Ultimate Road Trip Packing List

This Ultimate Road Trip Packing List has been tried and tested on our epic road trips (in 2014 and 2016) in our sexy 1988 Dodge Xplorer camper van called Dan.

Download a PDF of the Ultimate Road Trip Packing list here.

Get a Google Sheets copy of the Ultimate Road Trip Packing List here.

Roadside Assistance

Automotive tool set

Don’t get caught without basic tools or jumper cables.

Browse automotive tool sets | Browse jumper cables

Roadside assistance coverage

Sometimes tools aren’t enough. The annual fee for our AAA coverage was much less than we would have otherwise spent on towing. And we also saved on admission fees. TIP: Free maps are available for members at AAA locations.

Get your own AAA membership here



We travel light. We purchased the Gregory Savant 48L and the Gregory Sage 45L in 2014; primarily because of the front-loading design. We’ve been happy with them but a backpack style can be a personal preference. Our models are now obsolete but this Gregory is similar albeit larger.

Browse all Gregory backpacks | Browse Pacsafe backpacks offering theft protection | Browse Flight001 packing organizers to further organize within your bag

Day pack

City slicker? Hard-core hiker? Consider your travel style to select the right day pack. We use this Marmot Kompressor pack – it’s small, compressible and super lightweight.

Browse all Marmot hiking packs | Browse other day packs

Dry bag

A dry bag is a necessity for beach bums or water sports enthusiasts.

Get the Earth Pak dry bag here


Keep your belongings secure with Pacsafe portable safes (we have two different sizes). Pacsafe makes a variety of packs and bags too.

Large Pacsafe portable safe | Browse all Pacsafe products

Camping Gear

Headlamps and flashlight

Michael spent way too much time on lighting forums for these Zebralights not to be the best available. They have served us well for 4+ years and counting.

Buy this Zebralight LED flashlight | Buy this Zebralight headlamp

Camping lantern

A camping lantern is useful for lighting a large area. The Luminoodle strip lights are versatile; they pack into a pouch for use as a camping lantern but can also be hung and strung as you wish. Added bonus: they’re magnetic!

Buy this Luminoodle lantern

Water bottle with microfilter

Use a microfilter for safe drinking water. Although our Vapur microfilter bottles don’t get uniformly good reviews, we’re a fan of the lightweight design and removable filtration.

Get your own Vapur microfilter bottle here | Browse other water filters

Bear deterrent

Bear bells are not proven to be effective. The best choice for a bear deterrent is bear spray.

Buy this Counter Assault bear spray

Sleeping bag

Our Western Mountaineering Summerlite Mummy and Megalite Mummy sleeping bags were purchased in 2014 for backpacking. We selected them, despite the high price tag, due to the extremely lightweight construction and fantastic reviews. After many years of use, we still highly recommend them. NOTE: Our models are not four-season.

Western Mountaineering Summerlite Mummy sleeping bag | Western Mountaineering Megalite Mummy sleeping bag | Browse all Western Mountaineering sleeping bags

Compression sack

A compression sack is a lifesaver in reducing the size of your sleeping bag or other wardrobe items.

Buy this Sea to Summit compression sack

Iceless thermoelectric cooler

This iceless thermoelectric cooler was an amazing addition on our 2016 road trip. Camper Dan has a small inbuilt Dometic fridge/freezer but it takes a while to cool and has some other issues. Whilst driving we run this iceless cooler on our vehicle 12V receptacle. If we have an electric hook-up we use the DC converter and run the cooler on our 120V AC outlet in the back of Camper Dan. Having additional capacity for groceries and fresh food was fantastic and saved us lots of money.

Definitely buy this Igloo iceless thermoelectric cooler | Pair it with this Schumaker 120AC to 12V DC power converter

Ice cooler

In backcountry situations you’ll need an alternative to a thermoelectric cooler. RTIC coolers claim to keep ice for 5-10 days (depending upon the model). In our experience ice hasn’t lasted quite that long in warm temperatures but still works much better than a standard cooler. RTIC Coolers are expensive but cheaper than the more renowned YETI brand.

