Planning a Road Trip? 30 Road Trip Essentials You Need to Pack

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This list of road trip necessities is a simple guide to what you should make sure you have with you before you head off in search of road trip fun.

What we have here is a list of 30 road trip essentials which you should tick-off before you set-off. However, before we get to this list of must-pack items, we should consider other stuff we have to do before we can finally hit the road on our road trip adventure.

First things first; check the vehicle. Your entire cross-country road trip depends on the reliability and safety of your vehicle; so, check everything.

Check the tires – but don’t just check the tire pressures (Slightly higher than rated for long drives on smooth roads, slightly lower than rated for rough tracks and mountain roads.) Also, check the tires themselves. Check the walls and the tread depth. Check for bulges and blisters. Check for cuts and scrapes. Check for anything sticking out (or sticking in), which simply shouldn’t be there. And check the spare.

Check that you have a spare, that it is in good condition, and that it is inflated to slightly over-pressure – you can adjust it down to the correct pressure when you fit it. Try to make sure you have a full-size spare if at all possible – if you are heading off on a DIY road trip into the boonies, you don’t want to be driving 200 miles on a limp-along before you get to the nearest tire shop.

Check all the lights, all the locks, all the fuses, and make sure the dashboard is clear of any alerts. When you check the spare, check the jack – not simply that you have one. Check that it works and also make sure you know where the jacking points are and how they work, and make sure they are all strong enough to hold the vehicle.

Check the battery and the HT leads. Check the water level in the cooling system, check the oil level in the sump, check the gas pressure in the air-con and the break-fluid level in the braking system.

And, most important of all, check the sound system is working and check the radio – try to set it up so that it will interrupt whatever you are listening to with local area road and weather bulletins. Around a quarter of all road accidents in the US are caused by bad road and/or weather conditions, so stay alert and stay safe. If you are heading out on a serious USA style road-trip, then you might think about putting your vehicle into the shop for a day, and tell them to get it into tip-top condition.

The second thing to check is yourself. Are you fit enough, well enough, and healthy enough for the trip? If you are on medication, check whether that can affect your driving. Remember, going off on an extended road trip is very different from your regular drive to work or to the golf course or the school run. Prescription drugs (and indeed any other kind of drugs) can affect your concentration, depth perception, night vision, and your judgment of speed and distance. This is especially true if you are tired, so stop and swap as often as possible. If you are going on a solo road trip, remember to set yourself definite time and distance limits between rest breaks. Falling asleep at the wheel kills upwards of 6000 Americans every year, and it is not just yourself who might die.

Earlier, we asked you to check whether you are well enough and healthy enough. There is a difference. Health is your long-term condition: your blood pressure, your vision, your blood chemistry, all your basic biological functions.

Being well is all about how you are on the day. On the morning you are planning to take off on your DIY road trip, if you wake up with a streaming cold or a sweaty fever or a splitting headache, then you must decide to postpone. No matter how much the inconvenience or disappointment, you must very seriously consider delaying your departure. And don’t pretend to yourself that medication will see you through. Most medication makes you slow and drowsy – and that is the last thing that any of us need if we are heading out onto the highway.

Looking at how we should prepare ourselves for our long-distance travel road trip, that’s simple.

NO alcohol the day before you leave and make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Or, if you are leaving after work, try to grab a nap before you leave, and make sure your first rest stop is nearby.

What should I eat before a long road trip? When driving on a long-travel road trip, it is very easy to fall into very bad eating habits, but you should try to keep things as normal as possible. Have a normal breakfast before you leave for example, but drink some extra water or OJ (Not coffee!) Drinking a little extra before you take off is a good idea because that will ensure your first comfort break is not too far down the road. Try to do this every day – it is a great safety measure and helps to keep you refreshed and relaxed while traveling around on your USA road trip.

People also often ask – What kind of food should I bring on a road trip? The answer to that is very simple – don’t! Most people heading off on a DIY road trip pack their vehicles with all kinds of sticky, salty or sweet rubbish. Stuff they would not usually even look at. Why would you want to eat unhealthy garbage just because you are on a cross country road trip? So, don’t. Make sure you have plenty of water on board, take some gum if you like to chew – it helps concentration – but other than that, if you feel like a cup of coffee, then stop somewhere and buy one, and when you get hungry, stop somewhere and buy something which is a regular part of your diet.

