Road trips can be a lot of fun when you are fully prepared to take one. While you can surely have a good time by just jumping in the car ill prepared. Having these essentials can make the trip much more smoothly and much more fun for everyone involved.
You can really do a road trip with or without all these listed below. Maybe just pack a few or all or even none. It’s the journey that is important. Not the gear that gets you there.
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Now we won’t be wasting your time and mine by telling you to bring your cell phone or wallet. Cause unless you are going off the grid you will be packing that on your own and if you get out of state and realize that you forget one of those. Well a packing list clearly isn’t going to help you.
Now I personally wear glasses. Sunglasses are something that is such an afterthought for me that I barely ever remember them. Good thing my vehicle has a sunglasses holder near the visor.
I just leave the sunglasses in there so I never have to worry about forgetting them. You should do the same. Either a spare pair or your normal pair. Having sunglasses helps if you are travelling East or West. You might still need them heading North or South but nowhere near as long as you do when you are heading East or West.
Yes I know you have your phone with you and google maps is all loaded up. Well tell me what you are going to do when you are stuck in the middle of the desert with no cell service and lost? If you had yourself a PAPER map of the state or Road Atlas (I like this one) you never have to worry. While you are there also pick up the 50 states, 5000 ideas book. It’s loaded with ideas for while you are on the road.
Just remember to fill up your gas tank and any gas station you see when you are traveling in rural desert roads. I once didn’t want to pay close to $4 a gallon coming back from Area 51 (Nov 2010) and almost ran out of gas coming back. The next day we took a drive out to the Grand Canyon and I must have filled up 3 or 4 times.
Having an umbrella or some ponchos at the ready in the car can save you from getting soaking wet while either taking a look at some crazy roadside attraction or running into a store. Having an umbrella at the ready is helpful. But if you forget…….
Not only should you have a towel in your suitcase/duffel bag/backpack, you should have a towel at the ready on your road trip. Who knows when that downpour will happen and you forgot the umbrella in the car or… oops…. Back at home.
Maybe it’s the middle of summer and the AC broke for the 10th time this trip and you see a refreshing lake and jump in. A towel will help you drive off or at the very least keep your seats from getting soaked.
Let’s just say that not all rest stops will have this in stock. Do you really want to be that person? Bring a roll from home so that is one less thing you have to worry about.
Much like the toilet paper you are better safe than sorry. Chances are if you have kids you have a bottle of three already in the car. If not get some. I’ve stopped at plenty of rest stops up and down I-95 that didn’t have soap in the bathrooms.
FIRST AID KIT
Whether you buy one (like this one) or make your own. The dollar store has a lot of good things to pick up to add to your first aid kit.
A first aid kit should already be in your car but if for some reason it is not. GET ONE. You never know when you might need it.
You never know when you might need cash or exact change when hitting up a toll booth. Maybe you need to get some air or see an awesome food truck but they only take cash.
Many of us today don’t carry or even use cash that often. When hitting the road you should ALWAYS bring a little paper money with you.
For any road trip you should invest in a cooler bag. Not only will they help keep your drinks cold. They can even store some snacks that need to stay a little cool. Plus you could always grab a few ziplock bags and put that left over pizza in. This way you can save a little of the half eaten pizza for later.
If you want to use a hard plastic cooler that works too. I just find the cooler bags can fit better in a packed car. Especially if you take out the insert.
You never know when you will need one. Taking off a tag from a new shirt. Opening up those plastic cases or finally getting that Slim Jim opened. A knife can be used for almost anything. Of course be careful.
Like a knife you never know when you might need it but will be glad you had it. Maybe the strap on your bag broke. Sure it won’t look the prettiest but duct tape will get the job done.
Packing Cubes are the perfect solution for a problem you never think of. So you are doing a week long road trip to Wherever USA. Each night you will be stopping at a new city and staying one night at the hotel or camp ground.
Instead of lugging out the big fat suitcase or duffel bag. How about pulling out a small prepacked cube with what you need in that city. Not only do packing cubes take up less space than a suitcase. They are easier to cram into anywhere in your car.
I like to use my GoPro kind of like a dash-cam. I set it up to a .05 second time lapse and it gives me a pretty good video of my trip. Plus when you get to your destination you have a handy little camera to capture whatever you may want to and with a little editing you can make some amazing home movies. Of course a GoPro can’t compare to….
Sure your phone can take some pretty amazing photos but it won’t beat out what a DSLR like the Canon T7I can do. Using a zoom lens with a DSLR is way better than using the Digital zoom on your smartphone.
Plastic bags like the ones you get at the store is one of the single biggest items you should always have with you on read trips. From holding trash to dirty shoes. These plastic bags will come in hand more often than you think.
Like many things on this list you just never know when you might need one. You can’t always rely on your phone. Plus a flashlight is much easier to hold on your own while everyone is sleeping in the car and you have a flat tire.
A good travel mug will help keep your coffee hotter longer and keep extra trash out of your car. The YETI rambler 20oz tumbler is amazing. It is worth the price. It kept my drink nice and cold when it was 90 out for easily over 2 hours.
Getting a travel mug is a no brainier. Do you really want 3 coffee cups rolling around on the floor boards at 5am?
Gum can come in hand for a couple of different reasons. One you are heading to Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida where you will not find gum sold anywhere. It will also help unpop your eyes while traveling in the mountains. Gum is even helpful after a meal when you can yet brush your teeth.
Who doesn’t want a great playlist while on a road trip? Heck, I want a good playlist just on my way to work. You know your style and what you like but we have a few suggestions for you with our top 10 road trip songs.
Again this is something that you should already have in your car. If you don’t you will want to pick at least one of these up. If they are cheap ones you might want to pick up two.
Chances are if you are doing a road trip you will be visiting some wacky and crazy sites. Most of these will be outside and depending on the location can have tons of bugs flying around. Unless you are a dryer sheet kind of person you will want to have bug spray on hand.
The game that comes to mind is Trivial Pursuit. You can have your A Driver (passenger) ask you the different questions on the cards. No need for the game pieces all you need is the question cards.
The driver can focus on the road as there is nothing for them to read or see. Games like this can help a drive stay awake and alert.
Either you buy a case of it before you leave home or bring some refillable water bottles. The most important thing we can do every day is make sure we drink plenty of water. This is especially true on a road trip. You’ll be surprised how far you can go on a road trip without having anything to drink and not even notice it.
This is where you can go wild. Your going on vacation after all so bring whatever it is that you like. If it’s a 10 pound chocolate bar do it. Carrots and humus or some nuts have at it. You’ll be better off if you pick this stuff up before you even leave. Plus you’ll save so much money getting snacks at the grocery store rather than the convenience store.
Spare tire, jumper cables, quart of oil, air pump, ect. Most of these you should already have in your car before you even begin your trip. Grabbing an extra quart of oil or two or an extra bottle of windshield washer fluid is also helpful. You just never know when you are going to need it or see someone else on the side of the road who didn’t review our list and is need of some help.
Road trips used to be how a lot of us traveled as kids. Today more and more people are flying. Sure you get to your destination faster but you lose that adventure. After all, the journey is all a part of the adventure.
America and the rest of the world is full of fun, interesting, wacky, unique places. Go on and slow down and enjoy the journey by embarking on a road trip instead of flying. You may even wonder why you haven’t been doing it all along and with our list of 25 road trip essentials it will make the trip much more enjoyable for all those involved.
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