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How I plan a Road Trip - Things to Take


Required Stuff

Here's a list of things I think are REQUIRED Equipment for a Road Trip.

You can read why I think both these are necessities here. Got a blow out, and was able to not only tell my motor club where I was, but was able to find a Goodyear dealer who was open on a Sunday morning...

A smart phone is not a replacement for a GPS. There are places out west where a smart phone will not work. A GPS will operate where ever you can pick up a satellite.

I carry two coolers on long trips, but at least one even on short ones or overnight stays. You want a cooler with a tight fitting lid. This will keep the inside of your vehicle dry, and your drinks colder longer. Test it before leaving on a trip. Put some water in the cooler, put the lid on and turn it upside down. If it doesn't leak, that's the type of cooler you want. If water comes out, get a better cooler. (Warning. With some coolers, *all* the water will come out. Do this test in the bathtub or outdoors.)

My primary cooler is a Coleman 16, which I assume is a 16 quart cooler, (I've never measured it), manufactured in August 1988, believe it or not. It holds drinks: water, a couple of energy drinks and canned pop, with and without caffeine. It fits nicely behind the passenger seat without having to be tied down. My other cooler is an Igloo 6 (a 6 quart cooler just slightly larger than a 6 pack plus some ice or cold packs (with a manufacture date of Feb 89), which is primarily used for food (leftover BBQ is a good example), and for ice when all the ice in that bag you bought won't fit into the larger cooler. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Don't count on being able to mix drinks with food for any length of time without making a mess. (You can get air/water tight containers, but they take up a lot of space, and space is a premium on a road trip. Ziploc bags are not a viable option, as they'll eventually leak, letting water from melting ice in or grease and other stuff from the food into the cooler, which can make a mess.) And remember you'll be removing the cooler a lot from the car, so a big behemoth 60 quart cooler isn't the way to go...

Here's a hint: Freeze water bottles. Not only will frozen water bottles act as ice (because they are) and keep other drinks cold, but will provide cold water as it melts. And you can always pour warm water over the ice left in the bottle to get more cold water. I will often make some wraps or other car food at home before leaving (which is usually better than fast food on the road), and frozen water bottles will keep the stuff cold, with no melting ice water to ruin things. A perfect application for the smaller 6-quart cooler.

Problem is, once you leave home, you rarely find a fridge in a hotel room with a decent freezer. If you get a room with a real fridge with separate freezer, then one of the first things you should do is put a few water bottles in it, and start making ice for the cooler. If you get a college dorm type fridge (which happens more often than not), the best you can really hope for is to get warm drinks cool before putting them in the cooler the next morning.

I also carry a variety of packets of ice tea and other flavor mixes, like Crystal Light and Lipton, for electrolytes and sometimes caffeine. They're very good alternatives to soda pop or plain water, and take up little space.
Back to Top Other things to consider. Make a list and check it twice. Make a list of things you have to take with you. These are just examples. Manually check them off as you pack. I have forgotten hats, tripods, and sundry other things at home.

In the end, remember you're not going to Mars (though there are some places in Utah that you'd question that), and there are always Walmarts and Best Buys everywhere to get whatever you forgot. So it is mostly the custom items to you (like batteries and chargers, meds and the like) that are complete musts to bring.
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Strongly Recommended Stuff

Here are some things I take that you might want to consider that are borderline between "must have" and "optional". Back to Top

Optional, But Still Recommended Stuff

Here's the optional list, things I do take with me which I've found useful, but you could probably get away without having.

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Car Stuff

A lot of this stuff should already be in your car. And make sure your spare is inflated to the proper pressure and you have all the pieces to your car jack. (More in Recommendations.) Back to Top

End How I Plan A Road Trip - Things to Take.

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  • 11/03/2014 - Update to v3.2