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36 Solo Road Trip Essentials To Pack For Your Next Adventure

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We know that planning a road trip can be daunting. However, 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’s 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.

For extra relevant advice, why not check out our solo road trip tips?

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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!

  1. Driving License and Car Documents
  2. Car trunk Organizer
  3. Smartphone Mount
  4. In-Car Phone Charger
  5. Power Bank
  6. Roadside Emergency Kit
  7. Travel Mug
  8. Day Pack
  9. Dash Cam
  10. Travel Cooler
  11. Water Bottle
  12. Car Sunshades
  13. Lug Wrench
  14. Car Jack
  15. Jump Leads
  16. GPS Navigation For Hiking
  17. Lumbar Back Support
  18. First Aid Kit
  19. Travel Towel
  20. Audiobooks
  21. Car Power Inverter
  22. General Clothes
  23. Waterproof Clothes
  24. Hiking Shoes
  25. Toiletries
  26. Sunglasses
  27. Food Containers
  28. Cooking Stove
  29. Camping Table & Chairs
  30. Tent
  31. Sleeping Mat
  32. Sleeping Bag
  33. Travel Pillow
  34. Flashlight
  35. Books
  36. Portable Speaker

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!

Documentation

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.

High Road Car Glove Box Organizer, Registration and Insurance Document Holder and Car Manual Holder with Flexible Secure Zippered Case and Note Pad
  • Glove Compartment Document Holder – multipurpose…
  • Owners Manual Case – deep inside manual pocket…
  • Car Paper Organizer – zippered outside pocket…

A simple Car Document Holder such as the one above can be useful to keep everything safe and in one place.

Car Trunk Organizer

A car trunk organizer is one of the first items I would recommend. It’s a great way to keep all the items for your road trip organized.

Sale
K KNODEL Sturdy Car Trunk Organizer with Premium Insulation Cooler Bag, Heavy Duty Collapsible for Car, SUV, Truck, or Van (3 Compartments, Black)
  • PREMIUM CAR TRUNK ORGANIZER WITH COOLER BAG – The…
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  • SMART DESIGN – Our product features sturdy walls,…

Car Trunk Organizer on Amazon

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.

Sale
Qifutan Car Phone Holder Mount Phone Mount for Car Windshield Dashboard Air Vent Universal Hands Free Automobile Cell Phone Holder Fit iPhone
  • 3 IN 1 Car Phone Mount: Cell phone holder car is…
  • Enhanced Suction Cup: Phone holder mount is…
  • Perfect Flexibility: Car phone holder with 360…

Budget Smartphone Mount on Amazon

If you will need to charge your phone and plug it in for music at the same time, go for the wireless charging option. Otherwise, you will have to choose between music… or battery.

Sale
Wireless Car Charger, MOKPR Auto-Clamping Car Mount 15W/10W/7.5W Fast Charging Air Vent Car Phone Mount Compatible with iPhone 15/14/13/13 Pro/12 Pro Max/12 pro/12/11/10 Series, Samsung Galaxy Series
  • 【Auto-Precise Alignment Charging】This wireless…
  • 【Upgraded Intelligent Auto-Clamping】The…
  • 【Make Drive Easier】Combines the wireless…

Smartphone Mount With Wireless Charging On Amazon

Both of these attach to your vehicle’s air vent for ease of installation and use. Compatible with all major smartphone models!

In Car Charger

If you already have a smartphone mount but no ability to charge your phone. You can grab a budget car charger.

Sale
Anker 320 Car Charger (24W II), Mini Aluminum Alloy Dual USB with Blue LED for iPhone15 14 13 12 Series, iPad Pro/Air 2/Mini, Galaxy and More – Not Compatible with Quick Charge
  • Double Duty – Twin USB-A ports pump out a combined…
  • Ultra-Compact – The car charger’s super-small…
  • Heavy Metal – Finished with a scratch-resistant…

Anker Car Charger On Amazon

Simply plug this into the cigarette lighter socket and insert a USB charging cable to connect to your smartphone… simple!

