Road trip necessities

Posted: March 28, 2012 in Family, Travel
Tags: , , , , , ,

Good preparation is the biggest part of a successful road trip. When the girls were little, I made them surprise boxes, boxes filled with age-dependent goodies, boxes that could only be opened once we were on the highway. My husband drove our younger daughter crazy when he drove through Cleveland rather than getting on the highway right away. She would keep asking, “Are we on the highway yet?” I know road trip supplies depend on a lot of extraneous factors but here are things that I find either essential or great-to-haves. Although we don’t have surprise boxes anymore, everyone has a bag or box filled with whatever works best to keep him or her occupied. But as when the girls were little, food and drink are of vital importance!

I’ve always lived where there’s winter and after a couple years in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where death could actually be a result of an accident in winter followed by hours or exposure, I began to carry the following things in my car during the winter. I also made sure that my family had the right things, too. Some cones or flashers would be good in case of accident but I don’t have those yet.

Every day supplies:

• An army blanket (also great to put down before loading things like scavenged fire wood, etc.)
• Some sort of food: granola bars, candy bars, nuts & fruit, etc. Some members of my family like MRE’s.
• Fully-charged cell phone (although there were no cell phones when I started doing this!)
• Water
• Flashlight
• Crank emergency radio (I thought that getting one that would re-charge the cell phone would be useful, but at the time, the ones that were available wouldn’t work with my phone. I think now there are universal connectors. Finally! The radio’s still a good idea, especially to have in the home in case of emergency.)
• Road atlas
• A fat, small notebook for notes, blog ideas, etc.
• Gum
• Car phone charger, phone earpiece for hands-free phone use, dark glasses
• Jumper cables (you’d be surprised how many people I’ve helped by having these), bungee cords, a tarp, pressure gauge for tires
• My EZ-pass I-Pass for the cursed tolls
• Coins and some dollar bills
• Hand lotion

Additional winter supplies:

• An expandable snow shovel
• A sleeping bag
• Gloves (ski gloves, not just little driving gloves), scarves, hats, my ski bib overalls (I generally add the latter when going on a trip of any length other than just out running errands, but I keep the rest in the van all the time in winter.
• Flashlight
• When we had a bird feeder, I used to carry a 50-lb. sack of bird feed in the van to help with traction. Now if I need something, I put in a few large free weights brought up from the basement workout area.

“Special” road trip supplies:

• Two travel mugs of tea (If a long trip, I often get bottled tea from Trader Joe’s…very good and saves a lot of money.)
• Extra food, fruit (fresh and dried), cooler with homemade food
• Napkins, plastic (or old “regular”) silverware, hand wipes (not sanitizers)
• Café mocha from Trader Joe for my daughter (saves a LOT of money)
• Books on CD
• Now that I’m blogging, a camera is a must as well as a notebook for jotting down ideas. When I jot down notes while driving (with one hand firmly on the wheel and both eyes on it as much as possible), I often wonder what I wrote! Now if I could just figure out how to take pictures while driving safely…

That sounds like a lot of stuff, but it’s not really bad. I have a duffel bag for most of the winter stuff (excluding weights, of course.)  You’ll probably have some other things.  One “necessity” that’s been on our list for years is a thirteen-hour CD set of Lord of the Rings, produced by the BBC.  I got our first set years ago at Half Price Books, for my husband’s birthday, and agonized over it because it was $25, a lot to us then.  In the intervening years, we’re listened to it on our 24+ hour drive to Wyoming each year (and another 24+ on the way back) and loved every minute of it.  (One year we even listened to the complete thing each way!) When Frodo and Sam are making their way up the mountain near the end, I can hardly stand it.  I want to scream at them to hurry up and get there, throw the ring into the fire and let the world be healed.  Never works, though; it always takes forever.  I’ve gotten extra copies since for each of our girls and we still love it.  May you find a similar road trip classic for all your trips!

  1. VivianaAyre says:

    This list is great, I love it! 🙂 I know you put jumper cables, but for those who haven’t gotten these kinds of supplies, places like Sam’s Club have amazing emergency road side kits that have a lot of those items all bundled together including a first aid kit.

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