Road Trip Essentials

When the Interstate Highway System was first established nearly 60 years ago, Americans discovered the joys of jumping in the car and going wherever the road led them. Even today, the road trip remains a favorite all-American pastime. Before you head out onto the open road, here are a few must-haves to pack for your adventure…

Make Sure your Car is Road Trip-Ready:  This should be your top priority.  While topping off the gas tank, make sure that all tires are properly inflated and that the spare is in good shape.  Carry an extra supply of oil, brake, power steering and transmission fluid.  Make sure your wipers are in working order to be ready for any sudden storm.  Check to see that your roadside emergency kit is fully stocked:  This includes working jumper cables, a can of tire inflator, flares, car jack, tarp and a flashlight with extra batteries.

Maps and GPS:  With all the GPS devices on the market today, it’s easy to take for granted that you’ll always be able to find your way around.  However, like all things electronic, glitches happen, and sometimes, you have to go old-school and rely on a paper map.  It’s always a good idea to keep a travel-size atlas in your glove box as a back-up to your GPS.  There are also a variety of travel apps to can give you real-time information on everything from weather to construction and traffic jams.

Tuneage:  What’s a road trip without a soundtrack?  Create a playlist of your favorite road-worthy music to help pass the time and even keep you awake while you’re on the road at night.  To break up the monotony, pick up an audio book or two to listen to while you drive.

Comfort is Key:  This is especially important for long road trips.  Tight, binding clothing can not only make the drive uncomfortable, it can also lead to blood clots, especially if you’re sitting for long periods of time.  Also be sure to pack a few pillows and blankets to keep your passengers comfy.

Toiletries:  You never know when you will encounter the gas station bathroom of your worst nightmares.  Pack a bag with items like toilet paper, wipes and hand sanitizer to have on hand.  You should also include sunglasses, sun block, prescription medicines, pain relievers and a well-stocked first aid kit.

Snacks:  As you head out, swing by the grocery store to stock up on items like ready-made sandwiches, fruits, nuts and chips for the road.  Keep water bottles full to stay hydrated, especially during the summer.

Gadgets and Chargers:  To avoid a never-ending chorus of “Are we there yet?” bring along a portable DVD player or a tablet stocked with the kids’ favorite movies.  Make sure that you have chargers for all your devices, and USB outlets to plug them into.  You might consider investing in an electricity power inverter.

Camera:  Capture the memories of your trip with a simple point-and-shoot camera.  Be sure to bring an extra SD card or two.