Power Bank

A power bank is something useful to keep in your day bag when you head out on a long hike. Keep those electronic devices fully charged!

Anker Portable Charger, Power Bank, 20,000mAh Battery Pack with PowerIQ Technology and USB-C (Recharging Only) for iPhone 15/15 Plus/15 Pro/15 Pro Max, iPhone 14/13/12 Series, Samsung Galaxy (Black)
  • Ultra-High Cell Capacity: The massive 20,000mAh…
  • Advanced Charging Technology: Anker’s exclusive…
  • Simultaneous Charging: Twin USB ports allow you to…

Anker Portable Charger On Amazon

It’s also useful if your car charger stops working and you need a backup device. This one charges via USB, so you can plug it into the Anker car charger listed above which has two ports.

Roadside Emergency Kit

Accidents and breakdowns are likely to happen, especially if you’ll be on an extended solo trip. Keep yourself safe by preparing ahead of time with a roadside emergency kit.

LIANXIN Roadside Assistance Emergency Kit – Car Emergency Kit with Jumper Cables (Upgraded) Emergency Roadside Kit for Car 142 Pieces Car Safety Kits,Tow Strap,Tool Kit,Reflective Warning Triangle
  • 🚗 【Things you may need】: This roadside…
  • 🚗【Safe and durable】: UL certified jumper…
  • 🚗 【Car repairs tool box】: Small and…

Roadside Assistance Emergency Kit On Amazon

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!

Travel Mug

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.

Contigo West Loop Stainless Steel Vacuum-Insulated Travel Mug with Spill-Proof Lid, Keeps Drinks Hot up to 5 Hours and Cold up to 12 Hours, 20oz Steel
  • Our lids are sealed: Autoseal technology is leak…
  • For the long haul: Drinks stay hot up to 5 hours…
  • Lend a hand: Easy one handed drinking from this…

Travel Mug on Amazon

Check out the one above if you need a good solid travel mug for your journey. There is nothing like a hot cup of coffee/tea to get you energized on the road.

Day Pack

If you’re the adventurous type, you’re sure to be off hiking or rambling around a new city. A day pack is useful to put all the essentials in before you set off.

Osprey Daylite Commuter Backpack, Black
  • Large panel loading main compartment provides…
  • Dual stretch mesh side pockets provide additional…
  • The multi-function interior sleeve can be used for…

Day Pack on Amazon

It’s also useful if you are planning to stay in a hotel for the night. I like to just pack the things I’m going to need and store the majority of items in the car.

Dash Cam

A budget dashcam isn’t just useful to provide footage in the event of an accident, it can also be used to record scenic roads during your journey!

Sale
ROVE R2-4K Dash Cam Built-in WiFi GPS Car Dashboard Camera Recorder with UHD 2160P, 2.4″ IPS Screen, 150° Wide Angle, WDR, Night Vision
  • 4K ULTRA HD RECORDING – The ROVE R2-4K dash…
  • BUILT-IN WiFi 6 – Use the ROVE App to view and…
  • DASH CAM WITH GPS – Built-in GPS accurately…

Budget Dash Cam On Amazon

This one attaches to your windscreen for ease of use. You can also get much fancier ones with all kinds of features but I like the simple options.

Travel Cooler

A decent cooler is perfect for keeping drinks and food cold while on your solo road trip.

Sale
Koolatron Electric Portable Cooler Plug in 12V Car Cooler Bag, 26 qt (25 L) Black/Gray Soft-Sided Portable Car Fridge w/DC Power Cord, Adjustable Shoulder Strap, Cord Storage, Road Trip.
  • 13 L (14 qt) Capacity Cooler: With a 13 liter (14…
  • Designed for Easy Organization: Multiple pockets…
  • Practical Travel Solution: Durable fabric…

Travel Cooler on Amazon

Fill it with snacks, beverages, and even pre-packed lunches. Grab a few ice packs too in order to ensure everything stays cool.