Browse all RTIC cooler models | Browse all YETI coolers

Miscellaneous camping gear


Camping grill

The Perfect CampfireGrill has been really handy; we like the ability to adjust the height and swivel it over the fire. However, the workmanship of the stake could be better.

Get your own Perfect CampfireGrill here | Browse all camping grills

Grill gloves

We received these ‘As Seen On TV’ grill gloves as a gift and love the concept. The reviews suggest there may be better implementations in other brands but we’re happy with these. Expect to have to launder them!

Purchase the ‘As Seen On TV’ grill gloves here | Browse all grill gloves

Coffee Supplies

Coffee mill

We use the Hario Skerton coffee mill to grind our coffee beans on the road and at home.

Get your own Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill


We use the Stansport aluminum percolator to boil water for coffee but we make our coffee in our french press. We don’t love this product design (the top falls apart and off) but appreciate the multi-purpose capabilities just-in-case.

Check out Stansport Camper’s Cookware

French press coffee maker

We highly recommend the Bodum french press. We use it to make coffee every day – on the road and at home.

Definitely buy this Bodum French Press Coffee Maker


We have an older version of the Stanley thermos and it’s perfect! It’s great for both hot and cold items but we primarily use it to keep our coffee warm for hours.

Buy this classic Stanley Vacuum Bottle/Thermos | Browse travel mugs into which you’ll pour that warm coffee

Kitchen Supplies

Cooking set

This ten piece compact aluminum set by Coghlan is perfect for our small space. However, to cook atop a campfire, you’ll need to use cast iron.

Buy this ten piece compact Coghlan aluminum camp cooking set | Browse cast iron camping sets

Dinnerware set

I’m a huge fan of this simple, colorful, lightweight IKEA set.

Get your own colorful 36 piece dinnerware set here

Miscellaneous kitchen supplies

Household and Multi-Purpose Products

Nothing particularly exciting on this list, but you’ll likely need most of these items:

  • Garbage can + garbage bags
  • Dish washing bowl + sponge/dish rag + dish soap + dish drying towel
  • Cleaning supplies + paper towels
  • Ziploc bags + aluminum foil
  • Binder clips + rubber bands + duct tape
  • Swiss army knife or multi-tool
  • Pen + paper + stamps + envelopes
  • Entertainment, such as a deck of cards
  • Quarters TIP: You’ll go through quarters faster than you expect – showers, laundry, tolls, parking…

Personal Care


A standard towel is bulky and takes forever to dry. Packtowls are the BEST and can withstand daily use. TIP: Do not buy the original Packtowl – they are not soft and are much bulkier.

Definitely purchase this Ultralite Soft Texture Packtowl


If you have to wear sunscreen all day every day it’s worth purchasing products that don’t feel gross. We use an oil-free product on our face and a waterproof product on our bodies.

Buy Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Lotion SPF 55 Sunscreen | Buy Coppertone Waterbabies SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion | Buy Coppertone Waterbabies SPF 55 Stick Sunscreen

First aid kit

Please be prepared with a first aid kit. Put together your own or purchase an entire kit.

299 piece first aid kit | Browse first aid kits and supplies | Add rehydration salts to your first aid kit

Miscellaneous personal care items

Clothing and Footwear

Clothing and footwear are very personal purchases and your needs will vary based on your travel style and destination. However, we recommend these brands/products without hesitation:

  • Havianas. The BEST flip-flops ever.
  • Keen. For their hiking sandals, such as this pair.
  • Kuhl. Michael is a big fan of their lightweight shirts, such as this one, for warmer climates.


