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Couple Driving Down Country Road

The 5 Most Essential Road Trip Items

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Whether you’re driving the high speed Interstate or sticking to the back roads, a road trip lets you really experience the country. Before you hit the road, make sure you pack these 5 essential items.

Maps (and plenty of them)

In the age of smartphones, you might think you don’t need a map. But phones run out of charge, and there are still plenty of places with bad reception. Make sure you get current maps of all the areas you plan to travel, and multiple maps to make sure you have enough detail. A good GPS system is also worthwhile investment, but make sure you have backup maps just in case.

Also, a map is a fun way for passengers (and kids) to map their progress, figure out possible other routes, and try their hand at navigating.

Music (or other audio)

Whether it’s the perfect playlist on your iPhone or a binder full of CDs, a good soundtrack instantly destroys boredom. If road-tripping with friends, it’s also a great way to share your favorite music.

And you’re not limited to music. Take out a collection of audio books from the library, or download them from online services. For kids, grab some sing-along albums or soundtracks to their favorite animated musicals. Just remember to mix it up so you’re not listening to the same thing over and over.

Snacks (and food-like items)

You don’t have to settle for gas station fare when you get peckish. Bring a selection of fruit, nuts, goodies, and water when you start out. While on the road, stock up at roadside stands (great for fresh seasonal fruit) or at local shops for more unique finds.

Being on the road can also be pretty taxing, so bring a selection of pick-me-ups, like energy shots, sports drinks, vitamin mixes to add to water, or your favorite protein bars. Try to find the right balance of healthy to unhealthy, especially when traveling with kids.

Power (both plug-in and mobile)

Between music, pictures, GPS, games, and more, you will quickly drain your smartphones, tablets, and other electronic devices. Make sure you have the right power cords for them, and a power converter for the jack in your car. If you lose one or forget it, many truck stops will have replacements.

For the things that don’t plug in, such as many cameras, make sure you have more than enough batteries. If you want to make sure you’ll always have power, you can get battery packs with a variety of plugs.

Kits (of all shapes and sizes)

A travel first aid kit is a must. Start with a standard setup, then augment it with items like prescriptions, extra glasses, and medicine (such as inhalers). An emergency kit is another essential item. In addition to the standard auto emergency collection, make sure you have emergency water bottles, protein bars, and comfortable walking shoes.

Many of these kits can be found an auto store in levels form basic kits to deluxe. Before you head out, double check that your car has the tire-changing essentials, and that you know how to use them. If you’re a member of an auto club, make sure your membership is current.

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