A Road Trip Checklist

Planning a road trip? It can be tricky to know exactly what you should pack. Before you hit the open road, check out the list of road trip essentials below to make sure you’ve got everything you need.

The perfect road trip bag

First things first. Before you start packing, you need a bag! Road trips should be spontaneous and care free, so you don’t want to be lugging around a giant suitcase with you.

On the other hand, you probably have quite a lot to bring along the trip, especially if you’ll be camping or cooking your own food – so skip the backpack and the shopping bag totes. The last thing you want is to be juggling several bags and always wondering where you put the very thing you need!

The ideal choice of bag for a road trip is an overnight bag which is roomy enough to fit everything you need, but is still compact and convenient. It shouldn’t take up too much room in the car, and it should be easy to carry in and out of accommodation. It should be sturdy too, and ready to take on whatever adventures you’ve got planned.

Check the inside for the pocket situation – you’ll want enough pockets to compartmentalise your things so that your frequently-used items are easy to access. It’s a good idea to get a few wet bags as well so that you can compartmentalise your clothes or keep wet items separate.

Offline navigation app

Don’t get lost on your road trip! You might rely on Google Maps when you’re in the city, but if you’re heading someplace where reception isn’t always reliable, download a navigation app that can go offline. There are also apps which tell you where the nearest petrol station or camping site is. Check out your options and select a few good apps which will keep you safe and on track on your trip.

Car phone charger

Your phone is pretty important on a road trip, especially if it’s your only navigation device. Make sure you pack a car charger so that you’ll never be stuck without battery. Plug your phone in while you’re driving, and it’ll be good to go whenever you’re out and about.

Sun protection

Whether you’re heading off for your road trip in summer or winter, it’s always a good idea to bring sun protection when you’re in Australia. A hat, sunscreen and sunglasses are road trip essentials. If you’ve looked at the forecast and it’s threatening to rain, pack a rain jacket or umbrella too.


If you’re going for a short trip, pick out the outfits you’re going to wear on each day to avoid overpacking. Think about the activities you’re likely to do on your trip and check out the weather forecast to help you choose your outfits. If you’re not doing much physical activity, consider wearing the same pants for several days. If you’ve got lots of sweaty activities planned, pack extra changes so that you can feel fresh and clean.


Usually 1 to 3 pairs of shoes will keep you in good stead for a road trip. Choose your comfiest, most versatile shoes that you’d be happy to wear all day, every day. If you’re planning on lots of beach time, throw in some sandals or thongs. If you have a fancy event planned, don’t forget to slip in some appropriate shoes for that too. You don’t want to be stuck wearing running shoes with an elegant dress!

Microfibre towel

Packing a towel is pretty important on road trips. You might need it for swimming or at your accommodation if towels aren’t provided. Avoid taking a bulky cotton towel, as these types of items take up too much room in weekender bags. Go with a high quality microfibre towel that feels amazing, dries fast and folds up compact.

Shopping bags

Don’t waste your money on buying bags from the shopping centre when you stock up on groceries or snacks. Pack a shopping tote or two. You might find you end up using them for more than shopping. It’s always handy to have a spare bag on hand.


What’s a road trip without car snacks? If you want to indulge, stock up on your favourite chips, biscuits, beef jerky and lollies. If you’re wanting to keep things more healthy, pack some fruit, nuts and trail bars or bake your own snacks if you’ve got the time.

Water bottles

Don’t get dehydrated on your road trip! Make sure you pack enough water for everyone in the car. Figure out where you’ll refill your water bottles or pack a 20L water container so you’ll always have some available when you need it.

Cooler bag

If you’re packing food that won’t be nice after a full day in the sun, bring a cooler bag along to keep everything fresh. Add an ice block or two and it’ll keep cooler for longer. If you’re staying in accommodation with a freezer, re-freeze the ice blocks every night and you’ll be able to use the cooler bag again the next day.

First aid kit

You don’t want anything to go wrong on your road trip, but you should pack a first aid kit just in case. Don’t forget to include painkillers for any nasty road trip headaches. Plus, it might be a good idea to complete a first-aid course just in case, so you’ll know how to react in emergency situations

Jumper leads

If you’ve got a car, always keep a set of jumper cables in your car in case of emergency. Most of them come with instructions on the box so you don’t have to worry about what to do in the moment.

Spare tyre

As above, make sure you have a spare tyre and tyre changing kit in case of emergency. If your kit doesn’t come with instructions, print out a copy and store it in the car so that you know how to change a tyre if you need to. At the same time, you might want to think about seeing a mechanic before your road trip. For example, if you’ve got an old Mazda 2, you should have a Mazda service technician have a look over it, so you can be assured that everything is running smoothly before you hit the road.

Have fun on your road trip!

Thinking of every little thing you might need on your road trip can be a headache. Hopefully this checklist will make packing easier so that you can hit the road faster and focus on enjoying your adventures. Happy road tripping!