The true art of the road trip is to remember that you don’t win prizes for driving further than the next guy, you win prizes for getting where you are headed, and doing so safely. Part of ensuring that is to take plenty of rest breaks.

If you need to pee – take a break.

If you fancy a coffee – take a break.

Hungry? – take a break.

See an interesting rock formation – take a break.

Glimpse the reflection of sun-dappled fall-yellowed leaves shimmering in a translucent lake – take a break.

Here is the last road trip tip before we look at our 30 road trip essentials. Don’t pretend to yourself that you have taken plenty of coffee breaks and that coffee will keep you awake and see you through to your final destination. Coffee really isn’t very good at that. The very first time you feel your head snap back and your eyes snap open, pull off the road and take a nap.

Otherwise, the first bend you miss could well become your FINAL destination.

Now let’s talk about what you need to pack into your automobile for your road trip – the long road trip essentials.

These road trip essentials clearly depend to some extent on the size of your vehicle. Although it is possible to head off on an exciting road trip adventure in a 1st generation Mini. I can’t say that I would recommend it, and indeed I would, in fact, recommend either a mid-size SUV or a full-sized sedan, depending on how adventurous you want to be.

 Either way, I am going to assume that your chosen vehicle is reasonably modern, reasonably reliable, and reasonably large. Large enough for most of the 30 essential road trip items we have listed here, even if some of the items have to be at the smaller and of their spectrum. However, as well as all the highly necessary stuff mentioned below, there is also, of course, yourself and your luggage and, probably, your traveling companion(s) and their luggage.  Now we’re all adults here, so I am not going to presume to tell you what, or how much to pack. I will make two points though.

Firstly – people almost always pack too much. Remember that unless you are heading into utter desolation, there will almost always be somewhere to buy an extra pair of socks or a gallon of Gatorade. So, don’t worry too much about anything you might forget or neglect. If it turns out to be one of your road trip necessities, you can probably buy it somewhere along the road trip route.

Secondly:  pack more for a winter road trip and less in summer. In summer to stay cool, you can simply take things off. In the winter you can simply put more things on – provided you remembered to bring them with you. In winter, always be prepared for the worst weather you can imagine, and then add a little bit extra – just in case.

So now we are ready to trim out our vehicle with all our road trip essentials, and we start, unsurprisingly, with money.

#1 Cash – Your Own Currency and Your Destination’s Currency

If you ask, “How much does a US road trip cost?” I would have to tell you – it doesn’t work that way. The only way to manage this is to set yourself a budget and work hard to stay within it. You might call it $100 a day and put an overrun margin on that of 20%. If you have $2000 to spend, then you can head off for two weeks, and if you stay on budget, still have money left when you get home.

If you ask me “How much would the perfect road trip cost?” I’d say, “Give me a million bucks, and I’ll organize it up for you.” But that would only be the set-up fee.

Although most of our spending these days are plastic or electronic, nothing talks like real paper/fiber money. This is especially true if you are heading over a border somewhere and have to talk money in a different language. The road trip rule is; always take plenty of cash with you on a road trip, and if you are going somewhere foreign take a bunch of their money too. People say time is money, but that means that money is also time, and when you are on a road trip, having real foldable money can often save a great deal of time.

#2  On board safe

If you are going to take a bunch of money with you on a road trip in the USA, then you need to keep it somewhere safe. You don’t want to have to wear a money belt all the time, so the best bet is to install a safe in your vehicle.

If you think about it, you are likely to have loads of valuable things with you on your road trip, cameras, phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, watches, jewelry – and you don’t want to be constantly fretting about them. So, install a safe in your vehicle. Keep it secure and keep it hidden or disguised. Any opportunistic thief seeing a safe in your vehicle might be very seriously tempted, so make sure your safe is either out of sight or disguised as a big box of bug spray – or something equally innocent and uninteresting.

#3  Document holder – with ALL necessary documentations

Before you go off on any exciting road trip adventure, as well as checking your vehicle, you should also check all your vehicle documentation. Your Insurance docs, the registration and ownership documents from your local DMV. You also, of course, need your license and perhaps other personal IDs, health documents, and so forth. Basically, any documents you might need, including your passport if you are venturing further afield, should be held in a clear Document holder file and properly locked in the safe. As always, keep your Driver’s License handy.)

