It feels like it was just yesterday that we picked up our camper van and set off on a road trip across the US. But time flies and our awesome US adventure is now coming to an end.
This 2-week 3,000-mile trip from Chicago to Los Angeles served as a great reminder of our love for the open road and the freedom of living out of a campervan. We used to road trip quite a bit when we lived in Australia and now that we’ve found a cheap way to go on road trips in the US, it’s the perfect time to get back into it.
When we first started road tripping, we found the experience to be rather frustrating. Time and time again we’d realize that we were missing this or that essential item from our packing list and end up kicking ourselves for not thinking of it in preparation for our trip.
But this trip was different. We finally felt like we had it all sorted out and that our list of Essential Road Trip accessories was now complete. So here they are – the items that will help take your road trip from good to great!
A power inverter is an absolute must accessory for any long road trip. It will turn your tiny cigarette lighter port into a powerful AC power outlet. Our power inverter produces 140 Watts of AC power and includes 2 electrical household outlets and 1 USB port. And as it turned out, 140 Watts is a lot of power. Using our Bestek Charging Dock (see below), we were able to charge both of our laptops (my MacAir and Max’s New 12” Macbook), plus 2 camera batteries and an iPhone all at the same time.
This charging dock is a new addition to our travel gear, but one that quickly proved its value. This is a perfect space-saving charging station that allows us to charge 11 devices at once with 6 AC outlets and 4 USB ports. We plugged this charging dock into our Power Inverter and had an all-in-one solution for all of our charging needs.
This charging dock is not only a great road trip accessory but a great travel accessory as well. With this bad boy, we’ll never have to worry about not having enough outlets in hotel rooms when we travel either. Double win!
We love our Ram X-Grip Cell Phone holder! We bought it about 2 years ago and have since successfully road tripped with it in Australia, Europe, Africa and now in the US. It’s a bit bulky, but what makes it worth the size/weight is the twist lock suction cup and grip handles which allow for a perfect fit with any phone and easy adjustments to suit any driver’s preference. Plus with a little addition of the GoPro ball joint accessory, the X-Grip turns into a perfect GoPro holder as well.
4. Maps Me
Maps Me is the only app you need for a successful road trip. You may have heard us rave about it in our post 11 Mobile Apps We Can’t Travel Without and it’s once again proven to be a saviour for us on this road trip. No cell phone reception? No problem, we preload the maps for the state we are driving through and can easily route ourselves to any destination. The app also allows us to search for supermarkets, campgrounds, shops, and tourist attractions. Download it here.
You can’t go road tripping without awesome tunes and we know it well, there is nothing more frustrating than rocking out to a great tune one minute and hearing the fuzzy noise take over the radio next. Or in the case of Spotify, it’s music when you have a 4G connection on your phone and no music when you are in a dead zone. Dead zones suck, so we choose to avoid them by using Spotify Premium. Spotify Premium allows you to make your playlists available offline, so you can enjoy your favourite tunes while completely off the grid.
If you can’t fork out $10/month, you can subscribe for a free 3 month trial just before your road trip. (If you already have an account, just sign up using a new email)
At night, when we reach our cam site and turn off our radio/car speaker, we turn to our trusty portable speaker to keep the tunes going in our campervan in the evening. We’ve had this speaker for years. It’s small, light and produces great sound.
7. Kindle or Kindle Paperwhite
Max and I each have a Kindle (I have an old school Kindle and Max has Kindle Paperwhite) that travel with us anywhere we go. While some people prefer hardcover books we don’t want to carry the extra weight when we travel.
8. Hydro Flask
We are absolutely obsessed with our Hydro Flasks. We got them this past Christmas and they have not left our sight since. Hydro Flasks come in different sizes, shapes and colours, but at the heart of this brilliant bottle is its TempShield Technology that keeps cold liquids chilled for up to 24 hours and hot liquids – hot for up to 6. It’s BPA free and sweat-free, so no matter how hot or cold your drink is on the inside, you won’t feel the condensation or heat when you grab the bottle on the outside.
9. Wet Wipes
We travel with wet wipes anywhere we go. They are perfect for staying clean on the go and have about a million uses. This road trip, we bought a multi-pack and had one pack in our bathroom, one in the kitchen, and one in the front of the van.
Our advice, buy a bulk pack before you leave home instead of picking up overpriced packs along the way.
10. Ziplock Bags
Another irreplaceable travel accessory, Ziplock Bags came in handy so many times during our road trip. We used them for food storage, as laundry bags, for carrying our wet bathing suits back into our campervan after an evening at the hot springs, for receipt storage, and storage of my art and craft supplies (one of the many ways I stay entertained on the road).
Grab an assorted pack before you leave, so you don’t have to buy 3 different boxes.
11. Swiss Army Knife
Instead of buying a bottle opener, a pair of scissors, a knife, a screwdriver, and a handful of other random tools, pack a Swiss Army Knife for your road trip and have all tools easily accessible in one place. Just remember to always pack the tool into checked luggage when flying.
12. Comfortable Clothing
Comfortable clothing is another must for a good road trip. The thing is that you have to strike the perfect balance between being super comfortable for all those hours in the car, but also, look good enough that you can be ready to jump out of the car and sightsee on a moment’s notice.
My go-to outfit is a pair of cool leggings (my favourites are a brand called Teeki that makes their leggings from recycled water bottles, and an Aussie brand called Pins to Kill, that allows you to create custom designed leggings) with a tank top/t-shirt or a cardigan. While Max lives in his Adidas Climachill Shorts and Head T-shirts.
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