The Road Trip Checklist: Five Essential Items

road trip
If you’re about to embark on your first road trip, you’re in for a wonderful treat. Road trips offer something no other form of travel can: the ability to do things on your own time. There are no flight times or bus schedules to worry about. You can sleep as late as you want, drive as much as you want in a day and take whatever detours you feel excited about. Road trips are also a great opportunity to bond with your friends and make memories that will last a lifetime.

1. Maps and Other Navigation Tools

Getting temporarily lost can be a fun bonding experience, but that fun can quickly turn sour if you have to spend a great deal of time figuring out where you’re going. It’s rather difficult to get lost in America these days, but if you’re going to be traveling on the back roads or moving through an unfamiliar area, it’s a good idea to plan your route ahead of time and have a map in case you need to pinpoint your location.

2. Sustenance

Food is a big part of a road trip. Although many of your meals will be at fast-food restaurants and roadside cafes, you will also want to bring plenty of snacks for moments when you don’t feel like stopping anywhere. Sandwiches, fresh fruit, chips, candy, granola bars, crackers and soda all make great road-trip food, and you should also bring along a cooler so you can store cold drinks and leftover food from restaurants.

3. Awesome Tunes

Another huge part of a perfect road trip is music. You will be spending a lot of time in the car, and keeping yourselves entertained will be a big priority. Make sure that everyone gets to enjoy their favorite music by having each of your friends mix a CD to bring along. Not only is it fair, but listening to the music that your friends enjoy might help introduce you to some cool new artists.

4. Necessary Paperwork

It’s a good idea to plan for the unexpected. If you will be traveling near a border, be sure to bring along your passport. You may not think that you will be leaving the country, but if the opportunity for spontaneity arrives, it would be a shame to miss out because you didn’t bring the proper documentation to cross the border. Also, be sure to bring all of your normal documentation, including your driver’s license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration. You should have all of these things on you anytime you’re driving, but it’s particularly important when you will be far away from home.

5. Emergency Preparations

It isn’t likely that anything will go wrong on your trip, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Before you leave, be sure to check that you have a car emergency kit, a spare tire, car jack, jumper cables and the proper phone numbers to call for a tow. If you will be traveling in winter, also consider snow chains, emergency food and water, blankets and a spray that will help unfreeze your locks. Keep an eye on road conditions and avoid traveling if you see a forecast of snow or ice. It’s better to stay an extra day in the hotel than it is to brave the roads and get into an accident.