Road trips are good for the soul. They spark adventure in a way that is hard to replicate, and it doesn’t surprise me that so many people love them.
And because so many people love them, there’s bound to be a ramblin’ man or woman in your life. Getting gifts for them can be difficult if you yourself aren’t all that into road trips, so to make your life easier, I’ve put together a list of the fifty-seven best gift ideas for road trip lovers. Hopefully it’ll help you in your search for the perfect gift!
1. Cargo Box
This is a huge space saver. A cargo box allows you to safely carry bulky items on top of your car, creating more space for other gear. If your giftee is planning a long road trip, or likes to bring the whole house with them, this is the gift for them.
RainX is the best – no, seriously. It’s a life saver, and I’m always amazed that people have never heard of it.
Your chances of getting in an accident rise significantly when you’re on a road trip, just because of how much time you spend driving. Couple that with rain that blocks out your windshield, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
RainX prevents water from splashing or obscuring your windshields. Instead, the water just rolls right off. You could be in a downright torrential rainstorm, and everything would look crystal clear. 10/10 would recommend to every road-tripper.
3. UV Window Shade
Contrary to what a lot of people think, you can get sunburned through a car window. While glass does a good job of blocking UVB rays, it does not block UVA rays.
UVA rays account for about 95% of the UV light that reaches our skin. This means they are more of a threat than UVB rays, because a larger percentage of them reach the earth’s surface, and ultimately, us.
I recommend road trippers bring car window shades. They’ll prevent sunburns, will keep your car interior from getting as hot, and also provide a reprieve from sunlight when you’re ready to take a nap.
4. Tire Plug Kit
Having a flat tire always sucks, but having a flat tire on a road trip can be catastrophic. If you’re in the middle of nowhere, with no reception, and no spare tire, you’re up a creek without a paddle. Having a spare tire is a very good idea, but I also like to bring a tire plug kit, just to be safe.
They’re not a permanent fix, but they’re reliable, and will get you where you need to go. They work by temporarily patching a flat tire, and once it’s patched, you can pump it up again and get yourself to a Discount Tire.
5. Air Compressor
Air compressors and plug kits are a combo that need to be bought together. Without one of them, the other will be useless. I look for 12V versions that can inflate a variety of tires, on a variety of vehicles. I also prefer ones that come with a built-in pressure gauge, so you don’t have to carry one around, or worse, guess what the tire pressure is.
6. A Good Jack
Jacks are yet another thing that have to be bought to make a plug kit work. They’re also an absolute must have, whether you’re on a road trip or not. I firmly believe that everyone should have a spare tire and Jack in their vehicle at all times.
7. Jump Kit
This is another must-have for every vehicle owner, and it’s just as important, if not more important than a jack.
I can’t even tell you how many times my car battery has died. Whether it was from me leaving the lights on, or the battery just calling it quits, it’s happened more times than I can remember.
A jump kit is crucial for anyone looking to travel long distances. They’re simple, easy to use, and will save you a whole lot of trouble in the long run.
8. Vehicle Trash Bin
This item is relatively new to me. I am frugal and do not like to spend money when I don’t have to. The idea of having a dedicated trash can in my car used to make me scoff. Why buy one when I can just use free grocery store bags?
While they are free, they’ve got a whole lot of downsides too. They are flimsy, tear easily, do not stay open, will leak if you put anything with liquid in it, and do not block smells at all.
A dedicated car trash can address all these issues, and I will never go back to using a disposable trash bag.
9. Magnetic Car Mount
Phone mounts are wonderful, and I use them anytime I need to drive somewhere using GPS. They’re hands free and level with your field of vision, which makes them safer than trying to hold your phone while driving.
I prefer the magnetic ones over the plastic hinge ones. They’re easier to place your phone in and fit a wider variety of devices.
10. Car Back Seat Organizer
Car backseat organizers genuinely make the whole trip better. I love road trips, but I do not love the cramped, disorganized, messy environment that I’m usually subjected to during one. Car organizers make everything more neat, and they really do have an effect on morale – after all, our environment has a deep effect on our emotions. I highly recommend them.
11. Car Escape Tool
While you hope you’ll never have to use this, it’s better to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it.
