, Play Hard

Kids Travel Tray for Toddler Car Seat

It’s mile 206 of your drive and you’re listening to a podcast when you realize you haven’t heard a peep from the kiddos in a while; no whining, no fighting, no shouting for apple juice. That’s because this cleverly designed Kids Travel Tray

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keeps everything they need at their fingertips.

Designed to fit over their laps or over the arms of a car seat, this handy tray has mesh side pockets for their favorite toys and books, plus special compartments for drinks and electronic devices. The sturdy 3-inch walls won’t sag or bend, and the reinforced front bumper keeps everything in place no matter how bumpy things get.

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Be Your Own AAA

Thrive Auto Emergency Kit

Whether you’re driving 1,000 miles or 10, this Thrive Auto Emergency Kit should be the first thing on your packing list. Its lightweight and compact design means it won’t take up much room in your trunk or back seat, but don’t be fooled, because it’s got everything you need to keep you and your family safe on the road.

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Battery dead? Put out the road caution sign and use the 8-foot-long jumper cables to get a boost. Windshield iced over? Slip on the work gloves and start on the ice with the sturdy scraper. Other items include a reflective safety vest, duct tape, whistle, screwdrivers, flashlight, zip ties and a first-aid kit.

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No Bathroom? No Problem.

Handzies Natural Soap and Water Hand Wipes

There are a lot of things to worry about on a road trip, but thanks to these Handzies Natural Soap and Water Hand Wipes, staying clean won’t be one of them. Keep a few in the back seat for the kids to use after having sticky juices and fruits, or stash them in backpacks for when you’re out hiking or exploring.

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You can feel good about your family using them because Handzies are made of all-natural castile soap and scented with essential oils instead of harsh chemicals and artificial dyes for a fresh, natural way to keep clean on the go. They’re also dermatologist-tested and hypoallergenic, so they won’t dry out your skin. Plus, they’re cruelty-free and vegan.

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Ready, Set, Bingo!

Regal Games Original Travel Bingo 4-Pack

For a new twist on an old favorite, try playing Travel Bingo the next time you hit the open road. It’s simple enough for children as young as three years old to play and engaging enough to keep older kids and adults entertained for miles. Who will be the first to call "Bingo"?

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The set comes with four cards: two regular Auto Bingo boards and two Interstate Bingo. Once you spot an item on your card, simply cover it with the window shutter. Once you have five in a row, either vertical, horizontal or diagonal, call out "Bingo" to claim your victory!

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Survival Essentials

13-in-1 Survival Gear Kit

With over a dozen tools packed into a case the size of a small book, this 13-in-1 SurvivalGear Kit from TRSCIND is designed with safety and security in mind. Each piece is made of heavy-duty alloy for extra stability, and the entire kit weighs less than a pound so you can take it with you camping, hiking or wherever your adventure takes you.

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The zippered case is waterproof and shockproof, with a padded interior to hold everything in place. The tactical pen can be used to break glass and doubles as a self-defense tool; the military knife features a steel blade and a textured aluminum handle. Other items include a flint with striker, a military-grade compass, a wire saw and a water bottle belt clip.

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Drink Up

Epica Stainless Steel 4-Pack Drinking Straws

One of the consequences of eating on the road is generating a lot of trash. If you’re the kind of person who religiously recycles, it can be hard to see all that plastic end up in the garbage, which is why these Epica Stainless Steel Drinking Straws are a small solution to a big problem.

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Each straw measures 8.5 inches long and is made of nontoxic, 18/10 food-grade stainless steel. The sleek design fits most standard cups, and the included bristle brush makes cleanup a snap and will help you maintain these handy straws for many years to come.

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Need a Hand?

Ofspower 4-Pack Car Headrest Hanger

This is one of those items that, once you use it, makes you wonder how you ever lived without it. The Ofspower Car Headrest Hanger lets you take advantage of extra space in front and back of the seat, and is ideal for solo travelers to hang bags, purses, groceries and more!

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No tools are required for assembly; just pop up the headrest, hook along the metal rod and secure by placing the headrest down. Each hook can hold up to 44 pounds and is made of durable material that won’t bend, sag or break.

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Get Some Rest

ZAMAT Travel Pillow

If you and a friend or spouse are taking turns on driver duty, this ZAMAT Travel Pillow is a cool and comfy way to relax and catch some z’s before your next shift behind the wheel.

