Road Trip Essentials


AirBnB, check (or hotel, if that’s how you roll). Budget, check. Headcount, everyone’s coming!

If you’re the alpha, or just the one with the car, here comes the hard part: the prep to make sure nothing about the drive is left to chance.

And we’re not just talking about fuel here. Whether it’s a five-hour drive or 10, everything about the car must be A-OK, and then some.

Before you head out, breeze through this guide to the road trip essentials: everything that must be packed, brought, and carried along to make sure you’ll only have one word to describe the trip: epic.

What to check?

Tires. These keep you connected to the road and to achieve that, it must have traction, which comes from tread (those grooves you see on the tires). Use a ruler and make sure depth is at least 1.6 millimeters.

Clean your air filters so your engine sucks up more air than dust and soot for optimal performance and high fuel efficiency.

All spark plugs should be firing because even if just one is a dud, you’ll be slower, use up more fuel, and overall, it’ll feel like you’re driving an asthmatic car.

All engine belts should show markers. Change ASAP if it’s faded because you’re not moving an inch if it snaps.

Top up all vehicle fluids and double check the radiator for leaks or blockage because overheating is a common problem.

Make sure all lights are working and because traffic could keep you driving well through the night.


Have your spare tire checked to make sure its inflated with the right amount of pressure.

Car batteries usually have a two-year lifespan. Using it any day after 24 months, even if the voltmeter says it still puts out the correct voltage, is a risk.

Fan motors should be quietly working. Replace them otherwise because if it conks out during the drive, your engine runs the risk of overheating.

Brake pads are measured by thickness. If you can’t tell, have your trusted mechanic give it a look.

For your ride

It may seem like common sense, but since there have been prime examples of people without it, here’s a reminder to never forget to bring your vehicle’s registration (official receipt and certificate of registration) when you drive out.

If you’ve got comprehensive insurance, bring the policy with you as well and the contact number of your agent or the insurance company’s hotline number.

Nobody really takes the car manual out but if you did, bring it back and always keep in the glove box.

Remember to have a tire wrench that matches the groove of your wheel studs. This one is especially for owners who upgraded to fancy wheels that necessitated a new set of studs.

Have a floor jack, preferably an alligator jack, so you can lift the vehicle all the way without the need to prop it up with external items; a warning triangle; tire pressure gauge; flashlight; and booster cables.

Bring the extra car key and have somebody else keep it during the trip for backup.

watch now

These days, fuel stations are everywhere but just to be safe, pack a liter of oil, a bottle of coolant, a gallon of water, and an empty fuel container.

If you want to be a boy scout, pack a whistle too and a rain poncho. That way you’re really prepared for any eventuality.

For you

Driver’s license! I’ve never actually met anyone who drove out without their license so don’t be the first.

Have Waze or Google Maps installed on your phone. If you’re heading to places with poor 3G or LTE signal, get apps that allow you to download maps so that you can browse even if you’re offline.

Bring a mount for your device so that you don’t have to hold it while using navigation apps (or while swapping playlists on Spotify).

If you’re using the expressways, pack toll fees in marked envelopes so you don’t have to wake everyone up when you get to the teller.

You may have started out early morning, but a 12-hour drive is going to take you well beyond midday so keep your sunglasses within reach and some sunscreen will come in handy, too.

Don’t avoid drinking just because you don’t want to take bathroom breaks. Dehydration can cause dizziness or drowsiness, which may cause accidents. Take sips of your favorite beverage, but better yet, just take water; it’s healthier.

For everyone

Ahead of all mobile device accessories, a first aid kit should be number one on the list. It should have basic medicine for allergies, dizziness, headache, upset stomach, and painkillers. Hand sanitizer, adhesive bandages, plain bandages, sterile gauze dressing, an instant cold compress, antiseptic wipes (wet wipes), and antibiotic ointment should be included as well.


Disposable urine/pee bags, unless you’re cheap and would rather recycle a plastic water bottle. Either way, if you get caught in traffic, you’re using one of those whether you like it or not.

Now for the fun part!

Bring cables for all your devices and their respective plugs. Don’t forget cigarette lighter adaptors as well because you just might run out of juice while in transit.

Bring your trusted playlist or just Spotify it. Just make sure the music is of the right tempo and mood because research has shown that these affect your driving demeanor. So ditch “Welcome to the Jungle” and maybe go with “Versace on the floor.”

If you’re driving a vehicle without streaming capability, just bring a portable Bluetooth speaker.

Got kids? Make sure you’ve got entertainment, like a couple of tablets and a whole lot of songs and movies.

If senior citizens are with you, make sure they’re comfortable, and have the right food and maintenance meds with them.

Speaking of food, bring lots of it and drinks, too (and paper towels to wipe down the mess), because unless you can tell the future, only He knows how long you’ll be on the road.

Prepare for the unexpected

If your trip falls on a long weekend or holiday, you could face carmageddon-levels of traffic at major chokepoints like toll plazas, toll exits and major tourist destinations.

During Holy Week 2018, gas stations along NLEX were so overloaded that you couldn’t even drive in anymore. People parked their vehicles by the side of the expressway and walked in to pee.

Those who couldn’t find parking anywhere within a kilometer before or after any of the gas stations just stopped wherever they could and relieved themselves right there, by the roadside.

Needless to say, buying any food item will be arduous because of the long queues so bring baon.

Knowing these things can happen lowers your expectations, which should help you keep your cool even before things turn bad.

You’re all set and ready to go

It’s always better to be safe than sorry, which is why this list is ultra-comprehensive.

Some of you may think the whole thing is pretty OC, but remember, one tiny mishap—a flat tire, migraine, getting lost, and sometimes even boredom—can put a damper on the excursion.

You’re putting down a lot of money, and more importantly, precious time aside for the people you’re with so why take the risk.

Be smart and tick each item down one by one as soon as your plans are finalized. If you do, I can almost guarantee the only thing you’ll be thinking about during the trip is, “When’s the next one?”

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Eric Tipan
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