Florida’s long highways and scenic routes make it ideal for road trips and knowing what to pack for a Florida road trip can make all the difference.
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably itching to “safely” get out of the house after months of being cooped up indoors. But with the current pandemic, there is a lot more to consider to protect not only yourself but others as well.
As Florida is starting to reopen from the COVID-19 shutdowns, many are taking the opportunity to road trip, explore areas closer to home, and support small businesses that have been struggling the past few months – especially those that rely heavily on tourism.
In this packing list guide, you’ll find all the essentials needed for a Florida road trip in 2020, along with some sage road trip advice for traveling in Florida. So read up, keep this Florida road trip essentials checklist handy, and let’s get to the list!
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Florida Road Trip Car Essentials
Keep these road trip essentials in your car to ensure a hassle-free trip.
1. License, Registration, and Insurance Policy Documents
Whether you’re taking a day trip from Miami or visiting from elsewhere, it’s essential to have these documents in your car at all times.
Depending on where you’re going in Florida, you might end up on long stretches of road with cellular dead zones, so be sure your entire route is well mapped.
You can do so by downloading the free Maps.me app, which provides navigation without an internet connection. Download route-specific offline Google maps, or better yet, bring an old-fashioned road trip paper map if your phone dies or you are lost.
Long road trips in Florida means lots of toll roads, so consider getting a SunPass – Florida’s prepaid toll collection pass. It’ll make the whole journey a lot smoother.
4. Emergency Cash
It is wise to have a small amount of cash on hand while on a road trip, especially if headed to a small town or region. Things happen: cash-only establishments (small shops, cafes, parking, etc.), you can’t find an ATM, your wallet is misplaced, lost, or stolen, etc.
Having extra cash on hand is always a wise travel planning tip, even when not on a road trip!
Road Trip Packing List Essentials
For maximum safety and convenience on your Florida road trip, make sure to bring these travel necessities.
5. Phone Car Mount
Taking your eyes off the road to fumble with your phone is a huge no-no. If you need to check your phone, a car mount will help you keep an eye on the road at all times.
6. Emergency Roadside Kit
You can assemble a car kit yourself or buy an all-in-one emergency roadside kit for peace of mind. From jumper cables to pressure gauges, an emergency roadside kit is essential for safety on long road trips. You don’t want to forget this!
7. First Aid Kit
Even if you aren’t going on a road trip, you should always have a first aid kit in your car with essential band-aids, bandages, antiseptic wipes, and antibiotic cream for minor emergencies.
8. Day Pack
A day pack is an excellent road trip essential for carrying belongings such as wallets, phones, keys, water bottles, and sunscreen, especially while participating in Florida outdoor activities.
There are many styles, all with different advantages, with the Osprey Day Pack being a reliable favorite.
9. Reusable Water Bottle
Besides being great for the environment, and a necessity for staying hydrated in the Florida heat, you’ll also save a lot of money on bottled water.
A cooler keeps your drinks from turning grossly warm in the car. Hint: Transfer your smoothies, iced coffee, or any other cold beverages to a well-insulated travel mug to keep them cool and prevent spills.
Especially useful if your activities include the likes of Everglades National Park Shark Valley.
12. Windproof Umbrella
Sudden rain is very much a thing in Florida, especially in the summer. A lightweight poncho or rain jacket will also do the trick on rainy days.
Road Trip Entertainment Essentials
A Florida road trip can be pretty long, depending on where you’re coming from, so you’ll want to have ample entertainment for everyone in the car – whether traveling with your children, friends, spouse, or even going on a solo trip.
13. Portable Charger
Adding a portable charger is essential to any road trip packing list. You won’t always have access to places where you can plug in your charger. And a single charge may not be enough for the phone on long travel days, so it’s crucial to have a backup power source on hand. I highly recommend the Anker Powercore Powerbank for its reliability.
Tablets like an Apple iPad or the Amazon Fire can be the best road trip travel companion during downtimes. Bring your tablet along as your dedicated entertainment system to avoid draining your phone’s battery.
15. E-Readers/Audio Books
I suggest sticking to audiobooks for the car; e-readers like the Kindle Paperwhite are great for lounging around at the beach or poolside!
Kindle Unlimited is an excellent option with unlimited reading and audiobooks listening on any device. Sign up for your first month (30-day) free trial here!
For road trips, I recommend using a waterproof action camera like the GoPro Hero 8 since it’s lighter than a DSLR and higher quality than a smartphone.
17. Road Trip Playlist
The songs you put on your playlist can make or break the mood for the road trip. Choose wisely!
Florida Road Trip Packing List Comfort Items
Add these health and beauty products to your Florida road trip packing list to keep you feeling fresh throughout your Florida vacation.
18. Hand Sanitizer
Pandemic or not, hand sanitizer is something you don’t want to leave out your road trip packing list
19. Bug Spray/Inspect Repellent
Florida’s balmy weather attracts all sorts of pesky insects, so I highly recommend having insect repellent on hand at all times.
Even if you aren’t planning on heading to the beach, a good sunscreen (at least SPF 30) is necessary if you’re outdoors.
21. Lip Balm with SPF
The skin on your lips is thinner and sensitive to UV rays, so a lip balm with SPF is just as essential as sunscreen.
22. Toiletry Bag
Store your toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, and any other hygiene products in a small toiletry bag to protect your luggage from the dreaded exploding shampoo bottle.
23. Travel Blanket
You can fold it up extra small for easy storage. (Hint: keep it in your trunk organizer!)
24. Travel Pillow
Arriving at your destination with a super sore neck is a definite mood-killer.
25. Quick Dry Towel
There’s nothing more annoying than having to stuff your not-quite-dry towel back in your luggage and having it dampen everything inside. A microfiber quick-dry towel – makes a huge difference.
26. Beach Bag
Before the trip, I suggest putting everything you’ll need for the beach (e.g., your sunscreen, beach mat, and towel) in a beach bag so you can get right into the sun and sand when you arrive!
Clothing and Accessories to Pack for a Florida Road Trip
Here are the essential clothes and shoes to bring for Florida’s subtropical weather.
27. Lightweight Layers
Florida is quite warm so stick to comfortable, breathable fabrics whenever possible. Also, go for t-shirts, capris, and shorts – better skip the long sleeves and denim jeans during the daytime.
28. Maxi Dress/Sun Dress
Breezy maxi sundresses like these are cute, comfortable, and effortless choice.
29. Rain Jacket/Coat
You’ll want to bring a waterproof coat or jacket around for any unexpected tropical showers. I like the Columbia Arcadia rain jacket for this; it’s durable and comes in tons of colors.
Even if you’re expecting summer temps, it can get a little chilly in buildings and evenings, so make sure to pack a lightweight jacket or cardigan for evenings and activities.
31. Comfy Walking Sandals
These are a must when exploring Florida. My personal favorites are the Megnya sandals, which have arch support, are lightweight, and have a comfortable shape — ideal for long walks.
32. Water Shoes
Water shoes are ideal for the beach, kayaking, or even hiking trails with many water hazards.
It isn’t called the Sunshine State for anything!
34. Visor or Sun Hat
See number 33.
Even if you aren’t planning on swimming, these won’t take up a lot of space in your luggage, so I suggest bringing them anyway – you never know!
And that’s it! Once you’ve got everything in this guide, your Florida road trip should be a total breeze. I hope this packing list proves useful for you and gets you excited to get back on the road for some sun, sand, and a much-needed change of scenery.
And if you haven’t quite decided where to go yet, here’s a great list of some of my Florida getaway destinations to explore. Florida is waiting for you!