Monday, October 4, 2010

Road Trip - The List

As you know, I just came back from a trip where the journey was the destination, and what a 3,000 mile destination it was! Here is my list of tips to keep you sane on your next vehicular excursion.

Route 66 Self Portrait

Camping Gear - unless you plan on staying in hotels the entire time, I would recommend some good camping gear. I slept in my car one night and it was not very fun. Small car + tall girl = PAIN. I brought a tent, tarp, pad, sleeping bag, and pillow. I didn't bother with a stove or anything, since I was on the road early every day. If you aren't a camping person, at least bring some blankets in case you have to sleep in your car.

Flashlight - I brought one of these and a mini LED lantern to use in my tent.

Clothes that are comfortable, but not pajama-like - I find that if I just wear yoga pants while I drive, I am less likely to stop and get out of the car and visit museums, restaurants, and take pictures. I like comfortable pants or jeans and loose-fitting tops. Bring walking shoes and some flip flops in case you get blisters.

Cameras and chargers/batteries and film (if necessary) - I consider these to be a given.

Bug Spray - I had to pick some up on the road after the mosquitos tried to eat me alive.

Shampoo & Soap (in addition to the usual toiletries) - If you aren't staying in hotels, you can sometimes shower at campgrounds, but they don't have shampoo and soap.

Wipes - make-up remover wipes and baby wipes are great for quick clean-ups. Plus, if you are in a questionable bathroom situation sans TP, you can use these.

Towel - apparently Douglas Adams and Towelie didn't teach me well enough, because I had to pick one of these up on the road. An essential for showering at campsites or spilling stuff on your front seat, both of which I did.

Paper towels - for whatever you might need paper towel for.

Maps - your cell phone GPS won't always work.

Small cooler (one that fits on the floor behind the front seat) - Bring some healthy snacks on ice, and keep some drinks in the back seat and throw a couple in the cooler each day so you aren't wasting cooler space with them. Remember to get more ice whenever necessary!

Cell phone car charger - who knows when you will have access to a wall outlet.

Small pillow or rolled up towel - I really could have used this to support my lower back while I drove. I ended up nursing some heinous back pain for days after I got home.

Mild detergent - I used this to wash my bras in a hotel room (TMI?). It made the trip much more pleasant.

Meds, vitamins, advil, etc. - easier to bring it than buy it on the road, and you might need it!

Food - muffins are great road food, they are easy to pack and make ahead of time. Also crackers, cheese, hummus, granola bars,  fruits, and veggies are great to supplement the greasy diner food (or replace it).

Big reusable water bottle and a few gallon jugs of re-fill water - best combination of environmental consciousness and safety.

Trash bag - for trash. duh.

Swimsuit - I actually managed to swim one night and it felt so good after all the driving.

Sunflower seeds - this is a personal preference, but they keep me awake better than coffee when the driving starts to get to me.

Route 66

Packing strategy - Pack in pieces, because you might just need clothes and toiletries, or just essentials, or your camping gear and food. Think of it as a modular strategy for travel.

Audio books - these just make the trip go faster. Check out or your local library for free ones.

KOA campgrounds - they are plentiful, cheap, and they have lots of open tent spots. Plus, they are one of the safer places to spend the night outside, and they have great facilities. At the very least, you can shower, and sometimes wash clothes or go swimming.

Reservations - I didn't make any reservations for my trip because I was traveling along Route 66 and it was almost impossible to predict where I would be spending the night. I didn't have any trouble getting campground spots or hotels, though, since I was traveling mostly on weekdays. If your trip is more structured, reservations might make your life easier.

Puncture kit/jumper cables/oil - better safe than sorry.

Only drive during the day - then you won't miss anything!

What are your essentials for road trips? 


  1. I laughed SUPER loudly when I read "Towelie" happy I wasn't reading this post while away from home...I'd be that weird girl.

    This is a great list! I wouldn't think of bringing a few things you listed, like a small pillow for my back! Genius.

  2. Don't forget to bring a towel, Kam. :-)


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