You never know what’s going to happen – falling asleep at the wheel is not uncommon, especially if you’ve been driving non-stop for half a day. Having a seatbelt cutter/window breaker gives you peace of mind that, if something were to happen, you’d have the tool you’d need to escape the situation.
This one is attachable to a keychain, comes in a two pack, and is the most highly rated car escape tool on Amazon.
12. National Geographic Road Atlas
As a rule of thumb when it comes to any topic, if it has a National Geographic book about it, buy it. Nat Geo has a way of covering a topic incredibly well, and their 2020 US road atlas is no different. It comes with up-to-date detailed road maps and guidebook-like recommendations on the top destinations across the country, and contains tons of popular attractions and points of interest.
13. The Most Scenic Drives in America
If the person you’re buying a gift for doesn’t know exactly what road trip they want to go on, this is the book for them. The Most Scenic Drives in America covers 120 of the most beautiful road trips in the US. It’s an all-in-one travel guide/ trip planner, and it covers each trip in minute detail.
It’s illustrated with full-color photographs and updated maps, and covers topics such as mileage, best season to travel, nearby attractions, special events, and even includes contact information/addresses.
14. 100 Parks, 5,000 Ideas
This is the best book you can use for planning visits to US and Canadian national, state, and city parks. It covers 100 parks and 5000 ideas, and each entry in this guide covers overviews of the park, detailed travel advice, interesting facts, insider knowledge about wildlife, and expert tips for hiking, biking, camping, and exploring.
15. Road Food
If your giftee loves food, they might really like this book. It’s a database of over 1,000 of the best hole in the wall restaurants in America. Each of the book’s entries covers the folkways of a restaurant’s locale and the dining experience itself. It also comes provides descriptions of directions to each spot, complete with regional maps.
16. Water Jug
I don’t like water bottles for a variety of reasons.
They’re wasteful, bad for the environment, and you’re essentially paying for nothing you couldn’t get at home for free.
I do not recommend people buy them for road trips, and instead recommend people buy bulk water jugs. That way, you’ve only got to pay a cheap one time price, instead of having to re-buy bottled water every trip.
17. Travel Sheets
Not all accommodations are created equal, and if you take frequent road trips, it’s inevitable that sometime or another you’re going to stay at a bad motel.
Bugs, mold, dirty bedding, you name it. I like to carry a travel sleeping liner with me for this very reason. They’re like a sleeping bag, but are made of sheet like material. They’ll keep you from having to lay on that dirty bed and give you a little peace of mind while sleeping in a smelly room.
18. Air Freshener
If you like food as much as I do, you won’t settle for just fast food and gas station snacks. Stopping at random restaurants is a part of the fun. Sometimes it’s a hit, sometimes it’s a miss, but that’s beside the point. It adds a nice charm to road tripping, and I love doing it.
What I don’t love is the lingering smell of seven hour old tikka masala takeout. Even with a nice car trash can, the smell can still permeate the vehicle. I used to use the basic air fresheners you buy at gas stations, but they don’t last very long. I prefer the ones made by Febreze now because they’re longer-lasting and I like their scents a lot more.
19. Lumbar Pillow
I’m lucky enough to not have lower back problems, but I know people that do, and road trips can be brutal for them. And it’s no surprise why – sitting in one position for hours with minimal back support doesn’t exactly sound comfortable. If you’re looking for a gift for a road trip lover with back problems, a lumbar pillow is what I would suggest. It’ll help ease and prevent some of their pain, which is honestly the best gift you can give them.
20. First Aid Kit
You won’t catch me anywhere without a first aid kit, whether I’m backpacking, road tripping, or driving to work. Everyone should have a good first aid kit, especially if you frequently visit places that have limited medical attention.
You don’t need anything fancy, just the basics. A kit that includes different sized bandages, antiseptic wipes, gauze, an emergency blanket, and a cold compress works just fine.
21. Travel Pillow
Travel pillows are the superior pillows for all types of travelers. They’re as comfortable as a normal pillow, but are compressible, and save a ton of space when you’re not using them. I use one, and I recommend them. Less clutter + more space = a happy road tripper.
22. Portable Hammock
Portable hammocks are my favorite way to camp, and I much prefer them over tents. They take up less room, are easier and faster to set up, and are much more comfortable than sleeping on the ground.
