family packing car road trip
All Ages

8 Road Trip Essentials You Didn’t Know You Needed

See recent posts by Tamekia Reece

Taking a road trip with kids means there will be messes: crumbs, spills, or worse, a diaper blowout or episode of car sickness. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to get to a car wash quickly when you’re in the middle of nowhere. But driving for miles with a wet floorboard or smelly odor can put a damper on everyone’s mood. You probably already know to bring paper towels and hand sanitizer for the icky stuff that’s bound to happen. Here are some other road trip essentials that will help keep your ride fresh and clean throughout the whole trip.
Lusso Gear Car Trash Can; Courtesy of Amazon

1. Lusso Gear Car Trash Can

Trash is bound to accumulate during a road trip—candy wrappers, drink cups, food containers. The Lusso Gear Car Trash Can collects all of it with no problem. It can hold 2.5 gallons of trash, it’s waterproof and leakproof, and the flip-top lid automatically closes and seals in odors. The trash can comes in black, tan and brown, and you can install it anywhere in your vehicle.

HOTOR Corded Car Vacuum Cleaner; Courtesy of Amazon

2. HOTOR Corded Car Vacuum Cleaner

There’s no way to avoid it: eating in a vehicle, especially with kids, leads to crumbs. But the HOTOR Corded Car Vacuum Cleaner allows you to clean up on the go. It plugs into your car’s lighter, which means it has more suction power. And the three nozzle attachments allow you to get into all the cracks and crannies. Result: quicker and better cleaning, whether you’re cleaning up dropped fries after car pool or sand after a visit to the beach.

The Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag; Courtesy of Amazon

3. The Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag

Even if you toss out food containers and bags as soon as you’re done with them, your car is bound to have some lingering odors. The Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag is a chemical- and fragrance-free way to freshen your ride. It doesn’t just cover up odors; instead, the bamboo charcoal inside the bag absorbs and eliminates them. Say bye-bye to smells from foods, stinky socks and other offenders.

HEALQU Blue Emesis Bag; Courtesy of Amazon

4. HEALQU Blue Emesis Bag

It may seem crazy to bring barf bags on your trip, but this is something you’ll definitely wish you had if you need it. The HEALQU Blue Emesis Bag will prevent a smelly and chunky mess from landing on your car seats, floorboards or on a nearby sibling. These bags even trap in the odor. So, once your child is done upchucking, simply seal the bag and dump it at the next trash bin.

HUGGIES Natural Care Unscented Baby Wipes; Courtesy of Amazon

5. HUGGIES Natural Care Unscented Baby Wipes, Sensitive

Even if your kids are out of the diapers stage, baby wipes are always handy. Huggies Natural Care Unscented Baby Wipes, Sensitive are alcohol-free, which means they’re gentle enough to clean dirty faces, sticky hands and smudges off windows. You can even wipe down your leather seats. Bonus: Once your trip is over, there are a gazillion other uses for them at home.

Seventh Generation Disinfectant Spray; Courtesy of Amazon

6. Seventh Generation Disinfectant Spray

For some messes, you need a disinfectant after you’ve done your cleaning. Seventh Generation Disinfectant Spray kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria and eliminates odors. You can use it to get rid of any lingering germs on your kid’s car seat, toys, or any other hard, non-porous surfaces.

Nature’s Miracle Brand Disinfectant Stain/Odor Remover; Courtesy of Amazon

7. Nature’s Miracle Brand Disinfectant Stain/Odor Remover

When traveling with a pet, stuff happens. As in urine, poop and vomit. Nature’s Miracle Brand Disinfectant Stain & Odor Remover cleans it all. Even better, it doesn’t leave behind a weird odor that’s common with some other pet cleaning products.

Armor All Extreme Bug & Tar Remover Wipes; Courtesy of Amazon

8. Armor All Extreme Bug & Tar Remover Wipes

Sometimes the yucky stuff happens outside the car. Armor All Extreme Bug & Tar Remover Wipes address a problem you probably didn’t consider during your planning: long-distance driving, especially in some areas, can lead to a windshield and grill full of bugs. That can affect your visibility and ruin your car’s paint if it’s not removed quickly. These wipes get rid of bugs, tar and bird droppings fast. Simply wipe it away and go about your day.

Tamekia Reece lives in Houston, TX with her husband, son and two spoiled Shih Tzus. She and her family love road trips. Her most memorable one is a cross-country trip to California with a van full of kids and teens. Tamekia has written for Parents, Woman’s Day,,, American Airlines, and more. You can view her writing at

Our team of parents and travel experts chooses each product and service we recommend. Anything you purchase through links on our site may earn us a commission.