Packing for a road trip is basically the opposite of my usual having to fit everything into a carry-on, so I am all over the idea of bringing things that make the trip more fun, just because they fit in the car.
These are some unique ideas of what to pack on a road trip or give as gifts to someone hitting the road soon.
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1. Trail Keg
Yes, a mini keg. This is basically a growler that has a tap, so you can fill up with your favorite craft beer and take it out to your picnic in style! Perfect for beer lovers like me. It is a 64 oz stainless steel, vacuum insulated keg that keeps your beer nice and cold. Available on Amazon.
2. Camp Hammock (Kammok)
I was skeptical at first, but when you buy the super convenient python straps that go with this versatile camping hammock, you can rig it up easily in a variety of places, and it’s comfortable! It’s lightweight and packs down, and you can even get a special bug net for it if you need one. It’s great for the road, you just never know when you might need a nap. Available at REI.
These are not just for athletes; I’ve discovered that they are actually brilliant for travelers as well. They are designed to increase circulation in the legs and feet and reduce the pain and swelling we get from sitting in a car or on a plane for so many hours at a time. I also wore these every night after our long days of trekking in Patagonia and my legs felt fresh every day. I am a believer. Available on Amazon.
4. Eye Mask & Ear Plugs
In case you need to steal a nap in a less than convenient place, these will help you sleep. I use a blackout, silk eye mask and special ear plugs for small ear canals (extra squishy and they don’t hurt).
Related: 3 Things to Help You Sleep on the Road
5. Portable Speaker
Recommended by a BMT reader, this Sony bluetooth speaker is a hit for the road. It is loud for its size, has a long-lasting battery, and can be paired with a second one for right and left speakers, creating surround sound.
6. Anker Charger
One of my essentials for any trip (even just to the store), my Anker mobile iPhone charger. It is equipped with two USB ports so you can charge two devices at once, and it can charge an iPhone up to 6 times without needing to be plugged in. I am a huge advocate for this mobile charger!
Grab a blanket with two-sides, one waterproof to place face down on the ground, and the other comfortable and cozy to sit on. This picnic blanket is extra large, yet folds up nice and small and has a carrying handle.
8. Healthy Travel Snacks
It’s always a good idea to keep some protein and other healthy foods nearby, just in case there are no options on the road. I have an entire podcast about healthy travel snacks, and a blog post as well that you should check out. It mentions things like Justin’s Nut Butter, GoGo SqueeZ Apple Sauce, and more. I’m also going to add Epic Bars, particularly the Sriracha Chicken flavor, spicy and delicious!
9. Laminated US Map
By the trusted Rand McNally, these laminated maps and can written and drawn on with dry erase markers, so you can map your route as you go. You may also consider getting individual state maps in case you’re heading out of service and won’t have maps apps available on your phone. You can also download this map app to have maps offline.
10. Double Port USB Car Charger
If you don’t have a USB car charger yet, get one with two ports, and I recommend getting one that has quick charge capability like this one that I use. Be sure you also have enough cords for all the assorted electronics you are bringing. Between the USB car charger and the Anker charger, you won’t be dependent on electricity for your electronics if you’re camping!
11. BONUS IDEA: National Parks Pass
Some of the best possible destinations in the US are our National Parks. It’s very worth it to buy an annual pass if you plan to be going to a few of them, and you should! At $80 per pass, they cover entrance fees per car, for as many people that can fit in the car.
Related: Motion Sickness Tips for Travelers
This post contains affiliate links. I received some of these items for free. Opinions are my own.