Given the current situation, it seems like road trips with a combination of camping are the way to go if you are itching to travel. Just you and your travel mates in the car, no need to mingle with other people unless you really have to.
If you’re a first-time road tripper, here is our prep guide to ensure that you have a great trip.
Airplanes go through a rigorous check every day before it takes off for its first flight. The same practice should also be applied before you embark on a big road trip.
If you’re regularly keeping up with your car’s maintenance schedule as inscribed in its manual, then you’re already on the right track. You should already know if it’s due for an oil change, tire rotation, and such.
It’s worth getting a professional to check your car if you’re planning on a major overland self-drive trip. You might also want to consider getting them to teach you what to look out for, some quick fixes that you can do, and basic troubleshooting.
Nothing worse than getting into some car trouble in the middle of nowhere and having no cell signal to make a call!
Pack the basic tools you’ll need in case you would need to do some minor repairs while on the road. Items in an emergency car kit usually include:
- Flat-blade and Phillips-head screwdrivers
- Adjustable wrench
- Wire cutters
- Pocket knife
- Ball-peen hammer
- Fire extinguisher
- Jack and axle stands
- Tire pressure gauge
- Jumper cables
- Tow straps
- Safety triangles
- Road flares
In this day and age, I think we’re all pretty much used to using Google Maps on our smartphones.
It allows us to search for nearby attractions, restaurants, and gas stations and gives us different routes we can take to get there.
You need wifi or mobile data to access Google Maps, but you can download portions of the map so you can access them even when you are offline.
To do this, search for the city that you are planning to travel to. When the map loads, tap on the name of the place and then tap on Download. Make sure that you are connected to the Internet when you do this.
Do you prefer to use a GPS device instead? There are loads to choose from on Amazon.
Plan your route so that there are plenty of facilities along the way in case you need to load up on gas or use the toilet (taking advantage of available facilities is one of our top toilet tips for traveling women!).
Make sure to also check where the rest stops are in case you need some shut-eye before continuing on your way.
Food is essential, not just to live, but also in keeping everyone in a happy state of mind. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in an enclosed space with someone who’s hangry.
Whether you are camping and cooking your own food or settling into a hotel or Airbnb for the night, it’s always a good idea to pack food that you can easily snack on with minimal fuss and preparation.
While it’s easy to load up your snack bag with junk food, opt for snacks that can give you energy, satiate your hunger pangs, and more importantly, nourish your body.
Fruits are a great choice for snacks as they are packed with vitamins and can also help keep you hydrated. If you are buying fruits, make sure they are on top of your snack bag as they can easily get spoiled or worse, crushed.
For snacks with a longer shelf-life, consider energy bars, good quality beef-jerky (not the gas station kind), string cheese, seeds and nuts, dried fruit, and dark chocolate.
It’s always better to cook using fresh ingredients, but there are days when you are just plain exhausted and can’t bear the thought to get creative with your cooking. Prepare for days like these with pre-made meals that are ready within minutes and require very minimal preparation.
There are a number of freeze-dried meals available on Amazon that only require you to add some hot water and it will be ready to eat in 10 minutes. Some take it even one step further with fully ready to eat meals like this Indian Mushroom Masala.
If you don’t mind making a little effort, you can also pack some cooking kits that have everything you need to prepare a meal, like this completely seasoned paella Valenciana kit that already includes the rice and seafood.
Needing some veggies in your diet? This bag of Frontier Co-Op Soup Vegetables is a great addition to your cooking repertoire. Though the pack is marketed mainly for making soup, dehydrated vegetables can also be used for stews or casseroles. Just be sure to rehydrate the vegetables before cooking and season them well.
Cooking + Eating Packing List Additions
Some other food items for your road trip packing list:
- Camping cooking equipment (pans, burner)
- Matches or kitchen lighter
- Small chopping board
- Spoons, knives, and forks (or a spork)
- Paper towels or cloth towels
Where do you plan to sleep at night? Are you pulling into a campground and staying at a cabin or staying at a guesthouse? Are you staying at a campsite and setting up camp?
- Be sure to check out our campervan and car camping packing list.
These factors determine what you would need to bring for your road trip.
If you are staying at a cabin or a guesthouse and made prior reservations, make sure to bring printed copies of your confirmation in case there is a mix-up and they cannot find your booking.
Always double-check what they are providing with your accommodation: Are they providing linens and pillows? Do you need to bring your own travel towels and toiletries?
Provided there is still space in your car for it, bringing your own pillow and blanket is not a bad idea. Regardless of whether your accommodation is providing these, it’s good to have a familiar feeling of home to help you have a good night’s sleep.
Not to mention they can also help you get comfortable while inside the car.
If you are camping, here are some of the items you’d need to bring:
Sometimes you need to take a break from all the activities and just sit back and enjoy being in a new place.
It’s important to also bring items that make you happy. Bring that book that you’ve always been meaning to read but never found the time. Bring a notebook and pencil and let the beauty of nature inspire you to start sketching or writing.
- Check out this packing list for traveling with watercolors.
Traveling is also a great time to bond with friends and family. Bring games and activities that you can do together while traveling in the car or during your downtime like card games.
Keep the little ones occupied with books and toys that they can interact with while in the car. Play games like “I Spy” to keep them engaged while driving to keep the boredom at bay.
Other personal necessities that you really need to bring with you:
- Clothes and underwear
- Toilet paper and wet wipes
- Disinfecting wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Facemasks (find a cute one on Etsy)
Medicine and First aid
While you can buy first aid kits from Amazon, you must also customize it to suit your personal needs. Aside from the kit, you should also bring:
- Your allergy medication
- Maintenance medicine
- Prescription medication
- Prescription for all of your medication (in case you need to buy extra)
- Multi-vitamins and supplements
- Extra pair of glasses or contact lenses
Take it for a test drive
Are you all set to go on a one-week or more road trip? If you are planning on going on a major trip that spans a great distance and many days, it would be prudent to take a shorter and smaller-scale trip for you to test drive your packed items and gear.
By doing this, you can see what you really need when you’re out on the road and what you can leave behind.
Got any tips and hacks for road trips? Any particular product that you find useful in your travels? Share them in the comments below!
Great checklist! This is similar to my own prep list. I would add sleeping mat (camping ground is often hard and pebbly), head lamp to free hands for chores, audio books or podcast not just music, machete/hatchet/mini square head shovel (for camp site/toilet prep and firewood gathering; also as protective measure).