Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Road Trip Hacks: 5 Things That Will Come in Surprisingly Handy

by Billie Cohen | August 9, 2016

We all know the no-brainers to pack for a road trip: Snacks, maps, phone chargers…. But there are other items you’d never think to bring along that will save you a lot of hassle. Here are a few of Wendy’s problem-solving road-trip essentials. Don’t miss her full list of 15 ingenious road-trip hacks over on TripAdvisor:

What would you add to Wendy’s list of surprising road-trip must-haves?

Small overnight bag

Pack it only with what you’ll need for one night: toiletries, pajamas, and the next day’s clothes. By keeping those essentials separate from the rest of your luggage, you won’t have to unpack the entire trunk every time you stop for the night.

Cheap beach towels

If you’re flying to your road trip, don’t take up precious space in your luggage with a towel. Buy one when you get to your destination; you can usually find them for five bucks or less. They’ll serve as picnic blankets, a cover for your valuables when you leave the car, seat protectors for messy activities or on-the-go eating, makeshift pillows and, of course, as towels if you make a pit stop at a lake or a pool.

Permanent marker

No matter how organized you start out, the car is going to get messy, and everyone’s stuff is going to get mixed up. Bring a marker to label things, especially if they look alike (say, when four passengers with iPhones have brought identical white power cords and charging blocks).

A roll of quarters

Even in this age of credit cards and pre-purchased toll passes, you still need an old-fashioned handful of change on a road trip. Throw a roll of quarters in your glove compartment for parking meters, vending machines, and laundromats.

Garbage bags

They have endless uses in addition to the usual one: storing wet bathing suits, serving as emergency rain gear, protecting cameras in the rain. You can even twist one into a rope and use it to tie things together.

For more road trip intel, see Wendy’s series at TripAdvisor: Packing List: Essential Gear for a Road TripHow to Make Family Road Trips Fun and Stress-FreeHow to Plan the Ultimate Road Trip Itinerary, and 15 Simple Hacks to Make Any Road Trip Better.


Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.


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  1. Brittany from Boston

    Good suggestions, I hadn’t thought about bringing markers and trash bags! I recently road-tripped Big Sur in California, and it was amazing. I love a good road trip!

  2. Roxanne Reid

    I find that having hand wipes in the car is invaluable for those times you’ve been snacking, or to clean hands after changing a flat tyre.

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