Every seasoned road tripper has their own list of essentials for long rides in the car. The experience becomes a personalized ritual where what you pack is nearly as important as where you go. While you will typically be able to pull off and purchase any essentials you’ve forgotten, having the right things ahead of time can be a comfort during a long day in the car.
The list of road trip packing essentials will be different for every person and may vary from trip to trip, but below we’ll dive into some of the must-haves you’ll really want to consider to make your trip the best it can be.
1. Driving Essentials
You’ll need your driver’s license, for example. This may seem obvious, but the place to start your list of packing essentials are the things you need for a safe and good trip.
Make sure you have your license, your car’s registration, and your car insurance information. This is also a good time to check your roadside assistance membership and your car manual. This is a book you probably never use, but a road trip is where it is most likely to come in handy.
Do you have a spare tire? Extra fluids, like oil and windshield wiper fluid?
For long trips, it’s not a bad idea to head in for an oil change and have your car checked over before you leave.
This is one of the more fun and personalized options. While you can eat out as much as you’d like on a road trip, sometimes the next place isn’t for miles, and if you’re road tripping with a car full of people, this is no time to let anyone get hungry. Besides, dining out can get expensive quickly.
Pack an ice chest with drinks and supplies for making sandwiches. You can purchase more ice when you stop for gas.
Healthy car trip snacks include hummus, nuts, carrots, raisins, crackers, apple slices, celery sticks with peanut butter, granola bars, dried fruit, and trail mix.
Bring small baggies or other food storage containers in case any of your bags rip open in the car.
3. The Random Small Items That Become Essential
Do you have a spare phone charger? Make sure you have every charger for every device you’re bringing with you.
Other essentials include:
Spare Change for toll roads, vending machines, and all the other miscellaneous expenses.
This is the category that matters most to many people. This is especially important if you’re travelling with children, as staying entertained can keep everyone calm.
In the case of travelling with a group, make sure everyone has their own headphones. While you probably put a lot of work into choosing podcasts and audiobooks you hoped everyone would enjoy, that doesn’t mean everyone will. Headphones are a lifesaver when someone needs some quiet, alone time in such a small space.
Check out some playlists on your favourite music streaming service, such as Spotify, before you go. You never know when you might lose signal. If you have a paid account, you can download playlists on Spotify for offline listening.
Find your favourite podcasts and download episodes that look neat. A fun idea is to find podcasts where they read novels or short stories.
You can download audiobooks from your favourite audiobook service, or also check out what your local library has available. Tablets and e-readers are great devices for getting some downtime while on the road.
Don’t forget that just looking out the window is part of the fun of the road trip! Make frequent stops to break up the experience and keep things interesting. If you have the time, don’t hesitate to stop and take a picture of something that strikes your fancy. Even a short hike around a gas station can do wonders for morale.