6 essentials of any road trip

Yellow van - road trip essentials

Last Updated on December 31, 2023

Road trips are a well-loved, time-honoured tradition. Friends have been loading up their cars and making for the horizon for decades, and over that time the art of the road trip has been well-honed. These are six essentials for any road trip.

1 – Snacks and drinks

plastic water bottles

By their nature, road trips involve long stretches of driving without much of a chance to rest – sometimes you’ve got to keep driving to make time, and sometimes there’s simply nowhere to stop. As such, it’s handy to keep a set of snacks and drinks with you, to keep people hydrated and keep their energy up. Snacks that are high in energy like nuts and trail mix are a good idea – and obviously, you can’t do much better than water. If you’re feeling particularly fancy, take a cooler along to make sure your drinks remain at the utmost level of refreshment.

2 – A (physical) map


Yes, you can use map apps and yes, they could well take you from A to B without so much as a hiccup. However (ubiquitous as Wi-Fi is nowadays) there are some real wildernesses out there, and you could end up driving through a total blank spot. A paper map (and some knowledge of the region you’ll be driving through) is going to be invaluable should you end up lost somewhere with no way to consult the great map in the cloud.

3 – The tools (and knowledge) to change a tire

Sign on the road

There’s every chance you could make it through a road trip with nary a bump or bruise – but why chance it? You really, really don’t want to have a tire burst on you and end up waiting for hours for recovery or just the chance to ask for help. It’s a road trip, not a “wait for ages by the road trip”. Take a spare tire, a jack, and most importantly the knowledge of how to change a tire with minimal fuss.

4 – Entertainment

Van on a road surrounded by Canyons

A road trip involves, by definition, a considerable amount of time on the road – and you can only play ‘I Spy’ for so long. You’re going to want to take along some varied forms of entertainment – something to watch films or TV on, travel games, audiobooks, crosswords – and music, of course. Local radio can only be relied upon for so long. These things will be even more important if you’re traveling with children – who aren’t likely to want to listen to your classic rock hits or true crime podcasts.

5 – A rotation


On a road trip, at least two people are cooped up together for a long time – so it’s natural that after going a little stir-crazy, arguments and disputes can break out over little things. This can be avoided if you work out beforehand what people are going to need to do, and when. This means working out how driving is split up, who brings what, who buys what at each rest stop, and so on. If these things can be sorted beforehand it’ll make the trip that much smoother for everyone involved.

6 – Knowledge of local driving laws

Pink car

One of the most invaluable things you can have on any road trip is a working knowledge of that country’s road laws. After all, not everywhere has the same laws on driving, and the differences aren’t always so simple as which side of the road to drive on. For instance, in Cyprus, it’s illegal to drink anything while driving – not just alcohol, but any liquid, as they feel it distracts from driving. In Iceland, drivers are legally required to stay within the lines of any road, in an effort to protect endangered plants. Knowing what you can and cannot do before you load up the car could save a lot of trouble.

Planning a road trip? Make sure you research your car rental options.