Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Many of us are getting ready to hit the road to spend time with friends and family. We wanted to share a few road trip essentials to get you there comfortably, courtesy of our friends.
A Road Worthy Playlist
Don’t forget to take your favorite tunes along for the ride. An iPod playlist or CD collection works wonders in making the trip more enjoyable, especially if you’re traveling through an area where radio signals might be sketchy. Be sure to carry along a mix of tunes that cover every mood, from upbeat to introspective, to make the most of your trip.
Some tried-and-true songs for the road: Eye of the Tiger by Journey, Must be the Money by Nelly, Bandz a make her Dance (don’t judge) by Juicy J, I’m Ready by Tevin Campbell, Roar by Katy Perry, Life of Da Party by and anything by the Temptations. The fun is in making your own playlist.
Pack plenty of healthy snacks for the trip, such as fruit, pretzels, granola bars, crackers and nuts, along with a few fun treats. Take sandwiches if you know you’ll be driving for a long stretch in an area with limited dining options — or simply to avoid the temptation of fast food. You could also pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at a roadside park. A trip to the grocery store can help you save money, too, because the costs of dining out can really add up.
A soft-sided cooler packed with water bottles and a few soft drinks will come in handy throughout your trip, and it won’t take up too much space in your car. Simply refill with ice and drinks at your hotel or destination, and you’re good for the return trip.
Toiletries and other essentials
Make sure your car is stocked with some easy-to-reach toiletries, such as tissues, paper towels, cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer and a roll of toilet paper, in case the rest stop isn’t well-stocked. Take any prescription medicines you need, as well as basics like pain relievers, antacids and remedies for motion sickness.
It’s also a good idea to include a basic first aid kit with a few essentials, such as antiseptic and band-aids for minor cuts, cortisone cream for insect bites, and bandages for unexpected cuts and scrapes.
Comfy Clothing, Pillows and Blankets
Whether you’ll be driving for several hours or even into the night, be sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Experienced travelers will tell you that a road trip is not the time to wear your tightest jeans, or anything that restricts or binds.
You’ll also find that shoes that are easy to take on and off are a practical choice. That way, you can wiggle your feet in the car and then slip your footwear back on at moment’s notice when you stop for a break. Add a sweater or jacket over a T-shirt for instant respectability in public areas.
If you’re traveling with a companion, a small blanket works wonders to help keep you comfortable if the two of you disagree on the temperature setting. And a pillow from home can provide just the comfort you need in an unfamiliar hotel bed.
Whether you’re headed to the beach or to the mountains, you’ll make lots of memories on the road and see things you may not come across everyday. Keep a camera handy to capture those moments, whether it’s the beauty of a sunset over a small lake, farm animals resting by an old barn, a humorous sign posted near a country store, or your traveling companion biting into his first boiled peanut.
Be sure to charge up your digital camera and take along a spare battery if you have one, or take plenty of film if you prefer more traditional equipment.
If you’re game for seeing some unusual sites and snapping some great shots to show your friends, be sure to check out Roadside America for information on interesting attractions like Foamhenge in Natural Bridge, Va., or the green McDonald’s arches in Sedona, Ariz.
An Electricity Power Converter
If you’re traveling with children or teenagers, don’t forget to take along a laptop or a portable DVD player to help them pass the time. Make sure you don’t run out of battery power on the road by investing in an electricity power inverter. These handy devices turn the charge from your car’s battery into electricity to power most small electronic devices, from laptops to electric razors. Simply plug the device into your cigarette lighter, and it converts in the direct current (DC) from the battery to alternating current (AC).
Spare Set of Keys and other Auto Preparedness
Don’t let the thrill of the trip keep you from making sure your car is in tip-top condition. Have your oil checked, your tires inspected and filled with air, and test the air conditioning and wiper blades to make sure they’re working correctly. Have your driver’s license, insurance card and contact numbers for roadside assistance readily accessible.
If you don’t know how to change a flat tire, learn how to do so before you take to the highways. Ensure that your spare tire is in good shape, and that the jack and other essential tools are easy to access. Your emergency toolkit should also include an orange flag or pylon that you can use to signal for help if needed.
Another word to the wise: Take along a spare set of keys in case they get locked inside the car or dropped from your pocket at a county fair. Give a set to your travel buddy or pack a set in your luggage for safekeeping — even if you have to call locksmith to open the car, you’ll be able to drive when it’s unlocked.
Everything is more fun with a companion, and a road trip is no exception. Think of all the great road trip movies, from “National Lampoon’s Vacation” to “Thelma and Louise” and “Little Miss Sunshine.” The time spent with family, a spouse or significant other, or a favorite friend can turn an ordinary trip into an adventure.
Take turns driving while the other person takes a nap or flips through magazines, or simply spend the time talking and catching up with each other. If you’re traveling with small children, be prepared with a few fun road games, sing-a-longs or books-on-tape to help the miles speed by.
Who knows? Your highway escapades just might give you the inspiration to write a road trip story of your own!