Our 9 Road Trip Essentials (And The Chance To Win A £1000 Road Trip!)

This post was last updated on July 1st, 2014

9 Road Trip Essentials

We can’t believe it’s already been over three weeks since we returned from our awesome (albeit short) road trip through British Columbia. The trip was a tantalizing reminder of just how much we love the thrill of the open road—and how we seriously need to start planning another similar adventure soon!

Whenever we take a road trip, we have a few traditions we follow. We always wait until the gas is nearly empty before going in search of a gas station. We typically don’t travel with any ‘smart devices’, meaning we actually have to stop and ask real people for directions when we get lost. And every time we cross a border we stop the car, put the camera on timer, and run to get a picture with whatever ‘Welcome to _____’ sign we’ve just passed.

There are also a few things we never travel without—whether it’s on a road trip or halfway across the world. To be honest, there’s probably way too much stuffthat we never travel without; our backs would be oh-so-happy if we gave our bags a slim down. But even if we did downsize our lives that are already squished into two large backpacks, there are a few things we know we could never go without.

So when Enterprise asked us to share our #OpenRoadEssentials, it didn’t take us long to come up with a list. We’ve spared you the obvious necessities, like deodorant and a camera, in favor of some essentials with a bit more oomph:

our road trip essentials

  1. Yoga Mat

I tried getting along in my yoga practice with the hotel towel on the floor number for the longest time, but now I never go anywhere without my lightweight Manduka yoga mat. It’s a little awkward to pack, but it keeps me practicing regularly. Which is a good thing, since I’ll be participating in a yoga teacher-training course in just a few months! If you’re ever stuck sleeping in your car, a yoga mat also makes a great impromptu pillow.

  1. Notebook, Pen, and Travel Inspiration

For those long drives in the middle of nowhere, a bit of travel inspiration and a good notepad to write down our musings in are an absolute must. And also because you never know when a good idea will hit!

  1. Travel Credit Cards

We always use our travel credit cards to make any purchase. You have to pay for gas anyway—why not let that spent money go towards a free flight to Europe? We utilize a variety of credit cards that earn us free hotel stays and flights. You can learn all about it in this blog post we wrote.

  1. Travel Tripod

It’s impossible to take a selfie with a giant California sign. Rather than trying to balance our camera on precipitous rooftops and ledges while we run into the photo, we now use the GorillaPod to help us out. Dan loves this travel tripod, both for its flexibility and compactness. Probably not the best tripod to take with you on a professional photography gig, but an absolute must for a road trip.

  1. Coconut Oil

Did you know you can do virtually anything with coconut oil? We’re talking lotion, leave-in hair conditioner, shaving cream, make-up remover, lip balm, toothpaste, antibacterial ointment, energy booster—and that’s just the start. The only problem is that it melts, so if you’re on a summer road trip, keep it next to the A/C!

  1. Noise Cancelling Headphones

Simply because we hate noise pollution. Jammin’ to our tunes on the radio? Sure thing. Listening to cars honk or babies cry? We’re gonna need some headphones to drown that out. Our current noise canceling headphones do the trick just fine, but we have these Bose QuietComfort Acoustic Noise Canceling Headphones on our wish list.

  1. LifeStraw Water Filter

Because you just never know when your car is going to break down in the middle of nowhere and leave you stranded for days. Okay. Even if you’re probably not going to need a water purifier on a road trip, we always travel with this little LifeStraw just in case. It’s so small we don’t even remember it’s in our bag most of the time, and we’re always throwing ourselves into unplanned adventures. We did actually use our water purifiers once when we were cycling through Vietnam. A different kind of road trip, but still.

  1. Scrubba Washbag

If the road trip is any longer than a week, then the Scrubba is coming along. We use this thing all the time. While it doesn’t take all the work out of hand-washing our clothes, it does make the process so much more enjoyable. You can read our full review of the product here.

  1. Sarong

Dan says he would even pack a sarong if he was road trippin’ it with a bunch of dudes. Similarly to coconut oil, there are about a bazillion different ways to use a sarong. Think beach towel (or any towel for that matter), cover-up for religious spaces, blanket for a nap in the car, or scarf for a quick accessory. Drape a sarong on a tree for instant shade; gather the corners for a laundry pouch; create a sheet at a sketchy hotel.


