Road Trip Essentials

120+ Road Trip Essentials Australia (with PDF Packing List)

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There is no better way to explore Australia than jumping into your car and embarking on an epic road trip. Whether you decide to stop at motels along the way, or hitch up the caravan and camp your way around, road tripping is by far the best way to see this vast country.

However, being prepared for a road trip will not only make for a much more comfortable journey, it can sometimes even be a matter of safety.

The important categories to cover in a road trip essentials list include:

  • Personal items
  • Clothing & shoes
  • Kids & pet items
  • Entertainment
  • Communication & technology
  • Food & drink
  • Camping & cooking
  • Paperwork
  • Emergency
  • Organisation
  • Vehicle & trailer preparation
  • Travel planning 

Checking all of the essential tasks and items off your road trip checklist will give you peace of mind and ensure that you’re organised ahead of your next adventure.

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Road Trip Essentials – PERSONAL

Road Trip Essentials - Personal Items

Backpack

The easiest way to keep all of your daily road trip essentials together while travelling is in a handy backpack. That way, you can just pick it up and go at any time, knowing that everything you need is in one place.


Medications & Scripts

If you require regular medications, make sure you’ve got plenty packed for your trip. It can help to pack your spare script as well, just in case you need to fill it during the road trip.


Microfibre Towels

Whether you’ll be staying in accommodation or camping, packing 1 x microfibre towel person is a must as they will dry quickly on the road. From showering to swimming, getting clean and dry is essential. It doesn’t hurt to have 2 towels per person if you plan on doing a lot of swimming or using campsite amenities at night.

Check out our review of the Tesalate microfibre towels for caravanning and camping.

Eco Beach Towel
Recycled Towels (Adventure Awaits) →

Notebook & Pen

It’s always handy to have a notebook and pen or even some pencils and a rubber in the glovebox.

Notebook & pen uses:

  • Accident/ incident – jot down necessary details
  • Planning – brainstorm travel plans while on the go
  • Shopping lists – for the next stop
  • Boredom – can doodle or play games

Plastic Bags & Ziplock Bags

You never know when you’ll need to throw an item or two into a plastic bag or seal it away in a ziplock bag. From wet clothes to toilet paper, snacks or even your toothbrush! Plastic bags are also handy to use as shopping bags along the way, plus of course, you’ll need something to store your garbage in.

Uses for plastic/ ziplock bags:

  • Keep small things stored together in a ziplock bag
  • Separate wet/ dry items
  • Storing garbage

Reusable Shopping Bag

Many supermarkets in Australia have now banned single-use plastic bags, which means you’ll need to have your own when ducking into the shops for supplies. A fabric bag is always handy and can roll down to a tiny size for storage.


Spare Money

The last thing you want to deal with on the road is not being able to pay for the goods and services that you require in that moment. Make sure you pack spare physical cash, as well as a spare debit card with back-up money on it. That way, if you’re in the outback with no WiFi reception and no ability to simply transfer money onto the other card, you will still be good to go.

Money to carry:

  • Everyday debit card
  • Spare cash
  • Spare debit card (with available funds in case of emergency)
  • $1 coins for laundromats

Sunglasses & Reading Glasses

Driving along the bright Australian roads can be harsh on your eyes. Sunglasses are recommended in order to reduce straining and squinting. Plus, for those who wear reading glasses, don’t forget to pack a pair of those as well.


Toilet Paper & Tissues

Unfortunately, you can’t always rely on public toilets and rest stops having a topped up supply of toilet paper. It always pays to have a few rolls of your own in the car. Plus, a box of tissues in the car if someone gets the sniffles will keep everyone comfortable.

A great new camping gadget for keeping your toilet paper clean and dry is with the Dunny Buddy Toilet Roll Holder. It’s definitely handy for grabbing and heading over to random toilet blocks on the go.

Dunny Buddy Toilet Roll Holder
Dunny Buddy (Adventure Awaits) →

Toiletries

  • Bug repellent
  • Deodorant
  • Floss & mouthwash
  • Hair brush/ comb
  • Hair ties & clips
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Lip balm
  • Makeup
  • Moisturiser
  • Nail scissors
  • Razor
  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Soap/ body wash
  • Suncream
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Tweezers

Umbrella

One or two small, compact umbrellas stashed away inside the car door pockets may end up being very welcome on your road trip. If the heavens decide to open up at the exact moment you need to run into a store or attraction, you can simply pop it open and wander on over without getting too wet (hopefully!)


Wallet or Purse

A slim wallet or purse is perfect for slipping into your pocket or bag when you’re travelling on the road. Bulky wallets can take up too much space and are heavier to carry around.


Wet Wipes

Sometimes, having a shower on the road becomes a luxury, rather than a given. But, if you’ve got a wet washer or some wet wipes, you can still stay hygienic easily enough. They’re also useful for dirty hands when there is no running water nearby.

