Nothing is better than pulling down your shades, queuing up some bops, and driving down miles and miles of open road. Long road trips have the magical ability to transport you from the monotonous in life. It also allows you to take in the awe-inspiring views of this wacky world that we live in. If you’ve ever driven through dense forest one moment and a concrete jungle the next, you know that the world is so much bigger than our most frequented sandbox. But as good ol’ Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. This list of road trip essentials will save you a call with AAA or a stomach ache from convenient fast food joints. Plus you dear reader – have a far more reliable snack game than any Wawa – named appropriately for the cries made upon seeing the lack of snackable snacks. 

So let’s dive into a coveted list of solo road trip essentials, though to be fair, these are essential whether you’re the captain of your Toyota-shaped ship or have a co-pilot helping you along the way. 

Snacks

First thing first – fuel. Just like you have to make sure your ride has enough juice to keep tugging along, you, too, need satiation to stay alert, awake, and ready for any adventure. I recommend snacks that are packed with protein AND flavor (or are crunchy). Here are some of my favorites.

Almonds

Packed with protein and good fats, these bad boys are also easy and mess-free to enjoy while you’re enjoying the views and cruise controlling your way to fullness. 

Protein Bars

I know you may be thinking, “But I’m not trying to get jacked on the road!” But have no fear – protein bars help curb hunger and keep you full longer! Protein bars are also perfect for a snack when your next meal or destination is still a ways away. 

Popcorn

Here’s another very poppable snack (no pun intended but we can all enjoy that it’s there, can’t we?). When you get the munchies on the road and aren’t ready for a meal, a bag of popcorn can curb your crunch cravings. 

Baby Carrots 

Want something a little bit more nutrient-packed? This snack gets extra points because it helps your vision!

Dried Fruit (MANGO FTW)

I don’t leave the house without dried mango anymore, but all types of dried fruit can help quell a sweet craving on the road. 

Small Cooler

This isn’t “necessary” as much as it is very convenient to have. A small cooler comes in handy if you pack your meals ahead of time or want cool drinks. It also saves you a stop at a sketchy gas station. 

Kleenex

A box of tissues is the closest thing to an inanimate knight in shining armor. There’s nothing worse than having a sneezing fit on the highway. It’s horrible – trying to keep your eyes open so you can see the road and then having nothing to clean up the carnage. Take it from someone that has made that mistake one too many times. 

Headache Medication

Bringing some type of over-the-counter pain relief can cure a headache and prevent one! The headache of not having it when you need it, that is. Plus, no one wants to deal with a headache when the sun wants to be in your face more than a Labrador puppy. 

Sunscreen & Sunglasses

Despite the illusion of being inside while driving, driving is an outdoor activity. If you have sun-sensitive skin or are worried about wrinkles, avoid skipping the sunscreen and sunglasses. Both will help prevent any sun damage incurred on your voyage. 

Pillow & Blanket

Sometimes even three lattes with quad shots aren’t strong enough to stop a visit from the Sandman. If you need to take a roadside snooze – might as well have all the fixins’ to make that siesta fan-freaking-tastic. Personally, I am not afraid of locking my doors and sprawling out in the back seat with a pillow, cozy blanket, or even a teddy bear. Don’t judge!

Water Bottle & Brita

This may seem extra (and it is), but I bring my whole Brita filter with me on trips. It is hands down the best thing I’ve started doing. Ever since I started bringing a Brita or some type of large water filter, I’m better able to stay properly hydrated throughout the trip. With so many restaurants not allowing refills because of COVID, it also saves you from paying Hudson News prices for water. 

First Aid Kit

You never know what might happen. Channel your inner mother friend archetype for just a moment to ensure some band-aids, alcohol pads, and lollipops are in the car – and then you can go back to, “totally not needing them”.

Roadside Emergency Kit

Again – you never know what might happen. This road trip essential will save you a freak-out sesh and any awkward small talk with the local highway-stopping-just-trying-to-help dude by storing some essentials in your trunk for the worst-case scenario. Here are some suggestions for a roadside emergency kit: 

  • Jumper Cables
  • Car Fluid
  • Spare Tire

Audio Entertainment

This is my favorite part! Whether it’s a “Roadtrip Baddie” playlist, a True Crime podcast binge, or a dramatic telling of Moby Dick – audio entertainment can be the thing that makes or breaks a road trip. Plan right and you’ll arrive at your destination already feeling rested, rejuvenated, and desperate to tell anyone that will listen how the killer did it.  

  • Podcast
  • Audiobook
  • Music Playlists

An Emergency Contact

I cannot reiterate enough – you never know. It’s a good idea to have an emergency contact to update when you get to each stop. And even if nothing bad happens, at least you have someone to call if you’re sick of hearing Hello Fresh commercials on your favorite podcast. 

Car Mount

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Photo by Athena on Pexels.com

Hopefully, you already have one but if not, this is the safest way to use your phone as a GPS device. The holding-your-phone-and-steering-wheel technique isn’t even legal, so just play it safe. 

Car Phone Charger & Power Bank

close up photography of white iphone charger
Photo by Matthias Zomer on Pexels.com

A good charger and power bank are paramount when you’re relying on your phone for GPS and entertainment. Even if you’re not using your phone, it’s still nice to have in case the radio turns into white noise or you need to call someone. 

There’s nothing like hitting the road with all the things you might need. If you ensure that all these road trip essentials are tucked away somewhere in your vehicle of choice, you’ll have a much smoother road trip, promise. It’s also the perfect time to hit the road and take in all the views while remote working is still a thing. You can even invest in a hotspot and take zoom meetings from your vagabond voyage (as long as it’s hands free of course). Let us know where you’re planning to road trip next!

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