There is almost no better way to experience America than a road trip with friends or family. Although it inspires thoughts of freedom and adventure on the open road, a road trip will be much more successful and enjoyable if you make the proper preparations instead of just jumping in your truck and heading toward the sunset. While this list is by no means exhaustive, here are six must-haves for a successful and stress-free vacation:
1. A GPS or map
Though a monotone travel companion, a GPS with updated maps will significantly simplify your trip. Many cell phones have a GPS feature built in, but not all will work in areas with limited reception, such as the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona. If you are relying on your phone, you may want to buy paper maps or at least store map data on an electronic device to refer to.
Even in our electronic age of debit and credit cards, you never know when the convenience store or cute hole-in-the-wall diners you stop at will only accept cash. Some stores require a certain amount of spending before they will accept plastic without a fee. Save yourself money and hassle by having adequate cash on hand. Remember that your bank may not have ATMs in the states you visit on your trip.
3. Snacks and drinks
Bring plenty of snacks and drinks for the ride. Pre-purchasing granola bars, energy drinks, and water bottles at a grocery store will save significant money as opposed to buying these items individually at high-priced convenience stores.
Comfort items like pillows, blankets, jackets, and back support cushions will make the overall road trip experience much more enjoyable. You won’t want to be sore from an uncomfortable ride before you even begin exploring the county.
5. Tie downs for your luggage
If you are driving your truck, make certain to use tie downs so your luggage reaches your final destination with you. Tie downs are affordable, and they will save you the heartache of pulling over to gather up your belongings over hundreds of yards, or the even worse scenario of having to call your insurance company to find out how your flying luggage that damaged someone else’s windshield will affect your auto policy.
6. A spare tire
There is nothing like a flat tire to dampen the excitement of a road trip. Make sure you have a spare tire and a working jack with you, especially if you plan to drive at night or in low-population areas. Buying an affordable tire that fits your vehicle is not always easy outside of the city.
It’s been said that proper preparation prevents poor performance. Maximize your road trip experience by planning ahead, and then let the good times roll!
Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. This article was co-written with San Antonio native Brenton Nallie, a car enthusiast who enjoys writing for Bullring USA about different truck gadgets.