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Preparing for a Road Trip by Car: The Complete Checklist

Updated: May 16

Road trip checklist

Whether you are packing alone or with a family for a road trip, this checklist will be your survival guide. Packing an essential list of items would help you through unexpected situations during road trips.

Imagine your car breaking down late at night in the middle of a freezing Arizona desert with no phone signal and no cars around. 😑

I wish no one gets stuck in such kind of situation but there is no harm in preparing yourself for this kind of situation. Whether you end up being in that situation or not. This blog will help you prepare for this kind of unexpected situation.



Road Trip Checklist

First thing first, definitely car care is the most important item on the list and this is the checklist that I always follow before a long road trip especially when I am going to drive through the night. I’ve included a link to the products I use, so you can purchase them from Amazon if needed.


If you can get a rental car that would be the best. Rental cars are always up to date with servicing and other maintenance stuff, plus this will help you avoid adding extra miles to your car.


  1. Get your car serviced if you haven't done this recently. It will cover most of the next items.

  2. Get your car's battery checked.

  3. Check tire pressure/ keep a spare tire ready.

  4. Check air filters/top-off fluids/coolants.

  5. Oil change (most important).

  6. Roadside emergency car kit.

  7. Get a GPS if you don't have one (do not rely on the phone).

  8. Dashcam (non-essential but it will help you in case of incidents). I have this.

  9. A valid vehicle registration & Insurance.

  10. Keep a mini tire inflator with you. I have this and it works well.


I have gone through a couple of times when I had to get oil replaced during a road trip (Valvoline quick oil change saved us). Once I had to fill windshield wiper fluid.

Things to bring on a long Road Trip

Apart from car inspection and other things, there is a list of essential items that you should keep in the car. Not everything but depending upon your situation.


  1. First-aid kit (get it from Amazon especially made for road trips).

  2. Water/ electrolyte (a couple of cartons and keep replenishing whenever you get a chance).

  3. Warm blankets, jackets, inflatable pillows/mattresses, and a mini cooler.

  4. Trash bags, and a car mini vacuum

  5. Cell phone mount, and extra phone charger

  6. If you have an EV, keep a car charger with you

  7. Rain gear, empty bag pack, torch, mosquito repellent, and hand sanitizer

  8. Travel games, music, snacks, and anything which entertains you

  9. If you have a newborn then keep a newborn bag kit with you

  10. Don't overload your car, keep some extra space for yourself, in case you have to spend a night in the car



Long-distance driving tips

  • Avoid booking hotels in advance if you plan to just stay overnight. This gives a lot of flexibility to your driving plan. Try to book it on the same day (~3 pm) when you are sure about the day plan.


  • Avoid driving towards the east early in the morning or driving towards the west late in the evening. It's tough driving facing sunrise or sunset.


  • Avoid office hours while driving through the city.

  • Avoid driving 8+ hours per day, enjoy driving don't overburden yourself


  • Take turns and small breaks (coffee/ lunch/ filling gas) every 2-3 hours while driving


Do not take chances while driving, keep calm and relaxed and enjoy your trip. Do not try to push yourself with the physical limits of driving. It's very important that you enjoy driving instead of rushing towards reaching the destination.



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