It feels like it was just yesterday that we picked up our camper van and set off on a road trip across the US. Our 3,000-mile trip from Chicago to Los Angeles served as a great reminder of our love for the open road and the freedom of living out of a campervan.
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We used to road trip quite a bit when we lived in Australia and now that we’ve found a cheap way to go on road trips in the US, it’s the perfect time to get back into it.
When we first started road-tripping, we found the experience to be rather frustrating. Time and time again we’d realize that we were missing this or that essential item from our packing list and end up kicking ourselves for not thinking of it in preparation for our trip.
But this trip was different. We finally felt like we had it all sorted out and that our list of Essential Road Trip accessories was now complete. So here they are – the items that will help take your road trip from good to great!
This power inverter is an absolute must accessory for any long road trip. It will turn your tiny cigarette lighter port into a powerful AC power outlet. Our power inverter produces 140 Watts of AC power and includes 1 electrical household outlet and 2 USB ports. And as it turned out, 140 Watts is a lot of power. Using our Power Strip (see below), we are able to charge both of our laptops, plus camera batteries and an iPhone all at the same time.
This power strip is a great addition to our travel gear and one that quickly proved its value. This is a perfect space-saving charging station that allows us to charge lots of devices at once with 2 AC outlets and 4 USB ports. We plug this charging dock into our Power Inverter and have an all-in-one solution for all of our charging needs.
This charging dock is not only a great road trip accessory but a great travel accessory as well. With this bad boy, we’ll never have to worry about not having enough outlets in hotel rooms when we travel either. Double win!
We love our Ram X-Grip Cell Phone holder! We bought it about years ago and have since successfully road tripped with it in Australia, Europe, Africa and now in the US. It’s a bit bulky, but what makes it worth the size/weight is the twist lock suction cup and grip handles which allow for a perfect fit with any phone and easy adjustments to suit any driver’s preference. Plus with a little addition of the GoPro ball joint accessory, the X-Grip turns into a perfect GoPro holder as well.
You can’t go road-tripping without awesome tunes and we know it well, there is nothing more frustrating than rocking out to a great tune one minute and hearing the fuzzy noise take over the radio next. Or in the case of Spotify, it’s music when you have a 4G connection on your phone and no music when you are in a dead zone. Dead zones suck, so we choose to avoid them by using Spotify Premium. Spotify Premium allows you to make your playlists available offline, so you can enjoy your favourite tunes while completely off the grid.
If you can’t fork out $10/month, you can subscribe for a free 3 month trial just before your road trip. (If you already have an account, just sign up using a new email)
At night, when we reach our campsite and turn off our radio/car speaker, we turn to our trusty portable speaker to keep the tunes going in our campervan in the evening. We’ve had this speaker for years. It’s small, light, and produces great sound. It’s also waterproof so we can take it on rainy hikes, chuck it into a kayak and not have to worry about it!
There is no better way to keep a library of books at hand while on a road trip than with a Kindle Paperwhite. While some people prefer hardcover books we don’t want to carry the extra weight when we travel, so we find our Kindle to be a great road trip accessory. The latest version of Kindle Paperwhite is thin, light, waterproof and can now be paired with Audible!
7. Hydro Flask
We are absolutely obsessed with our Hydro Flask water bottles. We’ve had them for many years and use them daily. Hydro Flasks come in different sizes, shapes and colours, but at the heart of this brilliant bottle is its TempShield Technology that keeps cold liquids chilled for up to 24 hours and hot liquids – hot for up to 6. It’s BPA free and sweat-free, so no matter how hot or cold your drink is on the inside, you won’t feel the condensation or heat when you grab the bottle on the outside.
They are perfect for staying clean on the go and have about a million uses. Just make sure to pick a biodegradable variety to minimize the impact on the environment.
Storage containers are irreplaceable on road trips! We used them for food storage, art and craft supplies, nuts, snacks and much more. These ones are made out of food-grade silicone and are collapsible so they take up very little room in your bags and are ideal for any travel
Instead of buying a bottle opener, a pair of scissors, a knife, a screwdriver, and a handful of other random tools, pack this multi-tool for your road trip and have all tools easily accessible in one place. Just remember to always pack the tool into checked luggage when flying.
11. Maps Me
Maps Me is the only app you need for a successful road trip. You may have heard us rave about it in our post 11 Mobile Apps We Can’t Travel Without and it’s once again proven to be a saviour for us on this road trip. No cell phone reception? No problem, we preload the maps for the state we are driving through and can easily route ourselves to any destination. The app also allows us to search for supermarkets, campgrounds, shops, and tourist attractions. Download it here.
12. Comfortable Clothing
Comfortable clothing is another must for a good road trip. The thing is that you have to strike the perfect balance between being super comfortable for all those hours in the car, but also, look good enough that you can be ready to jump out of the car and sightsee on a moment’s notice.
These days, we purchase most of our clothes from prAna, a sustainable clothing brand with a great selection. They’ve got everything from hiking gear to sweats, jeans, and nice dresses and dress shirts!