Road trips—like apple pie and frisbee—are an American tradition. Ever since the days of horse-drawn wagons traversing the Oregon Trail, people have been enticed by the promise of adventure on the highway (as well as fording a river or two). But first, you'll need to stock up on the right supplies, and this checklist will ensure your next expedition will go off without a hitch.
1. An electric cooler
Even the best coolers will become room temperature buckets of water over time. Grab one that plugs in, like this cooler from Rally Manufacturing, and you'll have cold drinks all the time. As a bonus, this one also keeps food warm, so you can pick something up a hundred miles before you're ready to eat.
2. A camping stove
Have you ever seen a field and said to yourself: "I would like to picnic the hell out of that field?" Grab your blanket and stove, and make that dream a reality.
3. A solid camera
If you're embarking on an epic adventure and you think your phone is sufficient for your photography needs, you need to rethink your use of the word epic.
No one ever thinks about this, but when you're in a car all day, you're definitely feeling the blast of UV rays (especially if your car doesn't have tint). Plus, if you're driving by the beach, how do you not stop to jump in for a quick dip?
5. A multi-USB adapter
Your phone. Everyone else's phone. iPads. Miscellaneous other gadgetry. This little doohickey is a total lifesaver.
6. A phone or GPS mount
If you don't already have a mount in your car, it's absolutely essential. It'll give you easy access to the map and allow you to change up the playlist without diverting your attention from the road.
7. A portable coffee maker
Caffeine and road trips go together like bald heads and toupées. You also shouldn't settle for anything other than fresh, so a handheld coffeemaker that runs off your DC power source is a pretty solid investment here.
8. Something healthy to eat
You’re probably going to eat enough Doritos to build a castle with the leftover nacho cheese dust, so it might be smart move to offset that with an apple or two.
9. Something unhealthy to eat Like Doritos. Dammit all, why are Doritos so good?
10. An actual, old school map
When you're in the middle of nowhere, you're oftentimes in the middle of a cellular signal dead zone. Luckily, these maps are available all over towns and in drug stores.
11. Sunglasses Duh.
12. A tent
Camping is significantly cheaper, more fun, and more badass than spending the night in a Motel 6 or Holiday Inn. Need some tips for setting your camp up? We've got you covered.
13. Moist towelettes
You're going to be spending a lot of time in this car. It's going to get dirty, but you can keep the mess somewhat contained with moist towelettes. Be sure to grab as many handfuls as you can when you stop off at restaurants and then sprint out the door as quickly as possible.
14. A blanket
Blankets aren't just for napping in the car. They're great for impromptu picnics, camping, and wrapping around your neck like a cape to keep the locals at bay.
15. A 24-hour roadside assistance number on speed dial
It doesn't matter if it's AAA, your insurance company, or your car's warranty, but having a 24-hour number to call is kind of a big deal if you happen to have some misfortune that's beyond your repair skills.
16. A radar detector
If you're one of those people who refuses to use a radar detector because you have Waze, consider this: on the open road, there are far fewer people to populate the Waze app than in the city, and there are also far less grocery store doors to trigger a false alarm. A good detector, like the Escort Passport Max 2, can alert you of a cop coming up from two miles away.
Pillows are great. Maybe even the greatest. They'll comfortably hold your head as you sleep, support your back when you've been sitting up in a seat all day, and won't criticize you when you throw on that delightful Ariana Grande banger.
Aaron Miller is the Rides editor for Supercompressor, and can be found on Twitter. He is a veteran of more road trips than he can remember. The worst mistake he's made was not wearing sunscreen, in a convertible, in July, in south Texas.
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