Do a little planning before your next road trip, and it will be more enjoyable. There are several road trip essentials you will want to plan for or bring along, whether you’re traveling in the winter or summer. We have a list of items to pack and things to do to prepare for your trip so you’re ready for any situation. For more planning and travel tips, check out our ultimate guide to road trips in US. Then all you have to do is get behind the wheel and be on your way.
- 1. What to bring along for different seasons
- 2. What to bring in the car
- 3. What to bring if kids are along for the road trip
- 4. Pets
- 5. Food
- 6. Entertainment
1. What to Bring Along for Different Seasons
Whether taking a road trip during the summer or winter, you should keep in mind what to carry in case of an emergency, injury or sickness.
During winter, the weather is snowy and cold, making the roads more treacherous. There are things you will need to bring along that are different from what you would pack in summer or other seasons. Here are some things you should remember when packing for your winter road trip:
- Have an emergency phone number.
- Carry warm clothes, especially in winter. You will need warm socks, gloves, sweaters, hats and snow boots.
- If you have any medication, remember to carry it with you.
- Carry extra food for your trip. The food should be non-perishable; you will probably not cook while driving on your road trip.
- Don’t forget your winter road trip kit.
- Have the phone number for a roadside assistance service that can help you in case of emergencies or a car breakdown.
- Have a first aid kit with you.
- Bring a waterproof blanket along to prevent water from getting in your clothes.
Your summer road trip will be sunnier and warmer. Here are some things you should bring along on your summer road trip:
- Sunscreen – Nothing is worse than getting sunburned while on a trip. Be sure to put on sunscreen, even while driving if the sun is strong.
- Sunglasses- Driving will be a lot more enjoyable (and stylish!) with a good pair of sunglasses.
- Cooking supplies- If you are taking a summer road trip that involves camping or something else where you need to cook, you’ll need some supplies. Bring a grill, a small portable gas cylinder, pans, a coffee pot and some utensils.
- Pack some food- Depending on your trip duration, you may choose to cook or carry both cooked and uncooked food. You’ll need to bring a cooler and some ice if you’re bringing meat or other perishables along.
- A sleeping bag is crucial if you’re camping or need to sleep on the floor of your accommodation.
- Bring a jug of water with a tap. It will make it easier to refill your water bottle and save you from buying water all the time.
- Bring personal hygiene supplies including soap, hand or body lotion, shampoo, towels and deodorant.
- Pack an umbrella or raincoat in case of rain.
2. What to bring in the car
In addition to packing for yourself, you’ll need to bring along a few things in case something happens along the way. That way if you have a dead battery, bad weather or another incident, you’ll be prepared. Here are some things to bring on your road trip:
- If traveling in the winter, carry an ice scraper and snow brush to clear your windows. A small shovel may also come in handy in case your car gets stuck in the snow.
- Have a portable car battery because occasionally you may need to jump-start the car.
- Ensure your air conditioning is in working order.
- Make sure to have the right cords to attach your phone or other device so you can listen to music or use GPS.
- Carry a gas can in the trunk in case you need it.
- Ensure your tires are in good condition, especially when traveling in the winter.
- Make sure you have your driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration and any other documents you might need.
3. What to bring if kids are along for the road trip
Kids are more challenging to keep in the car for long, especially as they grow older. So here are some of the tips to keep your kids entertained while on the trip:
- Have a variety of food and drinks in the car, especially snacks. When children get bored, they tend to feel hungry more simply because they don’t have anything to do. Don’t be surprised when your kids want to eat all the time!
- Download a favorite game for them to play on a tablet or smartphone.
- Have them watch some movies or cartoons, especially if you are traveling with older kids. Bring some books to read to younger kids or toys they can play with.
- Remember to bring diapers or a portable child’s toilet.
- Plan to stop for a while to let kids play and burn off some energy. If you are taking a long trip, you will need to plan at least four to five stops.
- You can download some kids’ songs and games where everyone can sing along and stay entertained.
- Be ready for chaos. Children may not enjoy road trips no matter how fun you try to make them.
If you are bringing pets along on your road trip, consider these tips before getting on the road:
- Ensure your pet has a tag and that it’s properly secured on their collar (even for cats!).
- Let them have a resting place in the car so they can travel comfortably. Consider getting a “seatbelt” restraint for your pet so they don’t crawl on you while you’re driving.
- Stop occasionally and let your pets out of the car to relieve themselves and get some exercise.
- Bring along your pet’s favorite toy so they feel more at home.
- When you get to your destination, take your dog for a long walk and let them play with their favorite toy.
- If you’re staying in a hotel, carry a collapsible pet crate so they have somewhere secure to sleep in a strange place.
- Bring cleaning wipes and paper towels along in case of pet messes on your trip.
Food is essential for your travel, and you’ll want to make sure you have enough snacks or other meals for everyone. Find out what food everyone prefers, but also pack dried fruits, granola bars, nuts and jerky that are suitable for long trips. Be sure to have enough snacks and other foods, as well as water, in case you have a breakdown or other emergency.
Depending on who you’re traveling with, you can bring different kinds of entertainment along. For example, if you are traveling with teenagers, be sure they have their smartphone and maybe a tablet. Or download podcasts and music you can listen to together through the car speakers. If you are traveling with younger kids, you can bring a few toys to keep them entertained during the journey.