Travel-Tested Road Trip Essentials for Every Man

Very few things symbolize ‘Freedom!’ and hitting the open road for a well-deserved break from it all. Do you also feel exhilarated when taking a break from technology and the resources so readily available when at home or work?

Still, a little preparation goes a long way in making the journey successful overall. You can travel light, but we suggest you add the following to your trip checklist so you can enjoy your journey optimally.

Car Documents

Driving any distance comes with the possibility of being pulled over by authorities for a routine check. Save yourself the stress and embarrassment of seeming suspicious just because you can’t produce your license and registration or the car’s papers, such as proof of insurance. Keep it all up front for easy access.

We also suggest keeping the car’s manual on hand. If something should break, you’ll have information on hand. There may not be a signal to Google!

Navigation Tools

Whether you pick a specific destination or see where the road takes you, have resources to navigate. Without it you may end up in dangerous parts of unknown towns, without knowing how to get back to the highway. Or at some stage you may need a place of interest like a hospital, fuel station or convenience store.

Technology gives you many navigation options, so take your pick of Google Maps on your mobile phone, Mapquest or a GPS device. Still, we suggest a printed map as backup, just in case you get lost in areas with no signal.

Polarized Sunglasses

For the hot days, especially if you’re the one driving, you may need polarized sunglasses. Sunglasses carry a host of benefits like protecting your eyes while sightseeing, if there’s wind or if the sun makes you squint. However, for the driver on a road trip it’s essential to make the journey safer. You’ll see the road better, identify obstacles easily and react quicker.

Water and Snacks

Food is as much part of the fun of the trip as it is of survival. Water is always a non-negotiable item, because staying hydrated helps keep you focused while driving. Also, you’ll be happy you have it if you’re lost in the middle of nowhere or need to wait for roadside assistance on a scorching hot day.

Snacks are also important to regulate your blood sugar while driving for long periods. Pack your favorite snacks to make the time more enjoyable. If you’re traveling with others, make sure to cater for everyone’s preferences. We suggest stocking up on items that aren’t messy to eat, to protect your car’s interior.

It’s best to pull off the road for a proper meal, but if you want to snack while driving, select packaging that allows you to snack safely while driving.

Emergency Kit

A medical emergency can happen at any time. From someone cutting their hand while changing a tire, to a basic headache, let your first aid kit empower you to take action.

Basic essentials include:

  • Standard items to treat wounds
  • Antihistamine
  • Medicine for upset stomachs and nausea
  • Ointment for insect bites
  • Pain medication

Comfortable Clothing

Dress for functionality rather than trying to make a fashion statement. Comfortable clothing that won’t easily show wrinkles is the most sensible. Also make sure you have at least one option for all weather conditions, from very cold to hot. For example, a sun hat is as important as a thick jacket.

Blanket and Pillow

A light blanket and pillow won’t take up too much space, but they carry multiple road trip uses:

  • Comfortable napping for passengers
  • Comfort if the driver needs a power nap before continuing the journey
  • Warmth if the weather turns cold
  • Picnic blanket if you stop at the beach or a park for lunch


Having the basic essentials like your toiletries makes it easy to feel rejuvenated every morning. Don’t risk booking into a hotel and them not having soap or a toothbrush you can use. Rather take your own, so you’ll feel fresh every time you start a day’s journey.


As stated, issues will come up. Whether it’s the car’s engine, or something else that needs repairing, a multi-tool has been a lifesaver for many. You can get a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman tool—both offer multiple tools from screwdrivers to scissors, so one item in your luggage can help with many different emergencies.

Electronic Battery Pack

Though a road trip gets you away from the usual tech and routine, you do need modern devices. Whether it’s for your GPS, your mobile phone or camera, make sure you can keep them charged by packing an electronic battery pack, fully charged.

Bug Spray

Insects are small but can quickly ruin a day—or evening while you’re trying to sleep. You’ll be grateful for bug spray when you’re trying to grab some shut-eye after a long day’s driving. Don’t let a mosquito be the reason you’re drowsy behind the wheel.


You can pick a headlamp or handheld flashlight, but always have one close by for unforeseen emergencies. For example, if you’re still on the road after dark and have a breakdown, you’ll realize its value.

Final Thoughts

Road trips are great for getting away, but don’t leave everything at home. Pack the items listed above, so your trip can be memorable and safe.




Photo of author


Noman covers automotive news and reviews for Unfinished Man. His passion for cars informs his in-depth assessments of the latest models and technologies. Noman provides readers with insightful takes on today's top makes and models from his hands-on testing and research.

Leave a Comment