#4  2 x traveling rugs

Traveling rugs have rather a gone out fashion. They started as a warm blanket to wrap around your legs when sitting outside in some of the very earliest automobiles, but this usage has all but vanished However they are incredibly useful: from snuggling up while someone else drives on your romantic road trip, to laying on the ground as the basis for a picnic, to acting as a shawl against the cool night air, acting as a sunshade, or simply as a wraparound while you change into your swimming gear. Never go on an extended road trip without your traveling rugs.

#5  2 x beach towels

Beach towels are rather like traveling rugs and can be used for many of the same purposes. The key difference, of course, is that beach towels are superbly hydrophilic while traveling rugs most emphatically are not. (Never try to dry yourself with a traveling rug when you are off on a road trip adventure. Traveling rugs are wool based, so you end up a horrible greasy mess from the wool’s natural oils, and covered in short curly fibers. You have to go back into the water just to clean yourself up.) Big Beach towels are for drying, and to protect your modesty, traveling rugs are for laying down or snuggling up.

#6  2 x collapsible shovels

What on earth is a collapsible shovel, and why on earth would I want ONE on my road trip travels, never mind two? Fair point, and if you are never going to venture off sun-softened asphalt, then you are right, you probably won’t need these. But the point is that there are three things which can stop a vehicle quite literally in its tracks – snow, sand and mud. Each of these can be handled with shovels, and on a long-distance road trip adventure, sometimes you have to, quite literally, dig yourself out of trouble.

A collapsible shovel is a piece of army kit, and is simply a robust little shovel that folds up small. We take two because if one breaks at least you will still be able to dig. More importantly however, sometimes it is necessary for two people to dig at the same time, even if there are only two in the vehicle. To get out of sand for example, select reverse gear, leave the engine at idle, dig out behind both rear wheels at the same time and, with luck, the vehicle will slowly edge its way backward out of the sand trap you drove it into as the grand finale of your road trip adventure.

#7 Inflatable mattress

Always, take an inflatable mattress with you on a road trip. It makes you independent of hotels, motels, and even friends with spare beds. With an inflatable mattress and a couple of traveling rugs, you can literally bed down anywhere. They are also great on the beach – so long as you make sure they don’t blow away – and they are fantastic on the water too, providing a floating sunbed, a dive-platform, and a social gathering point. Inflatable mattresses are great, don’t leave home without one. An inflatable mattress takes up very little room on your road trip vehicle, adds enormously to the fun, and makes you almost completely independent.

#8  Inflatable pillows

Surprisingly perhaps, the inflatable pillows are NOT for use with the inflatable mattress, which generally comes with built-in pillows. No these are just pillows. No matter how organized and well-intentioned your road trip is, you will at some point end up sleeping in the car. Even if it’s a sleep-drive-sleep-drive swap fest – with one person sleeping while the other drives – you will end up sleeping in the car. Now, if you have a full-blown RV – no problem: but in anything else sleeping can be uncomfortable. However, with your inflatable pillow under your head and your traveling rug wrapped around you, then these road trip essentials will at least help to make you as comfortable as can be reasonably expected.

#9  Inflatable jacking system

What’s this about? We already checked the car has a jack that works. What is an inflatable jacking system, and why do we need one? Why is this a road trip necessity? Actually, we need an inflatable jacking system for the same reason we have the two shovels. Normal car jacks work just fine on plain old asphalt or even hard-packed cinder and stone surfaces, but they are both difficult and dangerous to use in, as we mentioned before, snow, sand and mud. An inflatable jacking system is a big, tough, inflatable pillow that is placed anywhere under the vehicle and then slowly inflated, usually from the car’s exhaust system. As the pillow expands, it lifts the vehicle up – for access, to change tires or to maneuver it out of a jam. It is designed to be used on any surface and is much more stable and therefore safer than any mechanical jack – an absolute lifesaver in any tricky circumstances which might develop on those more exciting off-road road trips.

Also read – Travelling with Kids: 15 Must Have Travel Items and Gadgets for Kids

#10  Powered inflator

With all these inflatables on our list it is definitely advisable to invest in a robust 12/110v air pump to blow things up with. For a safe and easy road trip invest in one which can reinflate your tires as well as blow up your inflatable mattress. These things are priceless when you are out in the wilds. Quite often, the best way to get your vehicle out of sand, snow or mud, is to let most of the air out of the tires to maximize the size of the contact patch and to maximize the grip and adhesion of the tread. This is great, but when you get the vehicle free, then you have to re-inflate the tires again, and this is kind of power inflator is what you need.

