Essential Gear for a Perfect Summer Road Trip

There are few things finer than hitting the road in the summer. Just hitting the highway and seeing where it takes you is the ultimate sort of adventure. However, if you don't properly plan for your trip, or pack inappropriately, then what was destined to be your dream trip can turn quickly into a nightmare. Fortunately, we are here to help. The essential gear listed below will help you pack for your summer road trip.

1. Emergency Kit

One of the most important things for you to pack is an emergency kit. While you'll likely never need to use one 99% of the time while you're out on the road, when you do need it is most certainly life-saving in the event that you should break down. Some of the things that need to be in this kit include: a multi-tool, duct tape, phone charger, oil, antifreeze, flashlights (and batteries), flares, tire patch kit, tire gauge, spare tire, tow strap or ropes, jumper cables, gloves, rags, jack, jack stands and a bottle of windshield wiper solution. 

2. Documentation

Documentation is also very important to take with you. Not only your driver’s license and insurance papers, but also your auto club cards (AAA or CAA), health insurance card, list of your medical conditions, passport (if applicable) and hotel reward cards. You'll also want to make sure that you pack plenty of cash, traveler checks and/or credit cards for your journey. 

3. Navigation

Without a doubt, people have become dependent on GPS devices and their smart phone navigational systems. While it is important to take these with you on your trip, you shouldn't depend on them entirely. Be sure to take paper maps along with you, ones that are appropriate for the region you are traveling.

4. First Aid Kit

Like an emergency kit, a first-aid kit is another important component to pack. Your basic first-aid kit should contain at the very least the following: first aid manual, pain reliever (either aspirin, ibuprofen or both), antacids, bee sting kit, insect repellent, hydro-cortisone, antiseptic ointment, a hand sanitizer, band aids, gauze, tweezers, scissors, medical tape, antihistamine tablets, alcohol wipes, eye wash and disposable gloves.

5. Hygiene Bag

A hygiene bag is indispensable during long trips. It should include: a toothbrush, shampoo, soap, hair wipes, lip balm, disinfectant spray, toilet paper, paper towels, hand wipes, baby wipes, nail clippers, tweezers, straight and/or electric razor, dental floss, mouth wash, hair brush and/or comb, cologne or perfume and sunscreen.

6. Comfort

Comfort items that you should consider packing include: travel pillows, blankets, comfortable shoes and/or hiking boots, a rain poncho, casual clothes and an umbrella - everything that you need to make your trip more pleasant.

7. Camping Equipment

Camping is often a major component of any summer road trip and if it is going to be a part of your trip, then you might want to consider packing the following: sleeping bags, tent, backpack, camping chairs, a fire-starter, camping pots and pans, portable cook stove, can opener, knife, hand-ax and canteen.

8. Food & Water

It's important to bring along food that will remain stable for your trip and isn't perishable. This can include foods such as: fruit (both fresh and dried), crackers, chips, pretzels, beef jerky; canned goods such as soup, ravioli, beans, peas and tuna. You might also want to pack a small cooler so that you can pack sodas, teas and/or water bottles. 

9. Activity Gear

With all of the essentials packed, now it's time to cast an eye towards the entertainment needs you may have during this trip. If you have children, you'll want to make sure that you pack plenty of games, coloring books and other activities. For yourself, you can pack things such as playing cards, a Frisbee, portable DVD players, books and/or magazines, your camera (or your cellphone) and perhaps even your bicycle. 

10. Sun Protection

The last thing on our list of things to pack—but not the least important—is sun protection. What you pack depends on your specific sun protection needs and your complexion, but common things include: sun screen, sun glasses, Window UV shades and perhaps a hat.

Following this list of essential things required for a summer road trip will ensure that your trip is as pleasant and as worry-free as possible. This gives you the opportunity to hit the open highway, feel the wind in your hair and know that you are going to have the trip of your lifetime.

- David Moss