I’ve made no secret about my joy in roadtrips. What are the essential ingredients of every awesome roadtrip? Well, I’m glad you asked. Here are my top ten.
Honorable Mention: The Hookah – Okay, yes, I have to include this since I earlier dubbed the hookah as the secret weapon of the roadtrip. I’m not going to re-hash the many roadtrip virtues of the hookah here, but let’s just say that I’m holding to my previous claims.
10. Cheap Non-Perishable Food – Snack cravings are even more satisfying to fill when you are on the road. And, in the very likely case of mechanical problems, you are going to want at least some spare food. Make it a mix of some snack food and some more hearty alternatives.
9. Good Pair of Sunglasses – Some people are sunglasses people. Some aren’t. Well, the sunglasses for a roadtrip are not one of the accessories you want to gloss over. I’m not much of a sunglasses person myself, but I soon learned the error of my ways on the roadtrip. That sun can play some nasty tricks on your mental stability as it slowly ticks across the sky if you are driving into it all day long. But there is no need for that. We conquered the sun already.
8. Quality Road Reading – Spending those long hours on the road, you are going to want some to have soom good reading with you. Roll the windows down and let the air play through the edges of the pages (because, yes Kindle, I still do believe in books).
7. Tunes Tunes Tunes – Nothing beats a roadtrip playlist. A great song can really cause some car cohesion (think Wayne’s World, “Bohemain Rhapsody”). And a set of steady chill tunes as everyone is hitting their afternoon slump can add some real rhythm and soul to the wheels hitting the road. Sometimes you will desire just the relative silence of the passing road, but for the rest of the time, do yourself a favor and figure out what kind of audio system your vehicle has and plan accordingly.
6. Pocketknife and/or Set of Tools – Useful for daily tasks and life-savers in emergencies, don’t be an idiot – bring along some sort of tools with you. Even if you are not going to be out on the type of trip where you will be camping every night, you will still be out on the road and therefore to some degree out on your own. A roadtrip isn’t much of a roadtrip if there isn’t even the potential of anything ever going wrong.
5. Duct Tape – No brainer.
4. Working Mobile Phone – I have learned the hard way that just because one is traveling in the developing world and mobile providers change as quickly as the days on the calendar, that excuse will not be much of a consolance to you when your group runs into problems in the middle of nowhere and has no means of contacting the outside world. When your friend gets taken into custody by Zambian police or when your vehicle breaks down at 3 in the morning in an African game park, trust me, you will regret not having a working phone.
3. Vehicle with Character – It is a roadtrip. The type and overall character of the vehicle itself matters greatly. Personally, I prefer a vehicle that has some miles on it already. I prefer it to be dependable but to have its own ideosyncracies. Ideally, it will have offroading capabilities and will not be something on which a few scratches would be a big deal.
2. Chill Travel Buddies – In an adventure in which the journey matters more than the destination, the who you are traveling with matters as much or more than the whats or wheres of the trip. And when the trip is all done, the people and those memories are what will remain.
1. Open Plans – The roadtrip is more of an actionable traveling philosophy than a description of the chosen travel method. Don’t overplan your trip. Leave with a basic idea of dates and a detailed map with your planned route. However, the beauty of the roadtrip is its freedom. Stay somewhere a couple days longer than you planned. Take daytrip local excursions. Meet new people and jump into their lives for a bit. Be spontaneous.