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  • Writer's pictureSam Hageman

Road Tripping: 10 Essential Items to Make Your Road Trip Easier


Anyone who has ever planned a Road Trip will tell you to be prepared for anything to happen. We have done quite a few trips at this point & are currently planning another one for our honeymoon in June. Everyone has their preference on the gear or equipment they like to use, however after traveling 15,000 across the USA & traveling to a new location almost every single day for 34 days we have a few items that can make your road trip easier.

(1) Road Atlas & Compass: We purchased the Rand McNally Large Scale Road Trip Atlas & a compass on Amazon, which saved us on quite a few occasions. Although we used Google Maps when we had service & planned as many stops as possible on it (up to 10 destinations in a row are allowed on Google Maps), this did not always work when we lost service multiple times across the USA. This large Atlas helped guide us through dead zones, while the compass helped us determine which direction we were going. Both of these items can save you from getting lost in the middle of nowhere.

(2) State or National Park Pass: If you plan your trip ahead of time & know you are going to a lot of State Parks in a specific state, National Parks, Forests, or Recreation Area, you can save a lot of time & money by purchasing passes ahead of time. We highly encourage you look up the park entrance fees & total it up, especially for National Parks as these can get quite expensive. As we frequently visit Michigan State Parks we both have the park pass on our license plate tags, however when we have traveled to other states & made multiple stops we have purchased state passes to allow us to save some money. Further the National Park pass is $80 & on our U.S. Road Trip just going to the Grand Canyon & Acadia National Park almost covered the cost of the pass. Click here to check out the National Park Pass.

(3) Core Equipment six-person Instant Tent: The most valuable camping equipment for us was our Core Instant Tent when we traveled every single day. We arrived at our camp sites very late (2AM being the latest). Putting up a normal tent would have been such a hassle & possibly taken us longer in the dark. We have plenty of tents, but we wanted something quick & easy that either of us could put up or take down alone if needed. This tent was rated in the top 10 of 2016 & has lived up to that rating every year since. The tent took us two minutes to put up & two minutes to tear down, but a little longer if it was just one of us. The tent was roomy enough for an air mattress, a comfy corner for Dexter, & room for us to move around. After days of driving for hours & late night camp set-ups, this tent made our lives way easier. Click here to check out their awesome tents.

(4) Air Mattress with a Built-in Pump: Not only will the air mattress save your back from sleeping multiple days on the ground if you tent camp, but it is also a lot easier then a sleeping pad or standard mattress when the pump is built right in. Although you will need a power source (whether an extension cord, generator, or portable power inverter), this will give you comfort when you're on a long road trip where you are continually moving.

(5) Power Inverter: Whether you need it to blow up your air mattress, charge your phone, charge your camera batteries, or simply need an easy source of energy other then a small car plug-in, a power inverter is a life saver. We constantly used our inverter in the car to help us charge camera batteries, charge the dogs LED collar for night time, & pump our air mattress on rustic campsites throughout our trip. I would definitely invest in one for any road trip. Click here to check our the one we have.

(6) LED Camping Tent Light Bulbs: Although a standard lantern can be fine, most lanterns are bulky & heavy, which can be problematic when you are traveling in a vehicle cross country. Prior to our large road trip we purchased some LED Camping Tent Light Bulbs. These are battery powered & have three settings—bright, dim, & flashing. This helped us light the way around camp by allowing us to hook it to our shirts or bags, hook it on the clothes line at camp or set it on the picnic tables nearby, hanging it on a branch on a tree nearby, & hang the light bulb in the center of out tent on the loop. Unlike a standard lantern these are very light weight & durable if you drop them. You can check out more here.

(7) Portable Two-Burner Propane Stove: This can make cooking on the road a breeze. All you have to do is simply pull out the stove on a surface, plug in the propane, turn it on, light the gas, & you are ready to cook. We have been able to cook lunch at rest stops, on the side of the road, & our tent when it has been pouring rain or too windy for a fire. They are simple to use & very easy to transport. We love the Coleman stove, which you can get here.

(8) Back Seat Trash & Organizer: The back of your seat is the perfect place for storage, not only is it easy access, but it also allows you to get rid of the trash you may have from eating, snacking, blowing your nose, or whatever it may be while your in the long car ride to your next stop. The organizers allow you to store tissues, snacks, travel games, or whatever it may be that you want near you that does not fit in the cup holders or small storage provided in the car. We use these for long trips & have used two different systems; (a) Trash Can/Organizer which is smaller & good for standard trips; & (b) Larger multiple pocket two-seat storage organizer for the more intense trips like a cross country road trip. Both of these are very useful & can help make road trips or long car rides easier.

(9) Sunglasses or Hat: This one may seem a bit obvious, but I cannot tell you how many times we have forgotten these items, had to buy these items on the road, or even simply lost them then suffered for part of the trip. Whichever helps you deal with the sun, get it. No matter how much you plan you will hit a part of the day where your visor will not cover the sun & you will be a very unhappy camper. You will be happy to have them on the road.

(10) A Drawer Organizer: Although some people may think it's crazy to put a plastic drawer system in the back of their car, it has been such an amazing hack for our road tripping & camping. We use a standard three drawer plastic organizer to help keep us more organized. This has helped us lessen the number of bags we need, less bins, & has allowed us access to stuff quickly & easily. We leave this drawer ready to be picked up & loaded into our car at all times, only changing a few things within the bins depending on the trip. The first drawer is dedicated to our cooking & fire stuff, including dishes, cookware, utensils, camp safe dish soap, dish brushes, pot holders, ziplocks, matches, lighter, & more. The second drawer is dedicated to our lighting & clothes necessities, plus a few miscellaneous things, including headlamps, LED Tent Light Bulbs, a lantern, spare battery holder, clothes pins, clothes line, travel detergent, walkie talkies, travel games, & more. The third drawer is dedicated to our power sources & other larger items, including a 50 foot extension cord, power strip, power inverter, dog leads, mini propane tanks, bug spray, dust pan & hand broom, & more. This organizer has truly made things so much easier, we just keep it as the front item in the back of the car & it allows us to have access to most of our equipment quickly & helps keep the back organized.

Even though there are plenty of other essentials we always pack like first aid kits, water jugs, bedding, & more, these are the items we think everyone should check out to help make any Road Trip easier. Happy travels!

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