Road Trip Essentials

By Eduardo Medrano

Whether it’s a Vegas run, spring break, or a cross-country tour, traveling by car has its advantages. Having transportation at your destination, and the convenience of schedule are great, but throw in some beautiful American scenery, and you have a real road trip.


Here then, is a checklist to help you have a trouble-free experience:

Vehicle Preparation

  • Full mechanical service, including tire rotation/balance: If it’s not time for your scheduled maintenance, top off fluids and tire pressure.
  • Check spare tire and tools: Trouble overcoming a simple flat tire can cost you valuable time and money.
  • Vehicle’s owner’s manual: Tells you everything you need to know about your car.
  • Car wash and full tank of gas: You’re going to bust plenty of bugs on your drive—start with a clean slate and reduce aerodynamic drag.



  • Driver license: Government issued photo identification for all travelers; licenses for all drivers.
  • Vehicle registration: Current certificate in your glove box, and stickers on your plate.
  • Proof of insurance: Current!
  • Maps/tour books: Helps you overcome wrong turns, and gives you flexibility to see or stay anywhere.
  • Address book: Have options of whom to call in an emergency.
  • ATM/major credit card & cash: Don’t get stuck without funds.


On Board

  • Cell phone and chargers: Make sure your account is paid. Take both home and mobile chargers if available.
  • Sunglasses: Polarized and UV blocking are best; should be used whenever driving in sunny conditions.
  • Analgesic: Aspirin or Tylenol can overcome almost any minor ailment.
  • Simethicone tablets: Relieve “gastric discomfort” often caused by fast food and physical inactivity.
  • Caffeine tablets: Not as fun as caffeinated beverages, but reduces urgent “rest” stops. Falling asleep while driving can be deadly.
  • Can/bottle opener: Combination utensil if available.
  • Fork, spoon, & pocket knife: Must be sharp; preferably Swiss Army, including scissors, toothpick and satellite dish.
  • Paper towels: Substitute for napkins, Kleenex, or toilet paper; add water, and they can clean up after in-car meals, or clear bugs from your windshield.
  • Large plastic tumbler: Aids in clean-up, or if fast-food cups leak.
  • Bottled water: Six-pack of half-liter bottles; for both drinking and cleaning; hopefully not for engine over-heating.
  • Duct tape: Holds the universe together; can patch a radiator hose, or hold up a broken tail pipe.
  • Large trash bags: Can hold trash, wet clothing, or be turned into rain ponchos.
  • Flashlight: Preferably crank-powered, without batteries; can be a beacon at night, or aid in vehicle inspection under the hood or body.


If Room Allows

  • Gas can: Empty and preferably plastic; just in case.
  • Blanket: Critical if car breaks down at night, or if someone falls ill.


Mailing List