Road trip ready, set, go!
You have waited through an entire pandemic for this vacation! You are finally venturing out of your home to another maskless place. No matter where you are going or who you bring along for the ride, the good-ole fashioned road trip is BACK! Here is how to be road trip ready in 10 steps!
1. Check your ride
Typically, if you are renting your ride, this part should be done for you. I will be honest, whenever I have rented a car for a trip, in the pit of my stomach I really wonder if the car is fully serviced and safe. However, there are truly no reasons to not expect a ready vehicle when renting. Just make sure to ask whatever questions regarding car maintenance to be safe.
For the rest of us who use our own vehicles for the awesome road trip ahead, here are a few things you need to make sure are safe, especially for long drives. This list is short but necessary.
- Get an oil change
- Top off all fluids (coolant, window washer fluids)
- Make sure the battery is good
- If the engine light is on for any reason, have it checked out
- Check tire pressure
- Make sure tires are in good shape
- Clean out the car and leave only emergency items (road side flag, flares, spare tire and jack, jumper cables, first aid kit)
- Gas up!
2. Pack your snacks
Why is it we can get through an entire workday 8-10 hours long and survive on coffee, a packed lunch, and a few afternoon grapes, but for some reason, we go on a road trip and we end up starving after 30 minutes? As soon as I decide to go on a road trip, one of my first thoughts is what will I bring to eat? How will I ever survive sitting in a car, doing nothing but staring out the window, and not starve to death? If you want specific snack ideas, check out my post called The Top 20 Road Trip Snacks. Otherwise, here is what you definitely need to pack in your car:
- Cooler – the size depends on the length of your trip
- Water – a case of 24 bottles (if only up to 3 people in the car, 2 cases for up to 6 people)
- Fruit – apples, bananas, tangerines, grapes
- Popcorn, snack packs of chip varieties
- Cheese and Crackers
- Peanut butter – small jar for emergency protrein fix
3. Back up maps
This one really depends on your destination. Many of you reading this have never had the wonderful experience to refold a large paper state map. I finally got rid of mine a few years ago thanks to smartphones and Google. Now, of course, there are so many map apps at your fingertips, owning a paper map almost seems ridiculous. But, you need a backup plan. Believe it or not, there are still pockets in this country you can travel where you WILL lose your satellite connection. Plan your route ahead of time and save it for when you are off the grid. If you know your road trip will be “covered”, then look onto number 4!
One last mention about maps. Do an internet search for your location and see if you can find a small local map of the area in which you are traveling to. Many times, they include roads too small or new to be on your average map app.
When was the last time you left the house without any electronic device? When I traveled out west, I made the mistake of not having a cell car charger with me and did not realize it until I was over 4 hours away! By then, I had to stop at a gas station to purchase one, which was crap, and had to buy another one several hours later! Make sure you have your phone charger people!
Make sure to take inventory of all your devices, tablets, laptops, earbuds, and whatever other piece of equipment you bring and tally enough charge cords with your items. We all know this is common sense, but we all forget the simple things when we are excited to hit the road running!
5. Outdoor gear
Hopefully, your road trip will be free from any kind of weather disaster or disturbance, but, it is still best to plan for anything! Spring, Summer, and Autumn time travels mean the potential for rain! Make sure to have at least 2 operational umbrellas in your trunk at all times. In the winter, make sure to have a small shovel and cat litter for icy areas. If you wear rain boots, it might be a good idea to place them in the trunk before you pack up your other items. If you prefer ponchos over umbrellas, now is the time to tuck them away in the corner of the trunk. You will be thankful you did this should you actually need them! If you are bringing your bikes, make sure to pack up any biking gear such as helmets, gloves, any biking accessories.
6. Glove box necessities
What’s in your glove box? When is the last time you looked? Before leaving on your road trip, make sure to have your current car registration, proof of car insurance, and your car insurance information in case you need to reach out to them. Below are additional items to have in your glove box, or somewhere in your car:
- Car registration
- Proof of car insurance
- Car insurance information
- Several packs of matches
- Tire pressure gauge
- Small flashlight
- Small screwdriver – philips and flathead
- Window cleaning cloth
- Hand sanitizer
- Wet wipes
There are so many options for how to spend time in a car. Naturally, it depends on who you are traveling with and their ages. You will want to plan ahead how you plan to spend your road time and pack supplies accordingly. I broke down some old school popular ways to pass the time while on the road:
- “I Spy”
- License plate game
- Play Slug Bug
- Play the alphabet game “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing…apple, bear, cups, diapers, elephant,” etc. Start by saying the above phrase, then each person adds an item starting with the next letter of the alphabet
- Solve riddles
8. Bringing Fido? Remember the gear!
I drove across the country from Ohio to Arizona with my grandmother and her bird years ago. Then I repeated the drive years later with myself and 2 cats. What did I learn? Animals are messy, just like people. And they have stuff. So much stuff. For detailed accounts of packing with pets, check out The Top 7 Tips for Traveling with the Family Pet. Here are the important things to pack for your pets!
- Dog or cat carriers
- Pet food and extra water
- Food and water bowls
- Dog poop bags
- Cat litter and litter box with scooper
- Pet toys
- Pet calming products
- Current rabies tags
Make sure to wear comfy driving clothes. Loose-fitting, lightweight, and dress in layers. Temperatures can fluctuate daily. The heater or air conditioner can falter, you may always be hot and your carmate may always be cold. And thank goodness athleisure wear is IN!
10. Pack the luggage
The moment we have all been waiting for! Load up the car with your luggage! Try to pack only the necessities. Why is it, when we pack for a long weekend, we feel the need to bring 3 weeks of underwear? When do I ever wear 5 different pairs of shoes in a week but when I travel I suddenly need to wear a different pair of shoes for every day I am there? When I traveled to Europe I learned how to pack as light as I could. I was uncomfortable packing so light, but I learned and survived. I recommend you visit Rick Steve’s site as he is the master of everything travel for great advice on how to pack!
You are on your way!
I hope you found this page helpful as you plan your next road trip adventure! Happy travels!
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