Long commutes can be tiring and boring, which happens more often when you lack the essentials you need for such commutes. If you have the right stuff, you can make them less boring and more fun.
It’s not just about fun and enjoyment. In certain situations, it can also become risky to travel without the essentials. Expecting to buy everything on the go is an impractical approach because you never know when and where you might need something. You probably won’t be able to find all your emergency essentials at a grocery store, which might not even be anywhere near where you are traveling.
That’s why it’s a good idea to keep the right accessories and essentials when packing for a long trip. These trips don’t necessarily have to be a long ride across the US states and can be from one part of the town to another, which in some states can take hours.
In addition to the essentials, you might also want to consider carrying things that can entertain you on long commutes. For example, if your car doesn’t have a speaker, you can carry a portable one. If it lacks a charger, you can keep a power bank.
There can be a lot of things that qualify as items you might want on a long trip. But all of them can be too much to buy and carry around. For that reason, we have compiled a list of must-haves and essentials travelers should keep when covering long distances.
General Tips for Making Long Commutes Enjoyable
Long commutes can cause fatigue and turn it into more of a pain. However, there are quite a few things you can do to make it enjoyable including:
- Plan your routes in advance to avoid getting confused on your way
- Prepare a playlist of your favorite music/audio book and turn on the tunes while driving
- Take care of the timings. Leave 15-20 minutes earlier
- Take frequent short breaks instead of just a few long breaks
- Wear comfortable clothing and shoes
- Dress in layers, which allows you to take off a layer when it starts feeling hot or put on one when it gets cold
- Pack your favorite snacks, chocolate bars and other eatables
- Keep your vehicle clean to create a relaxing environment
- Limit the use of technology
- Avoid eating too much junk food or drinking too much coffee/carbonated drinks
- Keep yourself hydrated
- Check tire pressure before leaving
- Keep an eye on the fuel and temperature gauge
- Make sure you have all the necessary documents including license and registration, insurance policy and the car manual
- If heading towards a no-man’s land, make sure you have the roadside emergency kit
Must-Haves for Long Commutes
From charging your phone to keeping your kids happy, the following is a non-exhaustive list of some of the most important items to carry on long commutes. The idea here is to give you a starting point instead of creating a complete list. Depending on your commute and what you already have, you might not even need most of these items. The key here is to understand your own requirements and circumstances, and pick the right items accordingly.
You need to keep your phone alive at all times when away from home. When you are traveling, your phone has to work harder to keep up with signal reception, which drains more battery than usual. GPS and navigation also consume their fair share of the battery juice, while you’ll also be playing non-stop music and watching a ton of videos along the way. You can keep your device juiced up using a car charger, but what about when your vehicle is turned off? A power bank is a must-have to keep you connected, especially if your car doesn’t already have a charging system.
2) Portable Mini Speakers
A long-trip without any music or sound? You don’t really need portable mini speakers if your car already has a sound system, but there might be times when you want to enjoy music while you are not in your car. A mini speaker can later be re-used at home or anywhere else you feel the need of pumping some sound.
A tablet almost becomes a requirement if you have kids accompanying you on the trip. They might want to play games or watch their favorite cartoon. Not only that, but you also might want to watch a match, enjoy a movie or just listen to some news when passing by a town where you don’t feel very comfortable. Most cars come with a touch-screen, so having a tablet might not be necessary. But you cannot just give it to your kids and having a dedicated device has its own importance.
4) Disposable Travel Cups
For frequent commuters, this is one of the must haves for long commutes. Regular cups are hard to stack up and can take a lot of space. Disposable cups take less space and can be discarded after use, and you don’t have to worry about keeping them clean.
5) Vomit Bags
A vomit inside a car can ruin the whole trip and cause a mess inside, which is difficult to clean. Taking precaution is the best strategy and you should carry a few vomit bags on long trips and keep them in an easily accessible place such as the dashboard.
6) Medical Kit
Even if you are going on a well-planned trip, it is still a good idea to have a medical kit. Knowing you can treat your own blisters and have your own bandages, medication, and other supplies gives you a lot of confidence and peace of mind. Your first aid bag should be more like a “travel survival kit” and should include the essential medical supplies including:
- Band-aids and gauze pads
- Safety pins
- Antibiotic ointment
- Antiseptic cream and wipes
- Saline solution
- Ibuprofen or other painkillers and aspirin
- Aloe Vera
- Cotton balls and swabs
- Curved scissors, tweezers
- Hand sanitizer
- First-aid manual
7) Wet Wipes
Wet wipes can save you from having to find a place where you can wash your hands and face. It’s convenient to simply use a wet wipe when you are on the go, allowing you to quickly clean your hands, face etc.
8) Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Active noise-cancelling headphones use advanced tech to monitor outside sound and cancel it for a more enjoyable listening experience. Quality noise cancelling headphones significantly reduce background noise, but you have to stick with known brands to get the desired effect.
These headphones can also help in long commutes by blocking most of the outside noise, making your trips more comfortable. These work really well if you own a car with poor noise insulation.
Games might not be a must-have on their own but can become a must-have when you are accompanied by kids. Keeping small board or arcade games or their favorite toys or card games can keep kids engaged, allowing you to focus on driving and planning for what’s about to come. Children can have a mood swing any time, and you’ll have a ton of other things to worry about, so it’s better to have something that can free you up for some time.
10) Other Items
In addition to the above, you also need a few other things too (you probably already own at least some of them) including:
- Chapstick and moisturizer (Using AC for a long time can dry out the skin)
- Essential documents
- Jumper cables
- Car fluids
Planning is the key to a comfortable and enjoyable long trip and it all starts with carrying the right items. Your check-list might vary according to where and when you want to go, but there are a few things that you need in almost all situations. A medical/first-aid kit is on top of the list followed by things that keep your car running. Next are things that keep you comfortable and entertained, making sure your journey does not turn into a painful experience that you don’t want to have again.