I recently took a road trip from California to central Texas to go back to school, and I found myself always using a few things that are beyond helpful, but not commonly taken on road trips. Here are some things everyone should have!
1. Really comfy pillow/blanket
If you are ever a passenger on your next road trip, pillows and blankets will be your best friends. I was in a car with five people, and most of the time, every one of our blankets and pillows were being used. They make the car ride a lot more enjoyable and cozy!
2. Small trash can
Especially if you like to bring snacks on your road trip, you are going to want some sort of small trash can in your car somewhere. While some people prefer to have a plastic bag sitting somewhere, I like to have a bag hanging around the back of one of the seats, ensuring that it doesn't spill for the duration of the car ride. Check out this one for less than ten dollars on Amazon (click picture)
3. Gas Buddy, a low gas price app
This one is definitely a life saver. For those long trips that take you to unknown cities, you are going to want to know you are getting a good deal on the product you buy most frequently. Download Gas Buddy and you will never have to overpay to fill your tank again.
4. Dryer sheets
Dryer sheets have dozens of uses, but one of my favorites is making your car (or gym bag or anything else with dirty laundry or clothes) smell great. There is no need to make your car smell way too much like the dirty clothes you are all carrying around, or like an over-scented air freshening spray; put a dryer sheet in each suitcase, under the seats, and on the dash, and your car will be smelling as good as new all the time. Additionally, they are great for getting bugs off your car!
5. Two-port USB charger
This item was especially useful because of how many people were in the car on our road trip. Everyone was using their phones for games, pictures, and music, meaning we needed to charge them more than ever. At one point, we actually had all five phones plugged in, however, it wouldn't have been possible without the multiple-port chargers that we had in the car. If you are traveling with more than one person, you need these! (Click picture for Amazon listing)
This one may seem obvious, but hear me out. You are not going to want to search for your type of radio station in every town you go to. Additionally, you are not always going to have access to the internet for your streaming service. So be sure to download music onto your phone for your next trip; I personally like to use Spotify, a service that lets you download music if you pay for premium membership for $10 per month (They have a college discount too!). If you don't want to pay, try their three-day free trial if your road trip is that long. Otherwise, it is well worth the investment!
7. Tire pressure gauge
This one is commonly overlooked. When you are on road trips, often times things like tire pressure are not considered when checking out the car to make sure it is good to go. However, constant time on highways, heavy loads, unpaved streets and frequent weather changes can put a lot of damage on tires, thereby changing the tire pressure drastically. It is always good to keep a close eye on these numbers to make sure you are safe to go. This one from Amazon works by plugging into your cigarette lighter!
8. Wireless Entertainment
Whether you like audio books or good ol' paper, you are going to need to find some activities that do not rely on the internet or a phone battery. Trust me, these types of things will save you from boredom and maybe teach you about what it was like to entertain your grandparents!
9. Walkie Talkies
These will be useful if you are traveling with several cars. While cell phone service is unreliable, you can always count on your walkie talkies to help you communicate. You may think that you won't need them, but they come in handy if any plans change, an emergency occurs, or you simply don't have enough free hands to make a phone call. (Click photo for Amazon listing.)
We ended up using flashlights a lot more than we expected on our trip. For the 11-hour-per-day haul, much of our time was spent in the dark, and someone was always missing a phone, snack or something else that we couldn't see. You may also need this if any problems happen with your car at night, as many towns that people often cross through, such as my own, have poorly lit streets and even highways.
11. Seat-back organizers
This is another thing that we used ALL THE TIME. We never seemed to have enough cup holders, and I often needed a place to put my phone, wallet and keys when my bags were not easily accessible. While you are on your road trip the car seems to shrink, meaning you need more and more storage space. That's where the organizer comes in handy! Find one on Amazon by clicking the picture below.