There is nothing quite like the feeling of setting out in your car on an epic road trip, the back seat piled with bags, blankets and snacks, Rusted Root’s “Send Me On My Way” playing in the background, and your favourite travel buddy sitting beside you. Whether we’re exploring somewhere completely new and having to learn the rules of the road in a different country, or just going on a short weekend break closer to home, road trips are one of my favourite ways to travel. Being able to stop wherever and whenever we want, having no obligations or time limits, and just enjoying the freedom of an open road.
Our great American adventure is only a day off now (eeek!!), and while we may not have actually been on our American road trip yet, we have been on a fair few in the past, from roadtrippin’ South Africa’s scenic Garden Route to driving around the pretty Cotswolds.
So these are my 10 essentials that are needed for a great road trip, with a few that will give us those extra American feels as we’re cruising along Route 66.
♥ A vehicle
Obviously the most important aspect of a road trip and one that I always choose carefully. For road trips at home we simply use our own car but when we hire a vehicle abroad we want something that we’ll love and that fits with the style of the trip.
We’ll be in a classic American Chevrolet as we drive down Route 66 to the Grand Canyon, and for our road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway, even though a convertible would have been pretty special too, we’ve gone for a super cool and colourful campervan from Escape Campervans. Sleeping in the camper overnight in Yosemite sounded too fun an experience to miss out on!
♥ Travel apps
Triposo is my favourite app for travelling – ideal for finding a city’s sights, places of interest and great food stops. There’s also a map which can be used offline which has been a lifesaver in the past when we’ve found ourselves completely lost with no phone signal.
Another useful app is one like Gas Buddy or Fuelzee which mark out the nearest and cheapest gas stations nearby. Handy for filling up before entering national parks where the price will be much higher.
♥ Road trip album
It’s not a proper American road trip until you’re cruising down Route 66 singing along to some classic American songs.
♥ Old school route map
We usually rely on our trusty iPhones on road trips at home but being abroad and in places like Yosemite and Big Sur where phone signal isn’t guaranteed, the handy old paper map will be making an appearance for the first time in years. Although it’s so big when unfolded that we might not actually be able to see through the windscreen.
♥ Portable travel charger
While the drive from London to Cornwall may seem like a huge distance to us, in America, a 5 hour road trip seems to be perfectly normal. We’ll be driving over some long distances so I’ve made sure we’re prepared with a couple of portable travel chargers which means I can give phones, cameras and tablets a quick boost on the road if needed. So there’ll be no fear of missing out on an awesome photo opportunity or sharing said awesome photo with you on Instagram!
♥ Travel pillow
Because while Mr Ayla is driving, I’ll be napping.
♥ Toiletries and cosmetics
Essentials for all travels but for road trips I always like to keep these within easy reach rather than zipped away in my case in the back of the car. Because you never know when you might need a quick coat of lipstick when you stumble across Taylor Kitsch/Ryan Reynolds/Johnny Depp/any other appropriately beautiful movie star who may happen be in Hollywood!
My lovely traveller wash bag and cosmetics bag from Victoria Green do the job perfectly. They keep everything nice and organised, fold away compactly to use when travelling and, most importantly, they’re super cute!
♥ A notebook
Full of things to see and places to stop off at along the way. A notebook is also handy for the blogger in me to jot down ideas to write about when we’re home.
Our campervan really does come with the kitchen sink so we’ll have some fun cooking up some meals on the go in our kitchenette. I’m sure we’ll also get peckish when driving for long periods of time so snacks are a necessity as well as a bottle of wine – not for while we’re driving of course but for when we’re camped at night and watching the sun set somewhere beautiful.
We just have to make sure we remember to lock all the food away from the bears when we get to Yosemite!
And last but not least…
♥ A sense of adventure
Because no road trip is complete without one!
Have you been on an American road trip? What else would you include in my essentials list? Let me know in the comments below or at:
26 thoughts on “10 Essentials for an American Road Trip”
Have the most AMAZING trip my loves!! Can’t wait to hear all about it 😀 😀 xxx
Such an amazing trip! I loved it just as much as you did 🙂
I’m so excited for you and can’t wait to follow along on IG. We bought a cheap cooler box to go in the back of the car – nothing like an ice cold beer when you’ve finished driving for the day… Have an amazing time 🙂
We had a little kitchen, sink and fridge in our campervan so those huge slices of cheesecake we got from The Cheesecake Factory managed to last us for quite a few breakfasts in there!
This list is gold! Hope that you have the most exciting and adventurous time – we’ll be living vicariously through you 😉 xxx
Thank you lovely! Had the best time and want to go back already! 😀
My S thought I was silly bringing an old school map for our US Road Trip but it actually really paid off it the end. Sometime you don’t want to go where the Sat Nav tells you to go!
I don’t always trust sat navs so would much rather have something a bit more reliable to depend on!
You’re going to have an amazing trip!!! And 5 hours is a just a wee baby drive ;);)
The scenery and landscapes everywhere we ended up driving were so stunning that those long drives didn’t actually seem that long 🙂
The road map is definitely the way to go – we used a huge road atlas for our big road trip and it was so much fun! Though as the main navigator, there were some very stressful moments and many times we were grateful that the car had a compass telling us which direction we were driving in!
Haha yes being the navigator isn’t the easiest job! We had a few tense moments when the sat nav got delayed and we ended up 4 lanes from where we should be on the highway! It’s all part of the adventure I guess though 😉
It sounds so adventurous, can’t wait to hear all about it! Love your toiletry bag, so cute! I’d probably add first aid kit to the list just in case and a torchlight. Have a wonderful trip! 🙂 xoxo, nano
Thanks Nano! Torchlight is a good call as we ended up needing one in a little town called Carmel that’s on the West Coast. It was completely dark at night as there are no lamplights in the town at all. Was a little scary walking back to our room at night!
Didnt you forget to include social media devices? 😛
Have an awesome road trip!
I didn’t include those as they are too obvious an item to include 😉
It sounds like you have all the bases covered for a fantastic trip!
Thanks Emma! Everything came in super handy 🙂
Hope you’re having an amazing time, Ayla – the old school route map sounds like a very wise idea!
Had a fantastic time thanks Suze! One of the best road trips ever 😀
I have been on many US road trips and I always found it useful to pick up a big 24 pack of bottles of water in a supermarket and keep them in the car boot. So much cheaper than buying separate bottles at each stop.
Also, I hope you’ve checked out what weird and wonderful roadside tourist attractions are on your route. Take a look at Roadside America. We’ve made many a detour to see the world’s largest buffalo, enormous cows, giant lumberjacks, etc! There are some fantastically random sights to see!
America has some brilliant random attractions doesn’t it?! Roadside America is a great recommendation 🙂
Yay, I’m so glad the notebook made it in here – I imagine there’ll be loads of things that you might have been jotting down for an adventure this big – can’t wait to start reading some posts! Maybe you can put the jet lag to good use to blog your heart out 🙂
That’s an idea, although I think if I start waking up in the middle of night to write, I’ll never get out of the habit!
This list is sooooo awesome Ayla!! It’s always so exciting to pack for a road trip, I love it!
I can only imagine how amazing your road trip in the US was 😀 I will keep reading (I need to catch up with your adventures) to find out more!!
We had such a brilliant time Allane! One of our favourite trips ever! 😀