I believe that the most meaningful vacations are not just about the destination, but the journey you take getting from A to Z. My favorite vacations that we have taken together have been road trips. There is nothing like taking time together to see the country, talk, and explore new places as you go. Plus it’s something that you can do on a budget!
I love the freedom and flexibility that a road trip can give. You can stop whenever it suits you, take whatever detours tickle your fancy, and find hidden treasures in unexpected places. There is nothing more soothing to my soul than listening to music and admiring an empty landscape. It is the perfect setting for deep, life changing conversations and confessions.
There are several things I always make sure to have with me whenever we set out on a road trip adventure. I like knowing I have everything I need at my fingertips so that when I do set out, I don’t have to worry! A lot of these items are things you should always have in your car, so if you invest in them once you will be all set for your next trip and the ones that follow!
List of Essentials:
Here are some of our tried and true Road Trip Essentials to help you get through your road trip without any hiccups!
But before we get to the fun stuff (i.e. snacks!) we need to talk safety.
I know, road trips are supposed to be carefree, spontaneous, and spur of the moment! And yours will be too… if you take a little time to prepare!
Any time we took a family road trip my dad would always make sure that the car had an oil change and there wasn’t anything wrong with the car. Also making sure you have a spare tire is a good idea. These are easy things to check that can save you a big headache later!
Once you know your car is good to go, you can start stocking it with all the things you are going to need on your trip:
1. Emergency Kit
The first thing I always make sure that I have with me is an emergency kit with jumper cables and basic first aid. If you are taking a road trip in a season where you may run into bad road conditions like snow, I suggest finding a kit with a small shovel for snow removal. (When we drive to AZ for Christmas we always have to travel through snow!)
This is a one time investment that you won’t regret buying! You may need to use your emergency kit to help others, not just yourself.
I usually purchase a case of water bottles when I am at the grocery store stocking up on snacks, (more about that in a minute) or grab a couple gallons of water at the gas station before you go.
It is so important to have water on hand not just for hydration but also in case your radiator needs it! You can even pack some into a cooler that is ready to go for you to drink on the go. I love to bring a refillable tumbler or water bottle that I can keep topping off. I have a bad habit of drinking too much soda on road trips and getting dehydrated later, so making sure I have water on hand is a must for me!
3. Emergency Blanket
Something else I like to bring on road trips is a blanket. You can bring an old one from home or purchase one that has a nice waterproof backing. This comes in handy if you want to stop somewhere and have an impromptu picnic or nap!
It has also come in handy to have a blanket from home in case you stop and stay somewhere with questionable bedding… I hope I’m not the only one that worries about this! Haha
4. Phone Charger
Make sure you have a car charger with you, so you don’t run out of battery! Sometimes if you’re in a remote area and your phone is roaming you can lose battery quickly, so make sure you have a charger handy.
You can also buy extra long charger cables so you can comfortably use your phone while it is plugged in, or if you have back seat passengers along for the ride, they can easily charge their phones!
We also like to bring portable chargers along just in case.
5. Hand Sanitizer/Wet Wipes
This is a big one! I can’t tell you how many times you will need these along the road.
Wipes are a must for spills in the car, dirty hands, and so much more. Hand sanitizer is especially good on the off chance you stop at a restroom with no soap, or want to stop for a picnic and need to clean those hands before eating!
6. Garbage Can/Bag
Make sure you get a place to stow that trash! I don’t like sitting in a dirty car and try to always empty out trash at each stop or collect it in a bag. You can just have some plastic bags in your car for convenience or buy a fancy, waterproof trash can for your car that you can reuse! I found some really fancy ones on Amazon that are so nice to have.
It’s always good to keep a cooler for drinks, healthy snacks like fruit and veggies, or if you want to pack sandwiches with you for an on the go lunch. And if you need a place to store those gummies and chocolates you brought so they don’t melt, a cooler is your best friend!
The most important part of a road trip for Will and I is definitely making sure we have good snacks on hand!! My biggest tip is buying them before you go, because you can always find cheaper and in many cases healthier snacks at the grocery store than you can in the gas station.
My favorite way to shop for snacks is to head over to my local WinCo (if you are in a state that doesn’t have these, I’m sorry! Whole Foods and Sprouts are also great ones) I love WinCo because that have bulk bins where you can buy nuts, dried fruit, and candy and make your own home-made trail mix for much cheaper than buying it. Or you can leave the fruit and nuts separate if you like!
My favorite road-trip snacks are:
- Nuts (usually almonds, peanuts, and cashews)
- Dried fruit like raisins or apricots
- Pretzels (can also be found in bulk bins at a lot of stores) Will loves the peanut butter filled kind
- Chips! I love them all haha
- Sunflower Seeds to keep us awake
- Beef Jerky
- String Cheese
- Gummies! Haribo is our preferred brand
Some other delicious homemade treats and snacks that are great to bring are:
- Homemade granola or trail mix
- Protein Bars
- Breakfast Cookies
- Any other kind of cookie!
- Chex Mix, sweet or salty
- Seasoned pretzels
I pretty much try not to go too crazy with the chips and candy, only because we like to stop at delicious diners and restaurants along the way, and I don’t always wanna order a salad!