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Road Trip Packing Checklist

[ Digital & Printable ]

Road Trip Packing List

What you get:

  • Pre-filled with 600+ items
  • TICK off items as you pack
  • ADD in weights (to organise payload if applicable)
  • 17 categories
  • PRINTABLE format – fully customisable
  • DIGITAL format – completely interactive on your device
  • Download once, use it over-and-over
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Road Trip Essentials – CLOTHING & SHOES

Road Trip Essentials Packing List - Clothing & Shoes

Shirts

  • 7 x shirts – to wear during the day
  • 1 x dressy shirt – for going out at night

Shorts/ Skirts

  • 5 x bottoms – to rotate through during the days

Long Pants/ Jeans/ Leggings

  • 1 x pair – for going out at night
  • 2 – 5 pairs – if it’s cold and you’ll wear them during the day

Jumpers & Jackets

  • 1 x light jumper – for mild climates
  • 2 x warm jumpers – for colder climates
  • 1 x warm jacket – for colder climates
  • 1 x waterproof jacket/ poncho – for wet weather

Socks & Underwear

  • 7 x pairs socks – for your walking shoes & wearing in bed at night
  • 7 x pairs underwear
  • 2 x thermal underwear – for winter & cold climates
  • 2 x wool socks – for winter & cold climates

Shoes

  • 1 x pair of walking shoes
  • 1 x pair of thongs/ slides – for wearing around the campsite & in the shower
  • 1 x pair of warm boots – for colder climates

Swimwear

  • Bikini/ swimmers
  • Wet shirt
  • Board shorts

Outerwear

  • Gloves
  • Beanie
  • Hat
  • Scarf
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Road Trip Essentials – KIDS

Bingara Free Camping, NSW

Baby Items

  • Blankets & wraps
  • Bottles/ sippy cups
  • Car seat
  • Clothing
  • Dummies
  • Formula
  • Nappy Bag (nappies, wipes, cream, change mat, nappy bags etc.)
  • Pram
  • Toys

Kids Items

  • A few favourite toys
  • Drink bottle
  • Educational material (if missing out on school)
  • Entertainment (tablet, books, blocks, ball, sand toys etc.)

Here’s more tips for travelling with kids.

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Road Trip Essentials – PETS

Navigator Dog Seat Buddy
Navigator Dog Seat Buddy →

Pet Items

  • Collar & tag
  • Lead
  • Balls/ toys
  • Water bowl
  • Food bowl
  • Dog food
  • Poo bags
  • Mat/ bed
  • Prescriptions & special needs
  • Ensure microchipping, vaccinations, registration, worming & vet checks are up-to-date

Check out the full guide to travelling with dogs.

Navigator Dog Travel Buddy
Dog Travel Buddy (Adventure Awaits) →
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Road Trip Essentials – ENTERTAINMENT

Road Trip Essentials Packing List - Entertainment

Audio Entertainment

Pre-make some playlists of various audio entertainment for long days on the road. Here are 150+ songs for road-tripping to get you started!

Audio Entertainment:

  • Audiobooks
  • Music
  • Podcasts

Ball or Frisbee

A great way to help stretch the legs and bodies during rest stops and at the end of the day is by kicking around a ball or throwing a frisbee. If you’re travelling with kids or pets, they will especially love this.


Binoculars

Binoculars are great for spotting wildlife in the trees both during the day and at night. They also give an extra perspective when exploring new places and you want to be able to see various sites a bit closer.

Binoculars
Binoculars (eBay) →

Board Games & Playing Cards

One of the best parts of a road trip is switching off from our highly-stimulated lives and reconnecting with each other and/ or the world around us. Board games and playing cards provide hours of entertainment without a device or battery in sight! Plus, if the weather turns awful, you’ll be thankful to have some easy entertainment on hand.

Monopoly Australia
Monopoly Australia (Adventure Awaits) →

Books & Magazines

If you’re old school like me and prefer to physically turn the pages, then one or a few (depending on how fast you read!) good books or magazines will always offer plenty of entertainment. Head to the library before you go and grab some holiday reading. Or, look out for books swaps along the way (often found in campground amenity blocks)

Here are some great novels about travelling Australia, plus some fantastic Australian kids books, to read and help inspire you for your own travels.


Electronic Games

To help keep kids entertained during those long travel days, some pre-downloaded games on a device or a handheld gaming console can break up the hours.


Headphones

If you want to be able to chill out and have your own downtime (either in the car, or at your accommodation), a set of headphones will be handy. Listen to podcasts, audiobooks, music, YouTube videos etc.


Portable Speaker

One of the best ways to chill after a day of road tripping is with some tunes going in the background while sitting around a campfire, reading a book, playing a game or chatting with your companions. Pack your portable speaker with charging cable and you’re good to go!

Bluetooth Speaker
Bluetooth Speaker (eBay) →

Tablet or eReader

Another great way to chill out during your down time is to play some pre-downloaded games or make your way through a pile of eBooks. The best thing about a tablet is that you can fit a lot of entertainment into one small device, saving you lots of space and weight.

