This summer, two of my best friends and myself headed out on a cross country trip from Burlington, NJ to Long Beach, CA. We knew the journey was going to be rough since we were tight on cash, but we planned accordingly; still we forgot so many vital things. For future reference, and to help readers out, here’s a list of what I consider 10 things you can’t leave the house without.
An Atlas or GPS is going to be your best friend when you get into or near a city that is foreign to you. You really never need these things on the open road, highway signs and common sense can guide you to your next destination, but when you get into town, you become a little more lost than you thought. A GPS can tell you the coordinates of everything from food, hotels, places to go, things to see, and more. In Nashville Tennessee I sprained my ankle skateboarding, and used the GPS to get us to the closest hospital. Personally, I would say having one or the other or both would be in your best interest.
Roadside Assistance may actually be more important than the GPS, which is weird because you would think knowing which way to go was useful information. Actually, having a service on call that will be able to help you, will save your butt from sleeping in the desert. Roadside services, like AAA, USAA, and OnStar, can really help when you do something stupid like lock your keys in the car, or when something goes wrong and your engine blows. These kind of things are bound to happen, I don’t want to scare you, but everything can’t be perfect. It usually can be solved easily, but paying a tow truck driver is the last thing you want to do when your in the middle of nowhere and need that cash.
Tools of all styles, types, and sizes; very important. At least tools that are sized for your car or whatever your driving. Somethings to think about are jacks, wrenches, mallets, screwdrivers, and spare parts. You might need to do an oil change or tighten your wheel nuts; who knows. Along with that, bring spare fluids like brake fluid, antifreeze, water, oil, and power steering fluid. These supplied could give you a quick save when you need it most.
The Roofbag from roofbag.com; I highly recommend it over and roof carrying case out there. The reason being: it’s flexible, you can cram stuff in there or barely fill it. It’s cool to put all the stuff up there you don’t really need, like your duffel bag full of clothes, and anything else you aren’t using on a hourly basis.
Food that doesn’t expire quickly is great to bring along, and very important to your lasting health. Listen to me, if you don’t bring food, you must buy food, and unless your the Big Mac eating champion, your stomach isn’t gonna like it. Seriously, I had trouble digesting the amounts of fast food I was eating, I would get really sick. Your body really isn’t made to handle toxins like that for more than a couple days, and I was eating at least one fast food meal a day. If you wanna feel good on the trip, bring good food. It’s as simple as that.
Energy supplements or coffee are going to be your best friend at 5:00 AM, if you happen to get stuck with that morning shift like I did. Depending on which direction your driving, the sun will be gleaming in your eyes and you are going to be tired even if you rested. Honestly it could be the difference between safety and crashing the vehicle. Your eyelids are really going to wanna shut, so stay awake anyway you can, everyone will thank you.
Car chargers for all of your electronic devices will be really important if you want to text during your trip or browse the internet, or need to charge your camera. There are 2 I highly recommend. First would be this here outlet and USB port combination; which is going to plug into the cigarette lighter and charge something with a plug and something USB charged at the same time. Also, I think that this universal charger is pretty important ; it can charge any battery, AA, AAA, phone, camera, or camcorder batteries, or anything. It’s lot nicer to have one or 2 chargers laying around than a jumbled mess of 15 wires all tangled around the center console.
A laptop will be useful sometimes, especially if you don’t have internet on your phone. You’re almost never going to be able to get wifi on the road, and sometimes not even in restaurants or stores, but you will eventually find a place to sit down and browse the web, which can be a relief to know you’ve just deleted the 200 emails that came in three days.
An mp3 player stocked to full capacity with all kinds of music is gonna be the relaxer for you and all of your friends. There really has to be enough music to listen to something different everyday, otherwise it’s gonna get old really fast and you’re probably going to be annoyed and hate noise for a while. The best thing to do is bring different iPods or switch between the radio and iPod when you can. I know this sounds stupid, but really, you mind as well sing “99 Bottles” at that point.
People you actually like are actually the most important thing you can bring on a road trip. I don’t know if this counts as a “thing”, but even your best friends are going to annoy you after you’ve been in the car with them for weeks, so please don’t bring someone just because they have money or really want to go; you’re probably going to rip your hair out at some point.