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Packing essentials for your next road trip

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

We absolutely love road trips!

Van life will probably forever be our favourite way to travel, it's the best way to see a place, a Country, interact more with the locals and get a true feel for a place. You can choose how long you stay in one spot, and when it is time to explore somewhere new. However, it is so very important to ensure you have all the essentials with you!

Whether you will be driving a short road trip, or a longer road trip, it is always good to prepare for any kind of circumstance, no matter how unlikely it seems. We now have our checklist pretty down-pat and reel off to double check we have everything we need before we leave.

This is a pretty comprehensive guide on what you will need for your next road trip!

Packing Essentials

Absolute Driving essentials:

Driving License a bit of an obvious one however this believe it or not has caught us out before. We were about to pick up our 1970's old school Kombi in New Zealand, you can watch our trip here, and Alex realised her license had almost expired, luckily the date just covered the trip but we could have been in trouble!

Insurance details It is no good having insurance if you don't know what the details are or have them on you. Even if you download a copy handy on your phone it's always good to have in case of an emergency. With insurance, we usually go for the highest cover particularly if driving in a foreign Country. Statistically speaking, more accidents happen because foreign tourists are unfamiliar with the local roads, remember it isn't necessarily you, that you should worry about, but other drivers.

Spare tyre Hopefully this isn't something that is needed, but it is best to know your tyre/jack situation should the emergency arise

Snow chains (if required or likely to be icy) - this won't be applicable to many places but may be something that will need consideration if you will be driving through snow, or icy areas. If hiring from a company ask them for their expertise on this, usually it is an included freebie with most hires or a minimal add-on.

Paper map Nowadays we are addicted to Google maps, but when driving long distances it is very likely that you will lose signal and may need to rely upon the trusty paper map. You can also download an app like that you can use offline.

First aid kit 100% a must for us. We carry this on every single trip we go on, sometimes we have found ourselves in places where we have been so glad to have our own kits and know that they are safe and clean. Our other recommendation is to get travel health insurance. Pop in some hydration tablets too, they have recently become a 'must include' in our upgraded first aid kit!

Sat Nav/Mobile Phone We can't imagine any of you would forget your phone, but crazier things have happened! We usually use google maps on our phones and either turn on data roaming with our current sim card plan, or buy a local sim card that allows us to use data abroad. Sim cards are usually found at arrivals at the airport.

CD or pre-prepared Spotify playlist (downloaded!) This is a hugely important one! Blasting a few tunes down the highway is the best thing about road tripping, don't forget to make some playlists on Spotify and download them in case you lose signal, or bring a long some cd's for the ride.

Electrical essentials:

Phone charger an obvious one, we tend to take a couple so we can charge at the same time or in case one goes missing which usually happens in our van!

Portable charger We would not survive with our portable charger. We invested in a bigger and more powerful one like the one linked here, it gives peace of mind knowing this will recharge our phones at least a few times without needing to plug in. We recommend getting one with two outlets so can charge more than one device at one time.

Aux cable for music playing and to charge your phone whilst driving, otherwise if it's a newer model vehicle you may be able connect by bluetooth.

Camera/tripod/drone (and charging accessories) now this will totally depend on whether you enjoy photography or not, however we imagine most will want to capture those holiday moments and in a good quality way. As photography is our job, we never visit anywhere without our cameras and tripod. Remember to bring the chargers along too and any car plug converters to charge whilst on the move.

Back up SD cards It is worth having back up SD cards and batteries, it is good in case your original SD card gets full, or if one becomes corrupted. Regarding batteries, if you were about to shoot the most killer sunset and your battery dies, having one spare is a lifesaver to capture that moment.

Laptops and external hard drives A must for us, we use our laptops and hard drives at the end of every day to make sure our photos are backed up and sometimes we like to edit on the move too.

Clothes and accessory essentials:

Mosquito repellent We found this to be extremely important on most of our van trips, good for midges, mosquitos or any annoying little bugs at night, particularly if you enjoy dining al fresco!

Phone holder This is one of the best things we have ever bought, we take this on all our road trips as not all van hires have a place to pop your phone on the dashboard and be able to follow directions.

Hat We don't travel on any road trip without a few hat accessories, everybody needs a hat for the road.

Dry Shampoo necessity. Absolute necessity. Especially as James' hair grows longer and longer and out of control!

Water refill bottle We try use our water bottles as much as possible, it is always handy to keep a bottle in the front of the car with you when driving longer distances.

Hand sanitiser You never know when this might come in handy, a quick loo stop somewhere, may be good to take some anti-bacterial wipes too.

Fairy lights We love hanging up fairy lights at night, it makes it feel so cosy in a van and can also be a great accessory for some fun photos.

Flip flops These are really for when staying at a campground, if using the shared facilities like toilets and showers we always use our flip flops for this purpose rather than going barefoot! Eww!

Reusable shopping bag We use this for when we shower in the shared facilities, normally there is a hook and stops you having to put your nice dry clothes down on the (usually) very wet bench!

Picnic blanket/Towel We usually take our foldable picnic blanket when possible, but even a towel is great for unexpected stops and if you don't want to get the chairs out. It is also handy for the beach!

Sunglasses Firstly you want to look cool when driving, but actually a necessity when that sun drops below the sun visor it can get pretty tricky when driving towards the sun for long distances.

Hiking boots It is likely you'll want to get some fresh air at some point! If you're up for a walk or a hike it's well worth investing in some good hiking boots. It has taken us a while to find some good ones, we have tried all sorts of brands, high top and low top, we have recently settled on a high top pair which are waterproof and were mid range price. They are much better than trainers in our opinion and support your ankles a lot better.

Suncream Hopefully some sun will grace your trip but look after your skin and invest in some high factor sun cream. Ever since living in Australia we take applying suncream very seriously and always buy 30 factor plus. There are some great ones that are also ocean friendly if you're going for a dip in the sea as well such as this one here

Pack of cards Don't forget a deck of cards for evening play dates

Torch This comes in handy all the time, midnight loo stops or if you're setting off early from a campground.

Waterproof jacket Unfortunately you can't predict the weather and better to be prepared with a jacket, particularly if you plan to go hiking. They are also usually lightweight and so very easy on those check-in scales.

What are you absolute road essentials? Anything that isn't on this list? Let us know!



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