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9 Essential Items to Have in Your Car for a Summer Road Trip

Make sure you’re ready for anything during long road trip by packing these must-have car essentials 

Summer 2021 is finally here, and if you’re like us, you’ve already got plans for a big road trip! Getting ready for this type of trip takes a lot of planning and preparation, from fun accessories to make your ride more fun to intensive car maintenance inspections, so we’ve compiled a list of our top essential items to have in your car during a road trip so you won’t forget anything important and can focus on the fun.

Road Trip Essentials For Your Car: 

License, Registration, Insurance, and Tags

Make sure your license is in your wallet or another safe space that you can carry with you, and that your registration and insurance documents are in a safe, easily accessible place like your glovebox before hitting the road. Check that your car tags are not peeling off your plates or scratched off. 

Double check that everything is up-to-date as well, and that nothing will be expiring while you’re on your trip. 

Spare Tire + Tools to Change a Tire

Your spare tire should be inflated with no visible signs of aging or damage, like cracks or punctures. Also, check that your car has all the tools to change a tire, which can sometimes be missing if you bought a used car. You should have: 

  • A lug wrench 
  • A car jack 
  • Wheel wedges 
  • Work gloves

Tire Inflator

If you have a slow leak or your tire’s air pressure depletes while you’re on the road, having an electric tire pump can be your best friend until you can get to a mechanic.

Jumper Cables + Jump Box 

Nothing is worse than a dead battery with no one around to help give you a jump. Check that your car has jumper cables, and if you don’t have one already, invest in a jump box so you won’t get stranded by a dead battery in the middle of nowhere.

Extra Oil and Coolant + a Funnel and Rags

While you should have all these areas covered in your pre-road trip car inspection, sometimes you may need to top off your car’s oil or coolant, especially if you have an older car. Bring an extra bottle of oil and an extra bottle of coolant, along with a funnel and some rags to help keep your work clean.

Road Trip Essentials For You: 

Hand Sanitizer + Wet Wipes 

Don’t ever trust the cleanliness of a gas station, especially during their busy seasons. You’re not the only one taking a summer road trip this year! Bring a bottle of hand sanitizer and some wet wipes to make sure that you can stay safe even without access to a handwashing area. 

Spare Car Key

Nothing is worse than locking the keys in the car when you go to the gas station, or losing them at one of your stops. Depending on who you’re traveling with, you can prevent lockouts by keeping the spare on you or on another trusted person, or in another safe place.

Phone Charger / Power Inverter 

Phones are often our primary navigation systems, and so making sure their batteries aren’t drained when you need them is a factor of safety. Double check that your car has the correct ports for the electronics you’ll bring along the way, and if it doesn’t then you can get a great power inverter for your car here

First Aid Kit 

An obvious essential for the prepared traveler. You can buy a great first aid kit for road trips here.

Bonus! Professional Road-Tripping Tips: 

Clean your car before you go 

No one wants to spend a long day locked in a messy or smelly car. Keep your road trippers happiest by cleaning out your car of any unnecessary clutter, and consider getting it detailed to remove any dirt, food crumbs or spills, and unpleasant scents.

Clean your headlights along the way

Bugs will start to pack on throughout your trip, and so doing a quick wipe down at every pit stop keeps your headlights and grill much easier to clean than waiting to scrape them off after a week-long journey.

Pre-download entertainment content. 

Pre-downloading entertainment content prevents streaming lag, keeps you immune to “dead zones,” and doesn’t burn up data in roaming areas. If you have multiple people with you on your trip, consider asking them all to download content as well, so you’ll have a variety of entertainment to choose from to either enjoy on your own or together.

Pack light

It’s important not to overload a vehicle with too many heavy items, as massive loads can shorten tire life and reduce fuel economy during extended trips. Although, some bigger items might be necessary for your trip, so check your owner’s manual for your car’s maximum load, and overall, pack only what you need.

Before You Hit the Road…

Have you had your car looked over top-to-bottom? Extended periods of driving can potentially damage cars that are not road trip ready. Our Summer Road Trip Car Inspection Checklist is a helpful guide in assessing your vehicle before it takes you on your next adventure.

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