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So you are ready to hit the wide open road, hop in your car and drive cross country. It sounds romantic to just up and go, but if you want to make your road trip enjoyable its better to make sure you have the right gear for the trip. The right supplies can make for a low stress, relatively carefree excursion.
I went on a road trip with some friends for about two months across the United States. I did not pack everything that I would have liked, but I certainly learned a lot. Here is a list of things I packed and some that I wish I had packed along for the trip.
1) GPS and maps
Mostly the GPS, but the maps for when the GPS fails you. Yes, this will happen at some point. Driving into uncharted territory these items are a must and will save you the headache of getting lost (or least not as much). Plus having a big map is fun, you can color in every state that you pass and trace out your road trip and use it as a momento for when you are done.
2) Gas, jumper cables and water
You may not need these often, but at some point you will be glad you packed them. The U.S. has long stretches of land where you are in the middle of absolutely no where and there isn’t a gas stations for miles and miles. Make sure to be very aware of gas station locations or have some extra gas on hand.
Jumper cables are useful, with so much use of the car it is bound to die at some point. Jumper cables will get you out of a sticky situation in a pinch.
Throw an extra pouch of emergency water in the back for good measure. If you come by some “free camping” there isn’t any water stations there. If you got some extra water on hand you are ready to camp and can cook up a tasty meal and stay hydrated without having to make a trip into town for water.
3) Food, snacks and grill/camp stove
Nuts, cliff bars, peanut butter, bread are good and filling. Think high calorie and long lasting. Comes in handy if you want to keep on driving for long stretches of time without having to stop for food.
If you have a portable grill or camp stove this will make for a delicious eating experience without having to eat out or get fast food for every meal. Your wallet will also thank you for eating in more often. We ended up grilling out almost everyday. We had a truck, so we just flipped down the hatch and starting grilling out in parking lots, gas stations, really wherever floated our boat. If you are a vegetarian like myself, grilled veggies are tasty as well.
The United States is a vast place full of varying elevations and climates, even in the summer places in the mountains are going to get cold and the temperature can substantially drop at night. It won’t take up much room to just throw in a few warm clothes and save you from freezing your buns off at night.
Additionally, try to keep your camp clothes and town clothes in different bags so that the grubby camp smells don’t rub off on your town clothes. Also, try to bring clothes that don’t wrinkle. These two things are key for not appearing homeless when you enter towns.
Bring clothes that you can easily mix and match and are versatile. This will save you space and you can throw anything on at a moments notice and you will still be stylin’.
If you are a girl, think dresses, they are comfy as so easy to throw on!
5) Fun down time activities
Especially if you are on an extended road trip, you are going to need those days just to chill out. Constantly being on the move can take its toll. So think of some activities/hobbies you have to do during down time. Here are some examples of items: yoga mat, slack line, hammock, hula hoop, frisbee, lacrosse sticks, good reads and a journal. Definitely bring a journal. Looking back at the stuff I wrote even a year later is an absolute hoot and a half.
Whatever you normally use, but try and have it all in travel size.
Always have some toilet paper on hand, just in case…
Baby wipes will come in handy and work as pseudo shower. Not quite as refreshing as a shower, but they do the trick!
Biodegradable shampoo ex: Dr. Bronners (the mint flavor doubles as toothpaste for the rugged)
Diva Cup: (women only)
7) The tunes and electronics
Hours upon hours of the car is perfect opportunity to jam out to some tunes, but make sure everyone brings enough to you don’t get bored of hearing the same songs all the time. This is a perfect time to discover new artists or reminisce on past favorites.
Also, bring a car charger or portable charger to keep your electronics charged without having to find a place to do it.
8) Day Pack
Pack a small backpack with all your essentials. This way you are ready to go at all times on your day excursions. Make sure it has lots of pockets so you can organize and store things appropriately. Double wammie if you can fit it right into your bigger bag.
9) Extra room
Okay, so this isn’t really a packing item, more like lack there of. What’s a road trip without a few souvenirs? Maybe a few presents for family and friends? Make sure to leave some room so that your car isn’t overflowing at the end of the trip.
There you have it. Now, you are ready to go on the adventure of a life time! What are you waiting for?