Road trips are a great way to explore easier and more freely. You aren’t bound by other people’s schedules or limited by public transportation. Road trips are also a great way to get out and about in a socially distant way, without being crammed next to a bunch of strangers on a plane. Although road trips provide more freedom, they also come with more responsibility. These road trip essentials will help you make the most out of your trip and keep you going farther, longer!
For the Car
One of the most important parts of any road trip is having the right foundation. Getting prepared and making sure you have everything you’ll need is crucial. Getting your car, van, bus, etc. stocked with these essentials can make or break your trip.
- Vehicle documentation: This would include your vehicle registration, car manual, insurance, etc. Having these important documents will prevent any confusion or issues as to who the car belongs to, whether it is insured or not, etc.
- Roadside emergency toolkit: Be prepared in case your car dies, tire pops, etc.
- Spare tire/jack: You never know when you could hit a nail in the road.
- Car trash can/bag: Keep your car clean and tidy by throwing trash away rather than letting it pile up in the car door. A car trashcan is an easy solution to keeping your vehicle clean!
- Window shades: Keep the hot sun out of the car and add an extra level of privacy when not driving
- Hands-free phone mount: Having a way to mount your phone on the dashboard or from an air vent will allow you to easily see digital maps, change the music, or make a call without the distraction of juggling your phone
- Charging cables: Never miss a beat because of a dead battery, keep all of your devices charged and running!
- Cooler: Keep water and drinks cold on the road. Not much more refreshing than an ice-cold drink.
- Dash camera: A dashboard camera can protect you in case of an accident. Situations can happen where video proof of what happened could be extremely beneficial. Not only for safety reasons, but you can also catch some stunning scenery on road trips through a dash camera.
Staying connected is essential, especially on a solo road trip. These electronics will help you create memories, capture them, and share them with those you love!
- Camera: Capture all of the natural beauty and memories to hold on to forever. Photos are one of the best ways to remember a trip, a place, or a person. Especially if you are going to be going into nature… take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.
- Bluetooth speaker: A bluetooth speaker is great for playing music at a campsite, on a hike, or anywhere else. Always try to be respectful of those around you though and don’t play it too loud!
- Headphones: For the times you can’t play your music out loud.
- Portable charger: You never know when you’re going to need an extra charge. Whether you are going hiking for the day or wandering around a city, having a portable charger with you will help keep you connected.
- Extra charging cables: Cables break. Having an extra set of charging cables for your devices keeps you going, even if one of them breaks.
- GPS tracker: If you plan on going off the beaten path or you are traveling solo, this will allow a family member or friend to track your location
Whether you are out on the road alone or with others, having these essentials with you at all time can help you stay safe.
- Flashlight/Lantern: Lost power? No worries, you have a flashlight or lantern to light up your life! This lantern is a great option because it is compact and allows you to adjust hope much light is let out.
- Multitool: Need to open a package? Open a bottle? Tighten a screw? A Multitool is the answer to it all.
- First aid kit: Be prepared to heal a scrape, bug bite, and most other minor injuries with a first aid kit.
- Extra water: If you ever were to get stranded or stopped somewhere where you might not have access to water easily, having extra water will keep you hydrated until you can get access again.
- Extra blankets: If your car breaks down, especially on a cold night, extra blankets are essential to staying warm until you can get help!
Clean and Comfortable
Staying clean and comfortable on a road trip is essential to having a good time. These items will help you make sure that you and your space is in tip-top shape!
- Comfortable clothes: I think this goes without say, but comfortable clothes are essential for any road trip. At least personally, I wouldn’t want to spend a road trip in a tight or uncomfortable outfit. Comfort is the key to happiness.
- Blanket: A factor in comfort. Stay warm and stay cozy with a blanket!
- Travel pillow: Whether you are taking a quick power nap or want to have some more neck support while driving, travel pillows are another key to comfort.
- Quick-dry towel: You never know when you’re going to get stuck in the rain or go for an impromptu swim. Having a towel with you, especially one that can dry quickly will keep you or your space from staying soaking wet for an uncomfortable about of time.
- Rain jacket/umbrella: Even if the weather doesn’t call for rain, always be prepared for rain.
- Tissues: Allergies come and go and with that, runny nose and sneezing. Stay ready to go with a box of tissues.
- Toilet paper: Not all restrooms have proper tp supplies. Also, it can come in handy for an unofficial pit stop, if you know what I mean.
- Bug spray & bite reliever: If you are anything like me, bug spray is a non-negotiable necessity. Especially in the warmer months, mosquitos and other bugs flock to me like a sweet treat. Having something to prevent them from swarming and to provide relief when they do bite is a must.
- Sunscreen: Even on cloudy days, the UV rays show no mercy. Protect your self and your skin from the harmful damage they cause.
- Hand sanitizer: Having hand sanitizer on deck is essential to keeping yourself clean and safe. Sometimes restrooms don’t have soap or you just want an extra layer of protection after a grocery trip. While soap and water are best, hand sanitizers can fill in the gaps.
