Summer Road Trip Checklist

Summer’s on the horizon. As the days grow longer and the nights stay warmer, we feel the urge to get out from the cozy indoors to see the world a little bit at a time. The words “summer” and “road trip” go together like two peas in a pod. Sometimes, however, we can take a trip so impulsively, we forget to pack the essentials to keep our trips safe and enjoyable.

Whether you’re driving from one end of the coast to another, or just taking a day trip to explore your own backyard, here’s a guide, a checklist, list of tips—what-have-you—to get you on the road again.

Pre Road Trip Checklist

Okay, so you’ve planned out your road trip, you’ve checked the metaphorical map (and the digital one too) and you know exactly how and when you’re going to get there. Unfortunately, if you don’t prep your faithful stead (or vehicle) before you hit the open road, a lot can go wrong. Obviously, you should think about the basics, like checking the air pressure of your tires, check or change the oil, and replace sketchy break pads. But what else might you be forgetting?


  • License. We’ve all done it, driven to work, school, or around town only to realize we either weren’t carrying our wallet, forgot our purse or just left our license behind. Here’s a little reminder to not leave that precious card at home. There’s nothing worse than getting a ticket for driving without one.
  • Registration and Car Insurance Policy. Have you checked your glove compartment lately? Give it a good once over and make sure a current copy of your car’s registration and car insurance policy is all there.
  • Manual. Okay, so you might not use it often, but it may come in handy if some strange light goes off on your car’s dash and you have no clue what it means. Could you google it? Sure! But playing it safe is cool too.
  • A Spare. I said that there was nothing worse than forgetting your license at home, and although that’s up there, getting a flat might top it. Check that you have a spare, tire iron, and all the necessary supplies you’d need to change a tire if something goes wrong.
  • Emergency Kit. Never underestimate the power of a good emergency kit! You can purchase full sets at almost any store that has an automobile section, but you can also create your own. Remember to carry battery booster cables, a few light sticks, an emergency whistle, tire pressure gauge, and something reflective to wear (just in case you end up stranded on a darkened roadside).

Part Two of the Pre Road Trip Checklist

Hear me out, planning for your trip is exciting. Creating that perfect summer road trip playlist, packing up the car, and getting out of dodge is the part we all want to get to. I urge you, however, to not skip out on the planning that will make your trip far less stressful. Just like you prep your vehicle for a long drive, you should prep your finances too.

  • Calculate costs ahead of time. The worst thing you can do before a trip is not budget enough for the trip in the first place. It may seem fun and in-the-moment to “just wing it” when trying to figure out accommodations for the night, but not making a budget for your larger expenses might mean paying for it (figuratively and literally) later. Whenever possible, plan out the big stuff, like where you’re staying, how many nights, how much you’ll need to set aside for gas, etc.


  • Save for your trip. Your trip may have been planned on a whim or you might have planned ahead, but if you’re thinking with the money savvy mind, learn how to make a budget for yourself within your general life, as well as a budget for any future trips. Saving money beforehand can make those spontaneous trips possible, and your bank accounts won’t be taking a major nosedive.
  • Bring snacks and drinks. Yes, road tripping means eating out at fun, or out of the way restaurants, but don’t make the mistake of eating out for every meal. You can save a whole lot of cash just by bringing the essential sustenance and drinks with you. Eating out three or more times a day costs money, usually a fair amount of it. Pack up some treats that won’t perish or melt in your car, and save your money for the meals and entertainment you absolutely need to splurge on.


Have Fun!

Preparing and keeping yourself safe on the road means less time worrying about what could happen and more time savoring all the road tripping fun. Only a moderate amount of planning will not only save you time and money but the headache you might have otherwise gotten when something unexpected delayed your travels.


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