7 Car Accessories for a Great Summer Road Trip - Reviewed!

All reviewed road trip car essentials items pictured togetherAll reviewed road trip car essentials items pictured together
Published on
November 7, 2023
Road trips are great for spending time with your loved ones, unwinding mentally, and enjoying the journey as much as the destination.

However, making sure your road trip is fun and smooth takes a lot of forethought, from having your car inspected down to equipping your car with all the right accessories. That’s why we’ve created this list of our favorite road trip accessories and reviewed them for quality, long-term value, and price point. 

Portable Jump Starter Box 

First up, we have an essential accessory that should be in every car during a road trip: a jump starter box. There’s no worse vacation-killer than a dead car battery when no one is around to give you a jump. Investing in a jump box can prevent you from getting stranded by a dead battery, keeping you safer and reducing time delayed by this common incident. 

The Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry is a reasonably priced jump starter box (~$131.59) that our guys in the shop use to jump the cars they’re working on. This essential accessory item recommendation is coming from our own experience of trial-and-error, and by far this is the best option we’ve found so far.

Before purchase, make sure that your car’s battery is 12-volts, as this model won’t work with a 6 volt car battery.

  • Comes with a manufacturer warranty.
  • Reliable and powerful jump box. The smaller, lightweight boxes often don’t have enough power to jump a car.
  • Easy to lay in your car’s engine bay while you use it. 
  • Every part is made of quality material.
  • Pretty heavy as an item.
  • Jaw clamps are a little too thick to clip on to bolt nuts inside the engine bay. If you have a car that doesn’t have any exposed, unpainted metal in the engine bay, finding a place to clip your black jaw clamp could be tricky.
Gateway Auto Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars

Tire Inflator

If you have a slow leak or your tire’s air pressure depletes while you’re on the road, having an electric tire pump can be your best friend until you can get to a mechanic. Driving on a flat tire can reduce fuel efficiency and wear your tires unevenly, so having a portable tire inflator at the ready is always a good idea.

The Chant Power Cordless Tire Pump goes for about $60 and can pay for itself in time saved and ease-of-use.

  • Easy to use as a tool with an easy to read gauge.
  • Extra long car port plug-in cable so you can reach both back and front tires. 
  • Comes with multiple air nozzle options so you can fill more than one type of tire with it. 
  • Comes in an organisable, spacious bag to carry all the equipment in.
  • Battery takes 3-5 hours to charge, which could be an issue if you don’t have the car port plug-in cable on hand.
Gateway Auto Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars 

Universal Car Headrest Mount

Gotta keep the group entertained! Having a headrest mount that hangs behind the driver or passenger seats is a convenient way to make watching movies or streaming episodes more enjoyable. No one wants to be craning their neck down or holding their arm up for hours in the car, which gives this simple investment item an immediate value on your next road trip, and the next!

The TFY Universal Car Headrest Mount is an adaptable, silicon-based holder that can accommodate both phones or tablets, affordably priced at $25.

  • High-quality stretchy band material with a tight hold on the headrest.
  • Super strong velcro - your phone or tablet isn’t going ANYWHERE. 
  • Secure grip rubber holders that don’t impair the screen visibility or block the buttons. 
Cons: N/A
Gateway Auto Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

Road Trip Tip: Pre-downloading your entertainment content prevents streaming lag and doesn’t burn up data in roaming areas. If there will be multiple people on your road trip, try asking them all to download their favorite content too, so you’ll have a variety of entertaining content for everyone.

Auxiliary Power Inverter 

Electronics like phones, tablets, and computers are often necessary for navigation or for checking in at home or work. However, most older cars don’t have multiple charging port types available like newer cars do, so a portable power inverter is necessary for long road trips.

The BESTEK Power Inverter can plug right into your car’s auxiliary power outlet and has multiple plug-in options for your electronics, for only around $36. 

  • Powerful charging capability, able to charge two laptops at the same time.
  • Multiple types of charging ports for different types of electronics. 
  • The cooling fan isn’t loud. 
  • Great for older models of cars that don’t have two-pronged or USB/C plug in ports built-in.
  • Not a real con, but a disclaimer: Do NOT block the cooling fan while the device is on. This prevents dangerous/damaging overheating. 
Gateway Auto Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

Car Garbage Can 

Sometimes the empty tissue box trick won’t cut it as your car’s garbage can during a long road trip. Having a trash can with a lid and made of leak-resistant material can prevent gross smells or liquids from spilling out into your car, so if you’ll be having any meals in your vehicle it’s definitely worth your investment. 

