Some people like to pack everything but the kitchen sink when they go away on a road trip, but if you prefer to travel light, or need to make a quick getaway, here are the seven indispensable items you should throw into your going away bag.
From maps to keep you on the right track, snacks and toiletries to ensure you’re comfortable, music for entertainment and your first aid kit and Bluetooth handsfree kit for ultimate safety, the below should cover everything (although you might need to pack some clothes too!)
1. Plenty of Music
Whether you prefer to sing along with Ed Sheeran, tear it up with Tinie Tempah or kick back with a bit of Bach there’s no denying that having a decent road trip playlist is among the top essentials when hitting the tarmac.
Even better, if you can set up two or three playlists, suitable for different moods, you should be able to enjoy a harmonious trip. Many people have a decent MP3 player or access to a digital music streaming service, but if your vehicle is still equipped with a CD player then it might be worth packing a few discs for back-up.
2. Snacks and Drinks for Everyone
Spending time preparing a tasty picnic for your road trip is always worth the effort. And if you plan to make an early getaway, you won’t regret getting your victuals sorted the night before.
Make sure that there is enough food and drink to go around and that everyone gets something they enjoy. Sandwiches, crisps, sweets and, for the health conscious, fruit, nuts and cereal bars are all good road trip fare; just stay away from rich foods if travel sickness is an issue, and smelly foods are probably best left behind too.
3. Multiple Cameras
There is nothing worse than spotting that perfect picture opportunity only to find that the only smartphone battery has expired.
Unless you are confident that you have enough phones and charge to cover the trip, it may be a good idea to bring along a dedicated digital camera to make sure you capture those stunning sunsets, family fun snaps and unique road trip experiences.
4. Digital and Physical Maps
Maps are, of course, a clear staple of the road trip, but with sat-nav systems and smartphone apps getting more sophisticated every year, the old-fashioned paper road map is becoming a rare site.
Don’t make the mistake of leaving yours behind because being lost in the dark in the middle of nowhere is no joke when your GPS packs up or your phone batteries fail.
If you can pack a general road atlas (for following motorways and main trunk roads), an A to Z for any towns or cities you visit and one or two good old Ordnance Survey maps for when you leave the beaten track, you should get to where you need to be.
5. Toiletries, Medication and First Aid Kit
A toiletries/medicine bag is essential for any lengthy road trip and there are plenty of miniature products in most chemists, from deodorants, shower gels, shampoo and soaps to toothpaste and toothbrushes for longer, overnight trips.
Baby wipes are invaluable, even if there are no children travelling, as they can be used for everything from cleaning sticky ice-cream from fingers to quickly wiping around the steering wheel and the dashboard to keep them hygienic.
Any important prescription medications will need to be packed but over-the-counter antacids, headache tablets and travel sickness tablets might also be a good idea. Include a simple First Aid kit containing plasters, bandages, antiseptic cream and insect repellent as well as sunscreen for sunny climes (even if it’s cold).
6. Bluetooth Handsfree Kit
Safety has to be a priority on a road trip, and using a mobile phone while at the wheel is not only dangerous but illegal too. A simple Bluetooth handsfree kit will enable the driver to take calls and, in some cases, activate apps for music and navigation without distracting them from the road ahead.
7. Batteries and Chargers
Power is often an issue with long trips, particularly if you are intending to make full use of smartphones, cameras, music players and games consoles.
Ensure mobile phones are fully charged before departure and pack a selection of adapters if possible, including one for charging via a car’s cigarette lighter. Also charge up rechargeable batteries and bring along a stash of regular batteries as spares too.