- Disinfectant spray: Things get dirty. A disinfectant spray can help keep things clean and protect against dirt, bacteria, and viruses.
These important documents and other necessities are crucial to have on a road trip.
- Medications: If you take any prescriptions, make sure to take enough to last your entire trip or have a plan to get more along the way. It is also a good idea to have general medications with you too. I recommend at least having a pain killer, antacids for upset stomach, and something like Benadryl.
- Digital maps: This type of map is obviously going to be the most user-friendly and most up to date. I recommend Google Maps or Waze, and if you can, download your maps for offline use.
- Paper map: You aren’t going to have internet service everywhere you go, and sometimes your device might die. That’s why having a paper map for the places you are going is a good back up plan to make sure you stay prepared and can avoid being stranded.
- Water filtering straw or bottle: Cut down on single-use plastic and help the earth by using a refillable water bottle that you can take with you along your journeys. Another great thing to have, especially on a road trip is a water filtering system, whether it be the bottle itself or a straw. You never know when you will or won’t have clean drinking water. Having a filtration device will allow you to drink basically any water you find.
- Day pack/backpack: Having a bag that you can take with you on hikes or just somewhere to hold your things while you’re out and about is crucial! Keep all of your important things together and organized so you can easily have on hand when needed.
- Driver’s license: This goes without say, but if you plan to be behind the wheel you need to make sure you have your driver’s license with you.
- Car insurance: Whether you are using your own vehicle or renting one, having insurance is a must! This can come in handy if you are in an accident and many other circumstances.
- Travel insurance: I recommend travel insurance no matter what kind of trip you are taking. This will give you peace of mind and help cover a variety of occurrences.
- Roadside assistance membership: If you are going to be out on the road, whether driving to work or driving cross-country, roadside assistance is a must. I have had AAA since I started driving and they have been a lifesaver in a couple of circumstances. Things can go wrong at any point from a flat tire to a dead battery, but they are there when you need it most.
- Cash: Having cash on hand is beneficial because not all places take cards. Especially some of the more rural areas. Always check the places you are planning on going, but even then it is good to have cash on hand just in case.
For a Furry Friend
If you are traveling with a fury friend, you are most definitely want to have these items with you! Everything from keeping your pet healthy and hydrated to keep them comfortable on the trip.
- ID collar: Having a collar that has your pets tags and information as well as your contact info is crucial in case your furry friend gets away from you.
- Microchip: I personally recommend having your pet microchipped. If they ever were to get away from you, it will allow them to easily and quickly be identified and reconnected with you.
- Sturdy leash: A leash that won’t snap or rip easily is crucial to keeping your furry friend by your side and safe
- Food/treats: Just like you, your pet needs to eat. Treats also may help to ease any travel anxiety your pet may have.
- Water: A hydrated puppy is a healthy puppy
- Toys: Toys are a great way to keep your furry friend entertained on the road or at your destination.
- Waste bags: Clean up after your pet!
- Crate/seatbelt: Having your pet secured in one place while you’re on the road will help keep them from harm in case of an accident. It also minimizes any distractions that could interfere with the driver.
- Blanket: Keep your furry friend comfortable while on the road.
- Vaccinations/immunizations: Make sure that your furry friend is up to date on all vaccines and needed immunizations before traveling. This will help protect them against the changing environments and the different bacteria that those hold. Make sure to always have a copy (digital and/or paper) of those records.
- Bring Fido App: This app will show you places to go with your furry friend, from restaurants to hotels and more!
Must Have Apps
These apps will ease the stress of road trip pit stops, overnight stays, and even in-car entertainment. Download these apps and get used to their functions before you head out on your journey.
- Google Maps: A great app for all digital map needs. I also suggest downloading the map for anywhere you plan on going for offline use.
- Waze: Get real-time updates on traffic, road hazards, police, etc. Waze also can let you easily plan routes in advance and help you find the best time to go.
- GasBuddy: Find gas stations near you and find the best prices
- Allstays: This app will help you find rest stops, hotels, campsites, and so much more!
- Spotify: Having musical entertainment and a road trip playlist is essential
- Podcasts/Audiobooks: When the music just isn’t doing it for you anymore, learn something new or stay entertained with a podcast or an audiobook.
Before You Leave
Even if you have all of the right items and things ready to go for your road trip, you’re not quite done yet. These last few tips and tricks will not only keep you safe on the road but help you have the best time!
- Let someone know your travel plans: Whether traveling alone or in a group, having someone you trust know your travel plans is an extra safety precaution.
- Alert credit card companies: Avoid your cards being canceled or suspended due to fraud alerts by letting them know in advance that you will be traveling.
- Create a budget: Having a budget will help avoid overspending
- Have a backup plan: Things don’t always happen as planned. Having a backup plan gives you another option so you’re not left without somewhere to stay or go.
- Do any service necessary to your vehicle: Get your oil changed, tires rotated, etc. Do whatever you need to do to get your vehicle in tip-top shape.
- Have an open mind: things happen. things go wrong. stay open-minded to the ever-changing world we live in and don’t stress about things you cannot control.