As you may know, I recently took my first ever road trip to South West Wales! We absolutely loved our time driving around, the freedom to explore different places in your own time and personal space was perfect. In 2020 and beyond I would love to do more car trips like that!
Although we thought we had prepared properly for our car trip, there were definitely a couple things we could have done better. To help you prevent making the same mistakes, here are 10 essentials you need before embarking on your car trip.
1. A sturdy car
This is definitely the most important thing! On a roadtrip you will spend most of your time in your vehicle, it is essential that you have a save, sturdy and comfortable car. Before you decide on what car you will drive in, do lots of research on the vehicle. I personally love this Used Mercedes A Class, a premium car with safety as one of its main features. the Active Brake and Attention Assist are functions ideal for drivers on a long road trip. I wouldn’t mind driving around Europe in this car, a luxury road trip experience guaranteed!
Before you drive off on your adventure, make sure to check the car: oil, water and brake fluid levels, tyre pressure and tread (don’t forget the spare tyre!) and the brakes. Also make sure you have got breakdown cover and valid insurance.
2. Comfortable driving shoes
This is one I learned the hard way! When you are behind the wheel for a long time (make sure to take rest stops!) your feet can get a bit painful. Clutch control, accelerating and braking – your feet are busy when driving! Make sure to wear shoes that are comfortable to wear. I tend to wear flat shoes as this helps me feel exactly what I’m doing with the pedals. Make sure to wear safe shoes too: your flipflops might be nice and airy, but definitely not safe for car driving!
3. A phone holder
Putting a phone holder up is handy if you are using this as a navigation device. There are so many great apps out there nowadays (I personally love TomTom), you don’t need old school maps anymore. A phone holder that was in line of my sight always helps me navigate the roads and anticipate which direction I need to go next. Of course you can’t use your phone for other things (texting, playing games, social media) when you are driving!
4. Windbreaker or rainproof jacket
If you are going on a road trip, the likelyhood is you will also be doing some walking. Even if it’s just to stretch your legs, you will pass so many beautiful sights on your road trip it would be a shame not to explore them by foot! A windbreaker is ideal to have in your car for those days where it’s a bit windy or chilly. They generally don’t take up a lot of space either so pop it in the boot of your car ‘just in case’.
These jackets are also a must-have if your car breaks down and you have to wait by the side of the road.
5. Car documents and safety items
I wouldn’t recommend setting off on your road trip without these items! Car documents like the manual, breakdown cover and the insurance policy are essential to have. You might have emails save on your phone or electronic devices, but what if these are out of battery? Make sure to have a valid driving license and prepare any border cross cards. If you are travelling with a pet, they will need vaccination details and a passport.
In terms of safety items I would suggest popping a car safety kit in your car. These usually include:
- Warning triangles (in some countries you need to carry two!)
- Your car repair manual
- First Aid Kit
- Emergency Bulb & Fuse Kit
- Adult High Visibility Vest (ensure you have one for every passenger in your car)
- Breathalyser Pack
- Headlamp Beam Converters
- Wind up Torch
- Fire Extinguisher
Depending on what continent and country you will be driving in you should check what you need to carry in your car safety kit.
6. Stove, Gas, Lighter and Cookset Pack
Depending on what sort of road trip you are going on, you might find it useful to bring a cooking set. Even if you might plan to have most meals in restaurants, bars or service stations, a cooking set can be great for a lunchtime soup on-the-go or even a cup of tea or coffee. Make the most of your freedom! Plenty of rural locations have picnic spots so park your car and enjoy going back to basic!
7. A water container
A water container is one of those items that you always end up needing when you haven’t packed it. Even if you plan to stay in busier areas, it is recommended you have plenty of water on you. Whether you need to clean something off your car, have a drink, clean a scrape or whatever other reason – water is a must! Water containers take up very little space when folded and you can fill up at nearly every service station.
8. A windscreen cover
A windscreen is useful both in the winter and the summer. In the winter it can prevent snow and ice from sitting on your windscreen and in the summer it can help keep your car cool. If you are sleeping in your car/van whilst on your road trip, a windscreen cover also gives you some privacy while you relax. Remember to keep valuable items out of sight and electric items out of sunlight.
9. A safe bag
I never realised how handy these safe bags are! It’s basically a net that you can cover your backpack/bag in, then tie it around a non-moveable item (like a pole/bedpost) and secure the lock. It’s ideal if you are leaving your vehicle for exploration and want to keep your belongings extra safe in case of a break-in. The safe bag also works if you are staying overnight in a hostel and do not feel safe leaving your belongings without locking them securely.
10. A good playlist!
Last, but not least! With so many hours behind the wheel you will probably want to listen to something. We love discovering new podcasts, and of course music is always a winner. If you are going quite rural it might be worth downloading the files first, you might lose service on the way! Some podcasts to enjoy are: Off Menu, Serial, Ear Hustle and Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!
Are you going on a car trip soon? Let me know where you are going!