Skip to Content

65 Winter Road Trip Packing List Essentials [2023 Update]

Image of Iain The Founder Of The Road Trip Expert

To learn how this content was created please read our Editorial Guidelines.

Winter road trips are a lot of fun. But throw in those snowy conditions, and packing can seem like a huge task!

What about all the additional items you’ll need to take?!

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be too complicated. As someone who has lived in a ski resort, I know a thing or 2 about driving in frosty conditions. I’ve created this complete Winter road trip packing list to help you get everything sorted before you set off.

Figuring out how to plan a road trip can be daunting.

But guess what?

I’m going to share with you all the winter road trip essentials you need! There are items for safety, camping, and a few gadgets to keep you entertained.

Read on and ensure you use our winter road trip checklist on the day of your journey to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

Affiliate Disclosure: Thank you for supporting The Road Trip Expert. When you purchase through links on this site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Please see our advertising disclosure for more details.

Winter Road Trip Essentials Checklist

These are the must-have winter road trip essentials that you need to remember. There is then a detailed description of each of these car essentials for winter below the main list.

  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. Dash Cam
  9. Lug Wrench
  10. Car Jack
  11. Jump Leads
  12. Snow Shovel
  13. Ice Scraper
  14. De-Icer
  15. Day Pack
  16. Audiobooks
  17. Lumbar Back Support
  18. First Aid Kit
  19. Car Power Inverter
  20. Water Bottle
  21. Warm Clothes
  22. Hats, Gloves & Scarves
  23. Warm Jackets & Coats
  24. Boots & Thick Socks
  25. Food Supplies
  26. Toiletries
  27. Hand Sanitizer
  28. Portable Speaker & Travel Games
winter road trip essentials
Winter Road Trip Essentials

Driving License and Car Documentation

When on any road trip it’s important to remember your license, registration, and proof of insurance. You can also use the document holder below to store any important tickets, bookings, or other paperwork.

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…

Car Document Holder On Amazon

Car Trunk Organizer

A car trunk organizer is a useful way to store all of your belongings in the trunk. You can use the different sections for different sets of items. If you’re taking camping gear or lots of stuff it’s really useful.

Car Trunk Organizer On Amazon

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…
  • SUPERIOR DURABILITY AND WATERPROOF – The K KNODEL…
  • SMART DESIGN – Our product features sturdy walls,…

Smartphone Mount

Mounting your smartphone is an easy way to use it for its satellite navigation while driving. If you connect your phone to the car for music via Bluetooth then the budget one below will be perfect.

If you connect your phone to the car for music using a wire then you could consider this phone mount which includes wireless charging. That way you can listen to music and charge your phone at the same time.

In-Car Phone Charger

This in-car charger has two USB ports meaning two devices can be charged simultaneously. Don’t get left out in the cold with no battery on your mobile devices!

Anker Car Charger on Amazon

Sale
Anker Car Phone Charger Adapter, 36W Metal Dual USB , PowerDrive III 2-Port 36W Alloy for iPhone 14 13 12 11 Pro Max mini X XR XS, iPad Pro mini, Galaxy S20/ S20+/ S10/ S10e/ S10+ and More
  • The Anker Advantage: Join the 55 million+ powered…
  • High Speed: Two 18W USB ports feature technology…
  • Premium Exterior: Finished with a sleek,…

If you’ve got Bluetooth audio on your car then this goes perfectly with the budget phone mount above.

Power Bank

A power bank is another must-have item that you can add to your daypack. It will also charge via a USB cable which you can attach to the in-car charger listed above. This gives you a backup electricity supply for when you are out and about or you want to charge your mobile phone while camping.

Anker Power Bank on Amazon

Sale
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…

Roadside Emergency Kit

A car emergency kit is designed to cover you for any eventuality.

Typical contents: Jumper Cables, Tire Sealer-Inflator Light Sticks, Reflective Vest, Rain Poncho, Warning Triangle, Whistle, Tire Pressure Gauge, etc.  

Sale
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…

Travel Mug

No winter road trip packing list would be complete without a travel mug for your tea or coffee! What better way to enjoy your winter wonderland drive than with a hot brew?