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Road Trip Essentials – COMMUNICATION & TECHNOLOGY

Camera

These days our phones do a pretty damn good job of taking photos. But if you want something on top of that, such as a drone, GoPro or DSLR, then don’t forget to pack your kit, along with the charger and batteries.


Camping App

If you’re camping during your road trip, make sure you download a camping app such as WikiCamps or Camps Australia Wide. These apps are invaluable tools for finding camps, drinking water, dump points, info centres and loads more.

Here are over 25 Apps for Travelling Australia, that will enhance your trip.


Chargers

What would a modern-day road trip checklist even look like without chargers?!

Chargers to remember:

  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Laptop/ tablet
  • Bluetooth speaker

Map App/ GPS

If your vehicle doesn’t have a GPS system already installed, make sure you’ve got access to Google Maps or similar on your device. To ensure you’ve always got offline map availability around Australia, you can pre-download maps on apps such as WikiCamps, Maps.me or Hema Maps.

Map Tips:

  • Pre-download maps
  • Use offline
  • Save on mobile data
  • Maps run off GPS when you don’t have reception

Portable WiFi Modem

You can quite easily use your mobile phone data while you’re travelling, if you have enough of it. However, another option is to take a portable WiFi modem with you for extra internet usage along the way.


Power Bank

A portable power bank that can be charged in your car as you’re driving is a great way to keep all of your devices topped up when you’re out and about.

Solar Power Bank
Portable Power Bank (eBay) →

Satellite Phone

If you plan on heading off the beaten track for any length of time and know that you won’t have phone reception, carrying a satellite phone can become a matter of personal safety. They can be expensive, but with a second hand unit and a small plan, just to cover the time that you’ll be travelling, it means you’ll still have communication with friends, family and emergency services if need be.


UHF Radio

A UHF Radio is an essential road trip item for travelling in Australia. This is the main form of communication between truck drivers, passenger vehicle drivers, oversized load pilots and station workers.

Reasons to have a UHF Radio:

  • Communicate with truck drivers
  • Hear if there are any oversized loads coming so that you can move off the road
  • Call for help in case of emergency

The main channel to use on the highways in Australia is Channel 40, which will allow other drivers to contact you and vice-versa if need be. Here’s the full guide for travelling with a UHF Radio in Australia.

Uniden 8060S (UHF Radio)
UHF Radios (Caravan RV Camping) →
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Road Trip Essentials – FOOD & DRINK

Insulated Water Bottles

Rather than carrying cartons of bottled water, which are awful for our environment, make sure every traveller has their own insulated water bottle.

You can carry a 20L water jerry can in the back or the larger 10L containers of water and fill your bottles from there. Even though you may not be filing the bottles up with cold water, the insulation will keep the water from boiling in the car from the heat of the sun.

Travel Cups & Mugs
Insulated Bottles & Tumblers (Adventure Awaits) →

Snacks

No road trip essentials list is complete without an array of snacks to keep you going!

Snack Ideas:

  • Crackers
  • Cheese & dip
  • Dry cereal
  • Fruit/ protein/ muesli bars
  • Nuts
  • Treats (chocolate, lollies, chips etc.)

Plus, unless you plan on eating out or buying every meal on the go, you’ll need to pack ingredients for breakfast, lunch and dinner into your pantry box and portable fridge/ esky.


Water Containers

One of the main road trip essentials in Australia is water and packing a couple of bottles is simply not enough. You should always carry at least a 20L water container filled up, even if you don’t use it all. In case of break down or emergency, water is the number one resource that all passengers will require.

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Road Trip Essentials – CAMPING & COOKING

Road Trip Essentials Packing List - Camping & Cooking

Many of these items are essentials for those who are camping during their road trip, however, if you’re travelling in a van, check out these van camping accessories.

Aluminium Foil

Alfoil is useful for covering up foods and dishes to pack into the fridge or esky. It’s also great for campfire cooking (especially baked potatoes in the fire!)


Camping Chairs

Camping chairs will always come in handy on a road trip, however they can be rather bulky. If you’re pressed for space, you may choose to go for a waterproof picnic blanket and make use of public picnic tables instead.

Camp Chair
Camping Chairs (Caravan RV Camping) →

Camping Stove/ BBQ

Something small and compact for cooking on will be essential. A camping stove with spare fuel canisters is a great, easy solution. Another option is to pack a small BBQ with a small 4kg gas bottle.

Camping Stove
Camping Stoves (Caravan RV Camping) →

Chopping Board

Essential for preparing meals and cutting up food.


Collapsible Table

You can’t always rely on finding a spare picnic table every time you need one. Having a small, collapsible table in the boot is handy for making lunch on the road, cooking at night and even playing a game of cards.

Alternatively, you could go for a swing-away BBQARM, which easily attaches to either a tow mount or rear bar. They make a great, compact little table, which quickly dismantles and takes up very little storage space in the car.

