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The great American road trip is a fantastic tradition. Whether you are hoping to cross just a few states or are going to be traversing the entire country, doing so in a car gives you the chance to see more, meet new people, and have new experiences. However, while it might sound romantic, jumping straight in the car with nothing but a change of underwear and a toothbrush is not advisable if you want to avoid an uncomfortable and stressful journey. Then again, you don’t want to be weighed down with unnecessary luggage, so packing can be a complicated task. If you’re planning a road trip, here is a checklist of essential and helpful items to take with you.
In addition to your car registration and license, you should keep a printed copy of your insurance policy, including contact numbers, and information on any roadside assistance you have access to.
You never know when you may need a usable spare tire and extra bulbs for lights, so they are essential, but you should also take a high-visibility vest, flashlight, light sticks, a warning triangle, tire pressure gauge, battery booster cables, and rainproof clothing.
While many of us have come to rely on apps for directions, we cannot always rely on cell service, so it makes sense to download directions/maps before you set off. You should take a traditional paper map to in case your cell battery dies.
Again, we are used to using cards as payment, but sometimes cash is the only option, so make sure you have some cash and change in the car for tolls, parking meters, and emergency purchases.
Minor accidents and injuries are not uncommon when you are on the road, so be sure to pack some basic first aid supplies like antiseptic wipes, band-aids, bandages, painkillers, and bug spray/ointment.
Depending on what time of the year it is and where you’re going, you might need sunscreen, sunglasses, umbrella, rainwear, gloves, hat, scarf, ice scraper, and/or a snow shovel.
Staying hydrated will be important whatever the weather, especially if you are stranded or lost, so be sure to keep some drinking water in the car.
Your toiletry bag should include body wipes, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush or comb, hair ties, lip balm, deodorant, hand sanitizer, and dry shampoo. You should also pack some tissues and toilet paper to ensure you are always prepared. Some mouthwash or mints will also help to keep you feeling fresh on the road. Some motels or rest stops will not provide towels, so take one or two with you just to be safe.
Driving for long distances can take its toll on the body, and it is important to stay comfortable and prevent injury. You should at least pack a travel pillow, weighted travel blanket, an extra jacket, and a travel mug. You might also want to pack a seat support for your back, compression socks for road trips, and UV window shade to protect you from the glaring sun on one side of the road.
Whether you are grabbing some supplies at a store or heading out for a walk to stretch your legs, a reusable bag or backpack is important for carrying all your bits and pieces.
To prevent the car from turning into a mobile trash can, keep some bags for garbage in the car so you can clean it out regularly. The spray of an air freshener might also be useful to prevent the car from becoming stale.
Finally, you need to ensure you have a way of communicating with friends, family, and emergency services, so a phone charger is a vital piece of equipment. A Bluetooth headset or hands-free kit is also important for when you need to make calls while driving.Of course, technology is also great for keeping you and your passengers entertained on long journeys, and luckily modern cell phones and tablets can provide music, TV, movies, a camera, games, and books.