Travel Mug on Amazon

Sale
Contigo West Loop Stainless Steel Vacuum-Insulated Travel Mug with Spill-Proof Lid
  • 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…

Dash Cam

Dash cams are great for capturing a scenic drive. In addition, they also provide vital evidence in the event of an accident or incident.

Budget Dash Cam

Sale
Dash Cam Front and Rear, Dash Camera for Cars with 32G Card Super Night Vision, Car Dash Cam 1080P Dashboard Camera with G-Sensor, Parking Monitor, Loop Recording, Motion Detection Car Camera【2024】
  • 🚗 🛍️ 【Dash Camera for Cars Front Rear…
  • 🚗 🛍️ 【Car Cameras Dash Cam with…
  • 🚗 🛍️ 【Wide Angle Front and Rear Dash…

Here’s a budget one you can pick up but there are many more with fancy functionality.

Lug Wrench

A lug wrench is an important tool used for changing a tire. It’s used to remove the nuts on the wheel in order for you to remove it and fit a new one.

Lug Wrench on Amazon

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

Car Jack

If you are confident in changing a tire then you will need a car jack to raise your vehicle prior to doing so. Make sure you have a jack that is designed to support the weight of your vehicle!

Car Jack on Amazon

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

Jump Leads

A pair of jumper cables in case of a flat battery is essential. If you plan to travel in remote areas during Winter, I strongly recommend you take a battery pack as jumper cables rely on someone else being around to help you!

Both of these are found in our article on must-have road trip accessories!

Sale
CARTMAN 4 Gauge 20 Feet Jumper Cables Automotive Booster Cables with Carry Bag for Car SUV and Pickup Trucks
  • Patented design clamps covered with non-conducting…
  • Jumper cables with higher copper content than…
  • 20 Ft length provides access from various…

Snow Shovel

You can use a bag of cat litter instead of road salt (potentially cheaper). This retractable snow shovel is nice and portable.

RHINO USA Folding Survival Shovel w/Pick – Heavy Duty Carbon Steel Military Style Entrenching Tool for Off Road, Camping, Gardening, Beach, Digging Dirt, Sand, Mud & Snow.
  • Folding survival shovel w/ pick – heavy duty…
  • Military style e-tool – 2lbs of powder coated…
  • Compact & portable – full 23″ long extended but…

Ice Scraper and De-Icer

Your windows will freeze up overnight in winter conditions. An ice scraper will help you effectively remove this.

AstroAI 27″ Snow Brush and Detachable Ice Scraper with Ergonomic Foam Grip for Cars, Trucks, SUVs (Heavy Duty ABS, PVC Brush, Orange)
  • Paint Protection Design: The bristle head looks…
  • Built to Last: You’ll only need one, the…
  • Push and Scrape: Brush off snow and scrape the ice…

Grab some cheap de-icer too and you should be able to defrost your vehicle quickly ready to get back on the road!

Day Pack

A day pack can be perfect for storing the essentials required for a day hike or even packing some overnight things prior to staying in a hotel.

Osprey Day Pack on Amazon

Sale
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…

Audiobooks

Audiobooks and podcasts are a great way to stay entertained during a long car ride. Audible has a big selection to choose from and you can get a free trial of Audible plus with the link below

Audible Free Trial

Lumbar Back Support

Back pain while driving can lead to serious discomfort. A lumbar back support can be placed at the base of your spine to provide support and help you maintain good posture.

Lumbar Back Support on Amazon

Lumbar Support Pillow, Agokud Back Pillow for Office Chair and Car Seat, Memory Foam Back Support Pillow for Lower Back Pain Relief, Adjustable Lumbar Pillow for Sleeping, Rest

First Aid Kit

This should contain at minimum: band-aids, sterilizing wipes, bandages, scissors, painkillers, and medication.

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,…

Car Power Inverter

A car power inverter is useful for charging electronic devices such as laptops or drone batteries.

Car Power Inverter on Amazon

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…

Winter Road Trip Packing Advice

You can start by checking you have all the key items you think you’ll need from our core list above. After this, work your way through all of the winter road trip items listed below in this article and decide what you need.

After you have packed everything, use our winter road trip checklist on leaving day to make sure nothing has been forgotten!

Let’s move on to some more item categories.

