As winter rolls into full force, summer road trips seem like a world away.
Still, more important than what’s happening outside – a bit of snow is never going to stop a dedicated road tripper – is what’s inside the car. And anyway, nice windows-down weather is only a few months away.
So without further ado, here are the top 10 things to bring with you on a road trip.
1. Spare tire
Cars used to always come with a spare tire. These days, almost one-third of new cars do not come with one, as an attempt from the manufacturers to lighten the car and thus increase gas mileage.
Great if you don’t need the spare, but a nasty surprise if you do!
Check before you go on a long drive that your car has a spare and a tire jack. You can buy one from any tire retailer.
A compressor and sealant kit are also good things to have in the car. These can temporarily fix a leaking tire, if the problem is a simple puncture.
2. Extra keys
The last thing you want on a road trip is to get locked out of your car in the middle of nowhere. Seriously, you don’t want this.
Before you go, make a duplicate key and keep it somewhere on your person, in a purse or wallet.
If it’s a long trip, it may even be worth it to make a spare set for the other people you go with, in case you ever get separated.
Looking at the scenery is great for a while, but unless your Zen is super strong, you’ll need a bit more than that to keep you and your friends entertained for hours on the road.
Load up your phone with your favorite jams and make a road trip playlist, so you won’t have to fuss with it while driving.
Don’t forget podcasts or a good audiobook to feed your brain!
Pack some games to pass the time and bring everyone together. This doesn’t have to be physical games, though these are handy if you have kids in the car. A few rounds of Word Association, Never Have I Ever or good old 20 Questions can make the time fly.
Look up the rules to a few so you’re prepared for the first dull moment.
4. Water and snacks
Staying hydrated is literally the most important thing on a road trip!
Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it’s pretty important. With long hours sitting in dry car air, it’s easy to get dehydrated without noticing. Bring a few bottles of water to drink plus a few in the trunk for emergency. If you ever get stuck on the side of the road on a hot afternoon, you’ll be grateful.
Also bring your own snacks so you won’t have to rely on roadside diners and rest stop junk food. Crunchy trail mix and fruits make for great on-the-road munching. (Just not oranges, there’s no way to eat them in the car without making a huge mess.)
5. Paper maps
Whenever I’m driving my mother and I’m not sure where to go, she will lament that people these days are too dependent on GPS and no one knows how to use a real map anymore.
Never mind that people used to get lost all the time using paper maps, long before Waze was a glimmer in Uri Levine’s eye. Still, there’s something to it. If you’re dependent on your phone for directions, you may be in trouble if you run out of battery or with no reception – or if Google Maps just gives you bad directions. (It happens!)
So just in case, get a good old-fashioned map of the region you’re driving through and keep it in the glove compartment.
6. First aid kit
Always be prepared for cuts and scrapes, especially if your road trip involves hiking or camping. A basic first aid kit is a must-have for your car, including bandages of different types and sizes, wound disinfectant, tweezers, painkillers, eye wash and cream for insect bites and stings.
7. Emergency car supplies
In case your car needs some first aid, be prepared with an emergency car kit: flares, jumper cables, reflective tape, sturdy gloves and rope are a good start, not to mention tools for switching tires. (This handy kit includes everything in one neat package.)
This time of year, don’t forget snow tools! An ice scraper and brush are essential for clearing windshields, plus a shovel and snow chains in case you get stuck.
Now, remember I said you should stay hydrated during a road trip? Same for your car!
Stock up on oil, brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid, transmission fluid, and a gallon of water in case your car overheats.
If you’re not sure how to refill these fluids or know when to refill them, ask a mechanic to show you.
8. Travel comforts
In case one of your passengers wants to get some rest, bring the same sleeping aids as you would for a flight: a travel pillow (one of those half-doughnut things that go around the neck), a blanket or two, maybe eye shades and earplugs if you want to make it first class.
As a safety note, if you’re driving late at night, best to have a friend riding shotgun stay awake with you and make sure you don’t start nodding off.
9. Extra time
Give yourself the gift of time on your next road trip: time to get lost, to take the scenic route or enjoy unexpected roadside attractions. Leaving just a few hours earlier can make space for memories that last a lifetime.
10. A great car
The most important ingredient in a long car voyage is, of course, the car itself!
You’ll want something reliable, comfortable, fuel-efficient and fun to drive, with plenty of space for your friends and all your stuff.
If you’re looking for a road-trip-worthy ride, contact Capital Motor Cars. We’ll help you locate the perfect lease vehicle for your next adventure.