BBQARM
See BBQARM (+ Discount Code!) →

Detergent

A small amount of both laundry powder and washing up liquid for cleaning your dishes and clothes along the way are both road trip essentials, whether you’re camping or staying in motels.

  • Laundry powder
  • Washing up liquid

Fire Lighters

Getting a fire going on the road can sometimes be a bit tricky, especially if you’re foraging well picked over campsites and can’t find much kindling. In case of difficulty, throw in a few fire lighters to help get the fire going at night.


Fridge/ Esky

If you’re camping while road tripping in Australia, you will definitely need some way of keeping your food and drinks cold. A 12v fridge is the best way to go, however a good old esky with ice will also do the trick. You’ll obviously need to keep topping up the ice at service stations along the way if you go for the esky option.

Evakool 12v Fridge/ Freezer
12v Fridge/ Freezer (Caravan RV Camping) →

Hot Water Bottles

If you’re road tripping during winter or travelling through colder climates, one hot water bottle per person will be very welcome under the blanket at night.

Hot Water Bottles
Hot Water Bottles (eBay) →

Lantern

Every camper needs a good lantern for cooking, cleaning and moving around at night. Don’t forget to pack spare batteries or the cable for charging if it’s a rechargeable one.

Camping Lantern
Lantern (Caravan RV Camping) →

Lighters & Matches

Always carry multiple matches and lighters if you’re planning on having a fire every night. It’s less than fun to arrive at camp on a cold night, only to find you’ve got nothing to start a fire with.


Mattress or Roll Mat

If you’re staying in a tent, you’ll need to pack some type of mattress for sleeping on. The easiest option is a self-inflating mattress, however they can be quite bulky to store. Another option is the humble blow-up mattress with a 12v pump that runs from the car. Alternatively, you can go for a simple roll mat underneath your sleeping bag, which will help to insulate you against the cold of the ground, as well as provide some padding.

Camping Mattress
Camping Mattresses (Caravan RV Camping) →

Mugs or Tumblers

One mug or insulated tumbler per person is all that you’ll need. They will work for both hot beverages in the morning to cold drinks at night. For avid tea and coffee drinkers, you may also want to pack a lidded travel mug for hot drinks in the car.

Alcoholder Mug with Handle
Insulated Mugs (Adventure Awaits) →

Newspaper

Throw a newspaper in the car to easily get your fire started each night.


Paper Towel

When it comes to cooking on the road, paper towel is really handy in wiping over semi-dirty dishes and reducing what needs to be washed. It’s also handy for wiping hands and soaking up grease from food.


Pegless Clothesline

If you’re going to be camping during your road trip, you’ll need some way of drying your wet towels from the shower. Plus, if you use a laundry along the way, being able to dry your washing at camp, instead of putting it through a dryer, will save time and money. Having one (or multiple) Pegless Clotheslines with your road trip essentials will take up very little space, yet very much come in handy.

Pegless Clothesline
Pegless Clothesline (Adventure Awaits) →

Picnic Blanket

It’s always handy to add a picnic blanket onto your road trip essentials Australia checklist. They’re great for throwing over picnic tables for meals or using as a ground blanket if need be. A picnic blanket with a waterproof backing is even better for those situations where things are a little damp.


Pillows, Blankets & Sleeping Bags

Definite road trip essentials for campers are some pillows and blankets to help stay warm and comfortable at night. For colder climates, a thermal sleeping bag with an extra warm blanket will keep you much warmer.


Plastic Containers & Twisty Ties

You’ll need some way of storing leftover food once packages have been opened. A couple of reusable containers and some twisty ties (or rubber bands) are all handy solutions.


Plates & Bowls

Pack the essential plates and bowls that you’ll need for your road trip. Going for plastic or stainless steel makes them easier for throwing back into the car along the way, without having to worry about breakages. You could even pack some paper plates and throw them into the fire at night, to help reduce the dirty dishes.

Van Go Bamboo Plate Set
Bamboo Plate Set (Adventure Awaits) →

Pots & Pans

Ensure you pack at least one pot and one frying pan for cooking. You can also add in a whistling kettle for boiling water, although if you prefer to keep things light, a pot will also do the job.

Camping Pots
Camping Cookware (eBay) →

Tea Towels & Dishcloths

Road trip essentials for washing the dishes while travelling include a couple of tea towels and one or two dishcloths for cleaning. A scourer is also helpful to remove stuck food from plates and pots.


Tent/ Swag

The easiest camping accommodation when you’re road tripping and moving every day is a simple tent or a roll-up swag. The benefit of the swag is that there’s a built-in mattress, which means less packing and less setting up.

Swag
Tents & Swags (Caravan RV Camping) →

Thermos

A good quality thermos will keep soups and drinks hot for hours. You can make up a batch of coffee or soup in the morning, store it in your thermos and enjoy it all day on the road.

Thermos Flask
Thermos (eBay) →

Torch or Headlamp

Along with having a lantern, it’s a good idea to pack a torch or headlamp as well (with spare batteries). A headlamp in particular is much easier for doing nighttime toilet trips, getting things in and out of the car, changing a tyre on the side of the road and even using inside the tent.

