There is one thing I learned on our 5,000-mile road trip; be prepared! So I always make a road trip checklist!
While I had a packing list for stuff to bring on our adventure, I realized during it that I should have been a little more prepared. I am hoping this road trip checklist will serve you well. Please note that while we do have kids, we were solo on this trip, so if you have any suggestions for traveling with kiddos, please list them in the comments section.
Road Trip Checklist
Your Itinerary and Map – I know with smartphones and GPS no one seems to use physical copies of maps anymore, but when you can’t get a GPS signal or your cell phone starts roaming and you can’t use your data, you will be happy you did. I suggest taking an atlas and making an itinerary on roadtrippers.com (don’t forget to download their app before leaving out so you can also pull it up on your phone).
Pillow and Blanket – My husband likes to keep the cab of the truck freezing and I have a tendency to pass out on long trips, so a pillow and blanket are a must! Plus if you are driving solo you will want it when you pull over to rest.
Emergency Kit – It should include jumper cables, a flashlight (with extra batteries), a first aid kit, water, protein snacks, and flares (or reflective triangles).
Cooler with drinks – It’s so much cheaper to fill up a cooler with ice and drinks than it is to buy a drink at every stop.
Snacks – Again it’s a lot cheaper to buy in bulk beforehand than buying it at gas stations along the way!
XM Radio or CDs – If your car is equipped, XM radio for our family is a must on road trips! You can also download apps like Iheartradio and TuneIn Radio. We prefer XM due to losing data when out in the remote parts of our drive (hey we like taking the road less traveled). Or if you don’t want to spend that money, make sure to take a stack of your favorite CDs!
OnStar – If your vehicle is equipped, we always make sure to activate it before heading out. Not only will it send a signal in case of a wreck, but if we get lost we can always get directions if needed.
Gas Station Finder App – Use the app GasBuddy to find a gas station nearby. This would have come in real handy when my husband decided to try to see how much gas he could squeeze out of my truck and we ended up pulling into the gas station on fumes!
Extra oil & transmission fluid – Just a quart of each will do. You shouldn’t really need it but if you are going on a long road trip like we did in 2015 (over 5,000 miles) you may need to add in oil until you can get to the next town for an oil change (this happened to us!)
Small toolbox with tools – Again you may get stranded in the middle of absolutely nowhere! Keep in your toolbox a hammer and the correct size wrenches for your vehicle. Might as well throw in a cross tip and flathead screwdriver for good measure.
Extra belts – For your vehicle, not you! It’s best to replace belts and hoses before a long road trip, and even if you do, might as well have a spare in the car, just in case!
Check the spare – There’s nothing like getting a flat in the middle of nowhere and realizing your spare is either flat or rotted from being so old.
Pre-road trip maintenance – Check all fluid levels and top off as needed, change oil, replace wiper blades as needed, check belts and hoses and replace as needed, check headlights, tail lights, blinkers, and parking lights; replace any burnt-out bulbs.
For Winter trips – If you are traveling during the winter, make sure to pack extra blankets, food, and water in case you become stranded on the road in the snow (or just stranded where you may not have heat for a while).