Road Trip Tips: What to Pack for the Ultimate Joy Ride
When you’re headed somewhere hundreds of miles away, driving and experiencing the landscape and attractions along your route is its own adventure. To make your next road trip more fun, think of your car as a mobile cocoon.
“You want your car to feel as homelike as possible,” says Sandra Phillips-Posner, who, with her husband Stan Posner, wrote six editions of “Drive I-95.” The couple spent six weeks on the road each time, driving from Maine to Miami. All told, they’ve explored 46 states, 10 Canadian provinces, and at least 40 countries by car.
The right products can turn your vehicle into a roving extension of your kitchen, living room, bedroom, and home office. Here are key road-trip items these veteran car-travel authors never leave home without — and neither, they say, should you.
Adult sippy cups. To stay hydrated, bring along a water bottle with an internal straw and collapsible mouthpiece, like this CamelBak insulated water bottle. Water bottles that require sipping from a straw won’t spill if you drive over a bump. Fill up at fast food outlets. “You can get ice and water from the soda machine for free,” Phillips-Posner says. “We get ice and water all day long.”
Food Gear. To save money on food, the couple will eat dinner out, but save half for the next day’s lunch. You can do the same, but those on-the-road meals require gear. Fill the glove compartment with an assortment of knives, forks, spoons, napkins and straws. “I’ll keep the leftovers in the hotel refrigerator overnight, heat them in the microwave in the morning, and repackage it all into a closed plastic food storage container,” Phillips-Posner says. It’s often still warm when they dig in several hours later, hence the need for utensils and napkins. “We also bring healthy snacks that we buy in supermarkets as opposed to the mini market at the gas station, where it’s three times the price,” she says.
Pet dish. If you’re traveling with your dog, a collapsible pet feeder can save space in the car and help turn Fido’s trip into a moveable feast. For fresh air and exercise, many welcome centers and KOA Campgrounds have grassy, enclosed pet runs. “You can also Google ‘dog parks’ as you pass through town,” Stan Posner says. “There’s a giant dog park, for example, in Fayetteville, North Carolina.”
Chargers. Bring more than one charger for your electronics, such as your cell phone, Bluetooth, laptop, and DVD player, so you have a backup in case you need it. “We’re always charging something at all times,” Phillips-Posner says.
Audio books. A good audio book can make spending up to 12 hours a day in the car fly by. “And if you’re listening to an audio book and you get stuck in traffic, you don’t even care,” Posner says. The couple always brings along audio books they listen to separately and together.
Travel pillow. If you get sleepy when you’re driving, find a quiet, shady place to take a nap. “You shouldn’t be driving if you’re tired,” Phillips-Posner says. For napping, the couple prefers motel and hotel parking lots or busy places, not Interstate rest areas, which can be targets for criminals. Park under a tree for shade. To make your nap even comfier, bring along a neck pillow. To save space, the couple prefers the inflatable kind, like this one by Samsonite.
What’s your favorite item to take on the road?