Headlamp
Headlamp (Caravan RV Camping) →

Utensils & Cutlery

Some essential utensils and cutlery to pack for your road trip in Australia include knives, forks, spoons, tongs, flipper, wooden spoon and a large serving spoon.

Utensil & Cutlery Items:

  • Can opener (or only buy cans with the ring pull)
  • Cutlery – butter knives, forks, teaspoons, dessert spoons
  • Egg flipper
  • Large serving spoon
  • Sharp knife
  • Tongs
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Wooden spoon
3-in-1 Camping Cutlery
3-in-1 Camping Cutlery (eBay) →

Washing Up Bucket

You’ll need a bucket or plastic camping sink for washing the dishes after each meal. You can also use it to store all of the cleaning stuff in.

Collapsible Sink Container Bucket
Collapsible Sink (eBay) →

Whistling Kettle

Having some way of boiling water for tea, coffee and dishes is a must have item on your road trip essentials Australia list. However, if you prefer to pack less items, you could just use a pot.

Collapsible Kettle
Collapsible Kettle (eBay) →

12v to 240v Inverter

A small inverter, which is designed to plug into a car cigarette socket, will give you the ability to charge things like laptops and camera batteries if you don’t have access to mains power.

12v to 240v Inverter
12v to 240v Inverters (Caravan RV Camping) →
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Road Trip Essentials – PAPERWORK

Road Trip Essentials - Car Paperwork

Car Manual

Most people never even look at their car manual, but if you’re stuck on the side of the road with a car problem, you might just be thankful you have it.


Insurance

Double check that your insurance is up-to-date before hitting the road and make sure you’re covered for everything that you intend to be covered for. Pack a copy of your insurance policy number and contact details into the glove box, in case of an accident.

Insurance Tips:

  • Ensure payments are up-to-date
  • Ensure you’re covered for everything
  • Pack policy number & contact phone number into the glove box

Here’s everything you need to know about Caravan Insurance in Australia.


Licence/ ID

Something we should never leave home without is our driver’s licence or some form of ID. This will become especially important when entering licensed venues along the way. For travelling kids who have a school ID card, it’s a good idea to pack that as well, just in case they need to show proof of age for various attractions.

Licences to include:

  • Licence for driver/s
  • Photo ID for 18+ travellers without a licence
  • School ID for kids (if applicable)

Registration

These days, most authorities can do a quick rego check with their system and see whether or not your vehicle and trailer are registered. However, it can help to carry registration papers in the glove box just in case you need proof (especially if you don’t have internet access at the time).

Registration Paperwork:

  • Ensure registration is up-to-date
  • Pack paperwork into the glove box

Here’s everything you need to know about Caravan Registration in Australia, with state-by-state costs and regulations.


Roadside Assistance

Make sure you’ve got a good roadside assistance policy to cover you for various break-down situations that may occur during a road trip in Australia. Pack the paperwork with membership number and the roadside assistance phone number into the glovebox.

Roadside Assistance Paperwork:

  • Ensure your car is covered
  • Ensure your caravan/ camper is also covered (under the same policy if possible)
  • Pack membership number & contact phone number into the glove box

Here’s everything you need to know about Caravan Roadside Assistance in Australia.

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Road Trip Essentials – EMERGENCY

Road Trip Essentials

Emergency Roadside Kit

All travellers should include an emergency tool kit on their road trip checklist, whether you’re sticking to the highways, or going off the beaten track.

Emergency Kit Items:

  • Basic tools
  • Pocket knife
  • Tyre repair kit
  • Spare fuses
  • Electrical tape/ Duct Tape
  • Torch with spare batteries
  • Shovel
  • Jack
  • Reflective safety vest
  • Reflective triangle
  • Window breaker
Roadside Emergency Kit
Roadside Emergency Kit (eBay) →

First Aid Kits

When travelling throughout Australia for any length of time, you should always have a well-stocked First Aid Kit in your car. I also recommend packing a Snake Bite Kit, which will have the specific snake bite bandages with the square indicators on them.

For a full list of over 40 items, see our First Aid Kit Checklist.

Below are some pre-made First Aid Kits by Survival, which contain absolutely everything you should need to aid you in an emergency situation.


Jumper Leads or Battery Jump Pack

Another essential road trip checklist item is something to be able to jump start your car with, in the case of a flat battery.

Jumper leads are handy if you can hail down another car and jump off their battery. However, that’s not always possible. In which case, carrying a battery jump pack is a much better option, especially if you plan on travelling a little more remotely.

Portable Jump Starter
Portable Jump Starter (eBay) →

Paper Maps

You should never fully rely on your phone maps when you’re travelling. Although it’s definitely recommended to pre-download offline maps using your GPS system of choice, what will you do if your phone charge dies? It’s always wise to have a good quality paper map of the area in which you’re travelling through as a back-up.