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The soft memory foam conforms to your neck and shoulders in an ergonomically designed fit, and the breathable, moisture-wicking fabric cover has an exterior pocket for travel documents and cell phones. Also included are a matching sleep mask and a set of foam earplugs.

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Drink Up

YETI Rambler 14 oz. Stainless Steel Insulated Mug with Lid

Long hours on the road aren’t easy, so make the most of your rest stop coffee breaks with this YETI Rambler.The double-wall, insulated design keeps 14 ounces of your favorite morning beverage hot for hours, or at least until your next stop.

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Made of stainless steel, the Rambler mug is easy to clean and comes in a variety of different colors. And you’ll never lose your grip or spill a drop, thanks to a triple-wide handle and convenient matching lid.

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Take It Easy

Wildhorn Outfitters Sand Escape Beach Blanket

Don’t let something as small as not having a blanket stop you from exploring the ideal beach you’ve just discovered. Simply toss this WildHorn Outfitters Beach Blanket in the back seat and you’ll be ready to hit the water in no time.

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Measuring a generous 7 feet by 9 feet, the blanket is super compact and easy to anchor; just pour a few handfuls of sand in the corner pockets and you’re good to go! The silky parachute-type nylon material means sand, dirt and other materials slide right off, keeping it lightweight for easy storage.

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Legit Camping Double Hammock

After a gorgeous hike on the trail you discovered by the side of the road, the last thing you want to do is fumble with a complicated hammock setup. This super lightweight and sturdy Double Hammock from Legit Camping takes only a few minutes to set up so you can start relaxing right away.

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The hammock comes with straps, ropes and steel carabiners for a quick and painless install that won’t damage the tree. Up to two people can fit inside, and the military-grade 210T nylon fabric holds up to 400 pounds.

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Dinner’s Ready

Roaming Cooking Reusable Travel Utensils with Case

Ask any road-trip enthusiast and they’ll tell you that bringing your own utensils on the road is a game changer. These Reusable Travel Utensils

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from Roaming Cooking are the ideal way to reduce waste while traveling, and they are built to last for years of use.

The soft, neoprene travel case is small enough to toss in a backpack or purse, and holds a full-size spoon, fork, partially serrated knife and a set of chopsticks. Pro tip: the chopsticks make great cooking utensils!

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Feeling Thirsty?

AO Coolers Original Soft Cooler with High-Density Insulation

If you’re the kind of person who requires ice-cold beverages, stop worrying about how long until you reach the next rest stop, and pick up this Original Soft Cooler from AO Coolers before your next road trip.

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Unlike other bulky coolers you might take to the beach, this compact cooler is perfect for stashing in the front or back seat; it measures a slim 14 inches by 7 inches by 12 inches and fits a dozen cans of your favorite seltzer, soda or juice. The leakproof, insulated interior keeps everything frosty for a full 24 hours.

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Keep It Fresh

WiLEES Car Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser

This small but powerful Car Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser by WiLEES is designed to keep your car smelling fresh no matter how long you’ve been on the road. Its compact profile clips onto your dashboard vent for a burst of fresh air whenever you need it.

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Simply pour a few drops of your favorite essential oil in the chamber, pick a fan speed and you’re ready to go. The diffuser requires no electricity or cables of any kind. The galvanized-alloy body comes in a variety of colors to suit your every mood.

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The Quick-Dry Solution

Rainleaf Microfiber Towel

If you’re a Douglas Adams fan, you already know that seasoned intergalactic travelers never leave home without a towel. It’s not a bad idea, even if your journey is a bit less interstellar, and this quick-drying Rainleaf Microfiber Towel is the best of the bunch.

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The ultra-compact design takes up practically no room in your bag or daypack, but unrolls to a generously sized 24 inches by 48 inches, making it the perfect beach towel or last-minute blanket. The suede-like texture is soft on the skin and dries quickly.

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Rain, Rain, Go Away

Lingito 8-Pack Rain Ponchos

You never know what Mother Nature has in store, so it’s always a good idea to keep a few of these Lingito Rain Ponchos on hand. They come in a variety of bright colors, and are great for when you get caught out in a storm or don’t want to carry an umbrella all day.