Winter Road Trip Food Items

It is important to pack food provisions for your winter road trip. As a minimum, ensure you have water for drinking and emergency snacks.

Some other items to consider:

  1. Reusable Water Bottles
  2. Travel Cooler
  3. Camping Stove
  4. Camping table & chairs
  5. Plates & cutlery
  6. Food storage containers
  7. Ice packs for the cooler
  8. Your favorite snacks including crisps, chocolate, and muffins!
  9. Homemade sandwiches and chopped fruit
  10. Nuts, seeds, and other healthy snack ideas

In terms of a food packing list, your road trip needs a separate one. Check out this helpful article we’ve written on the best car food.

Winter-Specific Healthcare Items

A full list of road trip healthcare essentials can be found in our complete road trip packing list, but when taking a road trip during Winter, be sure to include the following:

  • Sunscreen (Yes, you still need this!)
  • Chapstick
  • Moisturizer

Items For Keeping Warm

winter road trip packing list

Whilst on your journey it’s important to stay warm in the car. These items will ensure you stay toasty even in the frostiest of conditions! They are some of the most important winter road trip essentials!

  • Gloves, hats, and scarves
  • A warm coat or jacket and thick socks
  • Thermal underwear
  • Blankets
  • Warm snow boots if required

Blankets are perfect for staying warm during stops, or simply getting cozy as a passenger. They don’t take up much space so I would strongly recommend packing a couple.

Soft Queen Size Blanket for All Season Warm Fuzzy Microplush Lightweight Thermal Fleece Summer Autumn Fall Winter Spring Blankets for Queen Full Bed Couch Sofa,90×90 Inches,Dark Gray
  • 🔥GREAT VERSATILITY–Extremely soft and…
  • 🔥OPTIMAL MICROFIBER SELECTION–HOZY fleece…
  • 🔥DURABILITY–HOZY blanket throw had been proved…

A Warm Sleeping Bag

If you’re planning on camping this is a must. Even if you’re not, it might be nice to have one in case of an emergency.

HiHiker Camping Sleeping Bag + Travel Pillow w/Compact Compression Sack – 4 Season Sleeping Bag for Adults & Kids – Lightweight Warm and Washable, for Hiking Traveling & Outdoor Activities (Gray)
  • SLEEPING ON THE GROUND HAS NEVER BEEN SO…
  • WHY STRAIN YOUR NECK when you can use a headrest…
  • IDEAL FOR BOTH LOW AND HIGH TEMPERATURES: You can…

Hand Warmers

Hand and toe warmers are easy to pack and can help you stay a bit warmer in a pinch. You can slot them into your gloves or your shoes. What’s more, you can even buy reusable ones – it’s always good to be eco-friendly when you travel.

Sale
HotHands Hand Warmers – Long Lasting Natural Odorless Air Activated Warmers – Up to 10 Hours of Heat – 40 Pair
  • SAFE, NATURAL LONG-LASTING HEAT – Odorless,…
  • TO ACTIVATE – Remove warmer from outer package,…
  • MULTIPURPOSE WARMERS – Single use air-activated…

Entertainment Items

Here are some crucial items for staying entertained while on your winter road trip!

  1. Travel games
  2. CDs and playlists
  3. Download audiobooks & podcasts
  4. Books to read
  5. GPS device
  6. A map

Winter Car Safety List

This section contains some extra winter-specific items, not on the essentials list that you could consider ordering or packing for the safety of your vehicle.

Spare Tire

Check your spare tire over. If it’s a full-size tire (the same as the others), the pressure should also be the same and it should work fine in Winter conditions.

A smaller temporary-use tire may not cut it. You will need to research whether Winter tires are required where you are traveling.

Get some revision on changing a tire:

Flares

Flares are only necessary for a serious emergency, but they help alert others to you your location when stranded.

Led Road Flares Emergency Lights 2 Pack – Emergency Roadside Lights with Magnetic Base and Stand for Car Marine Vehicles Trucks – Comes in Solid Storage Case – Beacon Safety Strobe Light Warning Alert
  • Be Visible from 3000 Feet at Night & 1000 Feet in…
  • Ultra Bright Red Emergency Road Lights with Stand…
  • Solidly Constructed & Waterproof – These roadside…

If you find yourself stuck in the snow, you will need these to get out.

