There's the shit you know you need for a road trip, and the shit you get in the car and go "crap! why didn't I think to pack this?!" We're going to talk about the latter. Because the truth is that nobody is worried about forgetting their underwear (though I'm sure it's happened), but there are definitely some "oh I should have brought that" items that are often over-looked when packing for a road trip.
For Dylan and I's road trip to Arkansas a few weeks ago I was really excited to have remembered to bring all of these over looked items. So get out your packing list (or grab our free 25 page travel planner - shameless plug, but seriously a great tool!) and take note.
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Cooler - I've never seen someone so excited to order a soft cooler bag as Dylan was. Never mind the five perfectly fine hard coolers we have in our garage that would fit just fine in the car; we apparently needed a soft cooler bag. We're talking about 'Christmas morning' level of excitement for him.
Since it was just the two of us the soft cooler was a good addition; easy to carry and transport, plus it took up much less room than a big hard cooler. I can only hope he's as excited about the Christmas presents I bought him this year.
Wine/Bottle Opener - Our soft cooler came with a bottle opener attached to the zipper, which would have been super handy if we'd have brought bottles of beer. But, if you bring bottles than don't forget a bottle opener, and if you're a wine drinker like me than don't forget to throw in a simple wine opener which will open both regular and wine bottles.
Towels - This is something we've started keeping in the trunk of the car at all times and we've used the towels more than once. Whether it's to cover the seats from muddy paws when we take our dog exploring with us or to wipe up a spill or lie down over the floor mats if we end up somewhere with mud all over our shoes. A cheap set of four, dark colored towels (the stains don't show as much!) will come in super handy.
Plastic Bags - Also known as "something to put the trash in". So simple, yet so important. I'm probably a little uptight about it, but I can't stand trash and clutter lying around, so my road trip experience is much better when I can neatly put trash into a plastic bag and throw it away at a gas station or rest stop when it's full.
Napkins - Whether it's napkins or paper towels, something to wipe your hands on besides your pants is always a good idea. Even something as healthy and easy-to-eat as almonds or mixed nuts can easily leave a dust on your hands. Plus, I'm guessing you use either napkins or paper towels at home so whatever you don't use on your road tip can be used back at home. And you'll have your plastic bag to throw the used ones in the trash, obviously.
Snacks - I know that everybody talks about bringing snacks in their road trip posts. Hell, I talked about it in my post on how to save money on a road trip, but you can not only save so much money by bringing your own snacks, but also you can stay healthier. Don't waste your calories on gas station food if you can avoid it.
Double Car Charger (+ Long Charger Cords) - What do they call the plugs in cars that used to be cigarette holders? Is that what we still call them? Either way, you can hop on Amazon and buy a dual car charger that has two USB ports so you can charge multiple phones at once. We use ours constantly. Even when we're not on road trips, but if you're using your phone's GPS you know how fast it will suck down your battery, so one of these guys is a must-have for your next road trip.
Cards or Games - Inspired by our stay in a yurt recently, you may want to consider throwing in a deck of cards or even a board game or two, depending on where you're going. If we're in a bigger city we will tend to go out, but if we're camping or over-nighting in a small town while on our road trip then cards or games are a great way to pass the time.
What are some of your must-have items for a road trip?