Water Bottle

Have a reusable water bottle that you can fill up from your personal store or at rest stops to cut down on costs and plastic waste.

SENDESTAR 64 oz Beer Growler Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Leak Proof Stainless Steel Water Bottle —Wide Mouth with Flat Cap & Spout Lid Includes Water Bottle Pouch (Black)
6,667 Reviews
SENDESTAR 64 oz Beer Growler Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Leak Proof Stainless Steel Water Bottle —Wide Mouth with Flat Cap & Spout Lid Includes Water Bottle Pouch (Black)
  • The water bottle is double-walled and made from…
  • Wide mouth makes it easy to clean, BPA-free lid…
  • This Growler Won’t Leak. lid with handle for easy…

Water Bottle On Amazon

It’s also useful when you go on a long hike or a walk around a new place.

Car Sunshades

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.

Sale
Enovoe Car Window Shades for Baby (21″x14″) – 4 Pack – Sun Shade Blocker, Cling Window Cover – Glare Shield and UV Rays Protection for Your Child – Side Window Screens for SUV- Mesh Car Window Shade
  • Absolute Sun Protection : Enovoe’s Car Window Sun…
  • Universal Fit : These 21” x 14” sun shade for…
  • Dual Layer Design : With a mesh side for…

4 Pack of Enovoe Car Window Shades on Amazon

You can also get a sunshade to use for the windscreen, to ensure maximum protection.

Sale
Enovoe Car Sunshades for Windshield with Bonus Drawstring Pouch Bag with Woven Logo. Premium 230T Reflective Material Blocks Heat. Windshield Cover Sun Shade Keeps Vehicle Cool – 31 x 28 in
  • BUILT TO LAST: Our windshield cover is made with…
  • EASY TO INSTALL: Enovoe’s automotive windshield…
  • AND EVEN EASIER TO STOW AWAY: To stow, simply move…

Enovoe Windshield Sunshade on Amazon

Keep the car cool when traveling in the summer months by investing in some sunshades!

Lug Wrench

Essential tool for removing bolts so you can change a flat tire. You’ll also need the locking wheel nut which should be in your vehicle at all times.

EPAuto 14″ Heavy Duty Universal Lug Wrench, 4-Way Cross Wrench
  • Durability: Made from Forged heat treated carbon…
  • Corrosion-Resistant: Chrome Plated
  • 14 inches body length for easy leverage

Lug Wrench On Amazon

I always keep one of these in the trunk just in case. It’s an absolutely essential item!

Car Jack

If you get a flat tire you will need a car jack to change it. Make sure you get the right jack for your vehicle weight!

Sale
Blackhawk B6350 Black/Red Fast Lift Service Jack – 3.5 Ton Capacity, 28 1/2″ L x 13 3/4″ W x 6 1/2″ H
  • Built-in internal safety valve and vent plug…
  • Swivel saddle provides easy jack positioning and…
  • 3.5-ton/7,000 lb. lift capacity

Car Jack on Amazon

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

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.

Energizer Jumper Cables for Car Battery, Heavy Duty Automotive Booster Cables for Jump Starting Dead or Weak Batteries with Carrying Bag Included (16-Feet (6-Gauge)
  • ENERGIZER 16 FEET JUMPER CABLES – 6 Gauge, 16 FT…
  • THICK VINYL COATING – Includes a strong spring and…
  • CARRYING CASE INCLUDED – Our Energizer jumper…

Jump Leads on Amazon

A set of jump leads won’t set you back much but they sure come in handy if you need to get your car started.

GPS Navigation For Hiking

GPS Navigation can be really useful if you plan on doing some trail walking or heading out into the wilderness. Getting lost is a real risk.

Garmin 010-00970-00 eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator
  • Rugged handheld navigator with preloaded worldwide…
  • WAAS enabled GPS receiver with HotFix and GLONASS…
  • Waterproof to IPX7 standards for protection…

GPS Navigation Device on Amazon

This navigation device from Garmin is really useful.

