A solo road trip is one of the most exciting, life-changing experiences you can have! It is also challenging and more than a little scary. Since you will be on the road by yourself for an extended amount of time, you should think of your packing list as your support system. You’ll need essential items for your personal well-being, safety, day-to-day living, comfort, and entertainment.
The great news is, it is just you and the open road! So whatever fits in your car is yours to take. We’ll get you started with these solo road trip essentials, but you’ll still have plenty of room left over for all the extras.
Solo Road Trip Essentials List
Here is a quick list of solo road trip essentials to add to your packing list. We’ve gone into detail further down in the article and outlined the most useful items that you must have!
Driving License and Car Documents
Car trunk Organizer
In-Car Phone Charger
Roadside Emergency Kit
GPS Navigation For Hiking
Lumbar Back Support
First Aid Kit
Car Power Inverter
Camping Table & Chairs
Detailed List Of Solo Road Trip Essentials
Here we will go into detail on all of the solo road trip packing list items that will prepare you for the ultimate adventure!
You are going to be on a road trip alone, so look out for yourself by making sure you’ve got the essentials for your personal well-being handy!
This includes the obvious like driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. We also recommend your passport and a red Emergency Folder. Keep this in the glove box or driver’s side door and include any medical information you may want a first responder to know and emergency contact information.
You can use the different sections to store food, cooking equipment, and clothes. It’s also useful to stop everything moving around and getting damaged while you’re driving.
Smart Phone Mount
Your phone is going to be your lifeline, for communication, GPS, entertainment, and so much more! Keep your hands free and your eyes on the road with a smartphone mount. You can get a high-end one that includes wireless charging, or go for a budget option.
This kit contains all the major items you’re likely to need including jumper cables, various tools, and a warning triangle. We’ve also listed some of the individual items lower down in the article. Make sure you don’t buy duplicates!
Who doesn’t like coffee? A travel mug should be part of your solo road trip essentials packing list. It’s a great way to save money by making your own coffee at the start of the day.
It’s also useful when you go on a long hike or a walk around a new place.
When you go out for a hike during your solo road trip, the last thing you want is for the car to be super hot when you return. Car sunshades are also useful for privacy as they can be used as window covers.
This 4 pack of Enovoe Car Window Shades is really useful.
Always be very careful if you are planning to change a tire yourself and you aren’t experienced in doing so. It’s not worth getting injured in order to change it yourself rather than getting assistance. Get a good roadside breakdown cover package and request help if you’re not confident.
Jump leads are included in the roadside emergency kit above, so don’t buy them if you already have some. Battery issues are one of the most common reasons for car trouble on a road trip.
There are lots to choose from but I thought this seemed like a good budget option for a solo road trip.
I love listening to audiobooks and podcasts on road trips. Sometimes listening to the same music playlists can get a little boring. Audible has a massive library of audiobooks and podcasts to choose from and you can get a free trial with the link below.
If you’re planning to stay in a lot of hotels this may not be necessary as you can charge your devices there. They’re very useful for charging drone batteries though!
Clothing & Personal Items
Now that we’ve covered those essential items, here are some more lists of things you may wish to take, broken down into useful categories.
Clothes- You’ll want enough clothes to cover the length of your trip and any weather conditions you may come across. As you are on your own, you will have more room to be extra than if you were travelling with others, but you’ll still want to keep it simple so you aren’t wasting time routing through bags and bags of clothes.
Towels- Pack a few towels of varying sizes for different jobs. Small towels for cleaning up messes, a larger towel for showers, and maybe even a travel towel for discrete public restroom sink baths.
Toiletries -Your toiletries bag should be easy to carry, discrete, and have plenty of room. Hot showers can be tough to come by on the road so you’ll be pretty reliant on a public restroom wipe down. We recommend a toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, extra hair ties/clips, personal wipes, a razor, a bar of soap, and travel-size shampoo/conditioner for when you come across a shower. Ladies, depending on when and how long you will be traveling, you may want a separate bag for your feminine hygiene products so you don’t have to bring all your toiletries with you for every bathroom visit.
Sunglasses -No one wants to spend their road trip squinting into the horizon!
