By: Sarah Tate
I spend a good bit of my time of the road. What I’ve learned is that a fun road trip can turn out to be not as fun as you initially thought if you don’t have the right gear and preparation to begin to with.
Courtesy of my Dad, I learned that you can save a lot of time and money by learning how to change your oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, etc. If you’re driving long distance, you definitely need to keep an eye on all of these things. You can buy all of these things at your local auto store. Just ask the clerk and he or she will tell you all of the things you need for the make of your specific car. While you’re there, buy a tire gauge to monitor your tire pressure. There’s a ton of video tutorials on YouTube that show you how to check and change your oil.
I get tired of gas station food pretty fast. It is pretty much a given that you always buy a lot of snacks before a road trip am I right? If you want to go one step further to save money on meals (and save your health from the fast food restaurants), pack a good cooler. Yeti’s are the best but obviously not the cheapest option. If you can get access to ice everyday, a Coleman cooler would work fine. Being able to eat a big sandwich and fruit compared to gas station hot dogs or peanut butter and tortilla really hits the spot.
Water is the biggest essential for your trip. You can save a lot of money by buying a couple packs of water or gallons for everyone to share. Or, if you’re like me, and sink water doesn’t gross you out, I usually just fill up my Nalgene at the gas station or rest stop sinks.
A few other Essentials:
Non-cotton clothes- They dry fast and they stay fresh longer.
Dry shampoo and baby wipes- for those days when you just don’t feel clean. Being stuck in a car with multiple dirty people can get stinky real fast.
A large duffle bag- to keep all of your gear in. When you’re traveling with other people, it’s really easy to get your stuff mixed up. Having everything in one place can relieve a lot of stress when you’re trying to find something fast.
A small bag or backpack- for all of your essentials. This is helpful for those small things that you need to access regularly and/or if you need a quick change of clothes.
A multi-tool- this comes in handy for anything and everything.
First Aid Kit- If you don’t want to spend the money, you can always make your own. I carry a small Tupperware of alcohol, gauze, Band-Aids, Neosporin, ibuprofen, and ace wraps.
Blanket- perfect for car ride and road side picnics!
Slip on Shoes- I like to take my shoes off in the car and slip ons make it easy to hop in and out when making pit stops.
National Parks Pass- If you’re hitting up at least 3 National Parks, I would go ahead and purchase this bad boy. It’s $80 for a year round pass that gets you into all of the National Parks. It covers your car as well as the people in it. It doesn’t cover camping fees, but sometimes they are discounted with the pass.
Bungee Cords or NRS straps- Sometimes it’s nice to put luggage on top of your car in exchange for the safety of having a good view out of you rear window.
I wouldn’t rely on just having the maps app on your cell phone. It’s smart to invest in a map- especially if you’ll be driving through areas with bad reception. If you do use a GPS, I would suggest splurging on a Garmin or something similar. It will be worth the money in the long run compared to how much you’re going to run up your cell bill with all of that data usage.
My last advice is to bring something fun like a Frisbee, longboard, a bicycle, or sleds for the winter! Having something fun to do in between cities can really break the tension of those long drives and it gives you a little exercise!