I recently road tripped through the Pacific Northwest. We started our journey in Alberta, travelled through Idaho to Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and then back home. Along the way my partner and I came up with a list of absolute essentials for a road trip to remember!
We did our best and narrowed it down to a top TEN.
1) The Right Ride
There are some definite necessities to whatever you to decide to drive on a road trip. It has to be comfortable enough to handle being in it for long periods, big enough to handle all your gear, and versatile enough to manage all the conditions you’ll run into.
The most important thing about your ride: It has to be a good impromptu hotel room. Along our way there were places we just couldn’t get a campsite near what we wanted, motels every night equal a shorter trip. Some of our best sleeps came huddled up in the jeep in some random turnout.
2) An exciting, but fluid, itinerary
Like most people will tell you about any travel experience: spontaneity breeds adventure. Having a general heading, but keeping your ear to the ground will always let you see more than you expected. Climbers at the crag, waitresses at local diners, tollbooth operators and cashiers all know more than you about their home - so ask! Major questions like whether to take the ferry across Puget Sound or the 101 all the way around (the ferry, of course) or if there’s any granite climbing in the Shuswaps can all be answered by locals.
3) Music, Maps, Munchies
These are all major essentials that you’ll need in the front seat. An awesome varied music collection for every kind of mood and audiobooks for those long driving days. Maps: on-board GPS, phone apps (like our favorite ‘Roadtripper’) and definitely a paper map. It’s easy to gorge on junk food while driving, but keep in mind that healthy snacks will keep you feeling good after sitting all day.
4) The Right Food
So speaking of munchies, pro-wellness food is the most essential to stay healthy on a long trip. In the evenings and in the backcountry getting versatile with your camp stove helps ensure mealtime is more than just “fuelling up.” Giving your body what it needs, but being creative will help with those pizza cravings too.
5) Rest Days
It’s easy to get caught up in the go-go-go of a road trip, but remember it’s just as important to take a breather and enjoy the view. Rest days are vital to give your muscles a chance to recover from long days of sitting- and what better way to do that than by spending a day or two at a park climbing, hiking and swimming!
6) The Right Gear
Making sure that you’ve got the right stuff for the job is the best way to minimize stress and frustration on your trip. Read into activities where you’re headed - hiking, climbing, swimming, etc. and make sure your stuff is cleaned, packed and ready to go. Then bring along other necessities like a good camp stove (one for backpacking as well is best), tent and sleeping gear and cooler box (ours has a 12V cigarette lighter adapter to keep our stuff cool on 30 degree days in Oregon). Having the right gear will make everything easier and help you be ready for anything.
7) Emergency Kit
Keep a well-stocked first aid kit for yourself – and an equally stocked kit for your car. Something for scratches, aches and pains will help after long days of climbing. Emergency medicine like antihistamines can also help if you’re in a brand new environment. Road flares, jumper cables, a good jack and a spare will be just as important if you’re travelling in less-frequented areas.
8) A Camera
I think this item deserves special attention, probably in part because I’m a photographer, but also because it’s important to capture all the special moments along your way. There will be beautiful sunrises, sunsets, starry nights and winding landscapes during your travels. You’ll want to show your friends and family what you saw while you were away - and if you’re really lucky you’ll be able to capture what you were feeling in those moments.
9) Patience and an Open Mind
Like on any trip, they’ll be plenty of challenges you’ll have to overcome. Vehicles break down, ferry’s get missed and places are closed, but staying positive and keeping your chin up is the best advice I can offer for overcoming any hurdle.
While you may not be crossing any oceans, I’m sure you’ll still run into new cultures and different kinds of people than you’re used to. Keeping an open mind is key to understanding. Learn what you can during your time there and use that to help you grow along your own journey.
10) The Right Partner
Finally, the absolute, most important thing to bring on a road trip is the right people. Having someone who is laid back and can help out along the way is vital to surviving. Similar interests help for deciding what to see and do and someone who can help navigate and take a turn at the wheel is great too.
We learned a lot on our trip, not only about these beautiful places but also about each other and ourselves. I hope that these tips inspire you to load up your car, roll your windows down and go somewhere you’ve never been.
Stephen Underhay is a thisworldexists adventure ambassador. Follow his journey on Instagram @stephenunderhay