If you’ve ever asked yourself the question “Do road trips count as travel?” the answer is yes. Road trips can teach you a different way to travel, a more self-sufficient way where you learn to rely on yourself and not a flight crew. They are also fun, liberating, and can be easier on your bank account and budget. Before you load up the car and hit the road, make sure you pack all the essentials—you’re going to need them.
- Road assistance car kit
Even if you are a first-time road-tripper and aren’t sure when you’ll do it again, invest in a road assistance car kit. Having AAA helps, but it’s good to be prepared with your own supplies in case something goes wrong with your car in a no-service zone. You can find one for about $30 to $50.
- First aid kit
Throw it in the car kit.
At least a one-gallon jug to start—helpful for overheating, hydration, brushing teeth, and hand and face washing.
- Flashlight or headlamp
For warmth, or a roadside picnic or nap. Can also double as a cover for luggage or anything left in a backseat/back window area of the car. Cover it up!
Paper maps or road atlases, not digital ones.
- Notebook and permanent marker
- Snack bars
- Baby wipes
- Dry shampoo
- Face refreshing mist/spray
- Small plastic bag or bin
To use as a trash container.
- Portable charger and USB/phone-charging cord
- Hands-free earbuds
To talk on the phone while driving.
Because scrolling through playlists while driving is SO dangerous. Plus, you’ll want to save your phone battery for everything else.
Looking for the closest ATM is a drag, and no, that roadside vendor most likely doesn’t use Square or Venmo.
- Gas app
Download a gas app to find the lowest gas prices around you. This is a new feature of the modern world that could make your life easier—but again, only if you have cell service, which oftentimes you won’t, depending on what terrain you are covering. Pro tip: start thinking about filling back up when the gas gauge hits half a tank. Pushing it too close to quarter of a tank could leave you speeding and praying on the highway, and looking for gas like you’re looking for water in a desert.
If this seems like a lot, the good news is you have a whole car to put it in and aren’t limited to a standard-sized carry-on. Over-the-seat organizers are great for small stuff, like cords and wipes. Having a well-stocked car is a satisfying relief when you’re trying to make good time between destinations. Now, go forth and enjoy the ride.