Don’t Leave Home Before Printing This FREE Road Trip Planner!
There is nothing like the feeling of a breeze on your face, your favorite song blasting from the radio, and your family and friends ready for a ROAD TRIP! Everyone loves a road trip! But, don’t head out for yours without this free Road Trip Planner!
One of my favorite ways to spend the weekend with my family is a fun road trip. From a planned road trip to spontaneous ones, it’s a great bonding experience and memory maker!
Road trips spell freedom. You are not only in total control of your time, you can also travel on your own pace, with your chosen destination. However, if you’re not prepared, all your plans can go right down the drain in a hurry!
Whether you’re cross country road tripping or heading out camping for the weekend, you need to be prepared to make sure your trip goes smoothly. From things you need for yourself to the must-bring items for the car, don’t forget anything from your list or your trip can turn into a disaster.
Not sure what to bring on your car trip? Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered! This car trip must have list covers the essential tips to keep in mind along with the must-haves to pack on your next road trip! Be sure to print the Road Trip Planner, too.
What To Bring On A Car Trip
License and Registration
You wouldn’t want to leave home without them. What’s the first thing you’re asked for when you get pulled over? Be prepared and make things easy on yourself.
Copy of Your Vehicle Insurance Policy
Hopefully, you won’t need to use your insurance policy, but, keeping a copy is a must at all times. I know these are things you need to keep in the car all the time, but, sometimes they get misplaced and it’s the last thing you want to find out you’ve forgotten mid-trip.
Always make sure your spare is available and in good working order. Another thing you don’t want is to need it and it not work or maybe even not be there.
This includes light sticks, battery booster cables, reflective vest, emergency rain poncho, whistle, warning triangle, tire pressure gauge, and window breaker. You can purchase these things separately and make your own, or you can buy a ready made one.
The Owner’s Manual to your car can save you hours of frustration when you don’t know what a specific indicator light means or you cannot access the fuse box. Knowing which fuse fixes the broken air conditioner when you’re 8 1/2 months pregnant in the middle of Texas in the summer is HIGH priority – let me tell you… from experience… long story – but, trust me on this.
Keep a gallon of water just in case your car overheats – driving from Texas to California one year IN THE SUMMER – the signs all cautioned us to turn off the a/c and be careful not to overheat – I sure wish we had thought about taking a jug of water then. We didn’t overheat but, it was a tense drive there for a while – those signs really scared me!
Also make sure you have extra windshield washer fluid, extra transmission fluid, brake fluid, and oil.
Empty Gas Can
In case you need extra gas and the next gas station is a few meters away.
If you’re traveling for several hours and your family is eating in the car, be prepared to help with “unwanted scents” — unless you want the car to smell like an egg sandwich.
Every time you get out of the car to enjoy the scenery, go on a day hike, or take photos with your family, you don’t want to return to a car that has been baking in the sun.
Road Trip Accessories That Will Make A Big Difference
Paper Maps or Online Map
Maps.me is a free app that allows you to download detailed maps that you can use online or offline. You don’t need to bring an impossible to refold paper map with you anymore because you can access it with or without cell service.
Cash is king in a lot of places — especially when paying for road tolls or parking meters! Don’t get caught with no way to pay. Make sure you carry some cash for those “emergencies”.
Bring basic supplies like bandages, band-aids, safety pins, and antiseptic.
In case the car battery dies in the middle of the night. Or you can’t find what you’re looking for a night in your trunk in the hotel parking lot.
If you’re traveling during summer, you don’t want bugs to ruin your vacation.
Staying hydrated is important. Make sure everyone has a large water bottle. Traveling and drinking nothing but soft drinks all along the way will end up causing more than one problem… :).
You need baby wipes in your life. You can use it to clean your faces, hands, and neck. If you feel like you want to get a quick shower but there’s no place to go to, you can use it to feel fresher. Plus, you can use it as a toilet paper in case you run out.
What’s worse than stopping at a gas station, and there’s no tissue? Carry your own.
Whether you are young or old, you need to take care of your skin, especially if you’re exposed to extreme sunlight while hiking or at the beach.
Keep your hands free of unwanted germs when there is no access to soap and water.
It’s not only your skin that needs protection, your do eyes, too.
Having nothing to dry yourself after taking a dip in the river, or anything to lay on at the beach is a huge pain.
If you have limited space in your bag, you can pack a sarong too. It’s multipurpose: You can use it to dry yourself, to cover your body while changing, and even as a picnic blanket.
These are essential for a road trip. You can change into slippers to rest your feet or if you need to shower in a public shower.
No one should ever leave home without this! When we were youth pastors I made sure ALL of the kids had deodorant with them as we left for summer camp each year.
You can use it for a daytime nap, extra warmth, and as a picnic blanket. The car can get cold and it’s nice to have a blanket to cuddle under when someone else is driving.
You don’t want to turn your car into a trash can. Plastic bags can also be used to store your wet or dirty clothes, too.
Better safe than sorry. If one of your family members have allergies, make sure to bring an antihistamine with you at all times. Don’t forget any of your prescriptions, don’t let anyone forget insulin, an inhaler, or any daily essentials that just may get lost in the shuffle of packing.
If you’re going on a day hike or overnight camp, you don’t want to haul a giant bag around with you. Throw a change of clothes and your gadgets in a dry bag.
If you’re traveling up into high mountain ranges, the higher you go, the more likely your ears will get plugged up. Chewing gum can help to unpop them. It can also keep your breath and mouth feeling fresher, especially if you can’t brush your teeth right away.
Charge your phone before you leave home or hotel, but, always keep a battery pack with you, just to be safe. You can also use it to charge your portable speakers and action camera.
It’s cheaper to bring snacks from home than buying them from convenience stores and gas stations. Keep freeze-dried fruits, nuts, seeds or nature bars with you.
Parka, Sweater or Poncho
You never know when it’s going to rain or if it’s going to be cold. One summer, as youth pastors, we took the kids to Oklahoma in the middle of the summer and we were soooo cold the entire time. It was crazy. You just never know. So, be prepared for anything weather-wise.
Additional Tips When Going On A Road Trip
Always pack your phone with the necessary apps:
- A Music app with your favorite playlist
- A Maps app to show you the right lane to go
- A Traffic app to avoid any car accidents and road construction
- A Gas app to locate the nearest and cheapest gas station.
- A hotel app to point you to different hotels in your area, budget range, and more.
Chat with the store attendants. They may give you some fun tips, offer advice on the road, and confirm if you’re headed in the right direction.
A week or two before your trip, make sure to give your car a tune-up and an overall check.
If you’re traveling for several hours, make sure to bring a portable speaker or a fun board game to keep your companions entertained.
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There’s no better feeling than being completely prepared especially if you’re traveling for several hours! I hope this road trip planner can help you stay fully prepared so you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.
Just click the image below to download yours and print.
What is the one thing you refuse to travel without on a road trip?