Towing Rope

This will also help if you’re stuck and someone is able to help get you out.

RHINO USA Recovery Tow Strap 3' x 20ft - Lab Tested 31,518lb Break Strength - Heavy Duty Draw String Bag Included - Triple Reinforced Loop End to Ensure Peace of Mind - Emergency Off Road Towing Rope
10,779 Reviews
RHINO USA Recovery Tow Strap 3″ x 20ft – Lab Tested 31,518lb Break Strength – Heavy Duty Draw String Bag Included – Triple Reinforced Loop End to Ensure Peace of Mind – Emergency Off Road Towing Rope
  • ✅ REAL LIFETIME WARRANTY – All of our high…
  • RUGGED & HIGH QUALITY – Our Recovery Tow Straps…
  • CARRYING BAG INCLUDED – Drawstring Bag Strong…

Unsure what to do when you get stuck?

Get some revision in here:

How To Get A Vehicle Out Of The Snow

These items will help you deal with the problems that ice on your vehicle can cause

Winter Coolant

Winter coolant has a lower freezing point than regular coolant. This is extremely important. You still need to keep your engine cool in cold temperatures, and frozen coolant will not do this.

Winter Screen Wash Fluid

Winter-specific washer fluid also contains anti-freeze and will clean your windscreen in even the coldest temperatures. Windscreen fluid is essential during a Winter road trip due to spray from other vehicles and bad road conditions.

Winter Wiper Blades.

These differ from regular wiper blades. They are designed to effectively clear ice and snow as well as rain.

Winter Tires or Snow Chains

Research Winter driving laws for your road trip destination. In certain areas, snow tires or snow chains are a must, particularly in mountainous regions.

Additional Car Essentials

Here are some extra items you don’t want to be without!

  • Paper towels
  • Hand sanitizer

Jerry Can

When traveling long distances in Winter, it’s a good idea to fill up your tank AND a jerry can whenever you come across a gas station.

Sale
Wavian USA JC0020RVS Red Authentic NATO Jerry Fuel Can and Spout System (20 Liter)
  • The Only Military Grade Rust Proof Steel EPA and…
  • Highest spec steel jerry can in the world
  • Bayonet style quick release nozzle

Flashlight (With Spare Batteries)

If you get into trouble at night, you’ll need a flashlight. Don’t forget spare batteries.

GearLight LED Tactical Flashlights High Lumens – Mini Flashlights for EDC Carry – Compact Powerful Emergency Flashlights Made from Military-Grade Aluminum – Drop Resistant and Water Resistant
  • BRIGHT – The upgraded TAC LED flashlights cast a…
  • DURABLE – This mini flashlight boasts a virtually…
  • COMPACT – Small yet powerful, this bright…

Pocket Knife or Multi-tool

You never know when might need a tool to get you out of a pinch. When things go wrong in Winter, the consequences can be higher, so keep one handy at all times.

Keychain Knife – Surgical Stainless Steel Half-Serrated 1 7/8″ Blade for Cutting Cord or Twine – Light Plastic Handle – 2 1/2″ Folded, 4 1/4″ Open
  • This small utility knife is perfect for your…
  • Our lockback knives are ideal for cord or twine on…
  • These keychain pocket knives have a thumb stud for…

Winter Road Trip Clothes

winter road trip clothes
Don’t forget your snow sports gear!

There is a full packing list of clothes for your road trip in our Complete Road Trip Packing List. However, you may want to substitute the more summery items in that list for those below.

When packing clothes for Winter, there are 2 principles I like to follow:

  1. Prepare for all weather types
  2. Layering is key

Weather

In Winter you can encounter everything: drizzling rain, torrential downpours, hailstorms, heavy snow and even clear sunny days. As such, you need to pack your clothing accordingly.

Layering is key

Not only does layering keep you warm, but it also helps to regulate your temperature. It also keeps your body protected from wind and moisture. Both of these are important in Winter conditions.

But why does layering work so well?

Well, different layers perform different functions.

Whereas one big chunky sweater is only good for keeping you warm, a system of layering is multi-functional. As a general rule, your base layer will wick moisture away from your body, your mid-layer provides insulation, and your outer layer (or shell) keeps out wind and water.

The Winter Clothing Packing List

This part of the packing list is totally customizable.

