When getting ready to hit the road there are a few things that cannot be left behind. These essential items will help you find your way accurately, efficiently and in comfort.
- Maps, The Real Kind Made of Paper - Having a GPS can be really handy and then again, having too much trust in the little blue arrow and the cool accented voice that tells you where to go, can lead to disaster. They can break, loose signal, or sometimes just lead you very far astray. I was once driving on far too little sleep from Buffalo, NY to a small town in Connecticut to visit a friend. I didn't realize how misled my GPS was until I crossed into rural Massachusetts around midnight as my cell phone was dying and I was running out of gas (Those will lead us to some of our other bullet points). I was in a really tight spot and it was mostly luck and a very good friend that got me out of it, but consulting a map before you hit the road and at rest points along the way can help avoid a GPS disaster.
- Donut Tire Because If You Need It, You Really Need It - Potholes, nails or even a rock in just the right position can blow a tire and throw a serious monkey wrench into any trip. The process of getting a new tire, which you will need anyway, can be a hiccup in a trip, but having a donut to get the dearest shop is imperative. If you don't have some sort of roadside assistance and are a handy person, a car jack can also come in very handy.
- Multiple Types of Funds Because Plastic Can Break - Taking to the road with just a debit card in your wallet is a phenomenal way to end up fund-less. They can break, be lost, stolen or the magnetic strip can simply deactivate. In any of these cases, you will have a very difficult time of things if you find yourself halfway to your destination and out of gas. Before leaving, go to the bank and withdraw some money proportionate to the type and duration of your trip. For a little extra assurance, swing by the bank and pick up some travelers' checks, especially if your planned trip is more than a weekend getaway.
- AAA Card, For When Plans Don't Go As Planned - Your battery dies in the hotel parking lot, you run out of gas because your GPS had led you terribly astray, you blow a tire and you need some help getting that donut you remembered to bring with you on, or your car simply decides it doesn't want to be friends with you on this particular day, AAA is the Superman of distressed road warriors everywhere. Especially if you are a frequent traveler, the membership is completely worth it and can also come in handy at home.
- A Cell Phone Charger For The Car - Cell phones can be amazing aids on a road trip, from acting as a GPS (You know, that backup to the real map you brought), to calling the friend you're crashing with to tell them you're going to be late, looking up places to eat, or avoid, to just playing music in the car. They can help you find critical information, especially when you are out of your element and on the road, but they are absolutely no good if the battery is dead. Bringing a charger for your car provides you peace of mind and a way to call AAA should anything go wrong.