BEST road trip gifts to make road trips a breeze and help the hours on the road fly by.
I grew up in the midwest of the United States. That means it took hours by car to get anywhere else in the country.
Road trips were a staple of my childhood – long and short ones.
My family often drove an hour in and out of the city that we lived near. Twice a year, we drove six hours each way to visit family in a nearby state.
The most extensive trip of them all? We took 24-hour road trip adventures from Illinois to Florida for spring break.
I’ve completed some road trips completely alone as well. I know what it’s like to be the backseat passenger as a kid and the adult driver behind the wheel.
What I’m trying to say is, I’m no stranger to this form of travel. So, when it comes to gifts for road trips, I’m your girl.
I’m here to share some of the best gift ideas for road trips based on my personal experience.
Note: this article contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free recommendations.
What’s the single most important item to keep track of? The car keys.
I mean, you can’t go anywhere without them – plain and simple! Therefore, a road trip lover can’t afford to lose them.
Getting road trip lovers a Tile car key tracker will ensure they always have a way to know where their keys are.
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Car Mount Phone Holder
What’s a good gift for someone who travels a lot in a car?
A phone mount.
We use our phones for everything nowadays. On road trips, a driver’s phone is usually their source of music, communication, and most likely their GPS.
Gifting a phone mount like this allows the phone to be placed on the dashboard, as close to eye level as possible. Instead of looking down to check Google Maps, they can quickly glance to the side.
I’m not encouraging phone use while driving by any means, but realistically, people glance at their phones.
Phone mounts make navigation and DJing hands-free, so it’s a little safer.
Nintendo Switch Lite
When I was a kid, one of the best ways to pass time on a long car trip was playing my Nintendo DS.
The Nintendo DS has aged out, and the Nintendo Switch has entered the picture.
For a road trip, I’d recommend the Nintendo Switch Lite. It’s a bit smaller than the regular-sized switch console because it’s primarily for personal play and is more portable.
There are endless games available for purchase, so they’ll never get bored!
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I grew up before the era of Kindles. I was always torn between which book to bring on a road trip.
Later, I’d find myself fidgeting with a clip-on reading light after the sun went down and the car was dark.
Kindles help eliminate both those problems. A world of books lives inside a Kindle, meaning they’ll have numerous books with them at one time.
Multiple lighting settings allow them to read at any time of day, in any lighting.
A Kindle is one of the best road trip gadgets, birthday gifts, or holiday gifts to get someone. They’re helpful during the car ride and after.
Car Backseat Organizer
An organizer is the perfect road trip gift for anyone riding in the backseat.
I’ve been in some cars where the seats don’t have back pockets. Even when they do, a single pocket is usually hard to stuff belongings into.
Road trippers don’t have to worry about that with a gift like this.
They simply slip this organizer over the front seat headrest, and ta-da! There’s space for all of their belongings at their fingertips.
Car Window Screens
One time, my whole family was going on a long car journey, so we rented a larger and more equipped car for the trip.
The car had pull-down screens for the windows, which made such a difference in keeping sunlight at bay during the trip.
This pack of window screens comes with both transparent and semi-transparent shade options.
The screens have a no-residue cling design and work when pressed to a car window.
They’re helpful to keep sun rays at bay during any time of the year — especially, during the summer months, to help keep the car cooler.
These are the best road trip gift ideas for road-trippers with babies in the backseat.
Foldable Car Seat Back Portable Tray for Food
My family didn’t eat fast food often during our day-to-day lives, but it was a staple during road trips.
As a backseat rider, you have no idea what I would have given to have something like this foldable tray that attaches to the front seat headrest.
This cuts down on drink or dipping sauce spills, an unfortunate event I know too well!
Of course, my mind went immediately to food, but it also holds a laptop or book.
Any road trip lover who finds themselves in the back seat will appreciate this.
200 Conversation Cards
Consider conversation road trip games if you’re looking for the best road trip gifts for a family.
It can be hard to get the whole family to be interested in the same thing. The prompts on these cards encourage conversations that everyone can partake in.
There are questions like, “What do children know more about than adults?” and “What is the one thing you couldn’t live without?”
My favorite thing about these cards is that they involve the driver, which is important.
It’s easy for all the passengers to plug into their phones or Kindles, but the driver has to keep their eyes on the road.
Do note that some of the cards are not appropriate for kids, so parents might need to sort through the deck beforehand.
50 States 5,000 Ideas Book
As the title states, this book offers insight into the 50 states of the USA. It has valuable travel tips about where to go, what to see, and what to do in each one.
Inclusive travel gifts like these are great road trip gift ideas because they inspire future road trips!