#11  Emergency tire re-inflation system

One of the things that is always worth having in your vehicle on any road trip, is a way of very quickly fixing a flat without having to dig out the jack and the spare tire. When you are off on a camping road trip for example, it should definitely be on your road trip essentials list. Changing a tire at the side of the road can be a time-consuming and patience-testing experience on a nice dry day in a flat and well-paved parking lot. But if you are stuck on the side of a dark and winding road in a howling gale and pouring rain, with eighteen wheelers pounding past you, you don’t really want to be stuck there for very long, exposed to the elements and to possible errant drivers. An aerosol-based puncture repair and tire inflation kit can fix the problem in just a few seconds and get you back on the road. I don’t recommend going the whole of the rest of your DIY road trip on the re-inflated tire, but it should get you to the next tire shop, or at least to a safe area where you can fit the spare in relative comfort and safety.

Also read – 10 Essential Tips for Your First Time Camping

#12  Diving knife

I am not going to mention weapons on this list. If you want to pack a hand pistol, that’s up to you. If you have two hunting rifles in a vehicle gun safe, that’s fine and dandy. If you bring two Uzzi’s and a Barrett M82 Sniper Rifle on your camping road trip, then that’s also up to you, though I might avoid sitting next to you around the campfire. But I do believe that it is always a good idea to carry a good strong sharp knife.

A good knife is useful in lots of different situations: from building a spit over the campfire to gutting the fish you caught for dinner, and from whittling new tent pegs to fighting off wild boar (Or killing one for dinner!). Knife laws vary hugely from state to state, but so long as you’re not actually wandering around waving a knife at people, the police won’t generally bother you. However, to be on the safe side, I recommend bringing along a good Diving Knife on your road trip, and keeping it in a bag with some flippers, a diving mask, and some fishing line. That way no-one ever asks any questions.

#13  200 yards of high-strength cord

I am not suggesting climbing rope here, unless you are specifically heading out on a mountain road trip for a face-to-face with the rocks, but a good length of lightweight high-strength cord can be incredibly useful in so many ways, from tying your luggage closed when you’ve packed in too many new T-shirts to rigging a jangling-can alarm system for your camp-site in the woods, or to building a tree larder. Always make sure you have some strong string and a good knife to cut it with. These should be on everyone’s road trip essentials list.

#14  Rechargeable/portable Bluetooth entertainment system

If you are going to be driving a lot, then you are probably going to be listening to music a lot on your car infotainment system during your USA road trip (Remember to rig it so that it interrupts your listening for all those important road and weather condition bulletins!) However, there are other times when you’re not in the car, when being able to play your own playlists for your own and other people’s entertainment can be fun and important. This is especially true when your road trip route has pitched you up at a seedy motel on the back-road to nowhere, and all you have in your room is an old black and white TV which insists on showing re-runs of “I Love Lucy,” and the nearest wi-fi is three counties over.

#15  10 way USB recharge pack and cables

How many devices do you carry around with you, which either run on USB power directly or which need to be recharged from a USB connection on a very regular basis? The answer to that question is probably quite simple – A lot! As part of your Road Trip Personal Survival Pack (See below) you will, of course, make sure you pack all the USB cables you require, but you will need somewhere to plug them all in. Something like a ten-way USB charging solution which will cover all your charging needs, both in your car and in that seedy motel room, is exactly what you need to stay charged and ready for road trip action.

#16  Large cool box

I don’t need to tell you the advantages of taking a cooler on your first-for-fun road trip – you probably already have two or three at home. The real question though is what to pack in it prior to departure. The answer to that is not to pack it full of beer and pretzels – you can buy them anywhere. Instead, pack a range of things you like which are home produced or local produce which will be hard to find where you are heading off to on your road trip. If you do some cooler planning, you will still be able to enjoy a lot of the stuff you usually have at home, but which you just can’t seem to get hold of when you’re meandering road trip has taken you a thousand miles from home.

#17  2 x 5 gallon gas cans

Speaking of being a thousand miles from home on a fabulous long-distance travel road trip, the longest distance between gas stations in North America is about 250 miles – on Canada’s Trans-Labrador Highway. There appears to be a route between Lakeview, OR and Winnemucca, NV which is over 200 road miles without a fill-up.

