Episode 101: What To Bring On a Road Trip: 28+ Items You Shouldn’t Leave Home Without

What To Pack For Road Trips

Before the pandemic, travel meant hopping on a plane and filling my passport with stamps. However, that all changed in 2020. Our borders were closed, and Kyle and I did not feel comfortable traveling by plane, train, or bus anymore. So, as an alternative, we started exploring smaller cities and towns a few hours from home. Since then, we have become road trip warriors. Take a trip down memory lane by listening to Episode 54, where we shared why we enjoy visiting Vermont so much, or episode 86 for reasons to visit Rochester (New York), another road trip I enjoyed. As the weather gets warmer, you may be planning a road trip of your own, so now is a great time to chat about what to bring on a road trip.

Thank you to today’s sponsor, Knack Bags, who helped bring this episode to life. I hope soon, I’ll be able to share what to pack for road trips with a baby. But in the meantime, what do you think — what items are essential to pack for road trips?

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Welcome to The Thought Card, a podcast about travel and money where planning saving and creativity leads to affording travel, building wealth and paying off debt. We are the financially savvy travelers.

Hey, financially savvy travelers, and welcome back to another episode of The Thought Card Podcast. Prior to the pandemic, travel meant hopping on a plane and filling up my passport with stamps. In fact, the majority of the 27 countries I've traveled to so far have happened over the last eight years, not counting the last three. Unfortunately. However, you know that all changed in 2020. Our borders were closed and Kyle and I did not feel comfortable traveling by plane, train or bus anymore. So we started exploring smaller cities and towns a few hours from home and since then, we have become certified road trip warriors. At this point we've probably been to Vermont half a dozen times and we love exploring rural America. Give us a secluded cabin off a dirt road any day of the year. Take a trip down memory lane by listening to episode 54 where we shared why we enjoy visiting Vermont so much. Yes, Kyle joined me for that episode, so you'll really enjoy it. Or episode 86 where I shared reasons to visit Rochester New York, another road trip I enjoyed with my best friend. As the weather gets warmer, you may be planning a road trip of your own. So, now is the perfect time to chat about what to pack for road trips.

A special thank you to today's sponsor Knack Bags who helped bring this episode to life. We just got back from a weekend trip and while we're removing our weekend bag from the car, you guessed it? The strap broke. Talk about disappointing. We needed a bag to meet the demands of our travel lifestyle and protect our podcasting and photography gear, our laptops and other valuables when we plan to work on the road. Knack Bags, checked all the boxes and some. Slim and lightweight for everyday use, but also expands when you need it. Knack Bags are functional accessible and stylish. I love that it packs like a suitcase opening horizontally so I don't have to dig for items in the dark. We've all been there, right? Get a Knack bag and use the code 'TTCKNACK' to get a free T. S. A approved lock with purchase. Just add the T. S. A lock to your cart with your Knack bag, enter the code 'TTCKNACK' and get it for free. The link and instructions will be in the show notes.

Alright, so, what are we including in our packing list when it comes to road trips?

So, first and foremost, we cannot leave the house without our music playlist or a podcast playlist. Entertainment is very, very important for us. Last road trip, we went on, we actually finished 50 Cent's "Get Rich or Die Trying" album cover to cover. And it was really fun. Like we were talking about how iconic 50 Cent was. And we were like going back to his first debut album and we were just really enjoying that album and it held up. So think about what music you would like to listen to and or what podcast you'd like to listen to. So sometimes on road trips we have a queue or a playlist of podcast episodes that would be interesting. Both of us would be interested in listening to at the time. And don't forget to add The Thought Card Podcast, this podcast, to that playlist as well.

If you are, let's say not driving and you have a bit more time, you may even consider having your Netflix app on your iPad or on your phone and looking at different types of movies or shows that you may want to be watching while you're on a road trip. Also, things to consider include your jumper cables. So funny story, but also not funny as well. We actually forgot our jumper cables. We actually didn't own jumper cables for our car at all. And for some reason we left the door open of our car. Either the door open or the light was on, left overnight. And we were ready to leave the trip and we're heading home about to head home and our car was dead. So, please do not forget your jumper cables because you will be in a pickle if you do not have them. Luckily our Airbnb host had jumper cables, but that was a good reminder for us to have it in the car for just in case of emergencies.

