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Everything You Need for a Great Road Trip

When it comes time to hit the road for a long drive, make sure you have all of these in your car.

road trip essentials
Dino Reichmuth

The good old-fashioned road trip is about as all-American as an activity can get. We may not have invented it — humans have been heading out over the horizon just to see what was beyond it ever since before fire, let alone roads or cars — but it's come to be a defining part of our national identity. From Lewis and Clark to the Oregon Trail to Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson, the road trip has become as American as apple pie and baseball.

Odds are good, then, that you might be planning a road trip of your very own sometime soon. Maybe it's to see family or friends; maybe it's to explore new parts of this great continent; maybe it's just to indulge in the joy of being on the move. Whatever the reason, though, odds are good that you might want to snap up a few pieces of gear that can make the experience a little better.

After all, while all you really need for a road trip is a working vehicle (and, y'know, a licensed driver), there are plenty of things you can bring along for the ride that'll make the experience more convenient or pleasant. The products we've listed below here are hardly the only things you'll need...but they'll certainly improve the journey in their own ways.

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Digital Tire Pressure Gauge
AstroAI amazon.com
$9.99

Making sure your tires are properly inflated is one key to getting optimal fuel economy, but old-fashioned tire pressure gauges — you know, the analog metal type — can be fussy. This digital model leaves nothing to chance.

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Portable Car Jump Starter
DBPOWER amazon.com
$92.99
$64.99 (30% off)

One of the last things you want to worry about on a long road trip is dealing with a dead battery in the middle of nowhere. A good portable jump starter in your trunk will keep that worry from festering in the back of your mind.

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62-Piece Roadside Emergency Assistance Kit
Always Prepared amazon.com
$39.99

Sure, you could assemble your own emergency roadside kit with all these items, but doing so would take time and energy that you could dedicate to planning your trip. Toss this in the back of your car and forget about it.

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MAX360C Laser Radar Detector
Escort amazon.com
$649.95

Let's face it — modern cars are far, far more powerful than needed to travel the speed limit, so it's not hard to find yourself accidentally exceeding the posted velocities. If your foot has any amount of lead in it, a good radar detector can be a live-saver — and this is one of the best.

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Stainless Steel Black Key Ring
Grovemade grovemade.com

A small detail, but an important one nonetheless. You need something to bundle and tote your keys, after all — so it might as well be well designed and remarkably durable. (And capable of cracking open a beer.)

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Original Buffalo Jerky
Patagonia Provisions patagoniaprovisions.com
$10.00

Jerky is, of course, a road trip staple – but you deserve an upgrade from the hypersalty, over-processed stuff found at gas stations, don't you? Patagonia Provisions makes some of the best food for life on the go; their bison jerky is ideal for when the munchies hit on a long drive.

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Outdoor Picnic Blanket
TheCozy Adventures amazon.com
$19.99
$17.90 (10% off)

Hey, when you find the perfect idyllic park along the way, you should be able to stop and enjoy it without worry about bringing grass and dirt from your butt into your car's seats.

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Organic Hand Sanitizer Spray
Dr. Bronner's amazon.com
$23.95
$10.96 (54% off)

After 2020, we're all far more conscious about what might be lurking on everything we touch than we were before — and smart enough to tote some hand sanitizer around with us. Leave a couple of these in your car and you'll never need to worry about depleting the supply in your pocket.

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Compressible Pillow ($25–$35)
Therm-a-Rest backcountry.com

At some point in your road trip, you'll probably want to squeeze off a quick nap in your car — but keeping a full-size pillow around takes up a lot of valuable room. Split the difference with this excellent compressible model.

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Umbrella
Pendleton avantlink.com
$34.50

Rain, like other things, happens. Keep a good umbrella in your car's door and you'll never need to hope that you'll have to depend on Rihanna if the skies open up.

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MultiBev Water Bottle & Travel Cup
CamelBak amazon.com
$50.00
$36.99 (26% off)

If you're looking for a travel mug that can do more — and are willing to shell out for it — CamelBak's Red Dot Design Award-winning innovation is your play. The insulated 22 oz. bottle features a removable, lidded 16 oz. cup you can use to reduce waste at a coffee shop, stash snacks and even use to share some of your precious rocket fuel with a friend, if you're so inclined.

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Car Safety Hammer (2-pack)
VicTsing amazon.com
$10.99

Odds are slim that you'll wind up getting into an accident where you wind up trapped in your car — but if it happens, you don't want to be unprepared. Toss one of these seatbelt cutter / glass-breakers in each door pocket and forget about them until they might be needed.

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3 D-Cell LED Flashlight
MagLite amazon.com
$36.99

That little flashlight on your phone ain't gonna cut it on the road. Pop this might MagLite in your glovebox and be prepared for any light-dispensing situation that might come up.

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