Planning ahead of a road trip isn’t just about ensuring enjoyment; it’s a crucial aspect of safety as well. Having a grasp of travel essentials before embarking on a road trip can preemptively save you from various hassles.
However, even seasoned road trippers acknowledge that comprehensive pre-trip planning and a savvy approach to road navigation are travel essentials and vital for a safe journey. To provide some expert insights into the dos and don’ts, we consulted with individuals well-versed in making road trips hassle-free.
While a reliable car, an excellent playlist, and a flexible schedule are travel essentials, it’s the room for spontaneity within that flexibility that often brings the most memorable experiences.
Below is a list of the Top 10 travel essentials before starting a road trip for every type of traveler.
List of 10 Travel essentials before starting a road trip
1. Vehicle full Tune-Up before you Leave:
During an extensive road journey, your vehicle can either be a dependable ally or a significant inconvenience. To tilt the odds in favor of the former, consider scheduling a comprehensive tune-up a week or two prior to departure as travel essentials. Engaging a professional to examine your oil levels, and tire pressure, and to ensure the efficient functioning of your battery, brakes, and engine will significantly reduce the chances of an unforeseen breakdown on the road or the need to summon a tow truck at short notice.
2. Tidying up the house:
We recommend making “a list of things as travel essentials to take care of while you’re away, including mail, lawn and garden, and houseplants. If you’re worried about leaving the house empty for days (or weeks), “Installing a home security system before you leave can offer peace of mind.”
3. Download Maps, Entertainment, and Road Trip applications:
If you want to avoid data charges at the end of your trip, you’ll need to download everything over Wi-Fi before you leave. download Google Maps ahead of time so you don’t have to use (or need) data to navigate. The same goes for Spotify playlists and whatever shows or movies you need to keep young travelers entertained. “Apps like Netflix, Spotify, and Facebook are all seeing spikes due to heavy usage. Control your data in app settings. You can set how much data an app can use, and you can prevent photos from loading in your feed until you’re on Wi-Fi.
Apart from suggesting the Roadtrippers planning app, we also advise hikers to consider downloading Waze for real-time traffic updates, GasBuddy for locating and comparing gas prices, and Recreation.gov for efficiently managing campground reservations. These apps can significantly enhance your travel experience and streamline your road trip preparations.
4. With a view to the tech accessories you need to stay online and in control:
Pack a car charger (or upgrade to this multi-phone car charger) and make sure you have somewhere to put your phone so you can check directions without fumbling or looking down. This universal magnetic car mount from WizGear hooks into your car’s air vent to keep your phone in sight—and it’s under $10.
5. Leaving home with a refrigerator for snacks and drinks:
While gas stations and fast-food joints are abundant on the route, relying solely on burgers, fries, and snacks might grow tiresome swiftly. Consider preparing your cooler with pre-cut veggies, fruits, nuts, sandwiches, and a variety of healthy snacks. For a light caffeine boost and hydration during the journey, Gojai Caffeinated Sparkling Water could be a refreshing option to keep you energized throughout the day. These provisions can ensure a balanced and satisfying travel experience.
6. Accessories to maintain order and cleanliness during the trip:
When you live in your car, things can get messy quickly. Bring wet wipes, paper towels, and hand sanitizer, and store everything in the seat back organizer (this one has a trash compartment, a tissue holder, and a place to store water bottles or tissues) as travel essentials. When packing your car, load the things you won’t need first and then load them later, so the things you’ll use throughout the trip will be more accessible.
7. Plan everything so that there is no room for spontaneity:
One of the best parts of a road trip is having the freedom to stop, explore, and change your route at any time. “Once you plan your trip, you can always deviate from your plan, but it’s a good idea to do your research beforehand to get the most out of your trip,” Boman said. “Travels are all about the journey – of course, time or budget constraints may dictate the route, but the detours and unexpected stops are often the most memorable moments of the trip.”
8. Stop to stretch your legs often enough:
Maintaining a clear-cut destination might seem tempting, but bypassing potential side trips and highway attractions might deprive you of the true essence of the journey. These unexpected detours often lead to discovering quirky places, such as an Airbnb shaped like a colossal beagle, or uncovering picturesque hiking trails just off the road.
One of the most common oversights on road trips is not making enough stops to stretch and walk. To maintain alertness and ensure safe driving, it’s advisable to stop approximately every hour for a brief stretch, be it for refueling, grabbing a coffee, or simply taking a short walk as travel essentials. Additionally, incorporating a 30-minute break every four to five hours, as recommended by the Journal of Safety Research, can effectively combat fatigue during lengthy drives.
9. Drive with a transmission (or know-how) to change a flat tire:
One of the travel essentials is to ensure your vehicle, including rental cars, includes a spare tire and all necessary tools—jack, wrench, and owner’s manual—for tire replacement. Verify that the spare is fully inflated. If your vehicle lacks a spare tire, acquire one along with the essential tools before embarking on your journey. Acquiring some basic instruction, either through online tutorials or in-person guidance, on how to replace a flat tire is essential. Relying on a Google search in remote locations can prove challenging and take away from your journey experience.
10. Emergency kit:
As travel essentials, make sure to equip yourself for potential mishaps on the road. Carry a flashlight with spare batteries, a tire pressure gauge, jump leads, a car battery charger (or an extra battery), additional water, a supply of energy bars, and essential first aid items such as pain relievers, bandages, and scissors. These provisions can be invaluable in case of emergencies during your journey.