Next we have chargers. So, using your phone for playing music, driving instructions will all eat up your battery. So you always want to bring your phone chargers with you and it's best if you have a car adapter that allows for multiple USB ports that you and your other passengers can be able to charge their phones at the same time. Don't forget to bring your phone charger and any other phones you have bring those charges as well. Don't only bring one because you don't want to be fighting and competing on whose phone will get charged. Kyle and I have been there where we've only brought one charger and literally one of our phones is dying and we're trying to compete to see who's more worthy of the charger.

Next, I want to remind you to pack an umbrella or a raincoat or a rain poncho. The weather can be unpredictable sometimes. So you want to always be ready. I like to have my umbrella or my raincoat in my trunk or already in my bag. So I never have to remember to pack it, even when the forecast says it's sunny, it's not always the case, there may be impromptu rain showers, so you want to be ready. Now, snacks are a non negotiable for us. We are always making sure we have a mix of fruit and packed goods in our travel bag because we know that we are definitely going to get hungry on the road that could like grapes that could look like granola bars, peanuts, cashews, that sort of thing, so that we don't have to worry about messes and stickiness. All of that can be really, really inconvenience when it comes to road trips.

Speaking of messes, you definitely want to make sure you have your paper towels, you have tissues, you have perhaps water wipes to just help you be able to tackle any of the messes that may come from, anything that spills or anything that's sticky when you're on the road. Hydration is also really important. So I recommend bringing with you a reusable water bottle for every person in the car so that you will be able to keep hydrated. Also, try to find a water bottle that doesn't need to be screwed at the top. So perhaps a mug with a built in straw or a sliding opener would be a perfect option to avoid any spilling. We also try to avoid any sugary drinks just in case if they spill their going to stain, they're going to smell and it's just like really inconveniencing when you're on the road for a couple of hours to have to deal with the smell of coffee for example or the smell of some type of orange juice or something like that. So make sure you're packing water, but also pack of paper towels and your wipes so that you can be able to clean up as well.

Another thing that I think is really important for road trip is first aid. So just in case if there comes an issue where you need, let's say bandages or gloves or ointments, you want to have all of this built in and have it in your car. So just leaving it in your car and you never have to really worry about it being there because it will always be there for you. Sunglasses and sunscreen -- we don't leave our house without our shades when it's nice outside. So we love bringing our sunglasses with us but we also think it's really important to bring sunscreen with us that we don't get sunburned and not have to worry about discomfort while we are enjoying and basking in the sun, whether that's going to the beach or going on a hiking trip, we definitely make sure that we have our sunscreen.

With that being said, I also recommend bringing any prescription that you have or over the counter medications. We always bring some Ibuprofen or Tylenol with us just in case if one of us has a headache so we are able to tackle that we don't have to necessarily go to a drugstore. Alright, so that's very important, trash bags don't forget to have trash bags in your car because we've talked about, you may have snacks, you may have just things that you may need to toss out during your trip. So having a trash bag is just a great way to be able to have everything neatly organized in the trash.

Additionally, don't forget hand sanitizers. We have a large hand sanitizer in our car and the glove compartment. However, we still bring with us smaller hand sanitizers as well for easy access. So hand sanitizers. We also have spare face masks as well. There are places that will require you to have a face mask on, so that allows us to make sure that we're covered and we'll be able to enter certain establishments. On occasion you may need a pen and paper. This happens to me all the time where I'm like, oh my gosh, I need a pen and paper right now and I don't have it. So don't forget to just have a pen and paper in your backpack or in your car so that if you just need to write something down or you need to sign something that is readily available for you.

If you're like me and you enjoy taking photos. Don't forget your selfie stick. Kyle and I are, it's usually just the two of us. So we don't usually have other people taking photos of us. So having a selfie stick allows us to capture those candid moments of each other together. Don't forget your selfie stick. So you're self reliant. You don't have to ask other people to take your photos.

