14 Items You Should Bring on Every Road Trip, According to T+L Editors

These are our editors' road trip must-haves.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, water bottle
Photo: Courtesy of Retailers as Credited

At Travel + Leisure, we're dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products to meet your needs on the road and at home. The T+L Top Picks seal is awarded to items our editors have determined to be the best buys in their category.

These days, road trips are becoming an increasingly popular form of travel, considering that they're typically a relatively affordable way to take a vacation and they often make it easier to comply with COIVD travel restrictions. Even before the pandemic, road trips have always been a favorite among our editors for spring and summer trips. That's why we asked Travel + Leisure editors about the products they take on every road trip for comfortable and enjoyable travel, whether they're heading up and down the California coast or driving into the mountains as a reprieve from New York City life. From insulated water bottles to durable car seat covers meant to use with your dog, we have you covered as far as road trip must-haves go.

Keep reading for the travel essentials our editors bring on every road trip.


Three different sunscreens
Courtesy of Retailers as Credited

"It's easy to forget your SPF (especially if you have a long day in the car ahead of you) but sunscreen is always important! Keep some in the car so you're prepared for roadside attractions and spontaneous detours. I always include a moisturizer with SPF in my morning routine, which will also help with the drying effects of your car's AC. CeraVe AM is my go-to, but for something more luscious and with a higher SPF, I recommend the SuperGoop Glow Stick (SPF 50). And if we want to pull over for a hike, I'll bring along a bottle of Sun Bum for the rest of my body — it's amazingly non-greasy and smells like dessert," Hannah Walhout, Associate Editor

To buy: CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion, amazon.com, $14 (originally $19); Sun Bum Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30, ulta.com, $16; Supergoop! Glow Stick Sunscreen SPF 50 PA++++, sephora.com, $50

"Road Food: An Eater's Guide to More Than 1,000 of the Best Local Hot Spots and Hidden Gems Across America"

Road Food book
Courtesy of Bookshop

"The best part of a road trip is the things you would never have encountered had you been traveling any other way. And for me, at least, the most memorable hidden gems are usually food-related. Find yourself on a random stretch of highway with a growling stomach? You can still find the best of this country's regional fare with this beloved directory, originally published in 1977 and now in its 10th edition. Who knows, you might even plan a road trip around it," Hannah Walhout, Associate Editor

To buy: barnesandnoble.com, $24

Ray-ban RB4263 Chromance Sunglasses

Brown lens sunglasses
Courtesy of Ray-ban

"You don't need me to tell you that sunglasses are a must have. But you may not know about the most comfortable, effective, makes-every-drive-better pair of sunnies that I've ever owned. Credit my wife, who splashed out for a pair with Chromance lenses that reduce glare and sharpen contrast. They come in all sorts of frame styles, but mine are made from super-comfy nylon that feels weightless even on longer trips. Even better, she says they look great. Who am I to disagree?" Paul Brady, Articles Editor

To buy: rayban.com, $215

Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25

Blue tube of Jack Black lip balm
Courtesy of Sephora

"Something many road trippers (including myself!) are often guilty of is forgetting to keep a quality lip balm within arm's reach at the wheel. Whether you're taking to the road in the summer months or the winter, you'll likely be spending several hours with the AC or heat blasting and drying out your lips. The solution? A mess-free, tried-and-true lip balm that works. My go-to is Jack Black's cult-favorite Intense Therapy Lip Balm. It's majorly hydrating, it's infused with SPF, and it comes in 5 refreshing flavors. And because it works so well, you won't need to reapply every 15 minutes," Hillary Maglin, Assistant Digital Editor

To buy: sephora.com, $8

Lululemon Hooded Define Jacket

Woman wearing teal zip up jacket
Courtesy of Lululemon

"I'm that person who is perpetually cold. But on long drives, the car gets stuffy and the AC must eventually go on, so I always bring a light sweatshirt or jacket. Lately, this new option from Lululemon is my go-to. It's lightweight and doesn't wrinkle easily, which means it's easy to slip on and off, and when I'm not wearing it, I can easily stow it in my purse," Sarah Bruning, Senior Editor

