road trip

Road Trip Buying Guide: Everything You Need for the Perfect Experience

Going on a road trip across Canada or even for a few hours away on a day trip can be a fun, wonderful break from the hustle and bustle of work and everyday life. Whether you enjoy planning or are on the side of just throwing everything into a bag and go, our guide below will help make the daunting task of planning an easy experience so that you can just enjoy your road trip, with a few essential and non-essential items, itinerary planning, and more. 

Itinerary Checklists and Summary

Before you leave 

  • Documents such as passports, ID’s, travel insurances 
  • Double check car maintenance and insurance 
  • First aid essentials are packed in the car/in bag 
  • Pets are accounted for/are being taken care of while you’re gone 
  • Medications 


  • Water bottles and food 
  • Cooler 
  • First aid kit 
  • Emergency car maintenance items 
  • Offline maps downloaded/physical maps 
  • Music and podcasts 
  • Power bank 
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • Bug spray 
  • Winter essentials such as blankets and extra gloves, toques, etc. 
  • Water-resistant flashlights 
  • Rain gear 
  • Baby wipes/paper towels 
  • Coins/change/cash for parking meters and attractions 

What to bring on a road trip

Road trips are synonymous with snacks, drinks, and good music, of course. But more important items should not be looked over as well, especially across Canada. If you’re taking a road trip across the country, for example, you’ll want to ensure that you have adequate supplies. Even a day trip into the Rocky Mountains can have its own set of must-haves.  

With how varied Canada is across the country, packing certain road trip essentials is critical for enjoying and surviving wherever you’re going, regardless of whether it’s across Ontario that has a high population density or if it’s heading across the prairies where you may not see another person for hours. 

Tire repair kit

Having a tire puncture repair kit, especially on a road trip is vital for any car owner to have on hand. You never know when you’ll run into any particularly sharp rocks, broken glass, etc. that can wreak havoc on your tires and your trip. Be sure to keep one or two in stock to ensure that you can fix it up when needed or fix it up until you can get your car into a shop. 

Boosting cables

Energizer Jumper Cables for Car Battery, Heavy Duty Automotive Booster Cables

Boosting cables should be in any car regardless of vacations, just in case. It goes without saying that you never know when you or someone else will need a boost and having charging cables in your trunk will take one stress off of any potential battery issues that can come up. 

Car jack

Along with the other items on this list that should be included in your car every day for just in case essentials, a car jack to be able to change a tire is important as well. 

Tire gauge

You never know when your tires may get flat or lose air. Having a tire gauge so that you can check and tell if they need more air or got a puncture is important to have for any car owner. 

A basic tool kit is great to have, for road trips and for every day driving to ensure a smooth time for everyone, especially while out and about on a road trip. If something breaks, it’s good to have tools around that can be used to help fix it. 

Fire extinguisher

Dry Stop is a must have for car owners and road trip takers in case there is ever a fire of any kind. It helps to smother and stop any potential fire issues that arise and works safely while not taking up as much space as a regular fire extinguisher – plus is user friendly. It’s a must have essential on road trips. 

First aid kit

This goes without saying, but a first aid kit is never a bad thing to have during a road trip, camping, or in general. Car accidents, bumps and scrapes while hiking, or anything in-between – a good first aid kit can help keep peace of mind and help with any issues that may arise. 

Foldable shovel/window scraper

Most Canadians keep their scrapers and shovels in the car year round for good reason. The weather can be temperamental and that being said, it’s good to have one in your trunk for any emergencies, especially if your road trip is a long one across the country, through the mountains, or you’re heading up north for the weekend. 

Windshield washer fluid

This is best purchased at your newest gas station or Canadian Tire, etc. for what works best with your car and what you need it for, the time of year. It’s good to keep some stocked in the back in case you need to refill during the summer with bugs or in the winter with ice and rain. 

Hand and feet warmers

Hand and feet warmers are a great thing to keep in the glove compartment or in a travelling bag to ensure that you stay nice and warm during your trip, especially in the winter. Having good quality hand warmers and feet warmers can be indispensable. 

Reusable water bottle

We all have our share of reusable water bottles around, and they really shine during road trips. It’s no wonder they are so popular. You don’t have to worry about throwing out trash or recycling while out on a trip and can take them camping, hiking, etc. while they stay nice and cold (or hot if it’s a winter trip!) 


Offline maps 

Be sure to download any Google Maps routes and trips you’re planning on taking before the trip, since there are a lot of areas in Canada that will lose service completely, not just Wi-Fi. Always be prepared to have them downloaded and accessible offline. 

