Getting ready for a long road trip? There’s nothing like hitting the highway with a few friends, seeing the sights, stopping at those weird roadside attractions, resting in cheap motels, eating junk food for two or three days straight, it’s all a lot of fun. Certainly, you’ve already loaded up your emergency kit, maybe you’ve invested in a gas can “just in case,” one of those big cases of water bottles you can get at the dollar store, and a whole bunch of food, spare blankets and things like that, so you’re ready to go, right?
If you want to have a successful road trip, here are five things that you’re going to need, which almost everybody seems to forget:
A Road Atlas
Who the heck needs a road atlas in the Google Maps era? You can get a high-res photograph of the road sent from a satellite right to your phone!
Now all you need is for your phone’s battery to never, ever die, and to never drive through a dead zone where you can’t get a signal on your phone.
A road atlas may not be as convenient as an app, but there will probably be moments where it saves your life, figuratively and/or literally. Think of it as your insurance policy.
A Cereal Container
Some of us, if we take a trip to the drug store and back, we wind up with three feet of trash stacked in the passenger’s footwell. A cereal container makes a great trash can for the car. Tuck a grocery bag into it and pop the lid on when you don’t need to throw something in there.
The plastic cereal container is a great solution because of its slim, upright design (it can fit right into that envelope-dealie on the back of the driver’s seat), the fact that it’s a perfect fit for disposable plastic bags, and because the lid snaps tight, keeping everything from spilled coffee to chip crumbs locked inside until you come to a public dumpster.
Hear us out on this one: don’t you hate when you’re trying to eat on a winding country road? Or when you’re trying to put a fresh battery into your camera and you keep dropping it and it slides under the seat? A muffin tin is the perfect solution. It’s a lap-sized tray with a half dozen compartments that you can use to put your French fries and ketchup, loose change when you’re counting money, or anything else that you’d rather not have slide down into the crack in the seat as soon as the driver goes over the slightest bump in the road.
If we’re talking alcohol, open containers are illegal, even if you swear that only the passengers were drinking, but what happens when you find some weird, rare brand of root beer in a gas station out in the middle of nowhere, but it comes in a glass bottle and you have no way to open it? There ya go, bottle opener.
The optimist in you says “I’m not going to need that.” The realist says “I might.”
One more thing to remember: If you wind up getting pulled over somewhere between California and New York, you may be able to get out of paying a steep ticket by taking an advanced driving course, a.k.a. a traffic school course. This can help to reduce your fine and keep a DMV report from jacking your insurance rates up. The last thing you need ruining your road trip is a hefty fine for switching lanes without your blinker.