road trip essentials

Wanderlust for me is year-round, but there is something about the approaching summer that encourages many to finalize their travel plans and take off for a week. While generally the quickest and easiest route to a destination is via plane, there is a certain art and finesse to the road trip that can’t be beat.

So, what does one do to prepare to hit the pavement? Here are a few necessities to make the trip go smoothly.

1. Get your car checked out.

Even if you don’t go so far as to bring your car in to your local express shop (think Jiffy Lube or Valvoline) for a full tune-up or synthetic oil change, do a self-check to make sure everything is in good condition. Check how worn down your tires are, your window washing fluid level, oil level, windshield wiper function, etc. You may find that something is amiss that you have been putting off. Trust me, during your trip in a town you don’t know in the middle of a storm is not the way to find out that your wipers are practically useless!

2. Pump up the jams.

I recommend having a few music apps downloaded on your phone, a few playlists created, and some back up CD’s! Depending on how long the legs are during your trip, your car mates may all be asleep and you’ll need some good tunes to occupy yourself. Reception can be spotty in remote places, which is why saving music directly to your phone, downloading podcasts ahead of time, or reliving the glory days of your old CD mixes are a more assured way to have access to music.

 … there is a certain art and finesse to the road trip that can’t be beat.

3. Gather “the things.”

What is everything you may possibly want in your car when there is absolutely nothing around? Car charger for your phone. Snacks like pretzels, tangerines, and some bottled water. Jumping cables (and a AAA card?), paper towels, hand sanitizer, a flashlight, a pocketknife. As a rule of thumb, think of a camping trip! Let me also  say that an impromptu wine night calls for the corkscrew in that pocketknife, and alcohol-based hand sanitizer gets tree sap out of hair (tried and proven by yours truly). It isn’t a bad idea to bring some folding chairs and a tent, too – you never know when a beach or forest will be too good to pass up!

4. Be positive.

Hours upon hours with a group of people in a car will bring out every sleep-deprived and hangry shade. Remember to bring a great attitude, work together, and consider each other’s feelings in each and every situation. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you want a song change or feel too tired to drive –road trip companions are instant family.

With a little flexibility, lots of car games (some of them made up on the spot), and a splash of delusional laughter, you will have the trip of a lifetime. So happy travels, take lots of photos, and cherish the new sights and memories!

Do you have a favorite road trip destination? Where?

Image via Anna Howard


  1. Great ideas! I’m thinking I would also add a first aid kit to #3. This definitely puts me in the mood to hit the road asap!

  2. I’m driving from Phoenix to Vegas in September with two friends so i’ll be sure to take your advice in advance! 😉

  3. Great tips! We’re heading out new year for the ultimate road trip. We’re becoming full time RVers and traveling the country in our Airstream for as long as it feels right. We will definitely need all four of these things each time we set out. I’m thinking a bunch of different playlists based on the type of move/ area of the country/ planned activities etc. Road trips are soo much fun!

  4. These are great tips! I’ll pretty much go anywhere on a road trip (though my limit might be 24 hours before a hotel). My family and I took tons of road trips when I was young and not only did they help us bond, but I’m also pretty sure they’re the reason I never get carsick anymore!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *