Who’s ready for an epic road trip?! Whether you’re traveling solo, with a friend, a significant other, or the whole family, make sure to have all of the road trip essentials before heading out on the open road. Planning correctly ahead of time, can save time, money, and stress.
Road trips are a preferred way to travel because of the flexibility to choose the routes and times. When planning a road trip, remember that the journey is just as important as the destination. Keeping this in mind, keeps up the excitement of possibilities right around the corner.
3 Essentials for any Type of Road Trip
I should probably start with the basic essentials such as license and registration, but I’m not. I’m going to start with the road trip goodies that I won’t travel without.
A lot of people get nostalgic about hitting the open road like the good old days. Hoping to spend quality time in a vehicle and make memories. Sometimes, unfortunately, that can make for an unpleasant experience.
With the technology of today, there is no need for boring trips or travel games. Take advantage of electronics to find adventurous pit stops, capture photographic memories, or watch a movie.
If traveling with kids, electronics are key to an enjoyable trip for all. Allowing them to be occupied gives the parents a chance to have good conversation or a nap (passenger only).
Smart Phone – The Ultimate Road Trip Companion
These are obviously a road trip essential. I mean, could you imagine leaving it at home. Ahhh! We need these for maps and directions, social media to pass the time, and the camera to document all the impromptu pit stops.
Some states have a hands free law, so go ahead and get a phone holder to save yourself from getting a ticket. This one is worth it because it acts as a holder and charger in one. The less cords the better.
Must Have Apps
- Maps and Directions
- Waze -This app is run by fellow “wazers”. People who have the app inform other travelers of accidents, hazards, and even police presence. It will give you a responsive alternate route incase of heavy traffic. This is an immediate interactive app for the passengers.
- Roadtrippers – This app finds unique attractions along the route. Explore off the beaten path destinations like abandoned sites, topiary gardens, an old coal mine, a renovated hippy compound, or even a spiderweb farm.
- MotionX – This GPS app is comforting to have incase your travels take you where cell service is limited.
- Gas Buddy
- Save money with this app to find the cheapest gas along the route.
- Traveling with pets
- Bring fido. Bringing pets along on the road can be challenging when trying to find hotels and pet-friendly restaurants. This app can save loads of time on searching.
- Google Translate makes communicating with foreign languages so easy. There is an app available or use it through the web browser. The app is more beneficial because it has a speaking and texting translator as well as a picture translator to help read signs and menus.This came in very handy on our road trips in Mexico and Canada and our vacation in Costa Rica.
- Whatsapp allows communication from anywhere in the world with friends and family for free.
- Trip Planning
- Livetrekker acts as a digital memory book for your adventures.
Download games and movies before departure or have your streaming services (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, ect.) installed and linked. Make sure to bring chargers and headphones. If there are more than 2 passengers, get this splitter so they can use the same screen.
- For music, the best options are Sirius xm (they offer a military discount) or sync the car with bluetooth and play your favorite playlist or stream Pandora. I tried to travel without these and it was horrible. Constantly trying to find something to listen to while in B.F.E. or passing through small towns is not a fun task.
- Download audio books if that’s your thing. It’s not mine and the kids would kill me if we listened to a book on tape. I’ll read my book once we get to our final destination.
2. Food and Drinks
Let’s get serious for a minute. When on the open road for hours, days, or weeks, food is essential! It saves time, money, and prevents anyone from getting hangry.
When it comes to travel food and drinks, this first item is crucial.
There is no need for the expensive Yeti coolers (even though they look cool) or the dreaded icepacks that need refreezing. This fridge plugs into the cigarette lighter socket in the car. It also comes equipped with an AC adapter so it can be plugged into hotel rooms, cabin, or any other place with an outlet.
Fill it up with your usual food and drinks and hit the road. Be sure to pack these extra items to make your car food more enjoyable. Keeping these in the car minimizes unwanted stops along the road trip to clean up.
These reusable, eco-friendly utensils are good to keep in the car to minimize plastic use.
Bring reusable bottles and jugs of water to refill.
Clean up items
Face and hand wipes like these are cheap and very useful after eating or to clean up any spills. Store a few small trash bags in the car for an easy clean up.
3. Health and Safety Essentials
Now for the responsible portion of items that should be in every car. Most of these should stay in the car at all times.
- First aid kit that doubles as an emergency survival kit.
- Bring any medications needed for the entire duration of the trip.
- Travel homeopathic oils are small and easy to store.
- Pet Safety
- Pets can travel safely in the back seat with this pet hammock.
- Keep an emergency stash of cash and coins in the car for tolls. Still to this day, a lot of toll booths do not accept credit cards. Other locations are so advanced that they will send you a bill in the mail a few weeks after traveling on their toll roads.
- If traveling in another country, be sure to have the correct currency. Our road trip through central Mexico required a lot of toll pesos.
- Travel bands
- These help tremendously if motion sickness is an issue.
- Travel toothbrushes
- Traveling in the car all day can make a person feel pretty gross. Being able to freshen up with these makes a world of difference. Also use the hand/face wipes (as mentioned above) to clean the body to stay so fresh and so clean.
- Travel packs of tissues. These can also be used as toilet paper if needed.
- Personal protection
- Weather related items
- If traveling in cold climates, bring an ice scraper. Other gear needed may be ponchos and thermal blankets. If purchasing a first aid kit, they may be included but double check.
Before leaving home, make sure to have these documents and necessities. This will make loved ones feel more at ease.
- Drivers license
- Auto registration and proof of insurance
- Passport if traveling internationally.
- AAA or other roadside service
- Car manual
- Spare tire
- Spare key
Before leaving on an epic road trip, have the car serviced to ensure a safe ride.
If traveling with a lot of people or luggage, invest in a rooftop luggage holder. Store luggage that is not needed until the final destination. This allows for more open space inside the car. We have tried the cargo bag and the hardshell carrier. Based on personal experience, invest in the hardshell cargo rooftop carrier because it is more durable.
Don’t stress out if something has been forgotten. A quick stop to a local store is always feasible.
Do not book hotel rooms ahead of time, unless it’s the final destination because who knows where the road will lead.
Road trips are meant to be enjoyable and easy. Allow extra time to stop and explore new places or have a picnic and let the kids/pets run around.
What do you think should be on the road trip essentials list? Happy journeys!