To buy: lululemon.com, $128

OKMEE Dog Car Seat Cover

Black and orange and grey dog car seat
Courtesy of Amazon

"I almost always take my golden retriever along on my road trips. Although I'm lucky she's very well-behaved in the car, I like to cover the backseat and strap her in, just to be safe. The seat cover is waterproof and scratchproof, and saves my car from getting covered in dog hair while creating a more comfortable space for her on a long ride. The seatbelts it comes with are super easy to use — you just clip one side to the dog's harness or collar, and the other buckles in like a human seatbelt. That way, she can hang her head out the window or enjoy cruising with the top down, and I can keep my eyes on the road," Nina Ruggiero, Deputy Digital Editor

To buy: amazon.com, $36

Hydro Flask Water Bottle

Navy Hydroflask water bottle
Courtesy of Amazon

"For a road trip, long or short, I always like to have an arsenal of beverages by my side. That starts with ice cold water in my Hydro Flask, which fits comfortably in most cupholders and keeps drinks cold for hours at a time. Along the way, I'll probably stop for coffee, but staying hydrated is key when you're on the road all day," Madeline Diamond, Associate Digital Editor

To buy: amazon.com, from $21

Lo & Sons Catalina Deluxe Weekender

Dark grey/purple canvas weekender bag
Courtesy of Lo & Sons

"I'm not a roller suitcase person and will avoid checking a bag at all costs. After trying many duffels over the years, I'm convinced this is the perfect travel bag. It does it all: I've packed it for a 10-day California road trip, a five day jaunt to Greece, and long weekends to the North Fork and Upstate. What makes it great? A classic look and smart features you actually want: a bottom shoe compartment that can fit two (maybe three) pairs; several interior zippered and open pockets for storing toiletries, electronics, and a passport; an outer pocket to stash a magazine or book; and a shoulder strap and handles so you can carry it multiple ways. Even when it's stuffed, it never feels bulky, and I can comfortably carry it throughout the journey —plus, the canvas really holds up to the wear and tear of the road. Buy it and never look back," Liz Cantrell, Associate Editor

To buy: loandsons.com, $129 (originally $215)

Igloo Cooler & Snacks

Teal cooler and bag of nuts and snacks
Courtesy of Amazon

"An otherwise carefully-planned road trip can be ruined by a bad snack selection. Plan ahead! My cooler gets packed with sodas and iced coffees (don't forget your water bottle, too). Fresh veggies and hummus also get a prime cooler spot, though for passengers only (sorry, driver). Outside the cooler you must cover all crucial snack bases: salty (I'm obsessed with Chesapeake Bay Snacklins and any salt and vinegar chips); sweet (Nutter Butters, and Unreal Chocolate Coconut Bars); and high-protein (must try: Karma cinnamon cashews). Make the mix your own, of course, but always pack more than you think is reasonable. You're on vacation, after all," Skye Senterfeit, Photo Editor

To buy: Igloo Reactor Cooler, amazon.com, $100; Karma Nuts Cinnamon Wrapped Cashews, amazon.com, $10; Snacklins Plant Based Puffed Chips, amazon.com, $15 for pack of six bags

Miami Mask Chains

gold face mask chain
Courtesy of Miami Mask Chains

"My new travel obsession? These ingenious little chains that basically act like necklaces and add flair to your mask wardrobe. Perhaps more important, they keep you from forgetting to wear one no need to go digging around in your purse. So when I'm driving upstate or out to the beach during the summer, and stop to grab lunch or a snack, I just lift my mask up easy breezy," Jacqui Gifford, Editor in Chief

To buy: miamimaskchains.com, prices vary

The Beauty & The Broth Organic Bone Broth Concentrate

bone broth concentrate beauty and the broth
The Beauty & The Broth

"Bone broth has been an absolute favorite wellness food for me for the past few years. If I'm ever feeling even a little bit under the weather (or even full-on ill), bone broth is my saving grace. So, when I heard about The Beauty & The Broth's travel-friendly bone broth concentrate packets that come with a convenient reusable to-go cup, I was all over it — and have been ever since. For me, sipping bone broth on long drives keeps me nourished and hydrated (always drink water, too!) and keeps the urge to pull into a gas station for more than just gas at bay." — Kendall Cornish, Associate Digital Editor

To buy: thebeautyandthebroth.com, $91/monthly subscription

Love a great deal? Sign up for our T+L Recommends newsletter and we'll send you our favorite travel products each week.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles