Winter Road Trip Packing List

The Complete Winter Road Trip Packing list [With Printable Checklist]

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.

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.

Winter Road Trip Essentials

winter road trip essentials
Winter Road Trip Essentials

To make the process easier, I have created 3 basic steps for using this guide. Follow these and packing for your Winter road trip will be a breeze.

You can start by checking you have all the key items from our core list. After this, work your way through all of the winter road trip essentials listed in this article.

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

3 Simple Steps

  • Read through this Winter Road Trip Packing List.
  • Pack everything and use our winter road trip checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything.

Key Driver Items

  • Driving license
  • Insurance documents
  • GPS device
  • Snacks!!
  • A map
  • Mobile phone and in-car charger
  • Portable battery power banks

Car Entertainment

  • Travel games
  • CD’s and playlists
  • Books to read

Winter Road Trip Food

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

  • Reusable water bottles
  • 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

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

Staying Warm In The Car

winter road trip packing list

Whilst on your journey its 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
  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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Winter Car Safety List

This section contains all the winter-specific items that you could consider ordering or packing for the safety of your vehicle.

  • 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.  

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  • Battery Pack or Jumper Cables

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!

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  • 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 in a serious emergency, but they help alert others to you your location when stranded.

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Getting Your Vehicle Out Of The Snow

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

  • Snow Shovel and Road Salt

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

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Unsure what to do when you get stuck?

Get some revision in here:

How To Get A Vehicle Out Of The Snow
  • Towing Rope

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

Removing Ice From Your Vehicle

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

  • Ice Scraper

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

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  • De-icer

Take multiple cans/bottles of de-icer. This is by far the most effective means of defrosting your windows in the morning, along with your scraper.

  • 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.

Car Essentials

  • Paper towels
  • Hand sanitizer
  • First Aid Kit

This should contain at minimum: band-aids, sterilizing wipes, bandages, scissors, pain killers, medication

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  • 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.

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  • Flashlight (With Spare Batteries)

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

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  • 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.

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Winter Clothes And Sports Gear

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 principals 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.