Road trips are a favorite pastime for many people, as they can leave lasting memories and open up a whole new world for them. However, packing can be stressful, especially for longer road trips. Luckily, we’ve put together 10 things you must absolutely pack on a long-distance road trip that can help you prepare for your next cross-country adventure.
1. Roadside Emergency Kit
This one is quite obvious, but should not be overlooked. Car woes can be a serious hassle, but if you are prepared with a roadside emergency kit, you can lessen the stress of any issues. Supplies that you may need include jumper cables, headlamps, a tire pressure gauge, emergency rain ponchos, a nifty flashlight, window breakers, and so on. If you’re looking for a solid pre-packaged kit, Lowe’s sells this 55-piece kit that has the essentials you may need.
While you may be planning to make regular stops throughout your road trip to hydrate and relax for a while, things may not go as planned. Make sure you have enough water in case you get stranded somewhere, and pack extra if you are going hiking to prevent any dehydration issues on the trails.
3. Car Documentation
We know we need to drive with our driver’s license, but it is also critical to have paperwork such as your car’s registration and your insurance information. Many people don’t like their car’s manual because it is big and bulky, but if a warning light comes on during your trip and you don’t have cell service or Wi-Fi, you may not be able to figure out what it means and whether or not it is an urgent issue. Therefore, you should take that, too.
4. First Aid Kit
Unfortunately, many people forget to pack a first aid kit, whether it be a pre-packaged one or a DIY one. For starters, kits should have bandages of different sizes, a product like Rock Tape for blisters, tweezers in case of splinters or ticks, cortisone cream for bug bites, alcohol wipes, and products like New Skin that can serve as makeshift stitches for more extensive cuts.
5. Cold Weather Supplies
While most people envision road trips as wild adventures rolling down the highway with the top down, your road trip may not be so sunny. For this reason, it is essential to be prepared for cold weather conditions, especially if you are traveling during the cooler months. This includes a compact snow shovel like this one and an ice scraper for your windshield in icy conditions. Also make sure your defroster is in working order before even taking off on your adventure.
6. The Electronics
Let’s be honest – technology has revolutionized road trips. From phones to iPods and in-car entertainment systems, there is plenty to do during long rides. Make sure you have a camera for the great scenery as well as a great playlist to jam to while you’re traveling. Portable chargers and extra batteries are also critical to make sure your devices are ready for use.
7. Toiletries and Hygiene Products
Regardless if you will be staying in a secluded area of the mountains or in a nice hotel in a quaint (or big) city, you should always have some toiletries and hygiene products with you. This should include supplies such as soaps, baby wipes, lip balm, sunscreen, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and so on. Dry shampoo is also a convenient item if you are in a situation where you don’t have a shower.
8. Paper Map
While having a paper map doesn’t make anyone look cool these days, it can come in handy during a long road trip. Smartphones are great, but there is always the risk of them being unreliable when you need them the most. Of course, they do their job when you have LTE, 5G, 4G, or Wi-Fi service, but many rural areas lack cell service and have a lot of so-called dead zones. Many smartphones now have a “work offline” feature, but this feature is unable to track traffic patterns and provide any real-time information about your route. You also have to beware of those pesky phone batteries, as they seem to die at the worst times. A paper map can at least give you a general sense of where you’re going but also where you may want to stop and do some sightseeing or take a break.
While this is another obvious necessity, it shouldn’t be forgotten about. Not only do snacks curb hunger and increase mood and energy, they can also come in handy in cases of emergencies. Healthy snacks like fruits and veggies can be put in a small cooler within reach, and other snacks such as granola bars, popcorn, beef jerky, and nuts do not have to be kept cold and won’t spoil as quickly but still provide needed nutrition.
10. Toilet Paper and Paper Towels
You’ll undoubtedly be making stops along the way, and not all rest stops are as reliable as others. Taking your own toilet paper can save you serious problems if the rest stop does not have any, and having paper towels can help you clean up any messes in the car, such as spilled drinks.
Most of all, have fun and safe travels!