You never know where you’ll stop on an impromptu road trip, and hammocks are nice to both relax and sleep in. The one I use comes with a built-in bug net, and if you’re not worried about bugs, you can flip it over and use it as a regular hammock.
23. Folding Table
A small folding table is a great add-on to any road trip packing list. They are versatile and have a bunch of different uses, but my favorite is as an impromptu picnic table. It makes the overall eating experience more comfortable, and they take up almost no space.
24. Foldable Chair
I take a foldable chair with me anytime I’m planning to go somewhere outdoors for an extended amount of time. You never know what the ground will be like where you stop, whether it be dusty, rocky, or muddy. Also, not being forced to sit on the ground is a nice touch.
25. Portable Cooler
A portable cooler can be the difference between surviving off crackers and beef jerky, to eating complete meals. Having a way of keeping your food fresh longer allows you to bring a wider variety of dishes and allows you to bring dairy and meat. Say goodbye to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and hello to ham and cheese.
I don’t recommend bringing a full size cooler, though. They’re too big, and you more than likely won’t have enough stuff to fill it up, anyway. A small, portable version does the job.
If the person you’re buying a gift for gets cold easily, a snuggie is great a gift. Depending on what time of year you’re traveling and where you’re going, the AC will run non stop, and I’ve got the temperature regulation of a chihuahua.
I know they’re kind of gimmicky, but they work well. I prefer them over blankets because I can move around with them without having it fall off, and they give me the freedom to move my arms freely.
Tea is the nectar of the Gods, and I drink it everyday, regardless of where I am. While I’m roadtripping, I bring a large thermos filled with it, and enjoy it throughout my trip. If you get a good one, liquids will stay cold or hot for up to 32 hours, giving you plenty of time to enjoy your hot beverage of choice.
28. Picnic Blanket
If you’re road tripping with a large group of people, bringing enough foldable chairs for everyone is impractical – they take up too much space.
An alternative is a picnic blanket. While you could just bring any old blanket you have lying around, a blanket made specifically for picnics is the better alternative. They’re waterproof, sand proof, and are built with extra padding to make sitting on the ground more comfortable.
29. Microfiber Towels
I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t leave the house without a towel. They are infinitely useful. They can be used as a makeshift bed, pillow, blanket, scarf, bag, sunshade, cold/warm compress, tablecloth, hail windshield protector, and more.
Microfiber towels are my favorite, because they are highly absorbent, and are a less-messy alternative to standard towels. They’re perfect for unexpected rainy days and accidents.
30. Road Atlas
Maps are a crucial part of every road trippers list. GPS will at some point fail, and having a physical map can help you get where you need to go. Also, they offer peace of mind – getting lost is stressful.
The person you’re buying a gift for is planning a specific road trip, find out where they’re headed, and get them a map of the area.
31. Turkey Jerky
Turkey jerky is packed full of protein, and will satisfy your hunger for a long time. I don’t like buying the standard gas station jerky, because it’s full of excess sodium and preservatives. Instead, I get Think Jerky, and my favorite flavor is sriracha honey. It’s lightly sweet, smokey, and has a nice kick to it.
32. Protein Bars
Protein bars will easily fulfill your daily calorie goals when you’re on the go. They’re easy to eat, relatively healthy, and are densely packed with calories. That being said, I think most of them taste like dirt.
The only protein bars I’ve found that I actually enjoy are Clif’s nut butter bars – they’re amazing. In particular, I like their chocolate peanut butter stuffed bars. One small bar is 230 calories, and they taste like I’m eating a candy bar, but without all the sugar.
33. Low-Sugar Gummies
I love gummies as much as the next person, because they’re delicious. But taking them on a road trip can easily lead to car sickness due to sugar overload.
I don’t want to give up my tasty treat, so instead of taking Haribo or Wrigley brand, I take SmartSweets. They only have three grams of sugar in the entire bag and they taste just as yummy as any other gummies. My favorites are the peach rings and classic gummy bears.
APPAREL & HYGIENE
Your eyes are as vulnerable to sun damage as any other part of your body. Driving without sunglasses during daylight hours can take a toll on your eyes, so I consider them essential for road trips. You wanna get a pair that offers 100% protection against UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. It also doesn’t hurt to get a pair that blocks glare and are shatterproof.