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Each individually wrapped poncho is made of heavy-duty material that’s 50% thicker than a typical poncho, so they can be used over and over again. The drawstring hood and elastic cuffs keep the wind and rain at bay, while the roomy design offers greater freedom of movement.

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Maximize Space

RoofBag Waterproof Car Top Carrier

Sometimes, despite your best efforts to be a master planner and packer, not everything you need for your road trip will fit in the car. This Waterproof Car Top Carrier is ideal for storing extra clothes and gear safely and securely. Plus, it can be installed in mere minutes.

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The RoofBag comes in a variety of sizes to fit any type of car, truck or SUV, and is made of durable, UV-resistant material that won’t tear or rip. And not to worry, if you don’t have a top rack already installed, you can easily attach the carrier by looping the straps through the front vehicle windows.

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Keep It Clean

Drive Auto Products Car Garbage Can

It isn’t the most glamorous thing to purchase for your next road trip, but for less than the price of a movie ticket, this Car Garbage Can from Drive Auto Products will save you a whole lot of cleaning time (and back pain!).

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Made of a soft-but-durable canvas fabric, the trash can loops over the headrest of either the driver or passenger seat, making it easily accessible to everyone in the car. There’s a side mesh pouch that’s perfect for storing the included liner bags and a handy flip-top lid.

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Go Old-School

Fujifilm Mini 9 INSTAX Camera Bundle

Posting vacation selfies is practically mandatory these days, but there’s something wonderfully retro about documenting your trip with the throwback look of an Instax camera. Fujifilm’s Mini 9 INSTAX Camera Bundle comes with everything you need to make documenting the trip almost as fun as experiencing it.

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Each camera comes with a sleek carrying case with a detachable shoulder strap, four colored filters and two rolls of film. Once you’ve gotten all your photos together, you can decorate them with border stickers or display them in one of the standing or hanging frames. Also included are a set of magnetic frames and a mini photo album.

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Beat the Glare

SUNGAIT Vintage Round Polarized Sunglasses

You always wear a hat and slather yourself in sunscreen when you go out in the sun, but are you protecting your eyes with the same dedication? It’s just as important when you’re in a car to be mindful of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, which can actually be intensified by the glass in automobile windows. That is what makes these SUNGAIT Polarized Sunglasses a road trip must-have.

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The nostalgic design makes these the little black dress of sunglasses, and the lightweight composite frame means they won’t feel bulky, even in the hottest of weather. Ready for the best part? The lenses are polarized to reduce glare for crisper, sharper vision on those bright, sunny days. Glasses come with a travel case and cleaning cloth.

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Made in the Shade

Autoamerics 2-Piece Window Sun Shade

Is there anything worse than getting into your car after it’s been sitting in the sun all day? Protect the interior (and your legs!) with this 2-Piece Window Sun Shade from Autoamerics. It helps keep the inside of your car cool while shielding it from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

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The two-piece design makes it easy to store in the back seat or trunk, it comes with its own storage bag and it can be installed either vertically or horizontally for the perfect fit. The reflective, high-density shades block 99% of ultraviolet rays, which can damage the dashboard and lead to premature fading.

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Get Moving

DVEDA Ultra Lightweight Backpack

Most hiking daypacks are big, bulky affairs that don’t lend themselves well to spontaneous hikes or on-the-fly excursions. The DVEDA Ultra Lightweight Backpack folds up into its own packable bag so you can throw it in your purse or bag to have ready at a moment’s notice. Plus, it comes in a variety of fun colors.

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When fully packed, the bag measures just 8 inches by 9 inches and weighs less than an ounce, making it the ideal travel daypack. The rip-stop nylon material is ultra tough without weighing you down, and an adjustable chest strap helps you find the perfect fit. Multiple interior and exterior pockets keep everything organized.

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Sleep Under the Stars

Gazelle T4 Pop-Up Tent

It’s nearing the end of the day and you’ve made it to the perfect, off-the-beaten-path campsite. You’re tired and not looking forward to the hassle of putting up the tent, but luckily you have the Gazelle Pop-up Tent that sets up in minutes so you can start relaxing pronto.

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Designed to fit up to four people comfortably, the Gazelle T4 has a simple, pop-up design that is ready to go in just a few easy steps. The heavy-duty nylon won’t leak or rip, and the included rain fly keeps you sheltered from the elements. Two separate entrances and a removable floor make the Gazelle an easy and versatile addition to your camping setup.

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