Another thing that is very important probably at the top of my list is making sure you're bringing credit cards that allow for the most cash back. We know we're financial savvy travelers out here and we want to make sure that we are earning the most points and miles. So here are the three types of cards or three spending categories I'm very mindful of so definitely travel. So if a card is offering maximum points for travel, I am definitely making sure that card is with me. I'm also looking to bring cards that maximize restaurants as well. Gas because these are all things that we're going to be utilizing on our road trip. We're going to be going to gas stations were going to be going to restaurants, going out to eat and just in case for travel, but usually our accommodations are booked and things like that just in case I want to make sure I have my credit cards that are going to maximize my spending category. The only thing I just want to remind you is that card pointers is my favorite app for figuring out which credit card to use while I'm on the go. So I'll have my base of my cards that I know I'm going to be using during the trip, but I may forget or I just may need a reminder of which card to use. So then I just go to my card pointers app and I just make sure that I'm using the right card and maximizing the most points of miles that I can earn for that particular spending category. I'll have the links to download card pointers app in the show notes for you because Kyle and I are craft beer enthusiasts, we love a nice bottle of wine, We make sure to always have a wine cork and also a can't opener with us in our travel bag at all times. So that actually stays in our travel bag never comes out. So we never forget that. And on occasion we actually may go ahead and bring our favorite alcohol beverages with us packing our bags when we get to destination, we'll have something to enjoy and drink. So don't forget your wine corks, don't forget your can openers as well.

On a recent road trip, one of my friends actually brought me a pair of comfy slippers that I was able to use during our stay and I really enjoyed it. It made me feel homey. So I definitely recommend for you to bring a pair of comfy slippers or even just a simple pair of flip flops, you don't necessarily have to be walking barefoot when you're at the destination. So I'm now a big fan of just packing comfy slippers with me. Also it can get cold sometimes, so don't be afraid to pack a pair of blankets. This could be useful for when you're in the car, but also when you're cuddled up on the couch and you just kind of want to just be comforted. So don't forget to pack your blankets. I just love them so I could feel warm and comfortable all around. We have also in the past packed cards and other board games, small board games that we may want to play a lot of times they actually don't end up using it. But you know when you're out in the cabinets, maybe you don't have wifi, you don't have like good service. So some card games and board games will be really, really helpful to help you pass the time. I just want to remind you also to bring cash with you. Of course we want to maximize our points and miles and propel ourselves to more travel using our credit cards. But on occasion you may be finding yourself at a place where they don't accept card and they only accept cash and you want to be prepared. So carrying a small sum of cash with you can be really helpful, especially if you're going to rural places. So a lot of rural places like diners that we have gone to is cash only. So that allows us to be prepared. Have you ever gone on a road trip or you did not have a phone mount in your car? It is the absolute worst, absolute worst. Trying to look down at the GPS and keep your eye on the road and not fight with your partner because you almost missed the exit. So make sure you have a car phone mount, so you can have your phone and all your navigations hands free and no arguments, no arguments here. Now, lastly, just in case you find yourself having to use a gas station toilet, you want to make sure you have your toilet paper, so have a roll of toilet paper or two just in case so far. We've been lucky we haven't had to worry about using the bathroom in public. Not that I think or at least not me personally, which is why your toilet paper is important, your hand sanitizer important, which let's make sure we're clean after that experience.

Okay, technically this is not for road trips, but I always forget to bring a shower cap. I forget to bring a shower cap where I don't want my hair, but then I end up wearing my hair in the shower. So please don't forget your shower cap, have that in your travel bag already. My big takeaway for you is that they're going to be quite a few items that you should already have in your travel bag. So you don't have to remember to pack those things because that is where they live. That is where they stay and then they're going to be a few items that maybe you will pack because it's not necessarily saying that you need all the time. Or maybe you need it in particular for this trip, like my hiking gear may only be things that I bring with me in particular trips versus something like pen and paper, which I will probably need for any and all trips. So I would just remind you after this episode to just look at your travel bag, go into your travel bag, look at it and see what are the things that you can just have planted in there that are going to be staples for every road trip you go on so that you don't have to necessarily remember to pack it like our corkscrew stays in our travel bag and that is exclusively for travel purposes. We don't use it on an everyday basis so that again when it comes to going, we have lessons to worry about and lessons to pack overall.

