Road tripping is one of the most popular ways to travel. When gas prices are affordable, a road trip makes seeing the country in your own vehicle (or a rented one) an even more compelling option. You can create your itinerary exactly as you want, stop as much (or as little) as you would like, and enjoy the journey of getting to your destination. Our road trip checklist is one created after years of travel and thousands of miles spent seeing impressive towns, cities, and amazing attractions.
Prepare Your Car
Modern day comforts like automatic climate controls, a navigation system, and heating/cooling seats make road tripping a pleasant way of traveling.
- To ensure my car is in the best working order, I always check the tire pressure and oil level at a local gas station or tire store. I want to make sure my car is in tip to shape for driving long distances. Plus, by having all of the tires inflated to the optimized PSI pressure, it saves gas.
- Fill up your gas tank the night before your trip to save time getting out of town.
- You should always have your drivers license, proof of insurance, and registration on hand, but it’s a good idea to double check.
- Depending on what part of the country you are traveling to, you may need a snow shovel or ice scraper. We were recently on a blustery winter road trip in a rental Mitsubishi Outlander that happened to have an ice scraper in the trunk. Total life saver!
- Jumper cables may come in handy, so if you own a set be sure to pack them in your car. The heavy-gauge, insulated wire ones are best; the lower the gauge number, the heavier-duty the cables.
Think About Your Personal Comfort and Likes
Being comfortable is one of the perks about taking a road trip. Control the temperature inside the vehicle, how many miles you want to drive, and when and where you will take breaks. This is my favorite part of the road trip checklist because it can make or break the journey.
- Have a blanket or towel in the car for drying off in the event of an unexpected downpour, spill, or other emergencies.
- Dress comfortably; you may be in the car for a long time. The co-pilot might want to bring a pillow or blanket.
- We never leave home without a USB cord to charge our phones. Since we use our phone for directions and Bluetooth, the battery is depleted in a hurry.
- It’s always a good idea to have an umbrella or poncho on hand.
- Sunglasses are a must unless you are driving in the dark.
- One of my road trip essentials is a good lip balm. I keep mine in the center console so I can get to it quickly.
- You should drink plenty of water while driving. Reusable water bottles are environmentally friendly and save you money.
- Scissors come in handy for more things than you can imagine. Put a pair in the glove box just in case.
- Hand sanitizer is a great item to keep in your counter console. Kill those germs before they do damage to you and your family. Don’t forget to sanitize your hands after handling money!
- You should always keep basic first aid supplies on hand. Include things such as band-aids, antiseptic, bee sting relief, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, and pain reliever.
- It is a great safety precaution to have an emergency roadside assistance kit or company phone number handy that you can call in the event of emergencies, like locking your keys in the car or getting a flat tire.
Save Money on Snacks
We all love to save money and a big way to do so on a road trip is by taking your own food and beverages. I wouldn’t go so far as to pack a lunch or meal, but convenient store snacks are outrageous, so I recommend bringing what you have at home. These are some of my favorite road trip snacks:
- barkTHINS Dark Chocolate Almond with Sea Salt
- KIND bars
- Annie’s Organic Fruit Snacks
- Go Go Squeeze
- Moon Cheese
- Sahale Pomegranate Vanilla Flavored Cashews
- Trail Mix
- Babybel Original Cheese Wheels
- Harvest Farms Snapea Crisps
Instead of toting bottled water on your road trip, consider using an environmentally friendly refillable water bottle. Less garbage and free!
By bringing your own snacks and drinks, you won’t have to stop at convenience stores or gas stations as often or spend as much money for them.
These are some of our favorite snack links that you can order from. Since we are traveling most of the time, we are pretty fond of having the things we like delivered to our door for convenience.
Empty Those Piggy Banks
If you are like us, you have change scattered all over your house (whether it be in a purse, dish, or jar). Use those coins on your road trip! Whether paying for tolls or breakfast at McDonalds, this is the perfect time to use all of that change!
Directions Are Key
It is amazing that in this day and age our road trip checklist has to mention printed directions, but you’d be surprised at how many United States towns have no cell service. I’ve personally learned this the hard way more than once this year. It’s always best to be prepared!
Games are an easy way to break up the boredom on long road trips. In addition to signing along to the radio, here are some games you can play:
- License Plate Game–find a license plate from all 50 states. The one who collects the most states wins.
- ABC Game–Find something that begins with each letter of the alphabet, starting with A, as you drive. The one who finishes the list first, wins.
- Name That Tune–challenge someone or all of those in the car as you scan through the radio and see who can name the most song titles and/or artists.
Need a Rental Car Recommendation?
I drove a beautiful Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4 SEL S-AWC during a Denver, Colorado getaway. She was a real beauty with her Rally Red metallic paint against the brown and green landscapes of Denver and Colorado Springs. The Outlander got great gas mileage (26 MPG), had a huge sunroof for enjoying the weather, and a stellar stereo/speaker system.
I found the best features of the Outlander to be:
- 63 Cubic Feet of Cargo Space
- Power Glass Sunroof with Sunshade and Tilt Feature
- Blind Spot Warning and Lane Change Assist
- Bluetooth Wireless Technology
- Steering Wheel Audio, Phone, And Voice Controls
- Dual USB Ports
- Auto High Beam Headlights
- Apple CarPlay
- 710 Watt Rockford Fosgate Premium Audio System with 9 Speakers
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- Multi View Camera System
- Adaptive Cruise Control
Our Mitsubishi Outlander had more than enough room for all of our luggage and souvenirs that we accumulated during our road trip.
No matter where your travels take you, getting there is half of the fun. Some of the best vacation memories you will have may start in your own vehicle as you explore our great nation. We hope our road trip check list will help you save time, energy, and money and be proactive to things that can arise which can easily be avoided. Happy traveling. Enjoy the ride.
Have a look at some of our road trip posts: