Summer Road Trip Essentials You Need in Your Car

The last few years have been full of road trips. I think I’ve been on seven in the last two years – including last year’s Highlands trip with the girls, and the recent trip the Brit and I took along BC’s Coastal Circle Route to meet some #friendsinbeerplaces. (More on that soon!) Because of this, I’ve got my road trip essentials down pat.

Travelling by car affords two things: 1) not having luggage weight restrictions, and 2) the ability to feel more ‘at home’ in your mode of transportation. So you can have your creature comforts and your practical must-haves. Here are mine – click on any of the images for more details!*

Blanket Scarf

Yes, this is a list of summer road trip essentials, but summer travel equals air conditioning. And my love lives up the male stereotype of needing it cranked to Arctic temperatures. So my Aritzia blanket scarf travels with me year-round. My particular one isn’t currently available, but they have similar options here – one of which is currently on sale until July 18!

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Snacks & Water

I get teased that I have a tapeworm, but apparently, my metabolism has yet to slow down as I move toward my mid-thirties – I’ll take it. That means we need to have snacks in the car, so we usually do a little pitstop at a grocery store. I LOVE Kind bars (but make sure to keep them out of the sun – remember that chocolate melts!), and I like apples. And I will never say no to salt and vinegar chips. Ever.

Kind Bars

Even more important than snacks is to stay hydrated; so we always have a flat of bottled water in the trunk.  (And yes, we always recycle the empties.) This goes for summer and winter road trips, or any trip that involves being in a mechanical mode of transport. Both the air-con and the heaters do a number on your skin and make you thirsty.

The Just in Case Stuff

We’ve never been in an accident or gotten stuck on the side of the road, and knock on wood that it never happens. But the Brit has his work field kit, which includes all the emergency roadside assistance tools (that I should probably learn to use, even in my always the passenger capacity…) and a first aid kit. Because I used to work for a company that had a very safety conscious mining client, I came into our relationship with a couple emergency escape tools. It’s a flashlight, flare, glass breaker, and seatbelt cutter. Oh, and the bottom is magnetic so you can stick it on the roof of the car.  Very clever, and with these handy things, we can help ourselves, or someone in need.

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This is obviously a passenger item. Most of the world gets car-sick when they read. I get queasy if I don’t. It’s either that or I need to take a nap. Yes, I’m weird. Behold the result of being an only child whose parents took her on many road trips and kept her occupied with books and word games. I started and finished the newest Nora Roberts book (Shelter in Place) and finished up The Alice Network on this recent trip, and currently have these on the go and in the queue:

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Having a playlist is essential to any road trip. The Brit and I have very different music and podcast tastes, but what we do agree on for music is Queen, some classical, and Nat King Cole. Because he’s doing the driving, I don’t complain about the Metallica and similar. Some of it’s actually pretty great!

Podcast-wise, we both love something funny, so we’ve listened to a lot of Ricky Gervais’ show. I’ve also downloaded a few of This American Life and S-Town for us to listen to as I think he will like Ira Glass’ podcasts as much as I do! If you have any road trip podcast suggestions, please leave them in the comments!

Portable or Car Phone Charger

Before I got my fancy new iPhone 8, I went through about six months of my 6s’ battery plummeting from 100% to 50% after taking a few photos or a quick email check. With nothing wrong with my battery (the Genius Bar peeps checked), the Brit very thoughtfully included an iMuto portable phone charger in my stocking last Christmas. It is smaller than my palm – perfect for my purse! – and charges a phone really quickly. We also have a car phone charger that plugs into the cigarette lighter.

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For garbage. If you did a grocery run, you likely got a plastic bag. They still exist right now, so make use! Because I’ve looked after my friend’s dog, Charlie, more times than I can count, I have spare poop bags in most of my purses and totes. These are excellent for apple cores and little trash items, and they are also biodegradable – if you get the good ones! Click the image below for’s options

UV Protection

No, you’re not outside, but the sun still shines through the glass! SPF and sunglasses are a must! I’ve always been partial to Ombrelle SPF 30 for my body sunscreen, and Aveeno Fresh Essentials SPF 30 for my face – it’s the only one that doesn’t make me break out!  Fossil sunglasses have been my favourite kind of sunnies for years.

Map or GPS

Because there are places where Google maps just won’t load. Or you can’t make a phone call.  GPS tends to work pretty well offline on Google maps, but if you want some guaranteed help, here is a good GPS option. Or you can do like we did, and go old school with a map!

Yoga Mat

You knew this was going to be on the list. Sitting in a car for long periods of time does a number on your body, particularly your hip flexors. Low lunges and twists are great after being in the car and I’ve posted before about Dancer Pose and Legs Up the Wall. Make sure you stretch when you get where you’re going, friends!  My current travel mat is from B Yoga and I love it!


I tend to bring an umbrella wherever I go and hair ties are a must to keep my mass of curly hair at bay. I’ve become a huge fan of a brand of plastic hair cords called GummiBands. They don’t pull at my hair and they lock a messy topknot down extremely well. Also, they are exclusive to Canada! (But there are similar options available on Amazon.) A box of tissue, hand sanitizer, and a couple pens are also of great use in the car at any time.

Are you going on any road trips this summer? What are your essentials?


*This post contains some links to affiliate sites where at West Coast City Girl may make a commission from a click and/or purchase. This is at no extra cost to you. All opinions and beliefs are purely my own, and all companies and brands featured are those that I support, personally love and use, or have been recommended to me by trusted friends. 

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