10 Essentials for an Awesome Road Trip
Whether you’re packing the car to drive over the river and through the woods to see family this holiday season or you’re taking a well-deserved vacation, it’s important to make sure that your car is fully stocked for the road ahead. Check out my list of the 10 essential road trip accessories below, and let me know what you pack in the comments section below.
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A Killer Playlist
Driving is tons of fun, but I’ll be the first one to admit that I can get bored behind the wheel on long road trips. You can bring extra energy to the cabin of your car with a carefully curated series of playlists on your phone or other car-compatible device. If books are more your thing, make sure to stock up on audio books before you hit the highway.
Personally, I have several road trip playlists to keep the ride interesting, including a collection of Broadway songs and powerhouse ballads to sing loudly when I am driving alone (and am the most bored), and a playlist to easily access the music I have purchased most recently (which is pretty much all Adele this Thanksgiving).
Whether you’re in the car for one hour or 12, road trip snacks are essential. Think ahead and pack some basic snacks at home to save money and time at the gas station store while you’re on the road. My road trip bag always includes a container of almonds and a bag of carrots for healthy snacking, peanut butter M&Ms for a sweet treat, and plenty of bottles of water to stay hydrated. I do still indulge and pick up a thing or two at the gas station before I hit the road. How can you say no to Combos?
Even if everyone in your vehicle is safely over the age of needing a diaper change, baby wipes are a quick and easy way to clean your hands after eating while in the car. When you arrive at your destination, baby wipes are also a quick and easy way to freshen up after a long ride.
Thanks to modern technology, we all carry multiple devices that rely on charged batteries, so bringing the essential car-compatible chargers along for a road trip is very important. A car charger could be the difference between kids quietly playing a game or incessantly asking “Are we there yet?” Consider a charger like the Secur 6-in-1 Car Charger SP-4003, which charges your devices and also offers tools you might need in an emergency, like a seatbelt cutter, flashlight, and window breaker.
If your phone will be used on the trip, especially for music or navigation, a good smartphone dock will help put your phone somewhere where its maps or music display will be easy to see by passengers and the front seat DJ. Please do not use it to read texts or type while driving, however. Distracted driving is dangerous in every situation, even on long stretches of highway.
Let’s be honest, most of us will be using our phones or our vehicle’s equipped navigation systems to guide us if we’re headed somewhere new. On a long trip it’s always a good idea, though, to bring an alternate source of navigation information in case one of them should malfunction. On long road trips, I usually rely on my trusty TomTom GPS, keeping my phone and printed directions from Google Maps as backup. Print maps of the regions you’ll travel on the way to your destination are also a great idea in these situations.
Wi-Fi Hot Spot
Cell phone data plans have their limits, and that’s not a great thing on long road trips (especially if you’re binge watching a show like Jessica Jones on Netflix). Invest in a wi-fi hot spot, like Skyroam, to have access to the internet on the go. In the case of Skyroam, you pay a fee for the hot spot device and then for each day that you access it. Some phone companies also offer hot spots with their own plans. If you own a newer GM vehicle, you can take advantage of the 4G LTE Wi-Fi offered through OnStar (lucky duck).
There’s nothing particularly exciting about packing jumper cables, but they will become your most important accessory if your vehicle won’t start on your road trip adventure. Keeping cables in your own car means that, with the help of someone else’s car, you’ll hopefully be able to start your car and head to a garage or repair shop instead of waiting on roadside assistance. It’s also a good idea to carry jumper cables as part of your roadside emergency kit.
If your trip will take you to areas warmer or colder than where you live now, it is important to pack a tire gauge. Variations in temperature can have a big impact on the air pressure in your tires, and if your tires are not properly inflated they can lose miles off of their life or start to go flat. It’s not that difficult to check your tires and add air as needed when you stop for gas along your route.
Roadside Assistance Membership
Before you hit the road, don’t forget to make sure that your ride’s maintenance is up-to-date. Regardless of your car’s service record, it’s a great idea to have a pre-designated service to call for help if you’re stuck on the side of the road. AAA is a good option for nationwide coverage, or many newer cars are covered by manufacturer programs, like GM’s Roadside Assistance and Hyundai Assurance. Check to see if your car is eligible before you leave home.
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