They probably won’t drive through all 50 states in one journey, but as they read, they’ll find places and sights to drive to next time.
Road Trip Journal
I’m sentimental – I love to collect and document everything. If your giftee is anything like me, a journal like this is the perfect great road trip gift idea.
There are two types of pages: open note-taking and easy-to-fill-prompt pages.
They can quickly fill in the answers to questions like the weather, route taken, highlights, and so forth.
This road trip gift idea is suitable for a range of ages, meaning it’ll keep anyone entertained.
Plus, they’ll have something to reflect on in the future.
Rand McNally Road Atlas
Nowadays, we rely on our phones or built-in car systems. But as a kid, I remember my parents opening up physical paper maps for directions.
This spiral notebook contains large-scale maps of highways for every US state.
There are no advertisements inside, which helps you focus on the routes. There are also maps of specific cities and national parks.
A physical road atlas is one of the best gifts for a road tripper who likes things old-school.
Personalized Road Trip Map
Before my family began our road trips, my dad always sketched out our route on a big paper map so my sisters and I could visualize our road trip route.
We loved getting this perspective when we were kids.
Hammocking is a universally enjoyable pastime, so hammocks make great road trip gifts for guys and girls alike.
Eno hammocks are popular but pricey. I recommend Wise Owl hammocks as a more affordable alternative. Wise Owl hammocks even come with straps to secure them to trees, which Eno hammocks don’t include.
There are plenty of color options, and you can choose a single or double-person size, making hammocks one of the top road trip gifts for friends heading out on long car rides that may have scenic stops along the way.
They’re a particularly great option for those road-tripping through National Parks.
Car Headrest Tablet Holder
This car headrest tablet holder is a great way to entertain anyone in the backseat. Whether they’re using their phone or an iPad, they can stay hands-free and comfortable.
It attaches quickly and easily without disrupting the headrest for the driver. The arm can be bent in a variety of angles and tilted.
This is a great road trip gift for road-tripping friends who are planning on watching movies or binge-watching a new series in the backseat.
A picnic blanket is helpful in so many situations – whether you’re actually using it for a picnic or not. I use my blanket anytime I’m sitting on the ground in an open area.
This is another perfect road trip gift for loved ones heading into nature. A blanket will come in handy, whether they’re going on a day trip or a long-haul journey.
This one is great because it’s waterproof and sand-resistant. Plus, it comes with large handle carry straps, making it easy to transport once it’s rolled up.
These kinds of doodle boards will keep kids entertained for hours.
Not going to lie, I’ve also found myself fiddling around with them.
It’s easy to forget how relaxing and fun doodling is. They’re especially on a road trip, when any form of entertainment is welcome.
I’ve gone road-tripping by myself and driven for 13 hours straight on multiple occasions.
By the end of those long stretches, all I wanted was to put my feet up!
Compression socks are one of those road trip accessories that can help a loved one have a more pleasant experience. They help prevent swelling during any period of prolonged sitting.
I think compression socks are some of the best road trip gear or road trip gift ideas for adults because they’re the ones doing the driving.
Picture this: you’re best friend is rushing out of the house because they really need to get on the road. They have that nagging feeling that they’re forgetting something.
Pretty soon, they’re driving on the highway, blinded by the sun. That’s when it hits… they forgot their sunglasses.
This is why I always keep spare sunglasses in my car glove box. They’re solely my ‘car sunglasses’. My extra sunglasses have saved the day more times than I can count.
If you want to be that lifesaver, consider getting this set of polarized sunglasses for road trip lovers.
Slip On Shoes
I always preferred to be barefoot in the car. It’s just more comfortable and clean.
Of course, whenever it was time to make a pit stop for food, gas, or the bathroom, it became a scramble to find my shoes.
Especially during winter road trips, my boots took too long to lace up and tracked snow or gunk back into the car afterward.
Gift someone special a pair of slip-on shoes. Your giftee can keep them in their car as their ‘road trip shoes’.
This way they’ll always have something to slip on and off during those quick pit stops.
A spare pare of driving shoes is also helpful for anyone who likes wearing heels but not driving in them.
My mom tried to keep our car as clean as possible. It wasn’t easy, and I wish she had a portable vacuum like this.
A mini car vacuum is the best road trip gift for anyone who likes a tidy car.
This handheld vacuum is wireless, rechargeable, and comes with an array of attachments – making it suitable to reach any crevice.
Road trip gifts like these make it a quick and easy way to keep their limited space feeling clean.
Car Trash Can
As backseat riders, my siblings and I always passed our garbage up to my mom in the front seat.
