What to pack for a road trip

Route 66? The Italian Northern Lakes? Or maybe the Scottish Highlands? However long or short, distant or close, a road trip is, it’s an exciting time for you and your passengers. But make sure you know what to pack before you go on your road trip.

Are you the adventurous type who likes to get away from it all? A wanderer at heart or perhaps someone who just loves getting in amongst nature and the natural world and switching off from the hustle and bustle of city life for a week or two.

A road trip could be just the thing, especially if you love driving too. You can go it alone of course, but it’s probably more fun and safer if you are with a companion or family member. Get the right vehicle and several of you can travel, enjoying the sights and sounds together. Knowing what to pack for your road trip is essential.

Whether you take an RV (recreational vehicle), a camper van or your family car, a road trip can make a fun and memorable way to enjoy a vacation. With your tent and camping equipment, or a list of hotel bookings safely printed off or stored on your phone, you can hit the road and never look back (for a few days at least!).

But planning for your road trip is important. There are several things to consider and items you should take with you before you ride off into the sunset. And these are not just for your convenience. They are for your safety and well-being too and should not be overlooked.

For the purposes of this MotorCheck blog, we’ll assume you are going for a short holiday or fly/drive – not a six-month trek into the wilderness. For those journeys, the list is even longer. Let’s concentrate on a brief, enjoyable family road trip.

What do you need?

Documents. Wherever you go, either abroad or in the UK, it’s advisable to take your car and driving-related paperwork. These include your driving licence, insurance documents, a current MOT certificate if the car has one, and something that proves the car’s identity and ownership, such as the V5C ‘logbook’. These last two are especially important if you’re taking your car out of the UK. If you’re renting a vehicle, you’ll only need your driving licence and other ID such as a passport.

Spares. A spare tyre is important if the car has one fitted. Many modern cars have an inflator and a puncture repair kit. That’s fine but make sure you know how it all works. A set of spare bulbs are also handy and don’t weigh much.

Roadside emergency kit. These vary in quality and contents, but you should have, as a minimum: warning triangle, reflective vests (for every car occupant), jump-start battery leads, tyre inflator and gauge, torch and whistle. Kits can be bought for around £25 from car centres and motoring stores.

First aid. You don’t have to be a doctor to use the equipment in an emergency kit and it’s amazing how often a minor cut, graze or insect bite needs to be treated. For more serious incidents, call the emergency services.

Maps. Yes, your car has a satnav, and your phone probably does too, but if you can’t get Wi-Fi, they’re not much good to you. Have a map of the area or at least a road atlas in your car.

Bottled water. Useful to have around, great if you’re feeling thirsty and literally, a life saver if you did get lost or stranded. Carry plenty in the car. Some dry snacks (nothing that melts) are good to have too.

Toilet paper and wipes. If you are properly heading off the beaten track for a few days…

Cash. Credit cards are convenient and easy to use but cash is often king, especially when abroad. Always carry some spare notes and cash (for parking meters, for example) when you’re on the road.

Phone charger. Your cellphone can be charged by the car while on the move but it might be worth investing in a portable top-up charger for times when you are away from the vehicle.

Notebook and pen. Great for jotting down memories or thoughts while sight-seeing and they can be useful for other notes (shopping list?) during your trip.

Cold weather gear: If you’re expecting snow and ice on your journey take a shovel, de-icer, blankets, ice scraper and an umbrella. Make sure you have sufficient warm clothing.

Before you pack

Take a short time to imagine yourself on the road trip and think about what spares, equipment, food, drink and handy items that you would like to have around you, and make sure they are packed. Everyone has different needs so make sure yours are covered.

Then you are ready to head off on your dream road trip. Happy motoring!