A road trip is a classic type of group getaway. It’s fit for couples, families and friends, and is so versatile it can be done in whatever way suits your crew. Picking your destination is a cinch – just check out the road trip-friendly stays in our Group Getaways guide – but knowing what to pack for the drive can be trickier. We can help with that. We’ve put together a list of road trip essentials, covering everything from the soundtrack to the snacks. Your only job is to make sure your car is topped up with petrol. Happy driving!
Arguably the most important ingredient of any road trip are the tunes. Music on a road trip usually swings one of two ways: it has the power to cause squabbles about who controls the sound system, or it can create a chilled-out environment where everyone happily sings (or hums) along. Create a unique playlist for your trip; bring along a stash of CDs in different genres or search for ready-made road trip playlists on streaming services like Spotify.
Audiobooks take up less space than their hardcover cousins – good news for whoever is stuck carrying the suitcases – and are an excellent way to keep everyone engaged. Use audiobooks to break up your music playlists or to calm down a rowdy car. You can find audio recordings of thousands of different titles, from the Harry Potter series (perfect for family car trips) to new releases and old-school reads. Some are even read by famous voices – think Stephen Fry, Colin Firth and Kate Winslet.
A phone loaded with apps
Get appy. Prepare for your trip by loading up your smartphone with a smattering of practical and fun apps. The practical apps can cover things like emergency services and traffic updates, while the fun ones can include games, itineraries and photo apps.
A quick spritz of a refreshing mist delivers an instant pick-me-up and will work wonders on banishing that been-in-the-car-too-long feeling.
In the way that a refreshing mist will give you renewed pep, wet wipes can do the same thing. Use them on your face to wake you up or over your hands to remove any grime from service-station food.
Hungry road-trippers can be unhappy road-trippers. Having a stash of pre-packed snacks in zip-lock bags makes it easy to keep hunger at bay. Think carrot and celery sticks, grapes, dried fruit and nuts, or chocolates and lollies without wrappers.
Pack of cards
If phone batteries die and you can’t bear to play one more game of ‘I Spy’, breaking out a deck of cards can be a lifesaver. This is more for those in the back of the car, but the front passenger and driver can get involved whenever you make regular stops. Think about bringing other card games along too, like UNO.
Avoid a car full of rubbish by keeping a couple of garbage bags handy. You’ll use them for everything, whether it’s for food wrappers, old napkins or that magazine you’ve read cover to cover… twice. Just pop your bag into a bin at a mid-route stop or when you arrive at your destination.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. You never know when you’ll need to go on the go.
A Plan B
As a general rule of thumb, it’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared, and that’s where having a Plan B will come in handy. This includes packing some just-in-case items, including a torch, extra batteries, first-aid kit and a map (a paper one, not from Google). Depending on how long you’re planning on being car-bound and which roads you’ll be taking, also think about packing walkie-talkies, motion sickness cures and a car emergency kit.
It might be impossible to pack in a literal sense, but patience is something every road-tripper needs to carry. Whether you’re in the car for six hours or a week, and regardless of whether you’re travelling with friends, family or children, chances are you'll need it at least once!