That’s why I think this car trash can would have been one of the best road trip gifts for her.
Instead of making someone in charge of the ‘garbage bag’, they can have a car trash can like this. Everyone knows where to put their garbage (cough cough, not the floor).
Road trippers don’t have access to heat their drink or add ice while driving. That’s why a tumbler that keeps coffee hot and iced tea cold is an excellent road trip gift idea.
Especially when I’m on a road trip alone, I like preparing my secondary beverage before leaving home.
I take a juice or soda out of the cooler and pour it into a tumbler so it stays cold until I’m ready to drink it.
Tumblers are also a good road trip gift for anyone who appreciates personalization options. You can tailor this gift specifically to your road tripper.
Car Cup Holder Expander
If you want gifts for a road trip that go above and beyond (literally), check out this car cup holder.
I use a large hydroflask water bottle. Because of the big base, it doesn’t fit in a standard car cup holder. I was so excited when I found an enlarged cup holder that could accommodate its size.
You can go a step further with this car cup holder. It has an enlarged cup holder and a standard-size cup holder above.
Next to that is a swiveling tray. This creates a space to put some small, easy-to-grab items for the driver. If there’s a passenger riding, it could also function as a tray for them.
If you’re looking for funny road trip gifts for couples, this is a good choice. It benefits passengers and drivers.
Road trip travelers know the struggle of finding a comfortable position to take a snooze. That’s why one of the best gifts for a road trip is a pillow that bends into any shape.
Molding the pillow to meet their needs makes it much easier to get comfortable in an awkward space like a car.
There are also button snaps on either end of the pillow so that it will hold a standard travel pillow shape.
Great road trip gift ideas involve items that can stay in the car, so they never have to worry about forgetting them.
This blanket is a perfect example.
It’s always nice to have a blanket like this in the car. Even if they’re traveling during warmer months because it zips up into a pillow shape.
Sound Proof Earphones
Road trips put everyone in tight quarters. Sound-cancelling headphones are the best way for your loved one to take a break.
These headphones are budget-friendly, but you could always upgrade by gifting a brand like Bose.
Plus, this is one of those gifts for road trips that will be useful outside of the car, too.
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For the most part, I grew up as a road-tripper without iPhones or tablets. There was minimal electronic usage, and once the battery ran out, that was that.
By the time I was in high school and had a laptop, I always wished there was a way to charge it while in the car.
When I discovered a car inverter, I was sold.
This inverter distributes and maximizes the existing power from the cigarette lighter plug in your car. Once plugged in, your giftee can access regular outlets, USB ports, and a USB C port.
It’s one of the best road trip gifts for a car full of music streamers.
Solar Power Bank
Solar power banks make fantastic gifts for anyone going on an adventure. This power bank charges using the solar panels on the front of the device (don’t leave it in a hot car in direct sunlight, though).
It’s a perfect gift for road-trippers headed through the national parks, where they’ll run their battery down taking pictures.
It’s waterproof and has a built-in flashlight. Portable chargers are a great gift idea that ensures they have a power source no matter what.
Inflatable Car Mattress
Sometimes the best road trip gift ideas focus on getting enough sleep.
Road travelers who sleep in their car know that having the right set-up is essential for feeling rested enough to drive day after day.
Most people I know heading on multi-day trips have a hotel room booked or plan on driving through the night.
But sleeping in the car has grown increasingly popular.
This inflatable car mattress is perfect for overnight road trips. The pump plugs into the car cigarette lighter for quick inflation.
I prefer this style of car mattress over others on the market because it lays across the backseats without emptying the trunk.
Here’s the thing about car air conditioning systems: they’re often not set up well for the backseat riders.
I can’t begin to tell you how many times my sisters and I bickered about the airflow direction from the small vents in the backseat section.
Solve that bickering problem with a gift like this: a car headrest fan.
Whether you purchase one or two for your road tripper, travel gifts like these will make their upcoming trip more peaceful.
Games on the Go
After a while, it can be hard to come up with road trip games on your own.
If your friends are tired of the classics, Games on the Go prompts some of the best road trip games.
It’s a deck of cards full of guessing games, riddles, trivia, and searching games (to name a few).
It’s perfect for the car because Game on the Go states, “The only material you need is your imagination”.
Drop Stop Car Seat-Gap Filler
This gap filler seems like a funny road trip gift, but it’s actually so helpful.
During road trips, my sisters and I constantly passed things up to my mom, who sat in the front seat.
Quite a few times, whatever we were passing would drop into the abyss between the seats.