Lumbar Back Support Cushion

Use a Lumbar Support Cushion so you don’t develop a backache or aggravate an existing injury.

Sale
LOVEHOME Lumbar Support Pillow for Chair and Car, Back Support for Office Chair Memory Foam Cushion with Mesh Cover for Back Pain Relief – Black
  • Alleviates Lower Back Pain and Posture Improved -…
  • Sturdy Supportive and Effective- Ergonomic…
  • Secure Two Adjustable Straps- lumbar support for…

Lumbar Support Cushion On Amazon

Using one of these and practicing good posture while driving are two ways to reduce back pain from driving.

First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is another must-have item. They’re cheap and can be easily stored in the car trunk organizer. You can also take essential items with you in your day bag if you head out for a hike.

First Aid Only 299 Piece All-Purpose First Aid Emergency Kit (FAO-442)
  • Comprehensive Emergency Kit: Includes adhesive…
  • Convenient Packaging: An ideal workplace and home…
  • Easy Access: This convenient and versatile work,…

First Aid Kit on Amazon

This is a simple one you can throw in the trunk of your car as part of your solo road trip packing list.

Travel Towel

If you’re looking to pack light you may prefer a travel towel to a normal one. These are easy to throw in a backpack and they also dry quickly.

Sale
Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Towel – Camping Accessories, Quick Dry Microfiber Towel for Travel, Hiking, Yoga, Workout, and Backpacking, Blue
  • Multipurpose: Whether you’re backpacking through…
  • Compact: Lightweight and convenient, our camp…
  • Super Soft: Our fast-drying backpacking towel…

Travel Towel on Amazon

There are lots to choose from but I thought this seemed like a good budget option for a solo road trip.

Audiobooks

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.

Audible Free Trial

Car Power Inverter

a car power inverter allows you to charge electronic devices from your car’s battery. It’s useful for things like laptops, cameras, and drone equipment.

BMK 200W Car Power Inverter DC 12V to 110V AC Car Inverter 4 USB Ports Charger Adapter Car Plug Converter with Switch and Current LCD Screen
  • 【POWERFUL CHARGING OUTLET CAR ADAPTER…
  • 【INTELLIGENT LCD DISPLAY SCREEN & ON/OFF SWITCH…
  • 【BONUS 15A FUSE & SMART PORT FOR SAFE…

Car Power Inverter on Amazon

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.

Essential items for a solo road trip
  • 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 traveling with others, but you’ll still want to keep it simple so you aren’t wasting time routing through bags and bags of clothes.
  • Waterproof Clothing
  • Hiking Shoes
  • 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!
  • Camera
  • Pain Killers- The last thing you want on a long stretch of road is 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.

Don’t worry, we also have a printable Essential Road Trip Packing List ready to go!

Sleeping Essentials

solo road trip sleeping essentials

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!
  • Travel Pillow
  • Blanket
  • 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

essential daily items for solo road trip

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, a plate, and a 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 washout on the road. We suggest keeping a large storage in the back and refilling a smaller bottle to keep upfront with you.

Personal and Vehicle Safety Essentials

essential solo road trip safety items

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-defense item- Traveling alone can unfortunately make you a target. You may want to consider having a self-defense 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/Chargers Have a little bag that contains 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.

Entertainment Essentials

essential entertainment for a solo road trip

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, and save scraps of receipts and tickets to paste in later. Your future self will thank you.
  • Activity Books- coloring books, Sudoku, word puzzles, 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.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. This means I earn a commission if you make a qualifying purchase, but this is at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting The Road Trip Expert.

Lisa Hurd Profile Image

Lisa Hurd

Author

Lisa Hurd is a born and raised Californian currently living with her husband, daughter, and labrador in the UK. She enjoys road trips with her family and has fond memories of cross-country adventures with her 3 sisters while growing up. She loves to write about a variety of camping-related and road trip topics. In her spare time, she’s an avid reader of books. She misses the sun… send vitamin D and quality Mexican food ASAP!

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