There’s nothing like taking to the open road for a trip out of town, windows down, tunes blaring, snacks flowing freely. Road trips are even better when you have everything you need on hand so that you’re not nickel-and-diming yourself at every Flying J you pass. Here, then, are the top 11 essentials you should pack for your road trip.
1. Device chargers
Invest in high quality car chargers for your devices so that you’re not left unable to communicate with the world.
2. Radar/laser detector
Not that you’re going to speed on purpose, of course, but it’s nice to have a radar detector just in case, which can save you big money–and points on your license–in the long run. I picked up an Escort Solo S3 Cordless about ten years ago on sale, and haven’t had a ticket since.
Whether you use a dedicated GPS device or get it on your phone, having a navigation system on board will get you where you need to go quickly and easily.
4. Full-size spare tire
Don’t get caught in the middle of nowhere with a flat and nothing but a shoddy little donut for a spare. Have a full-size spare tire on hand to get you back on the road–for good–in no time.
5. The car manual
Your manual makes it easy to set your clock to the local time zone or trouble-shoot problems.
6. Tire-pressure gauge
Putting the proper amount of air in your tires protects them and gives you optimum gas mileage.
7. An atlas
You may not be able to rely on cell service, so it’s a good idea to have a backup.
8. A first-aid kit
Include band-aids, alcohol wipes, antibiotic cream, ibuprofen, hand sanitizer, an anithistamine, eye drops, and an Ace bandage with clips.
9. An emergency kit
You just never know what might happen on a road trip, so have these things handy: Flares, a flashlight, a Swiss Army Knife, energy bars, a glasses repair kit, a gallon of drinking water, a snow shovel if you might need it, an emergency blanket, safety pins, and a pair of scissors.
10. The right snacks
Buying meals and snacks on the road can get expensive, so bring along plenty of munchies from home to save money. Don’t go overboard on the junk food, though, or you’ll get fatigued faster and won’t feel your best. Think fruits and vegetables, sandwiches, nut mixes, and things like yogurt and cheese that you can keep in a cooler. Include plenty of ice-cold bottled water, and don’t forget the gum and mints!
11. A bathroom bag
Pit stops are a drag when there’s no TP or the seat’s a mess. Pack a little bag to take in with you. Include toilet paper, seat covers, soap, paper towels, and anything else you think you might need.
12. Take care of the home front
Finally, before setting off, make sure the doors and windows are locked. Arrange for your mail to be picked up and pets to be cared for. Set your sprinklers to respond to weather conditions with a smart controller or other programable device.