The open road beckons millions of motorists upon the arrival of warm weather. In advance of the season’s first road trip, drivers tune up their engines and plan their itineraries for the adventures that lie ahead.
While it may be tempting to get behind the wheel and see where the road takes you, those who have been around the block – or highway – a few times likely know that road trip planning involves careful packing for the voyage ahead. Bringing the right items along can go a long way toward ensuring a trip is enjoyable and runs smoothly. This list of must-haves can get anyone started on the road trip ahead.
• Proper paperwork: Don’t forget to bring a driver’s licence, vehicle registration, proof of insurance, and your rental car agreement if you are renting a car. You may need proof of COVID-19 vaccination and/or a negative COVID test in certain instances. Double-check that you have it all before leaving.
• Vehicle manual: Even the most well-maintained car may suffer a breakdown on the road. Bring along the vehicle manual, which can help you diagnose minor problems. Keep your roadside assistance membership card at the ready if you need extra help.
• Important phone numbers: Bring a written list of important phone numbers in case your phone dies or gets lost.
• Cash: Credit and debit cards are a reliable form of payment, but cash is king. Having cash on hand is a smart move in the event bank cards get lost. Cash is especially useful when patronizing smaller establishments that might not take credit.
• Roadside emergency kit: Keep a tire changing kit, flares, tools, jumper cables, duct tape, and work gloves in the vehicle for emergencies.
• GPS and maps: GPS systems on phones and other devices provide step-by-step directions and can alert to traffic jams. But GPS can be compromised in areas where mountain ranges or buildings interrupt cellular or satellite service. The Maps.Me app enables you to download detailed maps that can be accessed while offline. Paper maps can serve as backups as well.
• Entertainment: Long road trips are full of opportunities to visit roadside attractions. When the highway is a long stretch of nothing new, bring along movies, music, books, handheld games, and even trivia or mind puzzles to pass the time.
• Cooler with refreshments: Dining out is a great way to sample local cuisine from various regions of the country. But having snacks at the ready can save time and money.
The list of road trip essentials continues, but this is a good start. The list can be customized based on drivers’ interests and their destinations.