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.
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.
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.
- Driving License and Car Documents
- Car Trunk Organizer
- Smartphone Mount
- In-Car Phone Charger
- Power Bank
- Roadside Emergency Kit
- Travel Mug
- Dash Cam
- Lug Wrench
- Car Jack
- Jump Leads
- Snow Shovel
- Ice Scraper
- Day Pack
- Lumbar Back Support
- First Aid Kit
- Car Power Inverter
- Water Bottle
- Warm Clothes
- Hats, Gloves & Scarves
- Warm Jackets & Coats
- Boots & Thick Socks
- Food Supplies
- Hand Sanitizer
- Portable Speaker & Travel Games
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.
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.
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!
If you’ve got Bluetooth audio on your car then this goes perfectly with the budget phone mount above.
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.
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.
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.
Dash cams are great for capturing a scenic drive. In addition, they also provide vital evidence in the event of an accident or incident.
Here’s a budget one you can pickup but there are many more with fancy functionality.
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.
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!
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!
You can use a bag of cat litter instead of road salt (potentially cheaper). This retractable snow shovel is nice and portable.
Ice Scraper and De-Icer
Your windows will freeze up overnight in winter conditions. An ice scraper will help you effectively remove this.
Grab some cheap de-icer too and you should be able to defrost your vehicle quickly ready to get back on the road!
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.
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
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.
First Aid Kit
This should contain at minimum: band-aids, sterilizing wipes, bandages, scissors, pain killers, medication.
Car Power Inverter
A car power inverter is useful for charging electronic devices such as laptops or drone batteries.
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:
- Reusable Water Bottles
- Travel Cooler
- Camping Stove
- Camping table & chairs
- Plates & cutlery
- Food storage containers
- Ice packs for the cooler
- Your favorite snacks including crisps, chocolate, and muffins!
- Homemade sandwiches and chopped fruit
- 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!)
Items For Keeping Warm
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
- 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.
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.
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.
Here are some crucial items for staying entertained while on your winter road trip!
- Travel games
- CD’s and playlists
- Download audiobooks & podcasts
- Books to read
- GPS device
- 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.
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 are only necessary for a serious emergency, but they help alert others to you your location when stranded.
If you find yourself stuck in the snow, you will need these to get out.
This will also help if you’re stuck and someone is able to help get you out.
Unsure what to do when you get stuck?
Get some revision in here:
These items will help you deal with the problems that ice on your vehicle can causes
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
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.
Flashlight (With Spare Batteries)
If you get into trouble at night, you’ll need a flashlight. Don’t forget spare batteries.
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.
Winter Road Trip Clothes
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:
- Prepare for all weather types
- Layering is key
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.
The key is to adjust your clothes packing list depending on what you plan to do.
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
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 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)
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
- Games To Play On The Road
- 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
- SPF Lip Balm
- First Aid Kit
- 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
- Hand Towels
- Hand Wash
- Fuel Can
- Handheld Multi-Tool
Let us know if there are any items you think we have missed from this winter road trip checklist!
Research driving conditions and regulations
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.