Pain Killers- Last thing you want on a long stretch of road is for a headache or a little tennis elbow to get you down. Keep some Advil or Tylenol handy.
Anti-Bacterial Wipes- Keep some wipes handy for cleaning down surfaces in public spaces.
If you’re planning on camping or sleeping in the car then you may benefit from the below list of solo road trip essentials.
Blanket/Sleeping Bag- If your road trip is going to last longer than a day, you’ll need the sleeping essentials!
Tent- If you have any camping planned, and you don’t want to sleep in the back seat of your car, a tent is a must!
Flashlight- a must have for those late night runs to the restroom. We recommend a MagLite as they are powerful and hardy.
Food Preparation Items
We can get so caught up in the excitement of the adventure that we can forget the everyday essentials!
Food- You’ll want to keep plenty of nutritious and filling travel snacks handy so you don’t have to stop every time you get a little snacky. Keep things like trail mix, nuts, peanut butter sandwiches, beef jerky, or protein bars handy. Vegan? Don’t worry, we’ve got some ideas for you in our Vegan Travel Snacks post.
Cookware- It’s a good idea to bring some utensils, a cooking pot, plate, and bowl, ESPECIALLY if you will be camping.
Canister Stove and Fuel- Eating out for all your meals can get expensive and tiresome. Plan to do a little cooking for yourself with a canister stove (don’t forget to bring plenty of fuel).
Water- Store plenty of drinking water in the trunk for consumption or a quick wash out on the road. We suggest keeping a large storage in the back and refilling a smaller bottle to keep up front with you.
Personal and Vehicle Safety Essentials
The best way to stay safe is to be prepared for as many scenarios as possible.
Jack- You may need to get under the car, especially for a tire change, so don’t forget a car jack!
Spare tire- All the tire-changing tools won’t do any good without a quality spare tire to see you through!
Top up fluids– It’s a good idea to keep a plastic box dedicated to things like coolant and washer fluid. You want to have them if you need them, but you don’t want them to spill everywhere!
Change of bulbs- Bring some spare bulbs for the headlights.
GPS Transmitter- We love our cell phones, but great stretches of the country actually have very limited service. A GPS Transmitter works on satellites and allows you to send text messages, an SOS signal, and access maps. They’re expensive, but if you plan on a rural solo road trip, you shouldn’t go without it.
Self-Defence item- Traveling alone can unfortunately make you a target. You may want to consider having a self-defence item to make you feel more secure. Make sure you are aware of the laws on what is and isn’t allowed in the states you are passing through.
Multi-Tool- You never know what kind of situations are going to come up, so be prepared with a little multi-tool!
Insurance/Roadside Assistance- best to make sure your insurance is up to date. We also strongly recommend springing for some premium roadside assistance coverage, especially if you will be on a high mileage trip.
Charging Cables/Charger Have a little bag that contains the charging cables, spare batteries, and portable chargers for all of your electronics. Make sure it is clearly labeled and stored in an easy to reach, but out of direct sunlight, spot.
Your safety always comes first, especially if you are traveling alone. Make sure to keep a friend or family member regularly updated on your location. If you ever feel unsafe, have a plan to exit the situation.
It’s not all work and survival, you are on this solo road trip to have fun! Make sure you bring some entertainment; you’re going to need it for the miles ahead.
These are things you may not NEED, but you will definitely appreciate them as the miles start to pass you by!
Journal and Pen/Pencil- A solo road trip is all about introspection, personal development, and making memories! Write things down, save scraps of receipts and tickets to paste in later. Your future self will thank you.
Activity Books- coloring books, Sudoko, word puzzle, whatever occupies your mind! Have something to do at rest stops or in the mornings/evenings so you don’t get too lonely.
Audiobooks + Podcasts– Download those podcasts you’ve been meaning to catch up, or purchase audiobooks of those titles you haven’t gotten around to reading. It’s a great way to fill the hours on the road without causing too much distraction. We have some inspiring ideas for Best Road Trip Audiobooks and Best Road Trip Podcasts.
Book- Bring some books to read with meals or before bed.
Movies- Movies can be a great way to unwind after a long day of driving.
Portable Speaker- Create a little ambiance by using quality portable speakers.