I’ve done more than my fair share of road trips, with and without kids. And over time, I’ve figured out what we need and don’t need for the road. And yes, there are creative work-arounds to save money, but if you want things to last, read on for these essentials for the road. Score deals on these items and more during Amazon’s Prime Day, July 11 & 12, 2023!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
- If you travel with kids or messy adults, a backseat organizer is a must for any road trip. It contains all the things. Depending on your needs, you can go simple or go big, like the High Road’s CarHop Car Seat Organizer. It has a cooler compartment and side pockets for storage, as well as cup holders and a seatbelt strap to secure it in place. Flip the lid over for a tray. At $36.99, it is on the higher end of organizers. My family uses an older version of the $20.95 Lusso Gear Car Seat Organizer. The new versions have cup holders and a seatbelt strap to keep it in place. It’s a little flimsy to carry, though. An even cheaper model is the $14.99 Masirs organizer that can hold a lot of things, won’t do much else.
- There are never enough chargers in my home, and so naturally, there are never enough in the car. Add two more with Belkin 37 Watt Dual USB Car Charger. It’s a super fast charger and, bonus, it’s on sale: $17.99 (list price $24.99).
- Usually you have to choose between having a light-weight cooler or a durable one. YETI is a brand that offers both in one cooler. For road trips, they have the fairly compact YETI Roadie 24 Cooler, and is slim enough to behind the driver’s or passenger’s seat of the car. YETIs don’t come cheap, though. This one is $250.
- Road tripping with young kids? There will be a bathroom emergency someday. It’s inevitable, especially if someone is potty training. Pack a portable toilet, that’s my advice. For $20.99, OXO Tot 2-in-1 Go Potty works as a standalone potty or can be used flat on toilets. And even better, it has flexible flaps to hold disposable bags in place AND can accommodate standard plastic bags. There’s a reason it’s an Amazon best-seller.
- Whatever you do, don’t road trip without some sort of first aid kit. I’m a worst-case scenario kind of planner, so I keep a big kit in the car, like this First Aid Only Emergency Kit. It’s compact and yet still has 298 pieces, including adhesive fabric and plastic bandages, antibiotic ointments, BZK antiseptic towelettes, burn cream packets, aspirin, ibuprofen, gauze roll and pads, wound closures, cold pack, and other multi-use items for any potential emergency. It’s discounted right now at $19.19 (list price $20.57).
- Like a first aid kit, it’s wise to keep your car stocked with emergency items for car issues. For only $39.99 (list price $49.99), STDY’s Car Roadside Emergency Kit gives you the peace of mind that you’ll be able to take care of anything that happens while on the road. The compact kit includes jumper cables, tow rope, safety hammer, reflective warning triangle, reflective safety vest, tire pressure gauge, safety gloves, mechanical flashlight, tire repair tools, screwdriver, rain coat, PVC tape and cables ties.
- I swear by all-things-Melissa & Doug when it comes to traveling with kids. These On the Go Water Wow! Reusable Water-Reveal Activity Pads have occupied my two on long trips, and there’s no mess to clean up. Buy more than one, for sure. A three pack is $19.96. Good for ages 3+. Sticker books are also a good bet for young kids. I recommend Highlights Hidden Pictures Sticker Fun Sticker Books, which comes in four packs for $29.99. Activity books are just one of 40+ boredom busters I use for road trips.
- Keep your smartphone secure so GPS can guide you hands-free. A No. 1 best seller, iOttie Easy One Touch 5 Air Vent & Flush Mount Combo is a great deal for $23.99 (and it works for all smartphones).
- One of the best discounts on this list is the HOTOR Trash Can for $9.99 (list price is $17.99). It’s the best-selling car trash can on Amazon, that’s highly rated for being sturdy and leak-proof. It comes in a variety of colors, but only the plain black one and checkered black & white one are the lowest price.
More great road trip finds
While the items below aren’t necessarily road trip essentials, though they’re useful and smart to have on hand. Who knows, maybe they’ll become essential for you?
- Car window sun shades are super helpful when traveling with kids of any age. The only certified sun shade on Amazon that’s proven to block 99.95% UVR is made by kinder Fluff. The four pack is currently at a discount for $14.95 (list price $25.99). The four pack contains two transparent and two semi-transparent car window covers plus a storage pouch. It’s a best seller on Amazon.
- I’m on a “Shark Tank” kick, so I was excited to see the Drop Stop (AKA, “As seen in TV”) available on Amazon. This brilliant invention is a patented car seat gap filler, so you can place in that gap between the seat and the center console. I’ve dropped pens, my phone, and food down that little side gap. The cost is $24.99.
- Sleep on a road trip is a tricky thing. Regular pillows just don’t cut it in a car. The No. 1 best-selling neck pillow on Amazon by BCOZZY may do the trick with its patented design to support both the front and side of your neck and chin. It’s on sale right now, too! Cost is $39.97 for adult sizes (list price is $59.97). Kid’s sizes are cheaper.