A road trip is a beautiful thing. The freedom of the open road. The ability to sing at the top of your lungs in a place where people can’t hear you, and only slightly care that you look completely ridiculous as you nail that “High-ay-ayyyyyyyy” part in “Under Pressure.” But as with most things in life, it’s important to be prepared. Nothing is worse than hurriedly jumping into your car and driving for an extended period. Any number of things can and will ruin your trip in those events. So do what I do, and have a road trip preparedness pack (RTPP, cause the end of that acronym is funny). Here’s what you’ll need:
Admittedly, not everyone is rocking a ‘93 Volvo with over a quarter of a million miles on it and only a CD player (though it is aftermarket, ‘cause I’m a baller). So if you have one of those fancy cars with an auxiliary jack, prepping your tunes may not be as big of a deal. That being said, having a playlist that’s tailored for the road is crucial (be it mix CD as in my case, or on Spotify like the rest of the modern world). There’s a point where you’ll get sick of anything on the radio, and a properly-timed occurrence of a jam is sometimes the only thing to get you out of road fatigue.
Food and Drink
There are only three foods you need on a road trip. Jerky. Trail mix. Gum. You can go fancy with sunflower seeds (but where are you going to spit them out?) or peanuts (which are already a part of trail mix), but the holy trinity of road trips is holy for a reason. The jerky will provide the protein necessary to power through countless food stops (I leave it to you which jerky you go for, but I just discovered Jack Link’s makes a Cholula Beef Jerky and, quite frankly, I’m sold for life. The trail mix, as I alluded to, is a multi-use food. It has your sweet, your salty, and the all-important fruit (shut up, a raisin is a fruit and counts as my daily allotment!). And in between the jerky and the trail mix, a stick of gum will also help to curb the aforementioned road fatigue. I’ve already written at-length about the glories of Orbit peppermint gum, but I’ll even play with a nice bubblegum option on a road trip just to mix it up. Depends on how crazy you want to get.
For drink, the only thing that will do is water. You’ve got plenty of sodium coming your way, and water is just the thing to mitigate that and refresh your palate. Of course there’s coffee and things of that nature, but at minimum have a water on hand.
This is kind of a no-brainer, but make sure that you have a car charger on hand for you phone and other devices you may need to charge. If you live in a city this is actually a tough thing to remember to have on hand, as you’re often not using a car (or if you are it’s not for a long enough distance to warrant a charger). This is especially important if you use your phone for your navigation. Pro tip there — if you have a decent chunk of distance in your directions, turn off your phone’s screen and save battery life.
This is obviously not something you can physically have in the RTPP, but is important nonetheless. Make sure you know going in how many times you’re trying to use the bathroom while on the way. Will you go only every other fuel stop (if you need to gas up more than once)? Will you not allow yourself a pit stop unless you have another reason to stop (food, fuel, world’s largest ball of yarn)? Whatever the strategy, have one and stick to it as best you can. It’s a total road trippin’ vibe killer when you’re in the driving zone, you’ve got the jams pumping, a belly full of Cholula Beef Jerky, and you have to unexpectedly stop to use the restroom.
Last but not least, you actually need to be prepared for things going sideways. A kit within the pack, being ready for an emergency is important because, well, it could totally save your life. Have some basic tools on hand (yes, even in super-modern cars they come in handy). Know your tire changing procedure and how to use the tools. Have a first aid kit (when you absentmindedly bite a hangnail and it bleeds a band aid will come in handy). Have a machete to kill any zombies you encounter. Note that this last one depends on whether or not your road trip takes place in a post-apocalyptic world — use your own judgement.