The Road Trip Essentials: Everything You Need for a Successful Road Trip

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Road Trip Life

Only a short while ago, I set off on the daunting experience of taking a two week long road trip. Along the way we would stop in over 10 cities, eat loads of fast food, experience the culture in each city, try city beloved cuisine, hike, go to the boonies of western Pennsylvania, view Times Square, meet families – and more importantly, pets – and be together every step of the way. 

Sounds fun, right?

Wrong! Okay, wrong is a harsh version of what I really thought. I was so excited to hit all of these different cities, definitely excited to eat, and best of all, I was doing it all with my best friend and love of my life. 

Why was I so terrified?

Because how could I possibly spend hours upon hours in the car? I hate cars. I hate driving but if I’m not driving I get car sick. This was it, after Tyler see’s how terrible I am in cars, he’s going to rethink this whole relationship and be like ‘actually, bye.’

But thanks to his kindness and caring attitude, the trip went brilliantly! You can check out how awesome it was here. Since then I’ve taken many more road trips!

I’m still fresh to the road tripping life, but I’ve made the mistakes for you, so, below are some tips to skip your bumpy first road trip and get ahead of the game!

Road Trip Snack
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What To Bring


Pack snacks, and I don’t just mean that bag of Takis because calories don’t count on vacation. I mean, bring fruit, bring some durable veggies like carrots, bring some fruit snacks, yes, bring your chips, bring some granola and protein bars. At some point the junk food and fast food is going to get old and your tummy will be thanking you for some nutritional food that helps you get through the day instead of bogging you down.


Bring some water, to help wash down all of those yummy snacks! You never know the next time you’re going to come across a safe and clean source of water so over pack the water from the start. You can stash a pack of water bottles in the back seat – in arms length of the front for easy access – or if you’re like me and try to minimize your single use plastic usage, bring a gallon (or bigger) reusable water bottle to drink through the day while driving and a few smaller sized reusable water bottles to bring out on excursions and for easy replenishing at water fountains. I recommend using an insulated water bottle so no matter the weather you have refreshing water!


Get your favorite road trip jams and podcasts queued up! Nothing is worse than driving 80 and going “damn, this radio is trash.” It’s made even worse when you need to start scrolling through Spotify not sure what to put on. Have your favorite road trip worthy playlists and podcasts at the top of your queue so you can easily switch to mobile and get pumped.

Chasing the Sunset Clearwater
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Always have cash on you! When I got my first car in high school, my parents wouldn’t even let me drive to a friends house without a twenty in my purse, they’d always say ‘just in case,’ and hand me the twenty dollar bill. Now, as an adult, I understand the importance of having extra cash in case you break down and need a tow, stop in a rural towns gas station that hasn’t switched to credit cards yet, or need to buy something to use the bathroom. There are all kinds of scenarios where $20-$50 on hand will come in clutch. Just never bring too much money, otherwise we may have a Gone Girl situation on our hands!

Battery Pack

An extra battery pack goes a long way. This is another extra precaution that may never be needed, but it’s always best to be prepared for the worst. Always carry a **charged** battery pack in case your car dies and you can’t use your car to charge your phone and call AAA to help.

Blanket and Pillow

Even if you have your hotels planned and booked, a nap time pit stop comes in handy. I always keep a comfy blanket and pillow in my car just in case I can’t keep my eyes open for the last two hours of the drive. I’m not big on energy drinks and supplements – I’m that person that gets shortness of breath then has a breakdown because I think I’m dying – so when I’m struggling to stay awake, I find a pit stop, curl up with my plushie and take a nap in the backseat. Pro tip if you’re alone, try to find a rest area with security on site.

Comfy Clothes

Comfy clothes! I used to always try and look fly while traveling, but I have since learned the importance of Uggs, joggers, and bralettes – my go to travel outfit. Pack what ever makes you feel comfiest and ready to go while in the car because nothing is worse than sitting in a car for 10 hours with a leather jacket that is too tight on the arms and skinny jeans squeezing your tummy.

Jumper Cables

For the fellas with the older cars – like me – bring your own jumpers. I’ve occasionally had to get a jump, so it’s nice when I have the cables ready to go for someone to just pull up and get my car going. Along with cables, check to make sure your car has a donut and tools to change your tire in case you get a flat in the middle of nowhere! Always be prepared when it comes to your car, I’ve shredded my tire on the back roads in West Virginia and had about seven dropped calls to AAA before I tracked someone down to change it for me – yes, now I *know* how to do it myself.

Mt Washington Pittsburgh
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Cosmetics like face cleaners and contacts are a must. Trust me, you’ll want to clean your face halfway through the drive, wipe your pits, and probably replace your contacts with glasses. It may seem superficial, but feeling fresh and clean will help to get you through the drive.

These are my absolute musts for a road trip to make sure my trip is as safe as possible. Along with the above, make sure to bring things that make the trip enjoyable for you so you’re not dreading the next eight hours on the road.

Take stops along the way, jam to some music, definitely stop and get some greasy fast food just once, and have fun. Road trips are such a great way to see the country – and other countries – making stops between destinations, finding new places, and saving some money along the way. Don’t be afraid to stop and explore a place that looks cool along the way, it may be your next favorite destination!

Make sure to check this list before your next road trip and get driving!

Helpful Apps

There are a large range of apps to use and save money and time with while road tripping. A few favorites are:

Bonus Road Trip Tip

Before you head out on a long ride, be sure to bring your car in for a maintenance check, brake check, and oil change. It’s always best to do this before your trip to ensure your car is in tip top shape before hitting the road.

Bonus Hits

Road tripping? Check out these links to help plan your best trip yet.

Road Trip Essentials Pin
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South of The Border South Carolina
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