Some obvious ones, some budget friendly ones and some that we learned the hard way! (looking at you, big coffee spill all over my clothes, car seat and center console)
1. Plan Stops
Plan the stops you’d like to make ahead of time – the dreamy version of a road trip is that you leave when you’re ready in the morning and leisurely stop at whatever areas that have something to offer. The reality is, depending on the time of you travel, you have a limited amount of daylight and it’s ideal if you know where you’re headed for the day. Without having a strict schedule, it’s important to have a rough layout so that you’re not rushing to your destination to catch a few hours of sleep.
2. Travel Mug (aka the MVP of coffee on the road)
Bring a travel mug! Whether it be to use at the drive thrus that permit it, or to transfer your coffee into it if they don’t – it will allow your coffee to last longer and your sips will be easier to take! It also makes it easier to brew your own coffee in the morning and take it to go in the car to start your day. Just brew your cup in the apparatus of your choice, transfer it into your travel mug and avoid the hassle of starting your day in a drive thru line.
3. Picnic in the Car
Have a few plates, cups and cutlery on hand. Ideally reusable, that way you don’t have to bring a week’s worth of supply. They’ll be useful when you put together your sandwich supplies (when you get tired of burgers and fries) or want to get a jug of juice instead of individual bottles for every day. It will also allow you to be eco-friendlier and reduce your road trip waste!
4. Bring the Cooler – Minus the Ice
Bring a cooler – Bonus points if it’s electric! Doing a small grocery that can cover your meals and snacks for the day will really allow you to save your budget and reduce meal stops. Having an electric one saves the trouble of constantly stopping for ice, having to empty out the water from the old bag, drying off all your items in the cooler etc. If you don’t want to bring it into where you’re staying every evening, you can just get a small bag of ice to last the night (useful tip: split the bag of ice into two freezer ziploc bags, less water will end up at the bottom of your cooler and they’re easy to empty, dry out & reuse!)
5. Roadside Assistance
Be prepared with a roadside assistance plan – and make sure to know what it covers. A roadside assistance plan can be CAA, one from a store (ex, Canadian Tire or Costco) or one that came with your vehicle. During a multi-day road trip, you might find yourself at times a long way from a garage, where getting help on the side of the road might end up a costly experience. With a roadside assistance plan, you’ll end saving yourself the trouble of calling all the local garages or towing companies. Once you’ve been picked up, your assistance company will find a garage they have a partnership with for you, making sure you get a reliable and honest service.
During long road trips, you might also find yourself in areas with no cellphone service. Your options are then to walk until you get some, flag another driver down, or to try and fix the issue yourself. This is when having your own roadside kit becomes useful. So, a small jack, some tools and a first aid kit is essential when you’re on the road for many days.