As the stay-at-home order lifts and we can slowly get back to a sense of normalcy, you may already be planning an old-fashioned road trip to get a change of scenery. However, forgetting things at home can quickly inconvenience you for the rest of the trip. Here are some essentials to bring along.

1. Sunscreen

UVA rays (the kind that cause cancer) can penetrate window glass, making sunscreen a must even if you are blasting the A/C with the windows up. So, to be on the safe side—who wants to spend their road trip slathering on after-sun care lotion every half hour?—don’t skimp on the SPF.

2. Power bank

Smartphones: an all-in-one device. Part GPS, part entertainment system, your link to the online world. Don’t get caught short while you’re listening to your favorite podcast episodes or, worse yet, when you’re unsure which highway exit to take. Keep your devices’ power topped up, and then all you have to worry about is which playlist is up next.

3. Pillow
Even the most luxurious interiors can get uncomfortable after a few hours on the road. A pillow can make all the difference, whether it’s for the driver’s lower back or the back of a passenger’s head.

4. Cash

It happens at the most inconvenient time: you are out of gas and the nearest station’s point of sale system is down. It’s almost like fate is conspiring against you, isn’t it? Keep a couple of twenties stashed away and show fate who’s in charge. As a bonus, you’ll avoid the extortionate gas station ATM fees, too.

5. Spare tire and tools

This may seem incredibly obvious, but everyone knows someone who was caught with a flat tire at the worst possible time, probably during the same road trip when the gas station’s credit card machine was down. Hang on to that spare tire and make sure it’s inflated and ready to go. It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

6. First aid kit

And make sure it is complete: bandages, topical antibiotic cream, safety pins, disposable gloves, and tweezers. Pre-assembled kits from supply companies are the most convenient option and guaranteed to be sterile. Keep one in the trunk and check any expiry dates regularly.

7. Jumper cables

They’re included on this list with the added caveat that the car owner knows how to use them. It should go without saying that messing around with a live car battery when you’re not 100% certain where each clamp goes isn’t a good idea, but the Darwin Awards are still a thing. When in doubt, ask someone knowledgeable to teach you.

8. Snacks

The author of this piece has a sister who still won’t eat pretzels following a Rold Gold-heavy diet during a three-day long family road trip to Florida in 1997. But the point stands in the convenience of having some ready-to-go snacks and finger foods. Who knows, maybe you’ll get an amusing story to write about 24 years after the fact.

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