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Wondering what to pack for a road trip? These road trip essentials cover everything you need to pack for the ultimate car trip!
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I love traveling and would do it full time if I could.
There is nothing better than escaping the city for a relaxing weekend, and my husband and I especially enjoy taking road trips together!
When we lived in San Francisco, we traveled up, down, and across that beautiful state regularly. San Francisco weather is pretty chilly, so any trip to southern California was a favorite!
One of our more interesting trips was through the Central Valley. The farmers in this area produce more than half of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts grown in the United States, and it was fun visiting the small towns that dot the landscape there.
Of course, no road trip is completely without good food, preferably ice cream!
When we moved from San Francisco to NYC, we sold our car.
Although I didn’t need a car to get around, it was pretty rare that we left town except by plane. We did take a quick trip through upstate New York one day, and it was so gorgeous!
Now that we’re settled in Dallas, I’m itching to start planning a weekend getaway … or ten. From Hill Country to the Gulf, Texas is full of awesome places to visit, and I can’t wait to see it all!
Our first trip was an El Paso to Phoenix road trip that was so fun and relaxing. I’ve never seen so many cacti in one place before!
The Ultimate Road Trip Essentials List
Of course, a big part of any successful vacation is packing well.
So today, I’m sharing my favorite road trip essentials. Don’t leave behind anything important on your next vacation … these are all the fun things to bring on a road trip!
Road Trip Snacks
Okay, I’m starting with the good stuff: food! When you’re spending hours behind the wheel, it’s important to bring something to tide you over between meals. Especially if you’re traveling somewhere remote. You never know when your next meal might be!
Since I tend to splurge a little on my meals when traveling, I like to keep my snacks healthy. Nuts and dried fruit are delicious and pack well (I especially love Sahale Snacks, which are flavored nuts and dried fruit … yum!). I also take a couple refillable water bottles (these bottles will keep your drinks cold for 24 hours). That way I can fill them up at night and save a little money on drinks.
I can’t leave home without my gum either. Both my husband and I are avid gum chewers, so I love the new Extra 35-stick pack! It holds a lot more gum than the average pack, so I don’t have to feel stingy sharing with him … ha ha!
Road Trip Entertainment
Of course, no road trip essentials list is complete without entertainment. I love a good podcast. They make the time pass like nothing else!
Music is also a must … I need something to sing along to. I love a combination of Motown classics and eighties hits, mixed with my current faves (anything from Gwen Steffani or Bruno Mars will do).
When planning your playlist, add a little fun to your trip by including a few songs that reference your destination. And of course, don’t forget your chargers!
Every road trip has a few boring stretches, so I like to bring a game or two. We are trivia geeks, and a big handful of Trivial Pursuit cards keeps us happy. (Tip: save the packaging from an Extra Gum 35-stick pack to hold the cards!)
Do you have kids? Make sure to take a few games especially for them and plan on playing road games like I Spy or 20 Questions, too.
Sun Protection for a Car Trip
If you’re a regular reader, you know I never leave home without sun protection. So I couldn’t write about my road trip essentials without mentioning it!
You can definitely get a sunburn even if you’re spending the whole day in the car … ask me how I know that! Bring plenty of sunscreen and make sure to coat your face and arms with it (at the very least). I like Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Sunscreen for my body and Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen for my face.
Bring along a couple pairs of your favorite sunglasses, and you won’t spend the whole trip squinting out the windows. They’ll also make driving toward the setting sun at the end of the day much more bearable.
A crushable hat or ball cap are also road trip necessities, and they’ll help protect your face and scalp during unplanned hikes or a stroll around a cute downtown.
Other Items to Pack for a Road Trip
Finally, there are a few other items that can make or break your road trip.
I’m not one to carry much cash normally, but I always pack some for a road trip. Lots of small business only take cash, and you’ll want some in case of an emergency anyway.
Keep your car clean by packing a small trash bag. It will help you keep any junk you generate corralled, and you can empty it at rest stops and gas stations. I also like to take a pack of antiseptic wipes to clean up any messes we make or encounter along the way.
These days, we usually rely on GPS or a map app to get around, but it never hurts to pack an old-fashioned map as backup. Especially if you are traveling somewhere that internet service may be spotty.
Trying to research your trip? I tend to do lots of online research, as well as consulting a travel book or two. I’ve always loved Lonely Planet books, and the good news is that you can now purchase them in eBook format … no more lugging around a heavy book! TravelAdvisor is also a great resource for everything from hotels to attraction tours, and the reviews are so helpful!
Don’t forget a camera! I usually rely on my iPhone, but occasionally I’ll lug around my DSLR. The most important thing is to bring a camera you feel comfortable using and that takes good pictures.
Packing Your Road Trip Essentials
When planning your trip, start by making a list of everything you need to pack. It will keep you organized, and you will be less likely to forget something. Then when it’s time to pack, gather everything and sort like items together.
Unless you’ve got kids, a big tote bag or two should hold everything. Keep these bags within easy reach in your back seat, and don’t forget a cooler bag for anything perishable.
To keep your bags organized, pack smaller items in pouches (I love my Essentials pouch … so fun!). They’ll be less likely to get lost on the bottom of the bag this way.
And that’s it … I hope you enjoyed reading about my road trip essentials and were inspired to plan your own getaway!
Are you planning any road trips this summer?