Wichita on the Cheap

Live the Good Life for Less & Never Miss a Deal

Road Trip Essentials (For Cheap)

Below we have provided a list of items that are essential for road trips. Road trips are expensive enough. With the price of gas and lodging, it adds up. This list contains everything you need, and maybe more, for a successful road trip with the family. You might even have some of these items already so don’t forget to check the pantry, and storage, and check off those lists.

Road Trip Essentials

Before You Go: 

  • Clean your car
    • Remove all unnecessary items and trash to make room for all the things you’ll need while on the road.

Always make sure you have these items before you even think about driving:

  • Driver’s license, Vehicle registration, and Insurance
    • Keep these together in the glovebox so its easily accessible
  • First aid kit
    • Expect the unexpected by keeping some bandaids and gauze
  • Spare tires and tools
    • These items should be with the spare tire, double check that you have them before you leave.
  • Jumper cables
    • Never know when the car might have a dead battery. Consider a jumper battery booster so you don’t have to wait for help to arrive
    • Jump Starter – $18 on Amazon
  • Spare cash
    • Always have a budget when on a trip, but bring extra cash just in case you run into unexpected tolls.
  • Flashlight or headlamp
    • With car issues at night, a flashlight or headlamp would be more helpful than your phone light.

What you might need:

  • Travel Pillow
    • Personally, I have a hard time getting comfortable when trying to sleep in the car. I started bringing a travel pillow on trips and found that it helps quite a bit
    • $9 neck pillow at Walmart
  • Blanket
    • Whether it’s hot or cold in the car, I’ll always feel more comfortable with a blanket.
  • Headphones
    • Traveling with more than two people, you might want to think about packing some headphones. You may or may not like the music being played in the car so you might as well play your own.
  • Snacks
    • The one thing you need on your list, above all things, are the snacks. Pick from your pantry or stop at a gas station on your way and pick up the most important part of your trip.
    • Candy
    • Chips
    • Trail mix
    • Mixed nuts
    • Fruit (apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries, etc)
    • Pretzels
    • Jerky
    • Cheese
  • A book
    • Road trips are the best time to get some reading done. What else are you going to do to occupy your time?
  • Sunglasses
    • Squinting to see when you’re driving in the middle of the day is never fun and can be bad for your eyes. A pair of sunglasses at Walmart cab cost around $6, depending on the style of course.
  • Car chargers
    • To me, the worst feeling on a road trip is the works feeling ever. Make sure you know what kind of outlet your car has beforehand.
  • Trash bag
    • Using grocery bags or small trash bags is very helpful to have in your car, not only during road trips but all the time. 
    • For Christmas, my mom got everyone these mini trashcans to keep in our cars at Walmart for $10.
  • Ice scraper
    • Especially if you are driving in the winter, an ice scraper is a good thing to have. You don’t want to be scraping your car with your credit card (trust me, I would know).
  • GPS
    • Whether you use your phone or an actual GPS, you always wanna know when your next turn is.
  • Car phone mount
    • If you are going to use your phone as a GPS, it’s a good idea to mount your phone up so you aren’t distracted by picking your phone up and looking away from the road.
    • $6 phone mount at Five Below
  • Gas Buddy
    • Gas buddy is an app to download on your phone that will tell you where to find the cheapest gas
    • To keep yourself from getting distracted from driving, have a passenger use the app
  • Duffel bag
    • Having a place to put all your stuff is important. To narrow down your selections in a bag, I would recommend a duffel bag. 
    • They are big enough to fit all you need and you can access everything in it without having to unpack everything.
  • Laundry bag
    • It’s not just important to have a bag for packing your clothes, but it’s also important to have a bag for dirty clothes so you can wash them when you get home.
    • My family usually uses trash bags as laundry bags when we are on trips.
  • All your clothes and shoes
    • Double-check your bags and count how many days to pack for. It’s better to overpack than underpack.
  • Toiletries
    • Including your toothbrush, toothpaste, shower stuff, face wash, makeup, etc. You don’t want to make a late-night trip when on vacation because you forgot your shampoo.
  • Cooler
    • Extra drinks and snacks should always be stored in your cooler so you have them at your fingertips.
  • Reusable cup or water bottle
    • Instead of buying new drinks at the gas station or getting coffee on your way out of town, bring water or coffee from home and refill it on your way back home.
  • Napkins, Kleenexes, or toilet paper
    • Having these on hand are very essential for having in your car. Great for soaking up spills, blowing your nose, or when there is not a bathroom in sight.
  • Hand sanitizer
    • Always a necessity especially when there is no soap at the rest stop or after pumping gas.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray
    • You may not need to wear these in the car but depending on where you’re traveling to, you might need to add them to your list.
    • Sunscreen lotion – $2 at Walmart
    • Spray sunscreen – $5 at Walmart
    • Bug spray – $4 at Walmart
  • Car/Motion sickness remedies
    • If you know you get car sick easily, think ahead and bring light snacks or some water to sip on during your trip. 
    • Cereal
    • Bread
    • Apples
    • Bananas
    • Water
    • Carbonated drinks
  • Wet wipes
    • When you stop to use the bathroom, and there is no soap, and your hand sanitizer just isn’t doing the trick, wet wipes are the way to go. Or if someone spills their drink or snacks, wet wipes do the best job to clean your car for the time being.

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