I love a good road trip and right now I’m wrapping up my first road trip in what seems like years. The past week I’ve been whizzing around the state of Oregon with a couple friends, visiting Portland, driving along the beautiful Oregon Coast and exploring some of Oregon’s wonders.
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This road trip has been completely different from the road trips of my younger days where I was carted up and down the coast in the back of the family van. Not only was I traveling with friends, we had a lot of flexibility in our schedule. While we had planned out our destinations every night, we didn’t have a set schedule for the day which was great.
Living out of a car for a week can be an interesting experience. As much as we tried to limit our time in the car in any given day, we ended up doing a lot of driving. Here are a few must haves to make your next road trip awesome.
A road trip is marked by the music played. With so many hours in the car, a good playlist is a must. Aim for a variety of tunes for different moods, from upbeat to more mellow sounds. Disney sounds were a big hit with us. Who wouldn’t want to be singing along with Elsa, Timon & Pumbaa or The Little Mermaid? Classics! With such varying tastes among my friends, it can be hard. Which brings me to…
Ear plugs / Headphones
For when you need a little alone time. Headphones are so great for traveling. When the music isn’t to your taste or your travel companion’s singing is terrible, pop them in and you can have a little time for yourself listening to what you like to listen to. Ear plugs are also great if a travel companion snores when you’re trying to sleep.
I love me some good snacks. Even better when they are snacks that I don’t normally get at home. The junkier the better. Forget the age-old wisdom of trail mix and granola bars. Yes, they’re good for you, but I love trying outrageous chip flavours, strange candies and mysterious items where you’re not sure what exactly you’re getting inside the bag.
Here are some more ideas to make snackin’ and eating on the road easier.
At home and during work hours, I always have a big water bottle within easy reach. This ensures that I get enough fluids. While I have the world’s tiniest bladder (based on my very scientific poll of friends and family that I have traveled with), it’s important to balance the two and drink enough liquids. Especially if I’m going to be eating all that junk above. I just skedaddle to the washroom every chance I get.
A quintessential item for any road trip. While I find mine completely infuriating and cannot for the life of me figure out how to use it, I still like bringing it along just in case. I much prefer Google Maps and the GPS on my phone, but having an actual GPS in case you can’t get reception is always a good idea. Also be sure to bring with you the paper variety of maps too. In case your GPS completely fails you. I forgot to grab an Oregon map before we left and we could have really used it when we got lost a bit in the woods heading to Crater Lake. At least our GPS was still somewhat working!
Hand Sanitizer / Wet Wipes
A part of the road trip experience is stopping in the middle of nowhere and using a rest stop toilet which may or may not be outfitted with the proper toiletries. Be sure to have a bottle of hand sanitizer around to keep things clean. Also, while most of Canada and the US are fairly well taken care of, I’ve been on road trips through other parts of the world where you need to be prepared with your own toilet paper, and paper towels.
Sunscreen & bug spray
Any summer holiday means sunscreen. Have you seen this video of what our skin looks like under UV light? Watch it and you won’t want to go out without it. A hat is useful too. Depending on your road trip, you might need bug spray as well so you don’t get those pesky mosquito bites.
A game or two
We played a lot of Mad Libs on this trip to pass the time. We also started counting license plates and other silly random games. It’s a great way to pass the time in the car and get everyone playing. There are tons of great ideas available on the web. I also brought with me a bunch of crosswords to complete during quiet alone time.
Items I Forgot
As much as I tried to be prepared, there are definitely a few items I wish I had brought along. Here are a few that I’ll definitely be packing next time!
Knife and / or Scissors
A knife is really useful if you’ll be doing a lot of picnic lunches on the road. You can use your knife to cut up fruit, sandwiches, and do anything else you may need. I had it on my packing list, but at the very last moment, I forgot to bring one. Another item I wished I had brought along were a pair of scissors to help open packaging.
First aid kit
Aside from a couple band aids that live in my wallet, I completely forgot to pack one. A first aid kit comes in handy especially if you’re going to be hitting the trails or heading places where accidents might happen. Bring items like bandaids, polysporine, a flashlight, thermometer, and medicine like pain killers and antacids. You can even slip in extra wet wipes and hand sanitizer in case your other supplies run out.
We ended up buying food for picnics and nibbles on the road that could have used a cooler. We made do without one, but next time I’ll be sure to bring with me a little ice box to help keep everything at the proper temperature.
What are your essentials for a road trip?