If you're planning a road trip, you not only need the right car for the journey, but since you'll spend a lot of time in the car, you also need the right road trip accessories to get through this long drive. But what road trip accessories are right for your next long journey?
To help you decide, we've outlined 15 must-have road trip essentials. Your precise needs may vary slightly, but this is all gear every road trip should include.
Never attempt a road trip without a well-stocked first-aid kit. Hopefully you never get sick or injured on your trip, but you should be prepared for anything. A quality first aid kit should have the following items, at a minimum:
These items will cover nearly all the minor medical issues you could run into. However, always tweak the kit to your family's needs. For example, if someone has diabetes, you may want to store extra insulin, or an asthmatic may want a backup inhaler in the kit.
If your road trip takes you out into the Canadian mountains in the winter, maybe on a remote ski trip, you’ll want to put a set of snow chains in your trunk. These chains are actually legally required in some provinces during certain times of the year.
Snow chains give your vehicle some extra grip in snow and ice so you can safely tackle those winter roads.
Having a mobile phone is essential on a road trip so people can communicate with you, and you can contact help if needed. But that phone does no good if its battery is dead. And if your car has also died, you may not have that as an option to charge your phone.
This is where portable phone chargers -- also called power banks -- come in handy. You charge these small packs before leaving home, and you can plug your phone into them, as needed, to recharge your phone. Some of these charges have other neat features too, such as built-in flashlights and even emergency radios.
If you get stranded in the dead of winter, and your car won’t start, you’re also without heat. Keeping a collection of hand warmers and blankets in your road-trip kit will come in handy. You can keep yourself nice and toasty while awaiting the tow truck to arrive.
Your smartphone will come in handy on your road trip, whether you're using it as a navigation system via Google Maps or Apple Maps, listening to audiobooks, or just streaming your favourite playlist. A quality phone mount will make this process much easier.
These mounts will hold your smartphone in a convenient position for you to operate it without being distracted. And some phone holders even have neat additional features, including inductive charging to help keep your cell phone charged up with no extra wires.
Hydration is key, especially on a long road trip. But the last thing you want is countless plastic bottles strewn about your interior. This is where a reusable water bottle can help. You can refill it when needed and bring it along for the ride.
Plus, many of these bottles are insulated and can keep your water ice cold -- or nice and warm, if you prefer -- for 24 hours or longer. These bottles can also have other neat features, like built-in infusers for giving your water an herb or fruity flavour or built-in water-consumption trackers.
Another wintertime tool is the almighty ice scraper. The last thing you want to do is come out to a few mm of ice on your windshield and realize you forgot the scraper. With this tool, you can quickly scrape away a thin layer of ice so you have a clear view out the windshield.
Most scrapers also include a snow brush, which allows you to brush away any loose snow on your hood, windshield, roof rear glass, or trunk.
These car adapters plug into your car's cigarette lighter outlet and can act as a phone charger or a power source for any USB-powered device, like a tablet or digital camera. Just keep in mind that not all car adapters are created equal. You want to find one that delivers 2.1 amps or more to power today's electricity-hungry devices.
Be careful, though. The amperage ratings can sometimes be deceptive. For example, a dual-USB car charger with two 1.0-amp outputs may be advertised as a 2.0-amp adapter. However, the max amps from each USB port is 1.0, meaning some devices may drain the battery quicker than the adapter can recharge them.
Jumper cables have been road-trip essentials for decades, and they remain that way today. If your car battery dies, these cables allow you to connect your car battery to another vehicle and start your vehicle using the other car's electricity. If your alternator and battery are in otherwise good shape, the alternator should charge the battery quickly, so you won't need another jump.
When shopping for jumper cables, opt for the longest set you can find, as you never know how far you'll need to stretch them.
Jumper cables are great, but if your car battery dies on the open road with no cars nearby to jumpstart you, they are useless. A rechargeable battery booster or jump starter allows you to bring power to your vehicle.