HEMA Central Australia Map
HEMA Maps (Adventure Awaits) →

PLB (Personal Locator Beacon)

A Personal Locator Beacon is a device which will send out an alert to emergency services with your exact GPS location. They are generally carried by hikers, 4WDers and other people who engage in activities that isolate them from quickly being able to receive help in case of emergency.

It’s not essential to carry a PLB as a road tripper unless you plan on heading off the beaten track and will be unreachable if you need help.


Recovery Tracks

Recovery tracks are not just for 4WDers. Even if you are road tripping in a 2WD vehicle, it is still possible to find yourself stuck in damp ground at a campsite, national park or any other unsealed parking spots.

A set of plastic recovery tracks are a simple way to get out of a boggy situation if there’s no one around to pull you out.

Maxtrax Recovery Tracks
Recovery Tracks (Caravan RV Camping) →

Spare Tyre/s & Jack

Check to make sure you’ve got at least one good spare tyre for your car and another for the trailer (if applicable), plus a jack.

  • Car spare tyre – inflated with plenty of tread
  • Trailer spare tyre – inflated with plenty of tread
  • Jack

4WD Recovery Kit

If you plan to head along some unsealed roads, bush tracks and off-grid camping areas, it’s essential to add a 4WD emergency kit to your road trip checklist.

4WD Recovery Kit Contents:

  • Snatch strap
  • Tree trunk protector
  • Extension strap
  • Snatch block
  • 2 x bow shackles
  • Winch dampener
  • Tyre deflator
  • Heavy duty gloves
4x4 4WD Recovery Kit
4WD Recovery Kit (Caravan RV Camping) →
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Road Trip Essentials – ORGANISATION

Car Seat Organiser

The glove box can fill up pretty quickly with all of the bits and bobs you want to be able to grab in a hurry. Instead, use a car seat organiser. That way you can store all of the things you need to access quickly in organisational pockets. From tissues and wipes, to suncream, bug repellent, chargers and more.

If you’re travelling with kids in the back, over the seat organisers are the perfect place for them to stash their snacks, colouring books, devices and everything else that would otherwise end up on the floor.

Car Seat Organiser
Car Seat Organiser (Adventure Awaits) →

Day Pack

Having a dedicated day pack is going to make life on the road so much easier. All of the items that you need with you at all times (even if you’re not in the car) should be stored in the day pack.

Day Pack Items:

  • Camera
  • Lozenges
  • Lip balm
  • Jumper
  • Maps/ guide books
  • Snacks
  • Sunscreen
  • Tissues
  • Water bottle
  • Wallet

Overnight Bag

Rather than having to unpack half of you car every time to stop for the night, take an overnight bag to take into your accommodation with you. The main things that you’ll need are toiletries, towel, clothing and all of the valuables.


Packing Cubes

If you really want to maximise your storage space, roll your clothing up into packing cubes. You can easily organise clothing into either days or categories and even roll them back up once dirty and stack them back away for laundry day (or when you get home). If you want to go the extra mile, you could label each cube or colour-code for ease of use.

Packing Cubes
Packing Cubes (eBay) →

Roof Storage Box

A waterproof storage box on the roof provides a secondary place to store some of your road trip essentials. For items that don’t need to be accessed every day, the roof can be a good place to store them.


Rubbish Bin

A little zippered and collapsible rubbish bin for the car is the best way I’ve found to keep all of the trash locked away in one place, without fear of spillages. Here are 15 camping garbage bin ideas.


Storage Tubs

Depending on how you want to pack things, it can help to have lidded storage tubs stacked in the back of the car, labelled with what’s inside. That way, when you are making a beeline for a particular item, you can simply pull out that tub and find what you’re looking for.


Washing Bag

Have a dedicated collapsible bag for all dirty washing so that it doesn’t get mixed up with the clean clothing. Once it’s full or you can get to a laundry, just grab it and off you.

Expandable Washing Laundry Bag
Expandable Laundry Bag (Adventure Awaits) →
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Road Trip Essentials – VEHICLE PREPARATION

Nissan Patrol under the bonnet

Check Vehicle Fluids

Check and top up (if necessary) all of your car’s fluids.

  • Windscreen wiper water
  • Oil
  • Brake fluid
  • Transmission fluid
  • Radiator coolant

Check Vehicle Lights

Go around and check that all of your lights are working on the car.

  • Headlights
  • High beams
  • Indicator & hazard lights
  • Brake lights
  • Additional spotlights & light bars

Floor Mats

I recommend getting a good set of rubber floor mats for your car as a road trip essential item while travelling throughout Australia. From the outback dust, to the coastal sands and all of the mud, grass and dirt in between… it’s all going to end up embedded in your car floor carpet if you don’t cover it up!


Fuel Top Up

Fill up the car’s fuel tank/s and any jerry cans that you’re carrying for spare fuel.

