Travelling abroad by road offers many exciting opportunities to motorists, but it’s important not the let the haze of excitement affect what and how you pack. Packing light is always the way forward – with limited space and repeated stops to re-fuel you’re almost forced to pack light and pack smart on any road trip.
Start by asking yourself how the space in your car can work for your family and/or friends. We suggest clearing out your car a week in advance, removing anything you won’t need, as well as jotting down an itinerary so you can plan exactly which items will come in handy for your trip. Another great tip is to hire a car that’s already mess-free – this is a sure winner if you’re looking for a stress-free start to your journey.
Plan which essentials you’ll need right now. To help you out, we’ve put together 30 of the most important things you’ll need on the road…
Mobile – This one’s a given, but let’s start with safety. If you’re stranded, without fuel or simply want to get in touch with friends, a mobile phone will certainly come in handy.
But that’s not all, your smartphone is the ideal place to store information, itineraries and entertainment that would have otherwise cost you vital space in your car. From handy apps to maps and of course a camera, your mobile has it covered.
Chargeable phone case – Taking selfies on your hilltop trek? Using a chargeable phone case allows you to never lose battery.
Power devices – For all your other tech, you’ll need to think ahead about the best way to get power on the move.
Walkie Talkies – If you’re using up data fast, another alternative way to communicate is by using Walkie Talkies. These are so fun, especially with kids and allow you to save your mobile just for emergencies.
Satnav – Getting from A to B abroad is tough when you don’t know where you’re heading. Satnavs are so handy – they can inform you of accidents and speed restrictions that you wouldn’t otherwise have know about.
Map – When all else fails, go back to basics. Make sure you keep a road map handy for times when your technology lets you down. The great thing is, a road map will take up minimal space in your car.
In-car entertainment – Cue road trip playlists! We recommend you make at least 20 playlists on your ipod to ensure you don’t drive on repeat. Audiobooks are another great option depending on whether your passengers have similar taste. In situations like this, we advise using headphones.
Ear plugs – These are an essential, perfect for drowning out sounds that are simply driving you crazy in the car.
Journal– Aside from taking photos, a cool way to document your experience is to take pen to paper – write and draw along the way so you have something to re-visit when you’re back home.
If this isn’t your style then setting up a Pinterest board for your road trip is the perfect way of compiling all your holiday snapshots.
Driver’s license – This one’s a must for obvious reasons, so make a note not to forget!
Spare keys – Without them, you won’t be going far. Your keys are probably the single most important item you’ll need on the road, so having a spare set won’t hurt. In some countries it’s essential!
Auto essentials – Don’t sacrifice your spare tyre in the boot for more space. Be sensible and think about the health of your car along the road, regularly monitoring and topping up water, oil and coolant levels.
Folding shovel – You may think having a shovel in your car is a step too far but think not! This essential allows you to dig both you and your car out of tricky situations – then fold it away neatly when you’re done.
Tent – If you do find yourself struggling for space in your car, a pitched tent acts as a instant extension.
We say instant, but we all know from experience that putting up a tent can take up a lot of time and effort, so make sure you buy one that’s easy to put up and takes up minimal space in your vehicle. Don’t forget to trial out a practice run before you set out.
Lilo– Fancy a nap? Aside from the obvious poolside accessory, a lilo is the perfect bed. Slot it into your tent or alternatively over your back seats for the greatest DIY nap zone – perfect for catching those zZzZzs.
Cushions and cars are a great mix. Without them the journey has the potential to be an uncomfortable experience. If you’re travelling with children, building a cushion fort is really good fun and a great distraction for them on long journeys – try it!
Torch – This is one in-car essential vital all year round, not just on your summer road trip!
Warm clothes – We’re guessing no one told you that even abroad things can get a little chilly at night. When the sun goes down, make sure you’re prepared.
When it comes to packing clothes there are a few key things to remember: choose quick-drying clothes and wear darker colours to minimize the sight of any stains, plan all outfits ahead and use the ‘roll and pack’ method to save as much space as possible.
Bin bags are very versatile. Whether they’re used for rubbish, motion sickness or even makeshift raincoats, make sure they’re on your list of essentials.
Sensible shoes – Sometimes flip-flops just don’t cut it. In Spain, it’s illegal to drive in flip-flops, high heels, barefoot or backless and open-toe shoes. Make sure everyone is equipped with hard-wearing shoes, already broken in to avoid blisters.
Bandanna – Whether or not you think they’re ‘cool’ in a fashion sense, bandannas are certainly a cool way of keeping the heat off your head. Embrace it and pick one with a jazzy pattern!
First-aid kit – Of course this is a must. Grazed knee? Having emergency essentials on you at all times can avoid on-the-spot-reaction situations where you use your bandanna as a makeshift plaster. Being prepared is a much better option.
Water – Keeping hydrated is also an important factor of being on the road. At times it can be dusty, sweaty and humid so all the more reason to drink regularly.
Cool spray – Okay, so we’ve established it’s hot on the open road. For this very reason water-based facial mists are the way forward when it comes to keeping you and your passengers cool and calm.
Travel mug – Whilst it’s good to have enough cups to go round, having a travel mug acts as the perfect, secret, safety box in your car. It’s not obvious and if you lock it away in your glove box then the chances of it ending up in the wrong hands are minimal.
Non-messy foods – Did we mention it can get hot out on the open road in the summer? Ice-lollies and chocolate bars are definitely a no-go when it comes to road tripping – think more along the lines of foods that won’t melt and you’ll be fine.
Hand sanitizer – Purely for all those moments when you ignore the above.
Sunglasses – Where there’s heat, there’s the sun and UV rays! Make sure you don’t forget your sunglasses or else you’ll be making a purchase-based pitstop along the way.
Great company – Road trips can be loooooong, so choose your company wisely. Your friends and family are the people who will make any long journey worth it. It’s time to start making memories!
Plan B – No matter how much time you spend planning your road trip there’s always a chance things won’t go to plan. Make sure your A team is equipped with a plan B before you leave.
So what are you waiting for? Get planning, get packing and get on the road. The sooner you do, the sooner you can start enjoying the good times. The key thing to remember when planning your essential items, is that no two packing lists should look the same – keep it real to you and your trip.
Happy road trip from Airparks!