I’m currently on this kind of aimless road trip – I was feeling pretty restless, anxious, and maybe even a bit sad; so I left town with no real objective (taking advice from my previous piece, Road Trip Essentials). I’m not sure if it’s the changing landscape of a world in the midst of a global pandemic or perhaps just the morbid reality of getting older, but I haven’t really been trying to find an answer, nor do I think I need to. Sometimes all it takes to restart the system is loading the car up and just going.
I’ve been mixing my trip up with a variety of lodging options – sleeping in my car when necessary and safe, the occasional affordable Airbnb, and staying on friends’ couches when offered. The variety keeps it interesting, but also keeps it tough, too, as there’s a lot to keep track of both personally and physically. I feel myself checking for my wallet/phone/keys at least once an hour and I’m always trying to keep track of my shower schedule. I’ve found that traveling this way invites a few items – or perhaps, little things – that make a worlds difference in a couple days or a couple weeks of living on the road.
- Face wipes: No shower? No problem. Face wipes – or baby wipes – are an almost crucial piece of “equipment” for a couple weeks of living and camping out of one’s car. A baby wipe bath can make a world’s difference in feeling clean from a long day’s worth of adventures.
- A small bag for essentials: Women often call this a purse, but knowing that men seem to squirm at owning one of their own, we’ll just go with “small bag.” This will hold the essentials and the essentials only – phone, wallet, keys. Maybe throw in some polarized sunglasses in there too. Pockets work too, but I find that having a bag to keep the things I need most accessible is super privy to parking the car and walking around any and every point of interest in passing.
- Plastic baggies or stash bags: An essential! I’m always surprised at what a difference it makes to have sandwich baggies around for just about any and everything. The other day I desperately needed a bar of soap, completely forgetting I’d need something to put it in after using – and sure enough, I had enough sandwich baggies to make it work. Or even this morning, I ate a half an avocado, and saved the other half for lunch using a baggie. Whether for food, soap, or just organizing gear, baggies make a huge difference in keeping all supplies in order.
- Hot sauce: this isn’t just a “little thing” for most people, it’s occasionally an everyday essential. Moreover, for all the bland pasta or rice dishes you make on the road, a couple dabs of your favorite hot sauce will make all the difference in the world in dining on the go.
- A towel: Even if you’re not planning on showering, a towel is good for parking lot outfit changes or something to sit on while hanging outside. In the past week, I’ve used mine more often for the latter than actually bathing myself.
- And finally, a face mask: because protecting our world and those around us is paramount to any amount of hot sauce, stash bags, face wipes, and adventures.
You don’t need much for a good time on the go, but there are certain things – little things – that will make a difference in your travels in the near future and far.