Shopping

The 11 Things You Need for a Perfect Pit Stop Picnic

Pit stops are a great way to say you "spent some time" in a state without having to do really anything at all.

We independently source all of the awesome products and experiences that we feature on Thrillist. If you buy or book from the links on our site, we may receive an affiliate commission — which in turn supports our work.

"It's about the journey, not the destination" - Innumerable dads since the first explorers got lost and needed something to tell everyone to calm them.

The simple truth to that quote boils down to this: Be present. Of course when you're on the road for days at a time, the one driving force that keeps you going is knowing a destination awaits (and that usually means a nice bed and some semblance of normalcy). But the journey is undoubtedly the adventure. It's where you face the unexpected and test your mettle, patience, and most importantly expectations.

One thing I always loved about road tripping was hitting a pit stop. Where else could I get a dozen Slim Jims, a picture of me in front of some weird sign or tree, and a hat or keychain I'd assuredly lose in a week? The pit stop is one of the best things about a road trip as long as you have the right stuff to fully enjoy it. Without further ado, here is a list of must-haves to make your next pit stop a destination in its own right.

Otterbox

A durable cooler, like this one from Otterbox

Price: $250 - $300
Otterbox's Venture 45 is the ultimate road trip cooler. This one has 45 quarts of storage, so you can keep drinks and food cold for days on the road. The best part about it is that it is compatible with a ton of accessories (read: side tables, cup holders, cutting boards, and more). It also features three grooved slots so you can easily separate food/drink.

KanJam

KanJam to release pent up energy while still having fun

Price: $40
Being in a car with friends/family for hours on end can be a trying experience. That's why it's so necessary to stop sometimes and just launch a frisbee at a can whilst your teammate tries to slam it in.

Rumpl

A picnic blanket that doubles as a car blanket

Price: $179
Depending on where you stop/how committed you are to picnicking, a blanket is the first thing that comes to mind. This one from Rumpl can be thrown on the ground for a quick bite and picnic and then shaken off and used as a car blanket for those requisite road trip naps.

Polaroid

A Polaroid

Price: $70
I'm working under the assumption you or someone with you definitely has a smartphone they will be using incessantly. One-up them with an actual film camera to create tangible memories which are obviously better than digital memories.

Home Depot

A portable picnic kit

Price: $56
Not all picnic baskets look like they came from the sales rack of a Pier 1 Imports. This one definitely came from the "New Arrivals" section. This is perfect for when you want to stop in a park for a few hours to enjoy the views…of a lovely charcuterie board and some wine.

An iPad for reading and/or watching movies

Price: $330
If you only want to read, go for a Kindle. I like the iPad for the fact you can download games, streaming apps, reading apps, and it hooks up to a keyboard if you need to connect to a hot spot and answer some emails.

A yoga mat

Price: $59
You're in a car for hours hardly moving your body when a sign for a scenic overlook in two miles pops up. Time for a little downward dog and sun salutation.

Dick's

A small table perfect for picnicking

Price: $100
This table gives you the option to picnic on the side of a gas station. I don't know why you would want to do that over picnicking in a verdant field, but who am I to tell you where to picnic?

Anker

A portable speaker

Price: $28
You'll listen to a fair amount of music and/or podcasts while driving. And it will almost certainly be drivers' choice. Having a speaker of your own -- like this super-affordable Bluetooth wireless version from Anker -- at least gives you some freedom to listen to that obscure playlist you created that none of your friends want to hear, but only because they don't understand music like you do.

Otterbox

This Otterbox portable charger

Price: $28
Most vehicles have limited USB outlets to charge phones. Rest easy knowing you can recharge your iPad, phone, portable speaker, camera, and whatever else you need juiced up.

Home Depot

An umbrella or portable cabana

Price: $115
The pit stops you want to take will have spectacular views and/or something worth hanging around for. Throw a cabana up on a hot day, bust out the cooler and portable table, and kill an hour or two playing KanJam. Now THAT'S what I'd call a pit stop.

Alex Robinson is a writer & editor for Thrillist. He's been road trippin' since '86 and has the tangible pics to prove it. Follow him on Instagram @alexanderrobinson.
Want to know more about our favorite products and services, and get great deals on cool stuff? Sign up for the weekly Thrillist DealMail.