packinglist for a road trip

Road trip pack list and camping essentials


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Creating a road trip pack list will make your life easier. Especially when you need to pack for everyone in the family. My suggestion would be to create a road trip checklist once and then keep adding to it until you feel that it is complete. Each trip might need slightly different road trip snacks and / or road trip essentials but once you have your road trip essentials list, you can pick and choose what to pack for each road trip specifically. I started our list AFTER our first road camping trip so you can imagine how that first trip went..


What to bring on a road trip depends on how long you go, where you go and in what season you travel. Usually, the longer you go the more clothes you will need unless you don’t mind washing once in a while. It also depends on what type of person you are: can you rough it a bit or are you in desperate need of good coffee in the morning and is a state-of-the-art camping coffee maker and absolute necessity (yes, that would be me).


First of all, you will need to consider your luggage. Since this is about camping road trips, I would suggest soft luggage. My trusty Karrimor backpack goes with me everywhere where I need to rough it a bit. It has traveled with me from South Africa to Peru to Thailand, Cambodia, Madagascar and many countries in between, 42 to be exact and besides the fading color, it still works perfectly well with all zippers in good shape and no broken straps. It totally makes sense to invest in a very good bag that will last you many years.

The Karrimor bag that is displayed here above is slightly smaller than mine.


Road trip outfits needs to comfortable right? I don’t think I’ve ever gone on a road trip in a tight jeans or in a dress or skirt. Track suit pants, comfortable shoes or sandals, a nice t-shirt or jersey and off you go. I tend to always under-pack and wear the same thing all over and over. Maybe it is because it is still only me who has to carry everything and once Rosie is a bit older she can carry her own bag. What I can’t stand is dirty underwear or dirty socks so I will always bring the amount for the amount of days that we are away or a few more, just to make sure.

Find here some comfortable clothes for men, easy to wear, wash and at times to wow a bit too!

Cooler box

A road trip without a cooler box is not a proper road trip. Since you will be spending quite some time on the road and access to a petrol station where they sell snacks might be 100 km away, a cooler box belongs to the absolute road trip essentials. Fill the cooler box with road trip snacks like: apples, prepared sandwiches, biltong (if you’re not South African ask me what that is, LOL), crisps, chopped up cucumber, carrots, cookies and whatever you like. Snacking away will make the trip much more enjoyable and you don’t want to deal with small hungry tummies while you just want to get to your destination so stock up!

Find here some healthy road trip snack options


How to keep the kids entertained is ALWAYS the big question for many parents when they go on a road trip. I’ve experienced that if you start traveling from when the children are still very young and you keep them busy by looking at and talking about things outside, you can ACTUALLY have children that don’t want to be on the iPad the entire day (she’s only 5, am I being naive?). Yes an iPad can be an easy and cheap baby sitter but I do believe that we will pay for it later when the kids are older and lack certain social skills or can’t enjoy nature and all the beauty there is to see from the car window. So having said this, we DO play music in the car and currently this is a CD with lovely isiXhosa songs because we are trying to learn the language. Rosie also has a small little fake lap top that she enjoys to play with. At the moment she enjoys most having a pair of scissors and just cutting up all the pieces of papers she can find, or is this very irresponsible parenting, having a 5 year old with scissors in the back of the car???
I have no idea. So far so good.

And I’ve noticed Rosie looks outside to SEE: the horse, the cow, the beautiful cloud AND she notices cars especially if it is the same one like ours, she will shout it out. Driving anywhere with my daughter has become an absolute pleasure and no drama at all. If we stop at a Wimpy once in a while she’s the happiest kid on the planet. I have a wonderful travel companion. However if ALL fails you might want to have a plan B and DO take a tablet with some great apps on there.
Check them out in the link below

To buy a tablet before your road trip, CLICK HERE

On long road trip the kids do get bored at some point so make sure to have some travel games for them, some coloring books and perhaps some other toys that are easy to take with and are age appropriate.

Find the Best Travel Gear HERE

Road trip essentials

Certain things you have to have in your car to enjoy a safe road trip and you can’t find these easily on the road.

We suggest:

    • a head lamp or a torch,

    • a blanket for in case you’re traveling in winter time and your car breaks down and you need to wait for assistance,

    • a First Aid Kit,

    • some extra petrol for in case you might run out (rule of thumb: fill up once the tank is half empty if you drive cross country in countries like South Africa, Namibia or Botswana).

  • Please also always have at least 10 liters of drinking water.

A camera to make sure you snap all those wonderful moments

Although you might happily snap away on your phone, a camera comes in handy when your phone is needed to actually make calls and perhaps to navigate the route. Only once I invested in a big camera but already noticed that I didn’t enjoy taking it along. I love compact stuff and a camera should be small. I still have a little digital camera that Rosie can now play with and it is good entertainment and practice for the kids.

Check out a range of digital cameras here

Toiletries and other road trip must haves

Traveling on the road for many hours in a row can make you feel dirty, dusty and sticky. I always keep a small toilet bag in my hand bag to make sure I can refresh myself if need be. A good lip balm is essential and so is good sun cream, body / hand lotion and I always have some mint to feel fresh and it gives a bit of a kick too on those looooong road trips where you just want to get to your destination before dark.

Find the Best Travel Gear HERE

This is just an overview of those things that go onto my road trip pack list and of course if you go camping, you will need to add tent, sleeping bag and mat and perhaps some cooking utensils as well depending if you rough it or go ‘glamping’.

What are your favorite travel gadgets?