Ten gallons of gas is a lot of weight to carry around and takes up a lot of space in the trunk, and you might ask “How far can I drive on 10 gallons?” – and answer, “A pretty long way!” That is true, but the important question here is actually – “How far can I go on just five gallons of gas?” The answer to this, of course, depends on what you’re driving, how fast you’re driving, and on how steep the terrain is your driving through – but the answer could well be ‘less than a hundred miles.’

Now, imagine.  You’re once in a lifetime road trip has taken you way out into the woods. You are not exactly sure where you are, and you are not exactly sure where the nearest town is. How confident would you feel that you can find the next open gas station within a one-hundred-mile drive? That is why, if you are heading out on a USA road trip, you should always make sure you have spare gas, and if you can fit it in, take ten gallons rather than five. That extra five gallons could make all the difference.

#18  Trash bags – large and small, and two large burlap sacks

When you head out on the highway, looking for adventure, remember this simple rule – “Leave nothing behind but your footprints, take nothing away but your memories!” If your DIY road trip has taken you out into the countryside – picnicking, hiking or just having fun – then do not expect to find trash bins scattered around the place – they attract the attention of too many bears for one thing. So always take plenty of trash bags with you, and always police the area before you leave.

Why do you need two large burlap sacks on your USA road trip? Well, you could, of course, wander around the countryside challenging every passing stranger to an impromptu sack race, or you could use them to hold all the small rubbish bags until you find a dumpster somewhere. However, the real reason we need two sacks takes us back to the problem of snow, sand and mud.

By far, the best way to escape these is to get some burlap under the wheels. Just lay the sacks down in front of or behind the driving wheels, edge the vehicle on to them, select R, 2 or 3 on the auto-box, and then use minimum revs to try to ease the car out of trouble. Burlap sacks work like magic in sand and snow. For mud, if it doesn’t work the first time, it’s not going to work at all – try something else. Always take two burlap sacks on a camping road trip, they can get you out of a lot of trouble.

Also read – 15 Best Anti-Theft Backpacks for Your Next Trip

#19 Dedicated Satellite Navigation system

If you are heading off on a road trip, especially a solo road trip, one of the prime road trip necessities is a proper on-board Sat Nav system. You can use your phone as a back-up system, but your on-board system will have (Or should have – Check it!) a downloaded version of a fully updated digital map of the area you will be driving in.

Phone-based Sat Nav systems rely primarily on being in signal range to update both map and location data. Without going into the tech discussion behind all this, if you have an onboard, large-screen, dedicated SatNav system, it will work purely on its downloaded map and the satellite-based GPS system – it does not need any phone signal to work. And, even if you somehow lose contact with the GPS satellite network – when driving through a deep ravine for example – the onboard inertial tracking system will still allow you to rely on the map and direction information it provides.

Phone-based Sat Nav Apps are very good when the phone is in signal range. However, if you are not in range of a mobile phone cell tower, then that is probably when you most need good Sat Nav guidance, and that is when mobile phone-based systems are at their weakest in terms of performance. For any long distance road trip, a dedicated onboard Sat Nav system is one of the key road trip essentials.

#20  Compass (Magnetic)

If you are driving an off-road vehicle, it will probably come with a pre-fitted electronic compass. Your mobile phone will definitely have a compass function. None of that matters however – when you are heading off even on a fun road trip, get yourself a good quality magnetic compass and keep it somewhere safe.

The compass in your vehicle is no good to you if you are not in your vehicle. The compass on the phone will be of no use to you if you have no signal or no power or no phone. The great advantage of an old-fashioned compass is it never runs out of juice. Tuck it away in a drawer, forget about it for ten years, then dig it out again. It will still, absolutely reliably, point out which way is Magnetic North.

Why might that be important or useful?  Well, if you have absolutely no idea where you’re camping road trip has taken you, or where you are, and your Sat Nav systems have failed, then at least, if you know where North is then you also know that if you drive due West, you will eventually hit the Pacific coast, and if you head due East you will get to the Atlantic seaboard. In reality, if you have tired of driving on this never-ending road trip, and have gone for a walk in the mountains or the woods, if you have even a rudimentary map of where you were and where you might be now, and you know how to use a compass properly, it will help you get back to your vehicle, or at least back to the nearest road.

