Road Trip Essentials
When planning for a cross country road trip, you must pack well. Failing to plan is planning to fail. The last thing anyone needs is to be thousands of miles away from home and discover that you are missing something that would make life on the road much more comfortable. Whether a child’s favorite toy, a favorite article of clothing, or something else essential, we are here to help you pack for the ultimate road trip essentials adventure list.
So, what do you need for a successful road trip? Whether you are going fifty miles or fifteen hundred miles, it’s all about the essentials. Let’s answer a few questions first as we assemble the ultimate packing list of road trip essentials for you:
- How far are you going?
- How do you plan to travel?
- Where will you stay?
- Who is going with you?
- How long will you be on the road?
Knowing a bit more about your trip will help you to plan everything you need for your exciting adventure. Here are our travel tips for your road trip.
It doesn’t make much sense to lug around huge suitcases with you when the goal of a road trip is “out of the vehicle” adventure. If you know that you will be visiting the Grand Canyon on a particular day, for instance, pack a travel bag with things that you might need for exploration–sunscreen, water bottles, camera, hat, sunglasses, etc. When in doubt, bring it with you, or if you think you’ll need it at some point, bring it along, rather than trying to find it en route.
An Old Fashioned Atlas
Many of us seasoned road veterans learn the hard way—sometimes Google Maps doesn’t pull through. Having an updated atlas that you can refer to in times of technological challenge will help you to stay on the straight and narrow, so you don’t find yourself fighting off coyotes and rattlesnakes in the remote areas of the Southwest.
Know what you’re reading, too. Practice using maps to get from place to place in more familiar territory, so that when the occasion truly calls for it, you can navigate your way out of obscurity. The more you familiarize yourself with that format, the more likely it will be that you can use this valuable tool to help you along your way.
We are lucky to experience the seasons in our country, but no two states are exactly the same when it comes to climate and temperature, especially during the spring and fall months. Bring along clothing that can be layered and quickly changed into and out of; items that fit into a travel bag are perfect; you can dress for on-the-go fun without missing a beat. And don’t forget those ever so comfortable shoes; the last thing you want to deal with is a pair of barking dogs at the end of every day!
Speaking of Shoes
Nothing tires you out more than a pair of tired, achy feet. Dressing your feet for support and comfort while traveling will contribute to the enjoyment of your trip. While you might feel more attractive in stiletto heels, they don’t make much sense when you are hiking in the red rocks of Arizona. Let’s favor comfort over vanity, here; your feet (and the rest of your body, for that matter) will thank you.
It seems like such a simple element. Murphy’s law states, “when you have something, you don’t need it. When you need it, it becomes the most precious and scarce commodity.” Bring along some bottled water with you, and don’t be afraid to restock or fill up when you have the opportunity. Proper hydration is an important element in having enough energy to participate in all of your road trip fun; don’t skip this simple yet important step in packing for success.
Portable Chargers for Electronics
Sure, wall chargers for electronics are nice, but when was the last time you spent a significant amount of time near a wall outlet when road tripping? Bringing along car chargers, adapters, and cords will help you stay properly “juiced.” If you are traveling with young children in tow, there are only so many car games they can play before they tire of the monotony. Having electronic devices that they can use for entertainment from time to time will keep everyone in the vehicle happy when in transit. Don’t forget your headphones!
Travel Pillows and Blankets
Sorry driver, sorry navigator, you’re left out of this one. Having travel pillows and blankets will allow your passengers to catch up on some much-needed shut-eye, so they have boundless energy for the next excursion you’re likely to find yourselves on.
Cash and Change
Credit cards don’t always cut it, and who takes a check these days? Having cash on hand, ready to use in some of those more obscure locations will save you time and headaches, as you’ll be prepared for almost anything. Please keep it in a safe location, and when you are out and about, keep it on your person to avoid the unpleasantness of having your vacation fund disappear. Keep a hefty bag of change in your vehicle for when you are traveling toll roads, and be prepared to show identification at these stops as well. Better safe than sorry!
Plenty of Snacks
Traveling is hard work! You never know when you’ll find the next restaurant or watering hole that everyone agrees upon; to avoid those “hangry” moments in between pit stops, have a large stash of non-perishable snacks and some water on hand to tide you over. Throw some in your travel bags and bring them with you for walking days, and everyone will stay satisfied and full of energy until mealtime.
Camera and Journal
What better way to commemorate your trip than with the sights and memories that you can capture on film and with your creative writing? Make the extra effort to take pictures and write down precious memories with family and friends; it will soon all be a blur of stops and highways, and you’ll want to remember highlights from your travels for years to come.
You know the rule—when you don’t have it, you need it. Packing a simple first aid kit with ointment, alcohol swabs, and various sorts of bandages and tape will help you to patch things up as you go. You might also consider some breakable cold packs, any needed medications, and even some ace bandages for wrapping sore wrists and ankles due to all of that extra adventure. More serious wounds and first aid issues should be attended to by an area clinic or hospital; here’s hoping you never have to scout out one of those while on vacation!
Random Fun Road Trip Essentials
With these road trip essentials in hand, you are ready for the adventure of a lifetime. Start packing, gather your loved ones, and set off on your grand and glorious excursion! Happy traveling!