Computer / tablet / phone

For better or worse, technology tends to dominate our lives. If you’re an Apple user, we recommend the following iPad / iPhone apps:

  • FileBrowser is useful in combination with the RAVPower Filehub for copying files to and from external hard drives, SD cards, and other wireless devices.
  • Snapseed is fantastic for simple but powerful on-the-go photo editing.
  • SkyGuide is a must have for any night sky watcher, perfect for those dark nights camping under the milky way.
  • Spotify is our streaming music service of choice.
  • Roadtrippers helps plan your road trip route and associated activities.
  • Use Hipcamp to discover campsites (or list your own land!). Use this link to sign-up and receive $20 in Hipcamp credit towards your first direct booking (not available for federal or state land)!
  • Foursquare is great for finding good places to eat, drink, and be entertained when in a new location.

Power strips, chargers, and adapters

  • With no electric hookups at many campsites and few accessible outlets in other accommodations, you’ll find yourself scrambling to use power outlets at every opportunity. A travel power strip is compact and will allow you to change multiple devices at once.
  • Pick up a cell phone car charger to ensure you can charge your devices whilst driving.
  • If you’re not sure where your travels will take you, make sure you have an international travel adapter that will cover many popular countries.

External hard drive

An external hard drive is a must have for backing up photos and other important data. It can also be used to store movies and music to provide endless entertainment options, especially on those long travel days.

Purchase a Western Digital 4TB External Hard Drive

External battery and / or Multifunction device

While we definitely recommend a good capacity external battery for charging your phones and other devices on the go, we also found a small selection of multifunction devices that covered a number of needs at once. With a battery pack, a USB port, a WIFI bridge, and an SD card reader built-in, the RAVPower Filehub can be used it to transfer files between iPads and an external hard drive, recharge iPhones in a pinch, and backup SD cards, all without the need to lug around a full computer.

Purchase the Easy Acc Monster External Battery | Purchase the RAVPower Filehub, 5 in 1 device

Headphones and splitter

We both have in-ear wired Bose headphones but Michael has the noise canceling model and I have a model with an inline microphone and remote. Admittedly, these are expensive headphones. You can spend a lot less on headphones but, if you use them a lot like we do, it may be worth investing in a quality pair.

Browse all Bose headphones | Bose in-ear noise canceling headphones | Bose in-ear headphones with inline microphone and remote | Add a headphone splitter to allow two people to listen to the same thing

Camera and accessories

We wanted to be able to take good photographs but have a somewhat “pocketable” camera. The Sony RX100 series (we’ve had the M2 and M3) fits the bill. With full manual controls, a fast lens, a pop-up viewfinder, a built-in neutral density filter, and many other advanced features, it allows for creative photography in a compact format. The major downside is the lack of much zoom which makes photographing objects in the distance difficult.

Pocket your own Sony RX100 camera | Get a couple of large capacity SD San Disk Ultra cards too

Miscellaneous technology extras

  • A rechargeable battery set can be extremely useful if you have a lot of battery-operated devices. Our only battery operated devices were our headlamps yet we were still happy to have the compact Panasonic eneloop power pack.
  • A wireless bluetooth speaker, such as the UE mini boom, enables you to rock out regardless of your location.
  • Adding binoculars to our 2016 road trip enabled us to watch wildlife we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to enjoy.

RV Supplies

RV cords and hoses

Your needs will be slightly different based on your RV/van hookups but odds are you’re going to need a water hose, sewer hose, and power cord.

Camco lead-free drinking water hose | Camco RV sewer hose kit with swivel fitting | Camco 30 AMP shore power cord | Camco 50 AMP shore power cord | Browse Camco products

Holding tank deodorizers

Not exactly a glamorous purchase but, after much experimentation, the Walex brand became our preferred holding tank deodorizer.

Buy Walex natural holding tank deodorizer and waste digester | Buy Walex grey water deodorizer and cleaner

Miscellaneous RV supplies

  • A small level is useful because RV refrigerators need to be level to operate properly.
  • Disposable gloves for gross sewer dumps.
  • RV safe toilet paper is suggested because it breaks down faster; we just purchase cheaper single-ply toilet paper.