Physical map 

Physical maps of areas you’re planning on going to can be found in gas stations and elsewhere, and are a good alternative to have in case phones die or tablets, etc. have any issues. You can never go wrong with a physical map. 

Entertainment essentials

Offline games on phone 

Any offline games on your phone you enjoy playing should be downloaded and available to play in case you lose service! 

Portable charging bank/battery

A portable charging bank is essential to keep phones and other electronics charged and ready to go when needed, especially on long trips where you might not have access to any power or outlets to charge your devices. It’s good to keep one or two on you extra, just in case of any accidents or long trips away from technology. 

Nintendo Switch

A Nintendo Switch is the perfect way to pass the time, with games and apps available offline. They’re amazing for adults and kids alike, so there’s no worries when boredom during long stretches of car rides and road trips arise. The Nintendo Switch Lite has no removeable parts to worry about like the full Switch has, so it’s perfect for the car and road tripping. 

Car-friendly board games/puzzles

There are car friendly games and puzzles available in stores across Canada, including puzzles that have magnetic parts to ensure they don’t go flying during car rides, same with chess, and classic games like Clue and Monopoly! Be sure to stock up on some before the road trip starts for some non-electronic entertainment that beats staring out the window. 

How to plan a road trip on Google Maps

Thanks to technology making road trip planning much easier now in 2024, you can easily use the Google Maps trip planner to design your own ideal vacation. You can use Google’s app or web interface to:  

  • Add destination points 
  • Color code locations that you pin 
  • Get directions to multiple destinations 
  • Plan a perfect trip 

To do so, start by going to and on your ‘My maps’ dashboard, click the ‘Create a New Map’ button. Google Maps will open up and you’ll have a plethora of options available. To start, give your map a name. Click the ‘Untitled Map’ and a box will pop up that allows you to change the name and description. 


Once you’ve done that, it’s time to start adding locations. 


Now, for the main part – adding everywhere you’re planning to go for your road trip. This will assume that you’ve already chosen a list of places and just need to place them, but if not – take time to look around Maps and choose some interesting locations and sightseeing spots. Having a list will make the process much easier and quicker. 

In Maps, your locations are referred to as ‘Pins’. To start adding Pins, use the search bar to look for a place of interest. Maps will zoom in on the place you search up, and from there you’ll have an option to ‘Add to Map’. Click (or tap if you’re on a smartphone/tablet) and the point of interest will be added to your map layer. 

If you want to keep them organized, each pin/point of interest can be customized by colour and icon. If you hover over a location, a paint can icon will appear. If you click that, it will open the customization options including icons for museums, gardens, monuments, and more – there is a wide array to choose from. It does make it easier to see what is what at a glance, which is especially helpful when you have a lot of stops or different locations to see. 



Once we’ve added some pins and places we’re excited to explore, we can further organize it to take some headache away from it being a scattered mess – with layers/categories! It can help keep track of everything you’d like to do. 

You can separate them into layers or categories however you’d like, such as by day or by area. For example, if you’re just going on a short day trip or weekend to a specific area, you can separate your layers by city and points of interest within that city/area you’re going to. If it’s a longer trip across the country, you can have layers set by each day and what you intend to see each day. 

All you have to do to add a layer is simply click, ‘Add layer’ and go from there. There is a limit of 10 layers, and each map you create in My Maps can have up to 2,000 separate pins. 


If you’re traveling with friends or family, you can share your map and itinerary with them.   

Here’s how to do so:  

  • Click the Share+ button on the map you just created 
  • You can share your map via Facebook, email, or Twitter. You can also embed your map on a website or similar if you have one, such as a blog. 

 To access all your hard work on your phone, be sure to have the Google Maps app installed.  

  • Open the Google Maps app 
  • Tap on the ‘Saved’ button 
  • At the bottom tap on ‘Maps’ 
  • Then choose your trips map from the list! 

It’s that easy. Keep in mind that you cannot create and edit them with the app, you must do that on a browser (even within your phones browser) 

Making the road trip fun and what to do to ease boredom

While road trips are all supposed to be fun and games, the truth is that if you’re driving for long distances, especially across the great white north, there will be a lot of downtime and long roads with nothing in sight for hours at a time. Couple that with the fact that you won’t always have wi-fi or cell service signals and you’ll have to fend for yourself with offline entertainment and games. 

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Updated date

June 6th, 2024

About the author

Nikki Lyka

Nikki Lyka is a reviewer and writer at that’s written about a variety of subjects from the best fantasy novels to travel guides and blogs. When she isn’t researching and typing up a storm, she’s generally found winding down with tea, video games, practicing aerial hoop, photography, and reading good horror novels.
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