I hope soon I'll be able to share what to pack for road trips with a baby, but in the meantime I want to hear from you what items are essential to pack for your road trips. What items did I miss? I'd absolutely love to hear from you head over to the thought card on twitter or @thedanielledesir on Instagram and reply to me. Either on a post or a DM me, I'd love to hear from you. What are you packing on your road trips. What did I miss?

Also a big thank you again to Knack Bags for sponsoring this episode and also the next episode which I'm super excited for. It's all about defining your travel style at the top of this episode. I talked about how my travel style has changed After 2020. It was no longer about passport stamps and flights. It became more about local travel, it became more about road trips. So our travel styles has changed and I definitely want to dig into that a lot deeper in the next episode. So stay tuned. Oh, before I forget, I actually have the checklist of all the items we cover today for you. So head over to podcast dot dot card dot com, search for episode one oh one and in the show notes you'll be able to go ahead and download this checklist. Okay, see you the next one. Bye mm hmm. I hope you enjoyed this episode. But don't forget there's way more where that came from. When you become a supporter of the show, you'll get bonus episodes, additional tips on affording travel real time updates as well as strategies for building wealth and creating multiple income streams. Head over to thought card dot com forward slash join to support. Also be sure to follow me on instagram. I'm at the Danielle Desir slide in my DM and share with me your thoughts about this episode. What did you enjoy what stood out to you? Let me know, I'd absolutely love to connect with you outside of the podcast. See you in the next one.

Here’s how to redeem our Knack Bags special offer.

Get a Knack bag and use the code ‘TTCKNACK’ to get a free TSA-approved lock with purchase; add the TSA lock to your cart with your Knack bag, enter the code and get it for free.

Please share this episode with a friend and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. I really appreciate all of your support! 

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What To Pack For Road Trips Checklist

In this episode, we cover:

  • What to pack for a road trip
  • Foods to pack for road trips
  • Toiletries for road trips
  • Things to keep in your car, and more!

What To Bring On Road Trips

  • Music or podcast playlist
    • Here’s a list of travel podcasts I recommend.
  • iPad to watch movies or shows
  • Car jumper cables
  • Charges for electronics
  • Umbrella, raincoat, or poncho
  • Snacks (grapes, crackers, peanuts, granola bars)
  • Paper towels
  • Tissues
  • Water wipes
  • Reusable water bottle
  • First Aid
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications
  • Thrash bags
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Face masks
  • Pen and paper
  • Selfie stick
  • Credit cards that maximize particular spending categories
  • Corkscrew and can opener
  • Slippers or flip-flops
  • Blankets
  • Cards and board games
  • Cash
  • Car phone mount
  • Toilet paper
  • Shower cap
  • [Bonus] Travel guidebooks – discover reasons to use a guidebook when travel planning and why they are worth it.

Resources Mentioned

CardPointers can help you save more money by earning more cash back, points, and miles. When you are in a checkout line, quickly glance at your app to see which credit card will earn you the most points. Most users save $750+ per year.

Knack Bags: Slim and lightweight for everyday use but also expands when you need it. Knack Bags are functional, accessible, and stylish. I love that it packs like a suitcase (opening horizontally), so I don’t have to dig for items in the dark.

Get a Knack bag and use the code ‘TTCKNACK’ to get a free TSA-approved lock with purchase; add the TSA lock to your cart with your Knack bag, enter the code and get it for free.

Your Road Trip Packing Guide (blog post)

Other Episodes You’ll Enjoy

Episode 69: How I Became a Financially Savvy Traveler

Episode 79: How To Get Free Hotel Upgrades With Julia Menez

Episode 32: Affording Luxury Travel With Nadeen White

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