 The Contest

So those are our road trip essentials, but now it’s time to share the best part of the post: the contest! The folks over at Enterprise are hosting a competition for fans to win a road trip for 2 of their own choice (valued at £1000). All you have to do to enter is take a photo of your own road trip necessities and then upload the photo and mention Enterprise on Twitter (@UKEnterprise) or Instagram (@enterpriseuk) using the hashtag #OpenRoadEssentials. For more details, check out the complete competition details here. What better way to end the summer than as the winner of a road trip?


What are your road trip (or travel) essentials? Anything not so obvious you would add to the list?

We were compensated for writing this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.


  1. Oh my – so glad to find a fellow coconut oil lover! I use it all the time at home, but traveling with it can be a pain – how do you keep it from oozing all over the place? I need to find a small airtight container… One of my other road trip essentials is baby wipes – they can clean your hands when you don’t have any soap and water, or be used as TP when a gas station is out. I’ve had my eye on that same yoga mat – maybe I should finally break down and buy it! :)
    Katie recently posted…Guest Post: The Underwater World of Pemuteran, BaliMy Profile

    • I LOVE the yoga mat- definitely recommend it! I don’t know how I traveled now without it :) It’s a great brand, too. Yea coconut oil can be a bit of a pain when it melts. I found some really great containers that do pretty well, though we always put it in a ziplock bag when we’re moving around just in case. Recently we forgot and put it in the side of Dan’s bag, and it actually exploded everywhereeee! Not fun! We always forget about baby wipes, but totally agree that those are a must!

  2. Oh my gosh, coconut oil is like the most essential thing! I currently don’t have any on me but have been thinking for a while that it’s so versatile, I may as well just pack that instead of a bunch of other things. Also, if you whip it up with the right essential oils (something minty) you can use it as insect repellent too!
    Charlie recently posted…How to Get a Couchsurfing Host (and What Not To Do)My Profile

    • Oo great idea to whip it up with some essential oils! I love the idea of adding mint and using it as an insect repellent- so much better than the deet stuff!

  3. As a total road trip lover I appreciated this post really much!
    There’s nothing more I need to add to the list, since you really covered all the essentials, and much more!
    Maybe a road trip playlist and a pair of cool sun glasses for the sun, but that’s kind of a given isn’t it?? :)
    Pam | a Blonde around the World recently posted…#TRAVELTUESDAY QUOTES N.12My Profile

    • Thanks Pam :) And totally agree- a great playlist is an absolute necessity!

  4. Nice selection of ideas here Casey. As travel bloggers/writers I think the notepad is an absolute must! Like you say it could be anytime when that inspirational idea hits and you’ve got to note it down before you forget.

    Noise cancelling headphones/earplugs are a big tick from me.

    As for coconut oil, I never knew it was so verstaile.
    The Guy recently posted…10 Bucket List Ideas For A TravellerMy Profile

    • So glad you liked our ideas! I don’t know how I survived without the headphones now that I have them :) And yes- coconut oil is the absolute best! Haha it’s probably a bit more versatile for women, but still great nonetheless :)

  5. Always interesting to see what others pack.

    I was tempted by the Scrubba when it was going through it’s launch and was incredibly tempted. Was it worth the purchase, does it work as well as hoped?
    Dale recently posted…Why ‘Couchsurfing is free’ Is A MythMy Profile

    • It works really well actually! The only downside is that you still have to wring out all your clothes and dry them. But whenever I wash my clothes in the sink I feel like they don’t actually get clean, while as with the Scrubba they are as clean as in a machine. I think it’s worth it if you will use it often- then the cost per load isn’t too bad. But if you’re like us and just resort to paying someone to wash your clothes or wait and wait and wait until you can do it all at once at a couchsurfer’s home, then maybe you won’t get your money’s worth. Hope that helps!

  6. I have a standard packing list I use, but there are always variations, depending on where and how long we are traveling. Who we are traveling with often changes the list also

  7. Great list.I would add two items: Garbage Bags and a Roll of paper towels. Nothing ruins a long trip faster than spilled drinks, runny noses, dripped ketchup, etc. Having something to clean up with and a place to put the mess keeps the interior and your sanity in check.http://www.ausautomatics.com.au/

  8. Nice article and thanks for sharing the list. We have been doing long really long road trips for many years now and some how we use as much gadgets as we can to make things easier on the road. Nothing wrong, just a different perspective I believe.
    Anuj Srivastava recently posted…Chicago to Montreal and Toronto | Road trip | GhoomnaPhirnaMy Profile



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