I don’t like getting expensive sunglasses because I go through them too fast, so instead, I get a cheaper pair that fit all the criteria above. They do as good a job as any Ray-Bans.
35. Compression Socks
If the person you’re buying a gift for has had blood clots, or is at risk for developing blood clots, this is 100% the gift I recommend you get them. Safety is always the most important factor and sitting still in a confined space for lengthy periods of time makes your chances of developing a blood clot skyrocket. Compression socks improve circulation and keep blood from pooling in the legs, where blood clot formation is most common.
I recommend pregnant women, people over the age of 60, heavy smokers, and women taking combined hormonal birth control for an extended amount of time consider wearing compression socks when road tripping or flying on an airplane.
36. Eye Mask
We don’t all have the same sleeping habits, and people are going to want to take naps at different times than one another. It can be hard to get a good nap in when the sun is shining directly in your face. An eye mask fixes this problem, and will improve the quality of your sleep.
A simple mask will do the trick, just try to find one that’s made of 100% silk – it sounds unnecessary, but it’s worth the added comfort.
37. Dry Shampoo
Keeping clean is important for humans. Cleanliness, both of ourselves and our surroundings, affects our mental health.
A cluttered environment can impair your brain’s ability to process information and leave you feeling unsettled, and a dirty body can leave you feeling sluggish, and drain your motivation.
Dry shampoo is the easiest way (that I am aware of) to keep your scalp from looking and feeling oily. It really works well, and I bring it with me when I backpack or go anywhere I won’t have access to running water.
I get sweaty easily, even when sedentary. While I’d love to be able to use bar soap, that’s not always feasible during a road trip, so body wipes are the way to go.
I make sure to choose a plastic free, biodegradable option. My favorite are Rawganic’s Hydrating Facial Wipes. They have a killer ingredient list, are cheap, and don’t irritate my sensitive skin in the slightest.
FOR PET OWNERS
39. Dog-Safe Sunscreen
Humans aren’t the only animals that get sunburned – protecting your pets is just as important as protecting yourself.
Dogs can’t use sunscreen that contains zinc oxide, which is one of the most common active ingredients in sunscreen, so you can’t just use any old bottle you have lying around.
Emmy’s Best Dog Sun Skin Protector Spray is a good choice. It’s a spray, which makes application very easy, and it’s formulated without zinc-oxide or other harmful chemicals, and is safe for all dogs.
40. Dog-Safe Insect Repellent
When looking for a bug repellent that is safe for dogs, you’ve got to get one that is DEET free. It’s also nice to find one that can be used on both dogs and humans. Bug Soother Spray fits the bill, and it repels gnats, no-see-ums, sand fleas, black flies, and some mosquitoes.
41. Paw Wax
This is an important item to bring when traveling during the hotter of months of the year. If your bare feet hurt from walking on concrete, your pet’s paws are going to hurt. A paw wax provides extra protection to your pets feet, and can soothe dry, cracked paws.
Pet Head’s Oatmeal Natural Paw Butter contains shea butter, oatmeal, mango, vitamins E and F, coconut oil, olive oil, and aloe vera. It’s also eco-friendly, and safe for pets to lick and swallow.
42. Collapsible Bowls
Collapsible bowls are more road trip friendly. It really just comes down to the fact that they take up less space. You don’t need nothing fancy, just look for one made of silicone. This one is nice because it can hold a good amount of food and water, and can be clipped onto your backpack or pets collar/leash.
43. A Chew Toy
The durable chew toy can keep a dog occupied for hours upon hours, and they are a welcome distraction during road trips. Benebone’s Durable Wishbone is super long-lasting, and is flavored with real bacon.
FUN & GAMES
44. Playing Cards
A classic, and one I never leave for a trip without. They are universal, can be played anywhere with anyone (even if you don’t speak the same language), and provide simple, nearly endless fun. A nice, waterproof deck of cards are a must have in my book.
45. Holstee Reflection Cards
Traveling with someone brings you closer in a way that’s hard to explain, and you learn things about each other that you wouldn’t normally. Holstee Reflection Cards were created to help spark meaningful conversations, and I recommend them to anyone who’s wanting to build deeper connections with the people they are traveling with.