  • Car fuel tank/s
  • Jerry cans

Phone Mount

If you need to use your phone for maps or anything else while driving, make sure you’ve got your phone sitting in a mount or cradle. It’s illegal to have your phone in your hand while driving in Australia and the police will not hesitate to fine you for it.


Spare Car Key

Packing a spare car key can be helpful in case something should happen to your usual set. Trust me, it’s not unheard of to loose the car keys somewhere along a bush walk or god knows where else!

Of course, the second key needs to be accessible, which isn’t always going to be the case. So, think of a good place for the second key – maybe in your partner’s handbag or in the caravan.


Toll Tag

If you’re travelling through the urban areas of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, you’ll most likely find yourself travelling along some toll roads. To pay for the tolls, you’ll need a toll tag in your car (loaded up with credit), which will automatically beep and deduct the fee as you drive through the toll point.

To get a Toll Tag, which will cover you for all toll roads around Australia, head to Linkt.


Tyre Pressure

Make sure all of your tyres (including the spare) are pumped up to their recommended PSI.

Where to find correct tyre pressure for your car (if the tyres are standard size):

  • Owner’s manual
  • Chart attached to the inside of the car door

Tyre Tread

Ensure all tyres on the car have plenty of tread on them. If not, get your tyres changed before hitting the road. A tyre blow-out when travelling at 100km/ hr can be catastrophic.

  • Legal allowable tyre tread depth in Australia – 1.5mm
  • Recommended tyre tread depth in Australia – Over 3mm

Window Shades

Popping a sunshade up across the windscreen makes a massive difference with keeping the car cool during the day when you’re parked in the sun. It also keeps the steering wheel and front seats a lot cooler.

In addition, you can also get sunshades for some of the other windows to help keep the rest of the car cooler.

Window Sunshade
Window Shades (eBay) →

Vehicle Walk-around

Do a final walk around of your vehicle and trailer, just to make sure that everything is secure and looking good for travel.

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Road Trip Essentials – TRAILER PREPARATION

Townsville House Sitting

Check Electric Brakes

Plug in the electric brake controller plug when hitching up and make sure that the light comes on (most units will light up when connected correctly).


Check Trailer Tail Lights

Get someone to stand at the back of the caravan or camper and check that the brake lights and indicators are all working as you go through them from the car.


Jerry Can Fuel

Make sure any spare fuel jerry cans that you carry on your caravan or camper are all filled up and that any old, stale fuel has been discarded. Here are all of the legalities for carrying fuel on a caravan, just so you’re aware.

  • Diesel for the diesel heater
  • Fuel for the car

Pack Down Inside the Trailer

Make sure inside the caravan or camper is travel-ready. If you want to be even more organised, go and grab yourself our FREE Caravan Pack Down Checklist and Planning Kit.

  • Wind down TV aerial
  • Lock in/ remove TV from its bracket
  • Close all roof hatches
  • Close & lock all windows
  • Open all blinds & curtains
  • Secure all loose items
  • Remove bunk ladder & place onto the bottom bunk
  • Lock in the shower door
  • Lock in the room dividers/ doors
  • Lock in the fridge & freezer doors
  • Lock all cupboards & drawers

Pack Down Outside the Trailer

Make sure the exterior of the caravan or camper is travel-ready.

  • Lock all cabinet & hatch doors
  • Secure & lock bikes onto bike rack
  • Lock entry door
  • Fold entry step away
  • Ensure awning is rolled away, locked & secured
  • Hitch up to the tow vehicle
  • Wind up stabiliser legs
  • Wind up jockey wheel
  • Check tail lights
  • Check electric brake controller

Tyre Pressure & Tread

Make sure your caravan or camper tyres have plenty of tread on them and are at the recommended PSI. Don’t forget to also check the quality and PSI of the spare tyre as well.


Spare Caravan/ Camper Key

Sometimes, things just happen and we find ourselves in need of the spare key. Touch wood that you don’t need to use it, but having one in a secondary location may just get you out of an otherwise tricky situation.


Towing Weights

If you’re about to hit the road with a caravan or camper behind you, it’s imperative that you weigh your set-up and ensure that you’re within your legal towing weight limits.

Remember, every time you add, subtract or shift your load, your various towing weights will also change.

Helpful Information for Towing Weights:
◆ 
All Towing Weights Explained →
3 Ways to Work out Tow Ball Weight →
Step-by-step Instructions for Weighing a Trailer →


Vehicle & Trailer Walk-around

Always do a final walk-around once you’re hitched up and ready to go. This is where you’ll often pick up if something has been forgotten to be locked, put away or secured.

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Road Trip Essentials – PLANNING

Accommodation Style

The type of accommodation you will be using during your travels will largely affect what needs to be included on your road trip packing list. For example, if you will be utilising motels, then you won’t need to bother with camping gear. Alternatively, you may want to Free & Low Cost Camp, which means you may have to plan your stops around campsites that have toilets on site.

