Written by Brian Callender | Photography by Julie Boyd
Behind the wheel and out on the open road, it’s a place where you have the freedom to go wherever your sense of adventure will take you. From the very beginning of our relationship, Julie and I have cherished our road trips as way to escape from our work lives and seek out and explore new destinations. After just six months of dating, we planned our first big getaway, a California coastal road trip that took us along the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Sonoma. In that sense, you could say that road trips are in our relationship DNA, and we have made a point to take them every year since. This year alone, we’ve driven to Crater Lake National Park, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, and the always magical Eastern Sierra route up the 395. Along the way, we have learned a lot about what to bring in order to make the time in the car more enjoyable. Here are seven of our road trip hacks!
Ice Chest: We usually like to just bring a small one with essentials for making sandwiches for lunch, and to hold some fresh fruit. On longer road trips, we pack a little bit of caffeine in the form of Diet Coke or similar, to keep us awake. If you are flying to your destination and then hitting the road, we highly recommend a collapsible cloth cooler. When we flew into Calgary to visit Banff and Jasper, it was great to have one on hand.
Snacks: A mixture of sweet and savory is best because you never know what your body will be in the mood for, especially after a hike or twelve hours in the car. Some of our favorites include: Cheez-Its, Peanut Butter M&Ms, trail mix (the kind with chocolate, of course), sliced apples, beef or turkey jerky, and chips.
Drinks: Reusable water bottles are our favorite! We recently upgraded our every day CamelBak to the vacuum insulated variety. On road trips, we bring along a larger bottle that we fill with ice and water to refill the smaller bottles in our cup holders. We can’t live without our Brita pitcher at home, and now take it with us on the road. If we’re going to be in a hotel for several days, we’ll use the Brita to fill our bottles for the day while we’re out exploring.
Trash + Recyclable Bags: At least one always comes in handy for snack wrappers, but we have found them to also be great for muddy hiking boots, wet bathing suits, and dirty clothes. We also have plenty of recyclable bags that we use for grocery shopping, which double as road trip bags. Pick them up practically anywhere (especially now that California charges for plastic bags) and these versatile bags will make your life much easier.
Laundry Detergent: Avoid over packing and bring clothes that dry quickly along with a small bottle of laundry detergent. When at a hotel, we wash clothes in the sink and hang them to dry in the shower and wherever else we can find space in the room. Hangers and creativity are your best friend when it comes to getting your clothes to dry. We use Sea To Summit for our clothes and usually mix it with a little bit of shampoo for a fresher smell.
A Blanket: Always comes in handy for when you want to stretch out at the beach, or at a nice vista for a bit. There have also been a few times when it has come in handy during a particularly cold morning or evening taking sunrise/sunset photos. They are also a great way to protect leather seats from getting too hot on summer days.
Music: No road trip would be complete without some awesome music to keep you going! We usually have a few different Spotify playlists (downloaded for offline use so we don’t kill our data!) on hand ranging from mellow rock, to oldies, to 90s pop (the best for pumping us up when we are just so ready to be there).
These are some of our favorite ways to make a long road trip a bit more enjoyable! We would love to hear what works for you! Let us know in the comments.
For more posts about road trips we have been on, check out our Road Trip page here.