Road Trip Must Haves

After many trips in different parts of the world, I'm finally ready to be a slow traveler.  I've done camping and backpacking a few times just for the sake of experiencing it.  It wasn't my cup of tea, maybe because most of the backpacks are already taller than me, and my photography bag already weighs more than a tent.  So I have come up with a new formula, and here's to slow travel.

(I started this article at the beginning of my 2.5-month national park road trip and updated the content in the end of the trip).

Must Haves

  • car (four wheel drive)

  • electronics

    • camera, camera battery, battery charger, various lenses, CF cards, filters, remote shutter control etc.

    • laptop - I upload images once a day

    • at least two portable drives - one for original images, one for backup

    • at least one smartphone with GPS, cables, charger

    • an iPad - for pre-downloaded maps. Oftentimes we don't have phone or internet connection in the wilderness so a backup map downloaded onto an iPad screen is very useful

    • Univeral adapter plugs (or at least from 3-prong to 2 prong) and power strip. A few places we stayed, particularly in the old or historic towns in the US (eg. Deadwood, SD), only had two-prong wall outlets, but our laptop cables have 3 prong plugs. [If it's an international trip - you need power converters sometimes and definitely universal adapters]

  • eat & drink

    • water bottles (with size that easily fits in the car's coffee mug holder, we have a few large bottles that turned out to be inconvenient)

    • olive oil and vinegar (for salad), some unique spices (don't worry about salt, sugar or black pepper)

    • tea pot, water boiler, thermos - I don't drink coffee but I love tea

    • cooler

    • cooking utensil (one pan, one spatula as backup)

  • sleep

    • Tempurpedic memory foam pillows (we are not campers, so no tent nor sleeping bags). In the past, I often got neck pains after sleeping on the hotel pillows. Tempurpedic pillows are the ultimate solution and kept me healthy and happy

  • wear

    • wicking material (easy to dry), hats, 3-4 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of walking shoes at least - one for hiking, one for comfortable walk. In past trips, sometimes I ended up not using a whole back pack of clothes and extra pairs of shoes. I bought all the technical fabric shirts, pants and socks at REI - all dedicated for hiking and outdoor activities

    • sun glasses and regular glasses, both with prescription (if you are near sighted). We drive a lot in the road trip during the day and wear sunglasses often, it's important that the sunglasses have prescription

  • others

    • band-aid

    • nail clippers

    • sun screen lotion (no cosmetic scent unless you like bees)

    • emergency medicine

    • bear spray. You need that in the grizzly mountains. We carried it for a month and fortunately never used it

Mustn't Haves

In case you grow up as a city dweller like me, you might make the same mistakes as I often make.

  • jewelry

  • cosmetics

  • high heels

  • scented sunscreen lotions and skin care products (unless you like bees and bugs flying around you all the time)

A Few Nice to Haves Items

  • portable Bose speaker: so we have music in all of our rented homes

  • smoothie blender: for healthy breakfast


you may also love…