The summer is right around the corner, which means one thing: road trip time! While getting out of your city to drive to a new destination sounds exciting, packing can get exhausting. It may even be your least favorite part about traveling. We get it – you want to make sure you pack all the things you’ll need but also not overdo it. Whether you’re going on a three-hour drive to Philadelphia for the weekend or road tripping to immerse yourself in nature at Hunter Mountain in New York, there are some important things you must take with you to make your drive as smooth as possible. To make sure you bring everything you need, here’s what to pack for road trips.
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way we travel. Between social distancing, wearing masks, enhanced cleaning procedures, and the changing state guidelines and restrictions, there’s a lot to consider before hitting the road. Grab a free copy of Planning Local Trips During the Pandemic for best practices when traveling during these unprecedented times.
What To Bring On a Road Trip
by Alejandra Arevalo
Fully Loaded Playlist
The right playlist can make or break a long ride, so prepare in advance of your trip. A combination of podcasts and music would be great to make sure you’re enjoying a variety of voices and styles. If you have a chance, ask everyone coming for their favorite songs and make a mix of hit songs that everyone can sing along to. Don’t forget a mix of calm music for when your friends or family members want to take a nap.
Here’s a list of recommended travel podcasts to listen to during road trips.
Your friends and family might want some entertainment during the drive so bringing fully charged tablets with movies and games is a great choice. But watching a screen or reading might cause motion sickness, so also getting over-the-counter medications like Dramamine or Gravol would be a good call.
Using your phone for playing music or driving directions will eat up your battery so always bring phone chargers. Get a 2-for-1 phone charger and car adapter with multiple USB inputs and then ask each person to bring their own charging cables. This way, you can easily charge your phones and other electronic devices on the way. A hands-free phone car mount will also come in handy.
Raincoat or Umbrella
Weather can be unpredictable so you must be ready for anything. Always carry an umbrella or a raincoat in your trunk even if the forecast says it will be sunny. You don’t want to get wet by an impromptu rain shower.
Depending on how long your drive is, you’ll be craving some munchies along the way. Get a mix of fresh and packaged goods. Fruits are a great snack but make sure to choose hand-eating-friendly and mess-free fruits such as grapes, bananas, and apples. Go to your favorite local bakery to get some treats for the road but also get nuts, popped popcorn, and tortilla chips. Always have a trash bag in hand so that you can discard any fruit peels and garbage.
Hydration is key, so make sure to take filled-up reusable water bottles for every person in the car. For accessibility purposes, the driver should have a water bottle that doesn’t require unscrewing a top, so a mug with a straw or sliding opener would be a perfect option. Avoid sugary drinks because if they spill, the stains and smell might be hard to avoid during the trip. Of course, spills and messes sometimes happen, so pack paper towels and baby wipes for clean up.
If at any point you leave your car lights on with the engine off, you run the risk of killing your car battery. It’s crucial to have jumper cables in case you need to recharge your battery by plugging it into another car or external source.
Are you still wondering what to pack for road trips? We must acknowledge that the pandemic is still going on so please take extra health precautions. Always have an extra set of face masks for everyone on board and a large bottle of hand sanitizer. You should also have a fire extinguisher and first aid kit in your trunk just in case. Check out the Red Cross for a full list of supplies you should carry, like bandages, gloves, and ointment. If anyone on board requires any medication, make sure to pack those too.
Sunglasses and Sunscreen
Driving in the summer means lots of sunlight. A pair of sunglasses can be a total game-changer to avoid eye fatigue and help you see better. Apply a good amount of sunscreen with SPF 30+ before the ride to avoid getting sunburned.
Final note – This isn’t exactly a packing tip, but it’s something you should do before your road trip to save money. Fill up your tank the night before your trip so that the following day you can leave without delays. I know it sounds obvious, but starting a road trip with a half-empty tank can be a costly fault, especially if you need to get gas in a rural area where there are scarce stations and gas tends to be more expensive.
Now you’re all set. Enjoy your next adventure!
What To Pack For Road Trips
- Music playlist
- Podcast playlist (don’t forget to follow The Thought Card Podcast)
- Entertainment (Netflix app, movies, etc.)
- Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications
- Phone chargers and electronics chargers
- Raincoat or umbrella
- Thrash bags
- Paper towels
- Reusable water bottles
- Phone car mount
- Jumper cables
- First Aid
- Face masks
- Hand sanitizers
Did we miss anything? What do you never leave home without when packing for road trips? Let us know in the comments below.
Alejandra Arevalo is a bilingual journalist and visual artist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s covered several beats including social justice, food, beauty, entertainment and travel. On top of her journalism work, she’s illustrating a digital-native graphic novel with a tentative release date in Fall 2021. Whenever she isn’t writing, drawing or photographing, you can find her biking around the city or playing with her cat Mochi.