Cultural Experience | Maryland

14 Road Trip Essentials

Getting there is half the fun. Get there the right way with these travel “must-haves.”

Summer is the perfect time for road trips. The weather’s nice. You have more time off. There’s a certain carefree spirit that comes with cruising down the highway. However, no road trip is complete without the right items, attitudes, and precautions. No matter where your destination may be this summer, make sure you have the following:

Great Music:

No roadtrip is complete without the perfect playlist. It can be a hassle trying to find a radio station while you’re driving. I have my favorite radio stations at home set on my stereo, but as soon as I leave the state, I am left furiously scanning channels trying to find something I like. Save yourself the hassle and craft a playlist. There’s nothing quite like rolling the windows down, turning the stereo up, and belting out some classic tunes.

Snacks:

You’re going to get hungry. Save some money by stocking up on your favorite snacks beforehand. It can get hot in the car sometimes, so don’t pack anything that is messy, sticky, or will easily melt. I know chocolate bars are delicious, but they’re not going to hold up very long when you’re in the car. Pretzels, crackers, and trail mix make for some great road trip munchies.

Dinosaur Gummy Fruit Snack Image

Dinosaur gummies are the perfect portable snack!

Games:

In order to pass the time, I like to play games on road trips. Games are great entertainment if you’re on a family road trip with young kids, but they can also be a lot of fun when traveling with friends. Why not print out a list of all 50 states and see how many license plates you can find? In my car, “Pick Up Truck!” gets very competitive.

Roadside Attractions:

People sometimes laugh at the thought of the “World’s Largest Ball of Twine,” but these unique oddities and roadside attractions are what make trips quite fun. I recently took a road trip specifically to a cheesy roadside attraction. It was called Dinosaur Land, and it was amazing. The place looks like it hasn’t changed since the late 1960s, but that’s part of it’s charm. Plenty of people go to Disney World or New York City, but how many can say they’ve seen the Lunchbox Museum?

Courtney Guth Dinosaur Land Image

I really like dinosaurs. Dinosaur Land is a perfect roadside attraction.

 

A Spontaneous Spirit:

It’s great to have stuff planned out for your road trip like arrival and departure times, but don’t be afraid to let loose. Some of the best road trip moments happen as a result of spontaneity. On the way back from Dinosaur Land, my traveling companion and I spotted a sign for a Winery/Vineyard. We decided to pull over and visit, where we met an employee of the vineyard’s sister winery who convinced us to come visit her winery as well! We were in no rush to return home, so we stopped to enjoy a late lunch and some more tasty wine. Once we were okay to drive again it was back on the road.

Comfort:

It can get a little cramped in the car from time to time, so comfort is important. Pack a blanket or a pillow to ensure you won’t be too uncomfortable. Nappying on long road trips helps pass the time. Get cozy.

 

Turtle Stuffed Animal Image

My travel snuggle buddy

GPS:

You gotta know how to get to your destination. Back in the day, maps were the way to go. I still remember the days of printing out directions from MapQuest. However, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed an exit while traveling. MapQuest doesn’t account for my mistakes. The GPS easily recalculates to get me back on my route, so I never travel long distance without one.

Pit Stops:

Like I said, it can get a little cramped, so everyone needs to stretch their legs now and then. Pit stops allow a chance for travelers to refuel…both mechanically and physically. Usually if there’s a gas station, there’s food nearby. Look ahead to see where rest stops are along your route. These travel havens often offer a wide variety of dining choices and a shop or two to browse in/re-stock on more travel essentials.

 

Bojangles Image

If you see a Bojangles, you better stop.

Guidebooks:

Don’t just look up information on your destination; see what’s along the way. I’m traveling from Maryland to Florida later this summer, but I’d like to see a few things in the states I pass through. Guidebooks will help you plan your pit stops accordingly and ensure you don’t miss anything exciting.

Travel Apps:

Many travel apps are like guidebooks for a digital age. We’ve featured plenty of great travel apps here at College Toursit. They can help you find something great to eat that you may never have discovered (take a break from McDonald’s and live like a local). They can help you find your way when you get lost. They can even help you find the cheapest gas in the area.

Google Maps App Interface

Toiletries:

As the boy scouts say, “always be prepared.” Tissues, moist towelettes, hand sanitizer, etc will help you stay clean as you travel. Messes happen, and no one wants to be stuck in a messy car. I’ve also experienced the disaster of a runny nose in the car, so I make sure I’m well stocked with tissues.

Camera:

You know the motto: pics or it didn’t happen. Document your adventure with pictures or through instagram. Pull over and take a picture as you cross over into each new state. Who can resist a great road trip selfie?

Grand Canyon Courtney Guth Image

Camera capture cool scenery

 

Car Supplies:

Before you go, have your oil changed and your engine checked. Car troubles can happen, but it’s best to take care of what you can. Make sure you have a spare tire, a jack, and the number of roadside assistance services like AAA or your insurance agency. Nobody wants a flat tire, but these things do happen. Give yourself peace of mind knowing you’ll be able to handle what comes your way.

Great Company:

Sure people do roadtrips solo, but the best memories come from great company. Pick the right traveling companions who will share the load, chip in for gas money, and help keep you entertained. It can be a little draining to be stuck in a car with someone for a long time, so you’ll want ensure you have the best company if possible.

What are your road trip essentials? Share in the comments below 🙂

Courtney Guth

University of Maryland | 31 stories

Courtney Guth is a senior English major at the University of Maryland College Park actively seeking an answer to the age-old question, “so what are you going to do with that?” Her answer currently involves working in communications and development for a small non-profit in Washington, D.C. If she’s not exploring the nation’s capital, she’s probably watching an old movie, attempting to cook, or losing her voice at a Maryland Terrapins’ game. She believes the adage that “the world is a book, and those who do not travel only read one page” but why just read when you can write?


One response to “14 Road Trip Essentials”

  1. Chris says:

    Where can one find those fruit snacks, and what brand are they?

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