Who doesn’t fantasize about a road trip. The route a lot of us (including me) want to take is the famous Route 66. Driving in the sunshine with the windows down, listing to music had been on my to do list for many years. In 2013 I got to go on my American road trip. I went with friends for two months. Starting in Orlando and going anticlockwise round America and finishing back in Orlando. It wasn’t quite how my teenage self imagined it to be. No Chevy Impala to hire for the trip and I didn’t see Sam and Dean on the road. Our hire car (Ford Escape) did treat us well. It had air conditioning and plenty of leg and suitcase room. The old American style diners and motels that appear in movies are hard to find. Sadly they are all part of the vanishing America. If you look hard and past all the food and hotel chains you will find them. Like any trip you learn things alone the way. Here are the things that worked for me – my road trip essentials.
While asking locals for directions is still fun to do and sometimes needed when your Satnav takes you off the beaten track, a Satnav is still an important piece of equipment to have. Ours was bought in Walmart for just under $100. The model was Garmin Nuvi 40LM and the main feature it had was telling us what lane to be in all the time. Having a Satnav saved us a lot of time when looking for a place to eat. Especially when hunger sets in and you just want to find some place close and fast. As well as having gps navigations systems for United States it also had Canada which was great when we crossed the boarder into Niagara Falls.
Tissues & Wipes
A box of tissues sounds like a daft essential but within the first day of driving a tissue will be needed. Drinks being spilt in the car, sweaty foreheads and of cause runny noses. If you are on a road trip for as long as I was then someone is bound to get ill. If one person gets a cold you will all get a cold! Everyone will remember their first trip away with school and their mums packing in the wet wipes. “They are a handy thing to have” my mum would say. The truth is someone will get a little messy during the trip and wet wipes are handy.
Water became my best friend in the USA. First morning after arriving in Orlando all I wanted, all I had to have was a cold glass of water. The craving was as if I had been stranded on a desert island for three days. The heat and the humidity took some getting used to. Everywhere is air conditioned so it is very easy to forget about the heat outside. The journey between places like the car to the gas station meant you were always experiencing the shock of the heat all over again. Water was my constant craving throughout the trip and it was pretty much all I drank. Bottles of water at gas station are pretty cheap but what I’d recommend is a tank of water with a tap usually used when camping. $2.50 if I remember correctly. A tank can last you up to a week. It’s big and clumsy when taking it from car to motel but the thirst is real and you will get through that tank! It may not fit in your motel fridge so take out the fridge drawers. If your place doesn’t have a fridge keep the tank of water by the air conditioner throughout the night.
Depending on the time of checking out of your motel, breakfast or your second breakfast of the morning will take place in the car. Bananas are a great fruit to eat when travelling. Great energy boost and they don’t need to be washed before eating. They don’t need to be kept in the fridge, are easy to eat and they don’t make a mess. A yoghurt too, another favourite of mine. Both are easy things to take with you after your motel breakfast. Grab an extra banana or muffin (if they have any spare) before leaving so you have a snack in the car. A plastic bag is great for collecting rubbish in the car. Next toilet break stop you can removed your rubbish from the car before your travel buddies complain about the banana smell.
Chewy sweets great for when you are feeling tired. Gets your jaw moving and keeps you awake. Plus every road trip should have sweets.
Especially when driving round the USA you are going to get caught by a lot of tolls. Loose change in a cup is going to become handy.
A good playlist is a must. Calm mellow songs are fine but make sure there’s a few loud, upbeat songs in the mix. So when heads start to nod the shock of a rock song will wake everybody up. One that worked for me was Bullet For My Valentine – Tears Don’t Fall. It wasn’t on my playlist. No. My dear friend had it on hers. It soon became a way of waking Emma up!
A place to jot down your thoughts, write about your day or to make lists. For me on my two month adventure I wanted to keep a diary and to add to it everyday. It became routine, something I did each morning on the road or sometimes in bed at night. It was nice to write about fun packed days I had but also a necessary to vent emotions. A car with four girls is bond to have a few upsets. At the time it was an activity, a filler for the car journeys. I knew that it wouldn’t be until after the trip that it would be of more use to me. Being able to look back at any trip in more detail is brilliant. Your mind can only remember so much. I highly recommend taking a journal/diary on any trip. I did also have a bit of a scrapbook. I collected everything from motel business cards to receipts to tickets and napkins.
So those were my road trip essentials. I’m now fantasizing about future road trips. I may just ask Google what the top international road trips are and schedule my next escape.