a GPS app sits open on a cell phone which lies on top of a map

6 Road Trip Must-Haves

Planning a cross-country trek by car can be both exciting and overwhelming. Spending hours in the car can create the space for conversation and thought that speedy air travel does not provide. Not to mention, the incredible sights, old towns, and local cultures that you can miss out on when not traveling via roads. When planned with a little forethought and trouble-shooting, on-road mishaps can easily be minimized and avoided, especially when you have these six necessities for any road trip:

  1. Reliable GPS

    An obvious way to reduce stress, confusion, and fights is by making sure you have a good GPS. The best systems include estimated times to given destinations, turn by turn directions, and notifications of poor traffic conditions. Garmin and Tom Tom brands offer the newest versions at affordable prices and are the most trusted brands on the market. For smart-phone users, the GPS Essentials app offers many different features. For travelers wanting a free, reliable app, MapFactor and MapQuest apps offer a classic user-interface with reliable information.

  2. Smartphone Mount

    Whether you have your GPS app, music app, or both opened while traveling, it is important to refer to your phone in a wise and safe manner while driving. Having a smartphone mount ensures that you are able to keep your attention on the road while referring to your phone briefly for needed information.

  3. Soft Cooler

    When on the road, nothing is more refreshing than being able to stop roadside and enjoy fresh air with a light meal. Having a nice soft cooler allows this option. In addition to taking in sights at local picnic areas, packing fresh fruit, veggies, meat, and cheeses in a soft cooler allows you to stay healthy and not rely on gas station junk food along the way. Furthermore, most hotels and campgrounds offer complimentary ice service so you can fill up before you take off for the day.

  4. Gallon Water Jugs

    The most desolate and uninhabited parts of the United States are some of the most reflective and beautiful places through which you can drive. However, the pinnacles of South Dakota or rolling corn fields of Nebraska can be scary places to break down without water. All road-trippers should be prepared with an array of snacks, but most can overlook the necessity of being prepared with enough water. Also, most jugs can double as containers for gas, should you overestimate the mileage on your car. Between 3 and 7 jugs should do the tick, depending upon how many people are in your party.

  5. Memory Foam Travel Pillow

    This one may be counted as frivolous for the more rugged camper in all of us, but it is worth the investment. Finding a comfortable position in the car to doze off in can be difficult, and if you are driving through the night or camping, it can become very frustrating (and dangerous) to road trip without proper sleep. While there are cheaper pillows on the market, memory foam pillows have better consumer ratings and more positive reviews.

Whether you are taking off across the country for the "last hurrah" before school starts or headed to the lake for labor day weekend, including these items are a sure way to provide an enjoyable experience for the whole family.

Last Updated: December 16, 2014