In the past week I have driven over 1,800 miles in my Ford Explorer; from western Kentucky to New Orleans, La., back to Kentucky and then to Gulf Shores, Ala. Needless to say there were many hours of trying to stay awake via singing, spotting different state license plates and listing everything I packed in my head multiple times. While driving, I made a list of things that I personally think are crucial to a successful road trip.
Here's what made the list:
1. Subscription to Pandora One AND/OR Spotify Premium
Forget the burnt CDs...make a playlist/custom radio station for your trip! Having unlimited access to these apps while traveling lets you not only change genres but also allows you to explore some new or upcoming artists. This was a lifesaver for me because the collection of CDs that I have are pretty much limited to the "High School Musical" soundtrack and Hits of the '70s. Connecting your smart phone to your car via auxiliary chord is a necessary trip factor. But in case you don't have a smart phone/iPod or an auxiliary port...keep it old school and rock those mixtapes!
2. Spare Cash
"Oh I don't need to go to the bank, I have my debit card." "It's okay I just need my credit card." WRONG. Take my advice: Always take spare cash with you. While in Louisiana I made a quick run to Dollar General to pick up cleaning supplies and when I swiped my card the gut-wrenching messaged popped up on the computer screen: "Declined." Credit card companies tend to freak out when one of their customers' cards are used an unfamiliar area; fraud alerts are sent via email and sometimes the account can be frozen for a period of time. A good rule of thumb is to have at least $40 with you for each day that you will be away from home.
Whether it's an apple, mixed nuts or a bag of Doritos, you should definitely have a bag'o'snacks prepared for your journey. The average person should actually eat something about every three hours: breakfast, lunch, and dinner with snacks between each. If you have snacks packed in the seat beside you, you won't have to make stops at McDonald's or some other fast food restaurant and waste money on what you can pack before hand.
4. Two Pairs of Sunglasses
You'll remember one pair of shades, but pack another! Just in case you're wearing a pair on top of your head, hit a bump in the road, and they fall behind your seat or, worst case scenario go flying out your window, you'll be totally prepared. It's perfectly fine to grab a couple $3 pairs from Walmart. Personally, I don't want to spend a bunch of money on something that I usually end up breaking within a month of owning.
I know we all use Google Maps religiously when traveling, but it's always good to have an atlas or, at least, a map with you. You never know when service could be lost, your phone could crash or a roadway closes. Prepare for the worst case scenario and you'll appreciate preparedness if it actually happens. Better safe than sorry.