Bottom line?

The key is to adjust your clothes packing list depending on what you plan to do.

General Winter Clothes

Warm Waterproof Boots | Baselayer thermals | Midlayer Jacket (down or synthetic) | Waterproof Jacket (Shell) | Waterproof Pants (Shell) | Gloves | Scarf | Beanie | Thick Socks | Fleece/Warm Hoody | High-Vis Jacket | Umbrella

Winter Sports GearHiking

Travel-Friendly Crampons | Hiking Boots | Baselayers | Midlayer Jacket (down or synthetic) | Waterproof Jacket (Shell) | Waterproof Pants (Shell) | Lightweight Waterproof Gloves | Snood | Beanie | Hiking Socks

Ski/Snowboard:

Ski Jacket | Ski Pants | Ski Gloves | Baselayers | Breathable Midlayer Jacket | Ski Socks | Balaclava | Goggles | Helmet 

Packing For Your Winter Road Trip

Congrats! You’re at the packing stage.

It’s now time to load up the bags and pack the car with all those winter essentials. Use this article as your extensive packing list and get everything ready to go.

REMINDER: You can easily navigate around this article using the contents section.

Winter Road Trip Checklist (Leaving Day)

winter road trip checklist

This simple leaving day winter road trip checklist will make sure you haven’t missed anything vital and put your mind at ease. Bookmark this page and make sure you check everything off on the day of departure!

Key Driver Items

  • Driving license
  • Proof Of Insurance
  • Satellite Navigation
  • Road Trip Food
  • Maps If Required
  • In-Car Charger & Cell Phone
  • Power Bank

Car Entertainment

  • Games To Play On The Road
  • Music
  • Books You Enjoy Reading

Winter Road Trip Food

  • Water Bottles For Reuse
  • Chocolate, Crisps, Muffins, or Other Snacks!
  • Fruit, Sandwiches, and Other Homemade food
  • Healthy Snack Ideas Such As Nuts And Seeds

Healthcare

  • Sunscreen
  • SPF Lip Balm
  • Moisturizer
  • First Aid Kit

Staying Warm

  • Scarves, Hats, Gloves, and Other Warm Items
  • Warm Socks, Coats, and Jackets
  • A Warm Blanket
  • Insulated Boots
  • Sleeping bags

Winter Car Safety

  • Roadside emergency kit
  • Cables For Jump-Starting A Vehicle
  • A Shovel
  • Tow Rope
  • Check Your Spare Tire
  • Emergency Flares
  • Scraper For Ice
  • De-Icer, Screen Wash, and Wiper Blades

Car Essentials

  • Hand Towels
  • Hand Wash
  • Fuel Can
  • Handheld Multi-Tool
  • Torch

Let us know if there are any items you think we have missed from this winter road trip checklist!

Research driving conditions and regulations

winter tires
Have you got snow tires?

Two Final Points

While these do not necessarily winter road trip packing list items, they are important things to consider before taking your trip. If you’re renting a vehicle for your road trip, the first point is the most important.

You need to ensure your car is suitable for Winter road conditions and research regulations at your destination. Example: In British Columbia, Canada, you must legally switch to snow tires between the months of October and April.

These rules exist for a reason – they are designed to keep you safe.

Prepare Your Vehicle

Preparing your car for a road trip is smart at any time of year, however, in Winter it’s especially important. Colder months can put extra strain on your vehicle. You may need additional fluids etc.

Now it’s your turn.

Was this Winter road trip packing list helpful?

Is there anything else you would recommend that you really like to take on a Winter trip?

Leave a comment below and let us know!

A final word…

These packing lists took a LONG time to compile and create. If you find them useful and you want to support the site, you can use the links included to purchase anything you might need. Not only is this a convenient way to get your road trip shopping done, but we might earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

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.

Image of Iain The Founder Of The Road Trip Expert

Iain Salter

Founder & Editor of The Road Trip Expert

Iain founded The Road Trip Expert in 2019 and continues to manage the website to this day. The inspiration to start the blog came during an extensive road trip around Europe with two friends that spanned several months and involved over 25,000km of driving. He first developed a passion for backpacking in 2014 and has had the pleasure of exploring over 60 countries.

LinkedIn