The HOTOR Car Trash Can is very adaptable, even being useful for other organization purposes after your road trip is over. Goes for less than $14 on Amazon. 

  • Easy to assemble but doesn’t come apart easily, so the plastic inserts on the side won’t get lost randomly. 
  • Comes with two trash bag liners but everyday plastic bags can also work when you’re finished with those.
  • Really secure magnetic clasps on the inside to secure the can liners, so you won’t risk the liner falling and your trash dirtying up the can itself. 
  • Insulated interior to keep trash from warming up and smelling.
  • Nice pockets on the sides of the can to keep extra items.
  • Could also function as an insulated snack-carrier, in a pinch. 
  • A little bulky when clipped to the back of the driver/passenger headrests, so maybe consider securing it somewhere lower in your car. 
Gateway Auto Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars 

Drop Stop 

We’ve all done it - dropped your phone or something else important (or food, let’s be honest) in the cracks around your seat. But say goodbye to that irritation, because we’re about to  introduce you to our absolute favorite life-hack product!

The Drop Stop is a simple car accessory that keeps phones, money, food, and anything else you can think of from being lost to the “Carmuda Triangle” around your driver and passenger seats. Value of $25 on Amazon.

  • Easy to insert, stays secure, and fits almost any model of car. 
  • High quality material and dark color looks good in most car interiors. 
  • Comes with a couple other Drop Stop branded items, like their flashlight and sticky-grip phone pad. 
  • It’s a convenience item AND safety measure to help keep your eyes on the road. 
  • We won’t take points off for this, but it only covers the front and passenger seat sides where the belts clip in, for obvious reasons. But sometimes people drop their stuff on the door sides too! 
  • Disclaimer: Make sure you vacuum/detail the areas before you insert the Drop Stop fillers. Super easy to get crumbs or other messes embedded on them. 
Gateway Auto Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

First Aid Kit 

No one enjoys a road trip with an untreated injury, so bringing along a high-quality first aid kit is an essential car accessory.

The General Medi 2-in-1 First Aid Kit comes with 258 pieces, from saline washes to tweezers. This kit includes a larger 215-piece kit and a small, portable 43-piece mini-kit, which is perfect for road trips out into nature. Less than $30 on Amazon.

  • Main kit is well-organized and both kits are very portable. 
  • Comes with the basics (saline washes, bandages) and genuine emergency equipment (arm slings, a body heat blanket, CPR bag). 
  • Includes useful pamphlets/single sheets for emergency situation directions. 
  • Has enough room for adding your own allergy/pain medications.
    (FYI: Pre-packed first aid kits should not include these types of pills, because the kit will probably be around for a while and in a lot of different environments, and the pills could go bad. Always BYOP!) 
  • Some of the materials were cheap, specifically the compass that was completely useless.
Gateway Auto Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars 

Some Extra Road Trip Tips: 

Bring a Window Shade, Sunglasses, and Travel Pillow

Your passengers will probably be taking a snooze in the car at some point, so keep travel-sized pillows and any other sleeping accessories within reach. Sunglasses and window shades can also prevent eye strain when the sun is particularly harsh or angled toward you, so don’t forget to pack those for everyone on the trip.

Use a Car Air Freshener

Even if you’re not someone who usually has an air freshener in their car, you might want to consider it for a road trip with more than one person. You’ll probably be passing farm animals, and for sure someone will be passing gas in your car, so the fresh scent of pine (or whatever scent you like best) is sure to be appreciated many times over.

Bring extra tissues

The #1 underrated in-car essential is the tissue box. From runny noses to random wiping needs, someone's bound to need a tissue at some point. You won't notice it being gone when you don't need it, but you sure will miss it when you do.

Before You Hit the Road…

Have you had your car looked over top-to-bottom? Extended periods of driving can potentially damage cars that are not road trip ready. Our Summer Road Trip Car Inspection Checklist is a helpful guide in assessing your vehicle before it takes you on your next adventure.

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