Simply charge the jump starter before you leave. If you need it, you can either connect it to your battery via the included alligator clips or plug it into your car's cigarette lighter. Not all battery boosters are great, so check the online reviews before buying one.
These boosters also have other features, such as flashlights, radios, warning flashers, 120-volt power outlets, and more.
You already have a first-aid kit, but you also need an emergency kit for your vehicle. These kits vary greatly, but they generally include things like:
While you won't be able to perform any intense repairs with this kit, you can patch up a radiator hose leak or repair a blown fuse so you can drive to a repair shop.
Power inverters connect to your vehicle's 12-volt power source -- the cigarette lighter -- and step the power up to 110 volts, which is enough to power household devices. They also include at least one household power outlet to plug in devices with a home plug.
This can be great for powering a laptop computer, a gaming system, a handheld vacuum, or even a small refrigerator.
When shopping for a power inverter, pay close attention to its wattage, as some are relatively low and can barely charge a laptop. A good 1,000-watt inverter is your best bet.
A dash cam shouldn't be just a road-trip essential. It should be a car ownership essential. If you're in an accident and no one is around to witness it, you can use the dash cam footage to determine who was at fault.
Ensure the dash cam has all the features you need to determine fault, such as 4K resolution, licence plate capturing, GPS and time stamping, forward and rearward recording, loop recording, impact sensors, and more. This will ensure any footage you capture will be admissible as evidence to prove your case.
If you're on a family road trip, you can keep the folks in the back seat in order with a back seat organizer. These organizers hang off the front car seat headrest and drape down the front seat. They have various pockets and cubbies to store items the rear-seat riders carry, like water bottles, cell phones, iPads, and more. Some even have built-in trash cubbies.
This will help keep everything in order and from landing on the floor, potentially getting forever lost under the seats.
If you're planning on doing some car camping instead of shelling out cash for hotel rooms, a backseat air mattress can save your back. These mattresses go over the rear seat and are supported by a combination of the seat and floorboards.
There are also SUV-style mattresses you can put in the cargo area for an even roomier experience.
They're not the Ritz, but they're better than sleeping with a seatbelt jabbing your spine.
Having a daypack -- a small backpack to carry items -- is key if your road trip will take you through remote areas.
What's equally important is ensuring you pack it with useful items. At minimum, this pack should include several days' supply of water -- ideally in a self-contained bladder that's part of the bag -- high-calorie non-perishable food (granola bars and trail mix), a flashlight with extra batteries, emergency two-way radios (if you have people with you), several changes of clothes, underwear and socks, and sunscreen (in summer) or hand warmers (in winter).
Sleeping in the car is never a joy, but a neck pillow can help make it just a little more bearable. This is especially true if you buy a thick memory foam pillow with loads of support. These travel pillows can go a long way in letting your co-pilot nap and recover while you drive. This way, they're refreshed and ready to take over when you run out of energy.
Travel toiletries are always a great addition to any road trip packing list. If you're planning a long trip, you're going to need to shower and get cleaned up along the way, and this usually involves hitting large truck stops with showers.
While you can rent the showers, you must provide your own toiletries. Instead of paying the massive mark-up on travel toiletries at a truck stop, you can buy a toiletry travel kit and fill it with your own supplies at a fraction of the cost.
With your list of essential road trip items made, all you need is a quality vehicle to get you on the road. At Clutch, Canada's first-ever 100% online pre-owned vehicle retailer, we have a wide range of quality pre-owned vehicles to handle your next road trip.
Don't fear breaking down on your next road trip, as all our pre-owned vehicles go through a 210-point inspection and reconditioning process that ensures they're ready for the road. And for good measure, we add in a 90-day or 6,000-km warranty.
You also get a 10-day or 750-km test-own period. If you don't love your Clutch vehicle during this period, you can return it for a full refund or exchange it for another Clutch vehicle.