The Official Road Trip Essentials Checklist
During a road trip, it’s important to pack the essentials so you can be ready for every scenario that comes your way. You don’t want to be left stranded without a plan. Use this guide to make sure that you are prepared for any situation when driving cross country.
Preparing for Your Trip
To make sure your road trip is the best trip ever, you’ll need to put the legwork in before you even drive off the driveway.
- Check your Insurance: Before you take a road trip, review your insurance policy. If you’re lacking collision and other safety nets, now is as good a time as ever to invest in them. We can help you compare rates and find the insurance company that’s right for you.
- Clean your Car: No one likes to live in filth, especially if your vacation home happens to be a car. Prior to starting your journey, organize and wash your vehicle. Throw out any trash or old papers that no longer serve a purpose. Once you’re on your way, you’d be surprised how fast garbage accumulates.
- Download an App: Stuck in traffic? There’s an app for that. Don’t know where to buy the best coffee in town? There’s an app for that too. Download apps like Waze and Scout to make your life a little easier. However, don’t leave your fate in your smartphone’s hands. Buy a map and atlas too (just in case you run out of battery).
- A Good Night’s Rest: Your road trip may have an early start, so get into bed a little earlier the night before to make sure you’re ready to drive. You’ll likely have greater satisfaction with your trek across the U.S. if you remain well-rested, well-fed and stress-free.
- Do Your Research: The road is full of surprises, many of which are unwelcome. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail. Think in advance about things like where you’re going to get gas and stops you’d like to see. Running out of gas will poke a hole in anyone’s good time.
Road Trip Checklist
We’re not going to tell you what to wear for your road trip (just remember that short-shorts tend to bunch up after driving 50 miles or so), but here’s a road trip checklist that covers all the other essentials you may need.
- Phone and charger
- Solar charger or hand crank charger
- Apps to help you navigate, find sights and avoid traffic
- Audiobooks and music
- Atlas (when reception dies out or phone dies)
- Healthy snacks (to keep you feeling good)
- Unhealthy snacks (a great reward for going the last 50 miles)
- A cooler (a powered cooler is even cooler)
- More water than you think you’ll need
- Prescription glasses/extra contacts and solution
- Blanket and pillow
- Knife or pocket tool
- Duct tape
- First aid kit
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Plastic bags
- Hand sanitizer
- Laundry detergent
- Prescription medications with a copy of your prescription
- Over-the-counter meds for headaches, colds, insect bites, upset stomach, etc.
- Lip balm
- Cash (for when you stop to get gas and realize you left your wallet at the Starbucks 40 miles back)
- Registration & driver’s license
- Insurance card
- Passport (if you’re traveling to Canada or Mexico)
- Printed confirmation documents for hotels and other travel bookings
- Books, toys, and games to keep kids busy
- Spare batteries (if any devices require so)
- Cold-weather gear (if traveling in winter)
- Jumper cables
- Extra engine oil
- Carjack & spare tire (Make sure the spare is inflated properly)
- Empty gas container (do not travel with a full one! It’s dangerous.)
- Flares or emergency beacons
How to Pack Your Road Trip Essentials
When you’re packing all your gear into the car, be careful not to overload the vehicle. Look up your car’s load capacity first and subtract the passengers’ weight. If the capacity is 800 pounds, and your family weighs a combined 425 pounds, don’t stuff more than 375 pounds of stuff in the car. Also:
- Place heavier things on the bottom, and push them toward the front of the car to maintain the vehicle’s center of gravity.
- Use cargo straps to secure the load.
- Make sure you have a clear line of sight out the rear windshield.
How to Travel Safely on a Road Trip with Your Dog
If you’re are a wide-eyed globe-traversing person who is looking for dog-friendly road trips, there are a few ground rules that will keep you and your pup safe. Learn about how to travel with a dog in a car safely and make taking your dog on a road trip an enjoyable experience for everyone.
- Practice Traveling with Your Dog – Before you set off on a dog-friendly road trip, take a test drive locally to make sure your dog is ready for a lengthy trip.
- Use a Dog Carry-on or Restraint Device – For your safety and your dog’s safety, it’s important to properly restrain your furry friend.
- Consider Pet Insurance – Having your canine friend coverage in case of an accident can save a whole lot in the long run.
- Make the Necessary Pit Stops – Don’t forget, they can’t tell you when they need to go. Make frequent stops so they can relieve themselves, rehydrate, and eat.
Let the Road Trip Begin
It’s here! Your big road trip! What now? You’ve done your prep, planned your route, had the car cleaned, and packed your vehicle. Now for some tips when you’re on your big journey.
- Set Off Early (or late): Your Mom probably told you to set off early. Nowadays that’s common knowledge, so you’ll have to get up even earlier or leave it until late and drive through the night.
- Drop the Cell Phone: Getting caught texting & driving or making a call (depending on your state) can end in, at best, a citation or, at worst, something much more serious. Hand it to a passenger or stash it in the glove compartment.
- The Playlist: No road trip is complete without a killer soundtrack. Think about time of day, sites and attractions you’ll see on the way and, most importantly, length. Maybe Spotify or Pandora might be of assistance?
- Keep the Kids Entertained: Kids get bored really easy, so bring some fun things to do… and then some more. We have a heap more tips on keeping kids occupied.
We love an exciting road trip. So many folks here travel to visit family and to sightsee. One thing we’ve all learned? A great road trip begins and ends with great car insurance.
Compare prices and packages for free today and make sure that you are ready for whatever the road brings you. Who knows? Maybe you can save some extra cash to help cover the cost of your road trip!