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Road Trip 101: Prepping for your best driving adventure!

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.

Vehicle Preparation

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:

  • Pliers
  • Flat-blade and Phillips-head screwdrivers
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Vise-grips
  • Wire cutters
  • Pocket knife
  • Ball-peen hammer
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Jack and axle stands
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Jumper cables
  • Tow straps
  • Safety triangles
  • Road flares

Navigation

In this day and age, I think we’re all pretty much used to using Google Maps on our smartphones.

navigation apps

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 Supply 

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.

snack boxes for road trips
Snack boxes for road trips.

Snacks

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.

Ready-made Meals

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
  • Knife
  • Spoons, knives, and forks (or a spork)
  • Plates 
  • Paper towels or cloth towels
  • Cooler

Sleeping Arrangements

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?

cabin stays
How about a stop in a nice, serene cabin?

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?

sleeping in your accommodation

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:



Personal Necessities

Sometimes you need to take a break from all the activities and just sit back and enjoy being in a new place. 

art on the road
Take time to enjoy the scenery.

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.

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:

  • Toiletries
  • 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 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!

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Written by Nina

Nina Fuentes splits her time between Manila and Bulusan, Sorsogon in the Philippines. She is one of the pioneering female travel bloggers in the country and her blog, Just Wandering, has been recognized as the Best Travel Blog at the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards and at the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards. She has recently started Just Wandering Tours, offering customized tours of Bulusan and the province of Sorsogon.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

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