#21  Good quality Maps

Even if you have a good Sat Nav system, you should still make sure you have a good road map, because that allows you to do things you can’t do with a Sat Nav. A good map allows you to browse around and spot interesting place names, or hidden lakes and secluded spots to go skinny dipping – all much harder to find if you just rely on your Sat Nav. Also, if you intend to go hiking or exploring on foot when you get to some point on your cross-country road trip, then you should make sure you have a much more detailed map of the area, showing the terrain, the footpaths, and the access points. Always make sure you have good maps and know how to read them, they help to make any road trip easier and much more interesting, and are fundamentally important road trip necessities.

#22  Binoculars

One of the great things about cross country road trips is that they enable you to see lots of new things. However, one problem is that you see a lot of these new things through the windshield of your vehicle. So, one very major piece of advice and one of the key cross-country road trip essentials is simply to stop as often as possible to just look at the scenery, and the wildlife and the birds flying by. A good pair of binoculars can add tremendously to your enjoyment of any road trip by allowing you to see so much more than you would ever notice or discover by just peering through the windshield as you pound along yet another country road.

Part of the fun of a road trip is just the driving. Driving out of the city, driving away from your normal routes. But it is all too easy to get caught in the driving trap – “Let’s just see what’s around the next bend, or over the next hill.” That’s all OK but, once you are around that bend or have surmounted that hill, remember to stop awhile and smell the roses. And also stop to take a look around. The binoculars will help you to look further and in much greater depth, and might also help you to spot something interesting ahead: some new route to take on your fun road trip, and somewhere new to discover and explore.

#23 Spare keys for everything

Lost keys are a terrible annoyance at any time, but when you are off on a road trip, they can be soul destroying. Always make sure you have at least two copies of the car keys and if possible three. Have duplicates of any key that you might need to open luggage, or the vehicle’s safe or storage lockers, or even your own house for when you get back. For some reason, a lot of keys get lost or mislaid on long road trips, simply because there are many opportunities for them to get lost. On a road trip you are endlessly shuffling things around and shifting things in and out of the car. Make sure that you have duplicate keys, and make sure they are safe, secure, and remain undisturbed.

#24  3 x Mountable magnetic key storage cases

Talking about losing keys and keeping spares, there is no greater fear for road trippers than coming back to the car, perhaps from a refreshing dip in a mountain lake, to discover that you have lost the car keys. You can no longer get into the vehicle, which is where your money, your phone, your clothes, and your dignity are now carefully locked away from you. What do you do?

Well, fortunately, on this well planned road trip you have had the foresight to prepare for such an eventuality. Hidden around your vehicle are not one, not two, but three magnetic key holders, all placed out of sight under the vehicle, magnetically clamped to some metal part of the substructure.

Why three? Well, the first one is placed under the rear sill of the car, on the other side from the muffler, magnetically attached to the metalwork of the car body. This key holder contains no key: and it is left hanging open. The reason it is there is that this is where EVERYONE hides their magnetic key holders, and all the car thieves know it. If someone comes along who wants to get into your car to steal all the road trip stuff, they can see you have left inside, they will try to find the little magnetic box somewhere on the rear sill. They will discover it there but find that it is open and keyless, and decide that you did have a key there once, but that vibration has opened the box, and the key has long since fallen out. They will hopefully then move on to another vehicle which might prove easier to get into.

Of the other two little boxes, one is placed in a reasonable handy position hidden under the body-work and magnetically attached to the metal skin of the vehicle in a completely different location. It is taped shut. The third one is placed on a flat horizontal part of the vehicle’s sub-frame which is only accessible by shimmying under the car, and which is completely invisible from below. This box is both taped closed and taped to the metalwork. This is an emergency back-up key. These little boxes can shake free and can pop open. The first box will hopefully fox the opportunist car thief, the second will allow you to get into the car fairly easily if it becomes necessary. But if that box is lost or the key missing, then the third key will still get you in, albeit with some dirt and grease on your T-shirt.

Also read – 10 Best Family Vacation Spots in the US

#25  3 x Flashlights and 12x batteries

Here’s another road trip tip. Always carry three flashlights on your road trip: three handheld lights of varying sizes. Have one very small but very powerful light on your key-fob, for getting you to the car and back in a pitch country darkness, and for looking for the chalet key which you fumbled and dropped in your eagerness to get in out of the chill night air.

Have one standard size flashlight which you keep in the car: which you used to find the hidden chalet in the first place and which you then also had to use to find the key fob which you dropped as you got out of the car, tired from the latest leg of your road trip fun.

Have one large super-duper jumbo torch which you keep in the trunk and which can illuminate the entire chalet complex and scare off the local wolf-pack. This light will stand you in good stead when you are weaving back from the restaurant/bar, and you are not absolutely sure of your night-time sense of direction.

