To-go window at a coffee shop
Lists, Travel

Don’t Road Trip without These

On Sunday, I’m jumping in the car with one of my best friends and driving from Dallas to Denver. It’ll be my first trip anywhere in two years, and I am alternately thrilled and terrified. I’m thrillified.

Photo by Charlie Firth on Unsplash

And it’s many more miles from Dallas to Denver. So I have a checklist from a travel website of things to take on a road trip: first-aid kit, flashlight, USB cables, wet-wipes and hand sanitizer, a water bottle, tissues, sunscreen, lotion…

Dude. These are the contents of my everyday bag, plus the carabiner, paracord, utility tool, and half a CVS.

I guess that makes Item #1 easy:

  1. My everyday bag. Actually, four bags:
    • A car bag with stuff I’ll want in the car like a sweater, my knitting (because I have to have something to do with my hands), plus any other just-in-case things that I don’t always have in my purse, like toilet paper (because rest stop bathrooms) and dental floss (because you can clean your teeth and also cut cake with it).
    • An overnight bag so I don’t have to lug my whole suitcase into the motel for a stopover.
    • My suitcase full of stuff for wherever I’m going.
    • An extra folded duffle (or two) for the trip home—because somehow my stuff always multiplies.
  2. Tunes. I have a “sharing the car” list and a “no one is listening” list. Both have a lot of can’t-not-sing-along songs, but the “by myself” list contains 100% more show tunes.
  3. Snacks. Websites recommend things like nuts and dried fruit and peanut butter on celery. I recommend stopping at Buc-ee’s for Beaver Nuggets. I can’t recommend that because they stores are always elbow to elbow and…sigh Mask-up, people. However! You can buy Beaver Nuggets online. They’re like Corn Pops, but salty-sweet like kettle corn.
  4. A list of roadside attractions. Carhenge? Biggest ball of string? The future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk? Sweet road trips are made of these. (I really did stop in Riverside, Iowa—I swore to my mom it would only take a minute, and she timed me as I followed the tiny little sign down a lane between buildings to grab a selfie.)
  5. Road Trip Games. You know the ones… Road trip scavenger hunt. License plate bingo. I spy. And if you’re traveling with other people, you can ask each other questions from the “Proust Questionnaire.” Or if your car-trip buddies are all writers, you can ask your characters the same questions, which is bound to be more interesting.

I’m posting on Instagram and Twitter again, so you can follow along on the road trip and see if we stop at anything interesting. And if you have any suggestions for road trip music or favorite car snacks, leave them in the comments or message me on social media. (As I point to the fancy icons at the top of the page.)