As the weather starts to warm up, most people start feeling the itch to get out and go somewhere and do something. After being snowed in for three months, the appeal of the open road is undeniable. A road trip is always an exciting prospect, and while just jumping in your car and hitting the road can be fun and spontaneous, making sure you have a few essentials in your Kia can make even the most spontaneous of road trips a little more fun. Here are the ten things you need to bring on any spring road trip:
1. All the maps.
While having maps on your smartphone might seem like the very ultimate in modern navigation—smartphones die, and usually at the most inconvenient of times. They also don’t always get the reception you need in order for your phone’s GPS to work properly. That means that having a paper map is always a good idea. Luckily, just about any truck stop still sells cheap paper maps, and not just of the highways in your state, but the highways and scenic byways in your state and the surrounding states.
2. A weather app on your smartphone.
Alright, while it might not be the best idea to rely on your smartphone for navigation, but you can probably rely on your smartphone to give you updates about the weather. While there still might be parts of your trip where cell reception is negligible (or non-existent, if you decide to drive cross country and discover yourself in the plains of the Midwest or the desert of the Southwest), most towns will either have enough reception or a coffee shop with free WiFi that lets you check the weather on the next leg of your journey, so you’re never caught in a freak snow or rain storm—unless you want to be.
3. Hours and hours of music.
If you have a new Kia with the upgraded infotainment system, you’ll never be without satellite radio, which provides an endless stream of tunes. If you don’t, you can always make a super-long playlist on your mp3 player or bring your entire CD collection along. Good driving music is usually upbeat and familiar, so it keeps your energy up and everyone in the car can sing along.
4. Snacks, snacks, snacks.
One of the biggest things people forget to take on their road trips is snacks and plenty to drink. While most gas stations have some sort of prepared food section, it’s always better to either make a meal yourself and bring it from home, or stick to snacks that you know won’t wreak havoc on your stomach. Healthy snacks throughout the day and drinking plenty of water can prevent you from succumbing to the temptation of fast food (unless that’s part of the fun of a road trip).
There isn’t a road in the country today that doesn’t have rest stops at least every hundred miles. However, in some of the most deserted areas, that rest stop might not have been restocked recently. Aside from soap, you should also pack hand sanitizer, and maybe even a roll of toilet paper, feminine products, necessary or familiar medicines, and even things like sun screen are always great to have in your car. A simple first aid kit might also be a great idea, even if you’re not planning on doing anything wild and dangerous during your trip.
6. Pillows, blankets, and comfortable clothing.
When we used to road trip with my mother, she would always insist on doing her hair “properly,” and wearing “decent” clothing, while the rest of us were essentially in our most comfortable (and sometimes grungy clothing). She was always the most uncomfortable of the bunch. Pillows can act as lumbar support, blankets to keep some passengers warm if others are too hot, and both for those who want to nap, before it’s their turn at the wheel.
7. A camera.
Again, this is where a smartphone won’t always cut it. A digital camera, especially one that requires regular batteries, instead of needing to be charged in an outlet, can take great pictures of all of your adventures and any weird or funny things you come across as you traverse the country. There is bound to be a host of exciting activities that you want to document—don’t rely on a smartphone that has sixteen hours of battery at best before it needs to be charged.
8. Charging ports.
If you don’t have a car charger for your smartphone, before you head out on your road trip is the perfect time to get one. These usually plug into the cigarette lighter, while many new Kia models have USB ports and other charging options that mean you don’t actually need any specialized equipment.
9. Your spare keys, tire gauge, tire changing kit, and emergency tool kit.
The last thing you want to do is have your trip ruined because you locked yourself out of your car or have a flat tire that you can’t change. Making sure you have the real essentials in your car before you head out can prevent any time-consuming interruptions to your road trip. Especially if you lose your car keys somewhere, you want to have the spare set in your luggage so you can still drive your car, even if you do have to get a locksmith to let you back in.
Is there anything more quintessentially “road trip” than a pair of your favorite sunglasses? Slip them on and no matter where you road trip takes you, you’ll look cool and be prepared for whatever comes your way.