46. Games on the Go
Games on the Go by Continuum Games are like the Mario Party of road trip games. They’re a set of 50 mini-games and activities that require a colorful imagination, and are fun for people of all ages.
47. Tabletopics Destination Anywhere
This game is similar to reflection cards, but instead of sparking deep conversations, they start conversations about travel related topics. It’s a fun way to get everyone talking about their interesting experiences and crazy adventures.
As much as I love having conversations with my companions, I need some alone time every once in a while to function normally. Headphones help with that.
I prefer earphones because they’re inexpensive, and are more comfortable to wear for long periods of time than headphones. I use the Soundcore Sport Air earphones, and have nothing but good things to say about them. They’ve got a long battery life, come with multiple sized cushions (for better fit and comfort), are slightly noise-canceling, and have great sound quality.
49. Mobile Charger
Having a decent car charger is essential if you’re planning to use electronics during your road trip. This is an item that I tend to splurge a little bit on – I like to get ones that come with both USB ports and standard AC outlets, that way I can charge phones, cameras, tablets, laptops, you name it.
50. Polaroid Camera
If you’re looking for a way to add nostalgia to a trip, this is it. Taking a photo with a phone or digital camera just isn’t the same as taking a photo with a Polaroid. Having only a single physical copy, and seeing the photo develop before your eyes really makes the act of taking photos more special.
GoPros are one of the best action cameras on the market, and if the person you’re buying a gift for is active (and they don’t already have one) a GoPro might be the gift for them. They are waterproof, sturdy, take up very little space, and the new models offer surprisingly impressive amounts of built-in stabilization, which means videos won’t turn out shaky.
52. Portable DVD Player
This is the gift I would get for people road tripping with kids. I remember driving cross country as a kid in my family’s old van, equipped with a VCR console. I think it was the only thing that kept my parents sane throughout the trip.
A portable DVD player will provide modern-day parents the same amount of relief that VCR console did for my parents. I like this one because it can be used in someone’s lap, or can be hung on the back of the drivers or passenger side seat for hands-free viewing.
53. Navigation System
I’ve got the navigation capability of a carrot, so a GPS is non-negotiable for me. Google Maps on a smartphone will cut it for the majority of daily commutes, but for road trips, having a navigation system is preferable. My favorite is the GPS navigation by AROVA, and really only because of its price point. It is much cheaper than its competitors, its maps are reliable, it has great reviews, and it works well. That’s all I ask for in a navigation system.
54. Tile Pro Key Finder
Losing keys is not a common occurrence for me, but that’s only because for more than half a decade I only had one copy of the key to my car, and if I lost it, I was fresh outta luck. If your giftee frequently misplaces their keys, this would be a fitting gift.
A tile pro works with bluetooth to keep tabs on your valuables – anything you attach it to can be tracked with your phone if misplaced. And really you can use a tile on anything – your keys, wallet, purse, backpack, anything of value. It won’t keep you from misplacing your important items, but it will help you find them much easier.
55. Gimbal Stabilizer
If you take photos and videos primarily with your phone, you know how hard it can be to take a steady video. Shaky hands leave your videos looking unsteady and unprofessional.
A smartphone gimbal fixes that problem, and will make your videos look a whole lot cleaner. This is one of the most highly-rated smartphone gimbels on Amazon, and it’s much more affordable than its competitors. From what the review say, the cheaper price tag doesn’t come with a drop in quality.
56. Audible Gift Membership
Music is fine and dandy, but it can become mind-numbing after multiple hours of straight driving. To keep myself awake at night, and to keep myself interested and engaged in what I’m listening to, I use audio books and podcasts. The best way to do so is through Audible.
They’ve got an unmatched selection of audiobooks, and you can listen to it anywhere anytime using the Audible app.
57. National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass
This is an awesome gift for anyone that likes to visit national parks or federal reserves. An annual pass provides entry to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. It covers entrance fees, as well as day-use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle areas. It’ll save a ton of money in the long run if you visit parks frequently. You can buy an annual pass as a gift here.
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Hi, I'm Ash!
I’m a travel blogger who loves experiencing new things and deeply connecting with people. My missions are to help others around the world realize their travel dreams, and to spread the word about sustainable travel. Feel free to send me a message here.