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Summary: Whether you’re experienced at road trips or this is your first one, make sure you follow these 7 essential tips when packing for your trip.
With summer approaching and long weekends or summer break on everyone’s mind, trip planning is soon to be underway. Many people opt for a road trip to get to their chosen destination as it tends to be less expensive and allows for more luggage, but it also gives you the opportunity to see parts of the country that you wouldn’t see otherwise.
One problem with road trips, however, is the need to be well prepared, from having what you need in case of a breakdown, bad weather or accident to having food and other things to keep you comfortable without having to stop and overspend at tourist traps and gas stations.
If you’re new to road trips or need some fresh ideas to mix things up, here are a few essential packing tips to make your next road trip more enjoyable.
Have a bag of toiletries. The objects on this list fall into many categories, but all are necessary to keep you and your passengers clean. Make sure to stock your car with paper towels, tissues, napkins, some plastic cutlery, wet wipes, Advil, sunscreen, lip balm, lotion and maybe even a Tide-to-Go pen if you’re worried about how you’ll look when you arrive at your destination. It may seem a bit overdone, but if the need arises you’ll be glad you have these things with you.
Pack a cooler. Road trips are all about snacks, right? While chips, trail mix and candy can be fun options, you can bring some heartier food for a longer trip if you have a cooler. Try packing sandwiches or even salads in your cooler, along with chopped vegetables or fruit. It’s also the perfect place to keep a few sodas or sparkling waters cool for when you want something refreshing. Having a cooler full of food will keep you from spending more money on food and will save you the time it takes to stop and buy something.
Don’t forget a trash can. Always necessary but almost always forgotten, designating a plastic bag (and having extras) can make a huge difference in the cleanliness and, therefore, comfort of your drive. Free up your cup holder by dumping your empty coffee cup in the trash, throw out your kid’s sticky snack wrapper, or toss all your gum wrappers away rather than wadding them up and letting them sit around you. Then, when you get to your next gas stop or final destination, just toss the bag without having to dig around your car for more trash.
Keep cash and important documents with you. It may seem obvious, but sometimes it requires repeating. Make sure you have your car’s registration and your insurance information, along with your car manual, in the dashboard compartment. It’s also smart to keep cash on you as well for anything from tolls to emergency situations.
Wear comfortable shoes. Whether you’re the one driving or you’re lounging in the backseat, make sure you wear shoes that are comfortable for a long period of time (or that you can easily slip off!). Tennis shoes are a great option because you’ll feel comfortable but also confident when you have to get out of the car and walk around a gas station.
Back-of-seat organizers. If you have kids in the car with you, it’s incredibly helpful to have organizers that hang over the front-seat headrests that will be right in front of your backseat passengers. Not only does this allow you to fill them with various forms of entertainment, but it will keep your kids organized and not crying that they’ve lost something which you’ll have to pull over and find.
Be sure to have a roadside emergency kit. While we always hope for the best, it’s important to be prepared. Make sure you have a roadside emergency kit that is also weather-appropriate. You can put together your own kit and also purchase pre-made ones from stores like Walmart or Amazon. If it’s cold outside, remember that you could be stuck in that weather for some time, so include blankets, hats, gloves and good boots if it’s snowy. You should also have a first-aid kit in your car for any other unforeseen accidents or needs as well as extra bottles of water and flashlights.
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