Top 10 Essentials for Your Summer Road Trip

A few months ago, we wrote an article about the best road trips to take from the Twin Cities area. If you’re like us, you might be thinking about taking the kids out on the open road now that school is out and the weather is nice. To make sure you have a lovely trip with your family and your vehicle, we’ve put together a list of essential items we’ve found helpful:

1. GPS and/or Map

Unless you’re a super adventurous type, you probably want to know where you’re going on your road trip. Luckily, most of us have access to a map app via our cell phones, but it’s also useful to have an external GPS in case service is poor. If that fails, you can never go wrong with a good old fashioned paper map.

2. Healthy Snacks

There’s nothing worse than being trapped in a car with kids on a sugar high. If you’re traveling with children or even just on your own, you’ll feel better and stay more energized if you pack a range of healthy snacks and even some non-messy meals. Whether snacking in the car or taking a picnic break at a rest stop, you’ll be thankful you packed snacks instead of stopping for fast food or picking up junk food at a gas station.

3. Water and Other Refreshing Beverages

There’s nothing more refreshing than an ice cold beverage when you’re cruising down the road. Save money by buying cases of your favorite soda, juices, and bottled water and storing a selection of them in an icy cooler.

4. Audiobooks, CDs, or Playlists

While your kids are plugged into their ipad games or portable dvd players, you’re going to need something to listen to. Whether you make a road-worthy playlist on your phone or ipod or download audiobooks via audible.com, you’ll appreciate something to occupy your ears while you drive or ride.

5. Baby Wipes

Whether you’re traveling with a baby or not, baby wipes are a great way to clean up little messes while you’re on the road. You never know what’s going to spill or where you might find sticky snack residue. You’ll feel fresher if you have wipes to tidy up any messes you may encounter.

6. First Aid Kit

Any time you’re heading out on the road, you should have a first aid kit in your car. You never know what might happen or what emergency situations you may encounter. When heading on a road trip, think beyond the basic band-aid and gauze first aid kit and make sure to pack more common remedies like motion sickness medicine and Advil.

7. Car Emergency Kit

A car emergency kit, like a first aid kit, is something you should have in your car at all times, but it’s extra important when heading out on a long road trip. Just in case of a mechanical issue, you’ll want to make sure to have jumper cables, reflective warning triangles, a tire gauge, flashlights and extra batteries, a utility knife, bottles of water, and non-perishable snacks.

8. Sunglasses

Sunglasses might sound like a no-brainer, but if you forget them, you’ll be miserable driving down the road with the sun in your eyes. Make sure to pack your favorites and have a spare in the glove compartment just in case your main pair breaks.

9. Movies and Books

If you’re traveling with children, keeping them busy with books and movies is key. In today’s age of built-in DVD players in many vehicles, kids can stay entertained for hours with their favorite movies and shows. If your vehicle isn’t equipped with a built-in  DVD player, load your kids’ favorite movies onto a tablet or invest in a portable DVD player. Even if you’re not with kids, bring your favorite movies and books to keep from getting bored.

10. Car Phone Charger

When spending long days on the road, you’ll want to make sure you can keep your phone fully charged, especially if you’re using it to play music and audiobooks, or to provide directions. It’s also critical to have a working phone in the event of an emergency. 

Did we leave out any of your favorite road trip essentials? Let us know in the comments below!

Image by Nicholas A. Tonelli via flickr.com, licensed under CC by 2.0