So you’re going on a road trip? How exciting! I decided this would be a good post because they can be a bit nerve wracking, especially if you are going alone. By the time you’re reading this, I would have driven 10 hours to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina solo (october 2021 update… I drove this ride alone 4 times. It was kind of fun kind of not lol) So I figured for all the other young, new and potentially unexperienced road trippers I would make a list of exactly the essentials you would need. These range from “ that’s quite obvious” to “a good idea, I should pack that.”
In a world of credit, debit and apple pay, this can be easily overlooked. Just because you’re bringing it does not mean you’ll use it but you never know. You might need to tip someone, or find a small mom and pop shop that only takes cash if you’re really in the middle of nowhere. Rather be prepared than sorry.
Another Oct 2021 update: The chip on my card tends to not like to work anymore so in this instance a back up is always helpful. I always keep a $20 bill in an envelope in the glove box now a days just incase.
I say printed directions because who thinks of that. We have our phones with GPS on them and cars with maps installed. But once again, you never know! There are plenty of times where I lose signal and I’m like “ahhh I hope I just continue straight” (post drive update…it happened. I lost service). If you can read maps, you can bring a map, so if a road is closed you can create your own directions. I just assume that not many people know how to read maps these days (I think I’m the only one of my friends who can… I might have one friend who can read a map) so printed directions will be helpful.
On one of the drive’s to Myrtle, there was an accident so I tried to take the alternate way it was suggesting. I ended up in the middle of nowhere, no service, in some town. Then me being dumb, i ended the maps because i wanted to see alternate routes but since i had no service i was left to just continue on my way with hope.
A Game Plan
This one that doesn’t have to be a physical object. It would definitely be a good idea to have a mental outline of where you might want to stop for food and take a break. Also definitely plan the time to leave. For my departure time, I knew I wanted to get through D.C with minimum traffic by 8:00-8:30…. That’s 3 hours away. I need to leave my house at 5 am. If you’re also doing the drive in one day, mark off good towns/cities to grab a motel if needed. My GPS says my ride will be about 10 hours. In normal summers, I know it takes 12, and with traffic it can take 15 hours. So even though my goal is to get there in one day, I might need to stop because I’m tired or there was tons of traffic that delayed my ride. I call these cities my checkpoints. Good places to sleep, eat and rest when needed.
Or you can make it game and just not stop for as long as possible. I did this on my way home my 2nd trip to myrtle. It was a poor decision as it made me grumpy but oh well. Me v. GPS is a game I play often.
This one can go from obvious to not obvious depending on how prepared you always are and how experienced you are in the road trip realm. I like to pack a cooler full of protein shakes, fruit to snack on, and waters. This way I can have cold stuff no matter what part you are in the drive. It might also be nice to pack other drinks like soda, lemonades and sport drinks just to give yourself some variety. Although I don’t drink those types often, it is nice to change it up. Water gets very boring when all you have to do is drive, snack and drink water.
This one is definitely the one that skips my mind the most. I always think about it after I finish my first snack and have nowhere to put the wrapper. Then I end up playing a game of “lets see where it lands” and “how long will this trash be stuck in my car for” and I hate it. (I do this now with straws if I get fast food. Not Just on road trips… oops) So save yourself the mess and bring the trash bag. It can even be as simple as a plastic bag from the grocery store. Just something to collect receipts, fast food containers and snack wrappers.
This is super obvious but honestly sometimes people think they got their music and they are good to go. Music gets old quick, especially when the drive is long. Prepare entertainment that makes you think. When you’re not aimlessly listening to something time will go by faster. This can be anything from podcasts to games.
Oct 2021 update: I am a big podcast lover now when I drive so I definitely always have a few picked out added to my list so I can find them easily.
If you’re driving for a while, load up on the snacks. You’re going to get hungry and don’t want to stop every two hours to grab something. You also don’t want to drive feeling hungry because that’s just annoying. Pack foods that keep you full, don’t hurt your stomach and give you energy.
If you’re in need for some snack ideas read my Road Trip: Snacks post! I talk about ALL my travel go to’s!
I hope if you’re headed out on a road trip soon, this list helped you begin to put together a list of what you’ll need in the car!
Happy road trippin