Accommodation Considerations:

  • Plan camps that have amenities
  • Call ahead for vacancies/ bookings with caravan parks & motels

Have an Itinerary

Whether you’re the type to have all plans laid out in a spreadsheet, or you just prefer to wing it, having at least a loose itinerary for your road trip is essential.

Road Trip Itinerary Considerations:

  • Travel time frame
  • Departure & return dates
  • Travel budget
  • Final destination (or at least direction of travel)
  • ‘Must Do’ stops along the way

Plan Rest Stops

Driving for long periods can tire you out. So, every two hours you may either want to switch drivers or make pit stops for a snack, drink some water, go to the toilet and stretch your bodies. This will help you to remain alert and enjoy your time.

Map of Australia Sticker
40cm Sticker Map (Adventure Awaits) →

Check for Roadblocks & Restrictions

Roadblocks can put a damper on every road trip, which is why you need to carefully plan the route that you are going to take. Make sure that there are no road works, closures, or accidents on the way. You may want to keep yourself updated until the day you are going on the trip as well as during the trip.

In this regard, you might want to do some research on the traffic as well using Google Maps or Waze. Nothing can ruin your trip more than blockages caused by a traffic accident, which will just lead to tiredness and frustration.


Check the Weather & Road Conditions

If it’s necessary for you to leave on a less than ideal day for the weather (say, you already have your holiday leave and you can’t change it), then you may use current weather and road conditions information to make an update on your route. Not every area will have the same weather, so an alternative route may well save your trip.

If the weather has been unstable (or is expected to be), then you might expose yourself to muddy roads that are difficult to drive on, bushfires or floods. Needless to say, this can put a great question mark on your safety, which is why you may want to find out what the conditions of the road will be.

For an up-to-date look at where there are bushfires around the country, use an app such as Fires Near Me.


Download an Emergency App

We all hope that our trips will go smoothly, but one can never be too sure when disaster may strike. Inform your loved ones about where you are going, stay in contact, and just in case, download an emergency app, such as Emergency+. While emergency numbers are excellent, apps can also work as a reliable alternative.


Pack up your Home

Your trip starts even before you leave your home. Therefore, before you begin conquering all the wonders of the Australian Outback, make sure that everything in your home is packed up and in order. 

House Packing Tips:

  • Clean the bathrooms for when you get back
  • Wash the bed linen for when you get back
  • Vacuum the floors
  • Empty all perishable food out of the fridge & pantry
  • Empty all rubbish bins
  • Switch off appliances
  • Lock all doors & windows
  • Let a neighbour know you’re going away (get them to clear mailbox & take garbage bins in & out)
  • Leave jewellery and valuables in a safe place
  • Leave the place looking like someone is still there
  • Set the alarm

If you’re packing up for long-term travel, here are 8 tips for packing up the house.


Avoid Driving at Night

Driving at dusk, dawn or at night in Australia is not a wise move unless you absolutely can’t avoid it. Much of our native wildlife are most active during those times, but are much harder to spot, which increases the risk of having an accident and/ or adding to the roadkill.


Now, it’s over to you. Time to start planning and packing for your epic Australian road trip!

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Road Trip Packing Checklist

Road Trip Packing List

Road Trip Packing List

No matter what your accommodation style is, the Road Trip Packing List will ensure that you don’t forget a thing.

  • Pre-filled with 600+ items
  • 17 categories
  • PRINTABLE & DIGITAL
  • Download once, use it over-and-over
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9 thoughts on “120+ Road Trip Essentials Australia (with PDF Packing List)”

  1. We go road tripping alllll summer usually. These are really really good tips! I love your checklist, it’s something I’ve been meaning to make because we ALWAYS. FORGET STUFF. haha Thanks for all these resources.

  2. We too love road trips as they give such an immersive experience of the places you visit and pass through. But of course one needs to plan so that things run smoothly. This is a very exhaustive and good checklist and has some really interesting points like checking for wildlife.

  3. These are all great tips! I haven’t done a major road trip for a long time but I would really like to do one later this year. Checking for pests and snakes in a caravan that hasn’t been used in a while is a great tip, and so is not driving at night. Driving on a rural road that isn’t well lit (or lit at all) can be a very mentally intensive experience even if the chance of encountering wildlife is low. I wouldn’t have thought about dawn and dusk being active times for animals, either!

    1. Night driving really can be more mentally intense, for sure. Definitely need to thoroughly check the caravan before loading it up for the next trip!

  4. We are big list makers so always good to see another checklist and make sure ours is complete. We sure added a few things this year with more road trips. Good advice to check your route in advance. Especially in summer around here when most of the road construction is done! We often take the smaller roads to travel slower so we can stop when safe. Good planning tips.

    1. I love a good list myself! I think it’s going to be a big year for road trips, as people can’t head abroad. It’s always nice to be able to travel slower if you’ve got the time.

  5. I love love loveeeee road trips and have gone on several before yet I always seem to forget something still hahaa. What a perfect checklist and such a great lifesaver. I’ll definitely have to look into that Emergency+ app!

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