I can guarantee even seasoned road trippers don’t enjoy crawling around on the car floor with a flashlight looking for dropped M&Ms and toys under the seat.
Eliminate that issue with a car seat gap filler like the Drop Stop.
A road trip lover will make many road trips in their life, and they can use a dash cam to capture all of their incredible adventures.
And for any road trippers turned full-time car travelers, dash cams add a level of security.
A dash cam can attach to the front or rear of a vehicle and record video. Should they ever need evidence of good driving habits or what really happened during an accident, they’ll have it.
Other pros to having a dash cam include deterring theft and potentially lowering their car insurance premium. Dash cams are one of the best gift ideas for road trips when your loved one wants to take every precaution possible.
Fold Out Chairs
You may be looking for road trip gift ideas for someone heading to campgrounds at national forests. If your road tripper needs some outdoor gear, help them out.
These chairs have armrests, pockets, and cupholders. They’re easy to keep tucked in a car trunk because they fold quickly and come in a traveling case.
Grab this road trip gift idea for anyone who likes stopping to enjoy the view.
My family always ran out of space on car trips to and from holiday gatherings. Not only did we have to fit all of our luggage in the trunk, but also gifts to and from family members.
Car travel gifts like roof bags are handy when the car is too full. This bag sits on top of a protective mat and securely attaches to the car’s roof with straps.
It’s made from waterproof material, so belongings inside stay safe.
When it comes to gift ideas for the road, consider getting your favorite road trip travelers a collapsable cooler.
Soft-sided coolers are a good way to keep drinks cold and food temperature regulated on the drive. Road trip lovers will appreciate that this cooler fits in the middle seat and is less bulky than a hard-sided cooler.
This Maelstrom Soft Cooler Bag has a five-layer insulation design. The outside even features outer pockets, a bottle-opener key chain, and bungee gridding.
It also comes in a variety of colors, like blue, grey, black, and orange.
Looking for more cooler recommendations? Read our article on the best coolers for camping.
Road Trip Gift Basket
I love unique gift ideas, like anything you assemble or personalize on your own. If you’re the same way, consider making a road trip care package.
This is the same premise as a road trip gift basket – but uses a road trip gift bag like the one pictured.
Throw in some road trip essentials like wet wipes, water bottles, road trip snacks, and so forth.
If your giftee is traveling with children, include some fun road trip gifts like these themed printable road trip games from Etsy.
Roadside Emergency Kit
Roadside kits are one of those gifts you hope they’ll never have to use. I know it sounds a bit backward – not wanting the recipient to use the gift?
A roadside emergency kit is a road trip essential. Thinking back, I would have been so relieved if someone had gifted me one.
This kit comes with survival road trip gear, like jumper cables, a seatbelt cutter, a glass breaker, and a portable air compressor.
This specific option comes with a first aid kit – it hits two birds with one stone.
If you’re gifting it to a new driver or new car owner, there’s a good chance they don’t have an emergency kit like this yet.
Triple AAA Membership
Similar to a first aid kit, roadside assistance is one of those things you hope they’ll never have to use. Regardless, it’s important to have for a road trip.
Triple AAA will help if their car breaks down and has complicated issues beyond a roadside assistance kit.
So, when it comes to road trip gift ideas, consider getting someone an annual membership to Triple AAA.
Pro Tip: Triple AAA offers special coverage for recreational vehicles, horse trailers, and boat trailers.
America the Beautiful Annual Pass
Consider getting a national park pass for road trippers heading to National Parks.
The most popular choice is the America the Beautiful Pass.
Having this with them on their road trip covers park entrance fees for a driver and all passengers in the vehicle (up to 4 adults).
This pass works for national forests and sites managed by the Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and others. Check out the full list here.
Plus, when you purchase from REI, they donate 10% of the proceeds to outdoor beneficiary organizations!
Road Trip Gift Cards
What do you give someone who is going on a long trip?
You can never go wrong with a gift card – especially if the other road trip gift ideas aren’t speaking to you.
When it comes to great road trip gifts, a gift card opens doors to so many options. And the best gifts make their life easier.
If you’re making someone a road trip gift basket, it wouldn’t hurt to throw a Starbucks gift card in.
When I was driving halfway across the country solo, audiobooks and music were my best friends. Find out if your friend or family member has Audible or Spotify Premium.
I even had a friend get a gift card to a gas station once. Anything helps!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Monroe Dziersk is a twenty-something American who has lived in the USA, Italy, and Czechia. A self-proclaimed Europhile, she has a passion for international education, traveling, and becoming a global citizen, having visited more than twenty countries. You can often find her accompanied by a good book and her calico cat.
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