Essential Take-Alongs For Those Warm Summer Drives

Who hasn’t gotten a few miles into a road trip before realizing you’ve forgotten to bring along an important accessory?

Getting outdoors is vital to avoid cabin fever, here’s some recommendations on outdoor accessories to bring along that will keep you cool, comfortable and powered up.

“Road tripping is a fun and adventurous way to not just get from Point A to Point B, but to see the hidden gems of the country which you’ll never get to see if you fly,” said Asher Fergusson of Asher & Lyric, an Australian born adventurer who writes about travel.

Here’s a handy checklist of things to remember to take along before hitting the road.

  • Hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes and disposable gloves: Invaluable, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prevent contaminants from entering your vehicle by cleaning your hands, vehicle handles and other surfaces.
  • Collapsible chairs: Practical, comfortable and available in essentially any color scheme or pattern available; a collapsible lounge chair belongs in every trunk.
  • Insulated drinking bottle: These modern wonders keep steaming drinks piping hot and icy beverages cool for hours. The ingenious design of insulated bottles places a vacuum between the interior and exterior walls of the vessel, thereby creating an environment that’s difficult for heat to escape.
  • Portable battery charger: A portable battery charger stashed discreetly in the trunk offers an alternative to calling roadside assistance. Portable jump packs, lead-acid units once only found in repair shops, tow trucks and auto repair stores have exploded in popularity in recent years. They share the marketplace with pocket-sized lithium-ion batteries that sometimes include a USB port to power additional devices.
  • Camp table: Perfect for tailgating or a game of cards, collapsible tables are another useful item to store in the trunk. They’re not only a place to eat meals, they’re the place to prep them, too. To make the best investment, know what you will use your table for. That will help you determine how big it needs to be, how much weight it will need to support and how much cargo space it will need.
  • Hydration packs: Hydration packs, insulated backpacks capable of containing liquids like water or sports drinks, prove useful on excursions or long walks with the dog. Some hydration packs are even insulated, keeping cold drinks frosty on the hottest days. For the best value, look for a hydration pack that has extra storage space for hiking essentials.
  • Itinerary: Seems basic, but it’s the foundation of any road trip. Where you are going to go, when you are going to leave, how you’re getting there, all that’s part of your trip itinerary. When it comes to planning your route, Waze and Google Maps are among the most popular technologies for finding directions, and each offers insights about what’s between Point A and Point B. Both of these apps offer insights about traffic congestion and turn-by-turn navigation. They can even include alerts about speed traps, collisions, road closures or detours. Also, looking into the highways and byways you’ll be taking can unearth interesting discoveries, like quirky tourist attractions or those eateries that are hidden gems only locals and the well-traveled know.
  • Snacks: Everyone gets hungry during a road trip and stopping at a drive-thru can cost precious minutes. Consider packing an insulated cooler with granola bars, fruit, beverages and other healthful, filling fare. Grapes, nuts, and pre-sliced cheese are among some items to consider bringing along with you, as they are easy to grab and can be eaten by the driver without taking their eyes off the road.
  • Trash bags: Road trips can make a mess of your interior. Bring along a trash bag to store those discarded snack bags, soda cans and other assorted miscellanea that can accumulate during your road trip. Toss the bag when you stop to refuel or swing by a rest stop to stretch your legs.
  • Neck pillow: Headrests are nice, but a neck pillow provides even more support and comfort for passengers looking to catch a few z’s during the trip.
  • First-aid kit: Utterly necessary and readily available, a first-aid kit is an invaluable addition to any trunk. Well-stocked kits include bandages, scissors, gauze, antiseptic wipes and other basics. Also consider adding extras like a disposable camera, notepad and pens, which could prove handy when reporting a collision.\
  • Insect repellent. Avoid becoming a convenient meal. There are lots of choices from natural sprays that use lemmon eucalyptus to products that use DEET, a highly effective mosquito repellent. Some repellents come in easy-to-use wipes.
  • Rest stop app: Rest stops are ideal for stretching the legs and grabbing a snack. But sometimes you don’t notice the stop until you’ve zipped past it on the freeway. Now technology is simplifying the search. Smartphone applications offer motorists comprehensive details about the rest stops available to them along their trek. An app which offers a filter for the direction of travel can eliminate confusion on exactly where the next stop is.
  • Games to pass the time: This one can be tricky, as reading while in a vehicle can give some people motion sickness, but there’s still fun ways to pass the hours on the road trip. “I Spy”, a game where someone gives hints to what they’ve spotted is a classic. Another is “20 Questions”, where someone picks a subject and the passengers have 20 questions to figure out what they are thinking of. The “license plate game,” trying to find license plates from as many states as possible, is another timeless road trip distraction. Another popular game is “Guess the Song”, where everyone tries to guess the name and band of the song playing on the radio, just be sure to cover up your display screen while playing so no one can cheat. And who can forget the classic that is “Slug Bug”? Traditionally, participants scan the road for classic Volkswagen Bugs, then shout out “Slug Bug” when they see one. This exclamation typically accompanies a punch to the shoulder of whomever is sitting next to the person who spotted the iconic car. Of course, it’s not safe to jar the driver, so consider some other form of incentive for playing.

For your canine companions:

  • Pet Harness: Sharp turns, sudden stops or collisions can cause severe injury or death to unrestrained animals–and put human passengers at risk of injury as well. Consider investing in a crash-protection harness, as it has the best chance of keeping the dog in its seat during impact and its aftermath. Reminder, never let your dog ride in the front seat. Even with a restraint, there is the chance of significant injury from the airbag or broken glass.
  • Upholstery/Seat Cover: Anyone serious about maintaining their upholstery and traveling with their dog should invest in seat covers.
  • Deodorizer: Don’t let your interior smell like “dog” after the journey is over. Scented oils and aromatic cardboard trees simply mask odors, only a deodorizer eliminates odors from the cabin. The reminder of home can provide comfort when your pet is in a new environment.
  • Collapsible water dish: Compact and portable, a collapsible water dish is a great tool to keep your hound hydrated. Serve them bottled water, as drinking water from an unfamiliar area can potentially upset your dog’s digestive system.
  • Waste Collection Bags: Picking up after your dog is common courtesy, yet it’s so easy to forget to bring bags for their waste. Consider buying a container that clips to the leash and stores a roll of waste collection bags.