10 Road Trip Essentials You Should Never Travel Without

  • 10 Road Trip Essentials You Should Never Travel Without

The key to a good road trip is preparation. When planning for your upcoming road trip, don't leave home without these packing essentials. 

1. A reliable GPS

A GPS is a must-have for any road trip. Although technology has given us access to many means of navigation, such as GPS apps, you’ll want a stand-alone GPS device in order to use your phone for other purposes during your road trip, save your data, and preserve battery life.

If you’re looking for more than a GPS, look no further than OverDryve—the latest in-car system from Rand McNally that goes beyond navigation to bring advanced technology, like hands-free calling, texting, and voice assistance, to any car. Road travelers especially love the turn-by-turn directions, traffic updates, and Rand McNally’s robust points-of-interest database for discovering hidden gems (or the nearest gas station) along their route. And when you’re not driving, OverDryve can be used just like a tablet to stream video through Netflix or YouTube, update your Instagram story, or check your email. 

2. A Road Atlas

While technology is amazing and efficient it’s not always perfect. Sometimes you get into areas that GPS satellites can’t access or your phone loses its cell service. A Road Atlas will help guide your way when technology fails to. It’s also helpful for planning ahead by seeing the “big picture” view. 

3. First aid and safety kits

Accidents happen and you’ll want to be ready when they do. Keep a first aid kit handy for on-the-go treatment. Your first aid kit should include gauze, adhesive bandages, tape, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment, hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, a thermometer, pain medication, and plastic gloves. You can purchase a pre-made first aid kit from the American Red Cross.

In the event of a car emergency, be sure to gather jumper cables, flares or triangle reflectors, motor oil, coolant, a flashlight with extra batteries, pliers, a screwdriver, a wrench, a pocket knife, washer fluid, an ice scraper, and tire sealant to complete your safety kit. Or, you can purchase a pre-made car emergency kit from a discount store or auto parts retailer. 

4. Cleaning supplies

For quick cleanup of garbage, spills, and crumbs, keep a few cleaning supplies in close proximity. Fill a plastic garbage bag with disinfecting wipes, paper towels, and more garbage bags. If you have one, pack a small, portable vacuum cleaner to remove crumbs from the floor and seats during restroom breaks.

5. Comfortable blankets and pillows

Whether you are stopping overnight or driving straight through, you’ll want your most comfortable blankets and pillows within reach. Blankets also come in handy if you’re traveling in cooler weather and the heat inside your car stops working, or when you and your travel companion can’t agree on air conditioning temperatures.

6. A cooler crammed with snacks and drinks

Rather than stopping at gas stations or fast food restaurants, load up a cooler for on-the-road snacking. You’ll save time and money this way. Throw in hydrating beverages, as well as ingredients for sandwiches, and fruits, veggies, and nuts for healthy snacking.

This cooler by Wagan Tech is thin enough to fit in the small space between car seats in some cars. In addition to cooling your snacks and drinks, it has a drink warming feature to heat up beverages or keep them warm, once plugged in using a 12V power cord. Plus, the top front of the cooler has two cup holders!

7. Games

Activity books and games are a great way to pass the time on a road trip. Try playing games that involve the entire car such as the alphabet road sign game.

How to play: Each person must find a word that begins with each letter of the alphabet in order from A to Z. You can find these words on road signs, billboard advertisements, buildings—anywhere! The only catch is that a word can’t be used more than once, even by another player. The first person to get through the entire alphabet wins.

For the junior road-tripper, check out Rand McNally’s Backseat Book series to keep the little one entertained—and teach them a bit about where they’re headed.

8. A good variety of music

There’s no better way to pass the time than a good sing-along. If you’re using the Rand McNally OverDryve™ Connected Car Tablet you can download music or connect to your phone and stream directly from the device through your car stereo speakers. Before hitting the road, compile a list of your favorite songs as well as songs you know your travel buddies enjoy. And if you need some inspiration for a playlist check out this list of the best road trip songs from The Planet D.

9. A dash cam

Document your road trip with a dashboard camera. Rand McNally’s Dash Cam 300 not only lets you capture video of your trip, but also offers time lapse video, still photos, and night mode options. The dash cam also provides safety features like lane departure and collision warnings to keep you safe and alert during your drive. When you’ve completed your trip, simply remove the SD card and upload the video to your computer to share with friends and family!

10. A trunk organizer

Finally, don’t forget to pack a trunk organizer to keep all of these packing essentials in order. When you need something in a hurry, you’ll know exactly where it is. And when you’re not using your trunk organizer, effortlessly collapse it and lay it flat in your trunk for future road trips!

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