#26 Plastic cutlery, plates, cups and napkins (Lots!) and a small folding table

We have already mentioned the fallibility of our eating habits when we are on a long road trip, and that it seems somehow to be inevitable that we will end up driving along in a litter-strewn heap, wolfing down things which we would never normally touch. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If we make sure we bring a party pack of disposable cutlery, cups, plates and napkins, and perhaps a little folding picnic table, then every meal, no matter how humble, can be a properly planned sit-down affair. There should NEVER be any need to drive and eat on a proper road trip. We should never set such deadlines. If we are out on the islands there might be a ferry to catch, but if we miss it there will be another along in due time, which just gives us more time to explore where we are. On a serious and seriously lazy road trip we should always travel with Zen, and let the world’s hustle and push flow past us unregarded.

#27  Loads of Bug Spray

It doesn’t really matter too much where you are heading on your road trip, you’re going to need bug spray. Unless you’re heading to the far north in mid-winter, in which case you don’t need bug spray, you need counseling and a Sno-Cat. Everywhere else, any other time of year, you’re definitely going to need to put bug spray on your list of road trip essentials.

If you know roughly where you are headed on your long-planned road trip you might want to spend a happy half-hour doing some research on the kind of bugs you are likely to meet up within those areas, but either way – always go prepared. Get bug spray for the car and your accommodation, get anti-bug cream for your skin, and get bite salve to treat the bug-bites you don’t manage to avoid. I don’t know why it is, but wherever you go on your road trip you will find bugs, and at least a few of them are going to get to you. Be prepared!

#28 2 x Personal Survival Packs – What are your road trip essentials?

You can, of course, go online and buy some pretty fancy survival packs – guaranteed to keep you alive for a week or so after the asteroid strikes, or Yellowstone lets go, or Iran lashes out. But that is not what we are talking about here. This is a survival pack put together by you, just for you. What are your road trip essentials? Your sunglasses? That tatty old bobble-hat you love? Two or three good old-fashioned printed books? Your inflatable neck brace pillow? Your reading glasses?

It doesn’t matter. The whole point is this, when you go on a summer road trip (Or a winter road trip for that matter!) then sure you expect to rough it a bit, but there is no reason at all why you shouldn’t have around you the individual bits and pieces which you treasure and which make you feel secure and happy, Build your own survival pack, and put in it whatever you need to keep you safe, happy and comfortable on your personal road trip.

There is a 2x in the heading because you are probably not embarking on a solo road trip, but if you are then all strength to your arm. What better way to meet new people than to venture out on the road alone – and anyway, going it alone means you have more room in the car for all your stuff.

#29   First Aid Kit for you – What are your road trip essentials for health?

Very important – make sure you pack a good general First Aid Kit – comprehensive enough to let you bandage the smallest of blisters or the most twisted of sprained ankles. Much more important though is to put in the extra stuff that you need for YOUR road trip. If you take regular medication make sure you take enough of that, and a little bit extra. What do you take for travel sickness – pack that. What do you take for a headache – pack that. What do you take to send you to sleep – pack that. What do you take to perk you up – pack that.

Taking care of your health is very important on any road trip, and the correct medication is perhaps the single most important of long road trip essentials, so don’t just wing it. Think about it, take it seriously, and put together a health pack which will keep you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed until you make it home again. And make sure any traveling companion does the same – you don’t want to be spending your precious road trip time taking care of them

#30  First Aid Kit for your vehicle – road trip essentials for your car             

Last, but not least, buy an emergency roadside kit, take out some of the stuff which you already have, like the first aid kit, and fill the space with the maintenance stuff that your car might need. Bulbs, belts, fuses, sensors, screen washer fluid, antifreeze if appropriate, and pack a couple of sponges and some spray-on car shampoo.

And here’s the last of these little road trip tips; the best way to keep your car clean on a road trip is to keep your eye on the weather. Wait until there’s about to be a heavy rain shower, then dash outside and spray car shampoo all over the car. If you have time rub it in with the sponges – great, but don’t worry too much, because either way, ten or fifteen minutes later, your car will be sparkling clean. Rain is, I’m afraid, one of the true road trip essentials, but, if you are properly prepared, a good shower of rain is better than any car wash.

Also read – 15 Safest Countries for Solo Female Travelers

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