Road Trip Essentials

Author: Lauren Coleman

After spending most of our honeymoon crammed in to a desperately slow Kia Picanto, which could only make it up a slight gradient if the air con was turned off, I’m no stranger to the joys of a road trip. We covered about 1000 km of coastal roads, mountainous ridges and desert terrain in two weeks and watched the scenery change from beachy vistas to barren rocky land as we made our way through South Africa. We both have tonnes of memories from that trip but the ones made cruising along the garden route are some of the most vivid.

Thanks to all the amazing suggestions on my recent holiday post we’ve finally booked a break in Sardinia next month. Katie S sparked the idea when mentioning Corsica as a potential location. When we realised flight times didn’t fit with our schedule we were drawn in by Sardinia’s proximity to it’s French cousin. Our trip will start in the south with a short break in Cagliari and will take us to Cala Gonone to take in the downright gorgeous beaches. From there we’ll head to the north east town on Santa Teresa Gallura to catch a boat across to Corsica before ending the trip in the vineyards near to Alghero.

Unlike the ten hour days we spent in the car in SA our jaunts hopefully aren’t going to be more than a few hours. However the good girl scout in me wants to be prepared so the travelling becomes an enjoyable part of the holiday rather than a chore. There’s a few things I have on my list so far and I’d love to hear your suggestions.


I read a recommendation somewhere the other day to have about 30 playlists. Well it’s going to be quiet in our car as so far I’ve got about four. Don’t playlists take a long time to compile too? I think those four took me about two hours to pull together so any Spotify lists you can recommend I should follow would be fabulous.

Portable Charger for Phone

Somehow I’ve got to power the iPhone to play all these tunes. I’ve heard good things about the Mophie which holds several charges but it’s not a cheap bit of kit. I was quite taken after seeing my friend’s Juice Weekender the other day which can charge an iPhone 6 four times.


I’ve been promised stunning scenery so I’m sure I’ll be putting my Olympus Pen to good use. One thing I could really do with is a new leather strap and have my eye on this Etsy one.

GPS/ Map

Before I visit any city I usually download a google map of the area so I don’t have to use data when I get there. However on the road we’re going to need something to keep us on track. In the suitcase goes the sat nav.

Hand Sanitiser and Toilet Roll

Wherever you are in the world, the roll dispenser seems to be lacking loo paper so I find it’s always best to pack your own and some hand sanitiser to boot. On the subject of toilets, who knew there were so many different types of flush? This article was an eye opener!

First Aid

While most of my lotions and potions will be in my case I think I’ll get something similar to these clear pouches from M&S to stash various toiletries including a mini first aid kit and talc for dusting off wet sand before climbing back in the car.


Perfect for the plane as well as a long car journey, I have a blow up cushion I bought from the pound shop a few years ago. I tend to ignore my husband when he refers to it as a neck brace.

Packing Cubes or Tote Bag

We’re staying two nights in town so no doubt we’ll be unpacking the car, however when we’ve just got a one night stopover we usually just pack a tote bag with the essentials so we don’t have to lug all the cases out. I have a new found love of packing cubes which serve a similar purpose too.

Food and Drink

I don’t need to go into much detail about this but there’s nothing more volatile than a hangry driver or passenger. I think I might keep an eye out for a cool bag to keep the drinks and snacks from heating up. This Kate Spade ‘break the ice’ tote is a whole heap of fun but no doubt I’ll get one for a few quid instead.

Guide Book and Planner

I usually get a guide book for every destination I visit and make notes as I go. My Paris guide is covered in scrawl and post-it notes from internet recommendations I’ve read. We’re both hoping for a bit of spontaneity on this trip, after all it’s always nice to go off the beaten track once in a while but I’d still like to see a few of haunts I’ve researched so far. How cute is this foil print bug notebook to jot down places to go?

So will I be able to actually take any clothes on this trip as it’s going to be one hell of a tightly packed case to bring along all this garb. What are your essentials for longer car journeys and what can’t you live without when you’re behind the wheel?


Image from Adam’s California Road Trip

Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
Follow Lauren on instagram @mrslaurencoleman
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34 thoughts on “Road Trip Essentials

  1. I have a ton of playlists on Spotify that i’d happily hook you up with Lauren, but my taste isn’t for everyone. It’s best described as gay disco, iconic pop & nostalgic soul/funk/blues & folk. I think that covers it! 🙈

    Sounds like an amazing trip you have planned! I’m so jealous, the highlight of my summer is destined to be an overnight stay at CBeebies Land by the look of it xx

    1. Your music taste is right up my street. Iconic pop sounds way more upscale than chart trash 😉
      E is going to love CBeebies Land! x

      1. Haha! There’s always a bit of crowd-pleasing chart trash thrown into my party playlists, but feel free to browse…

  2. So many amazing archaeological sites on Sardinia, I’m jealous! Sulcis is a stunningly located site right in the south, and Nora is an amazing Roman site. But the island is really famous for its Bronze Age towers- Su Nuraxi is a famous one, and on your way north! Geek out over…

    Playlists yes! Especially a Karen one by the sound of things! A good friend made us a load of CDS for our honeymoon which was BRILLIANT. And can you not just get a charger that plugs into the lighter in the car?

    Buon viaggio very jealous!

    1. Thanks for all the recommendations Lucy – making a note of them.
      My car doesn’t have a lighter? Are they phasing them out? But true I could just bring a USB lead to plug in – much cheaper! x

  3. I am super jealous of your trip. It sounds amazing!! And I’m totally going to listen to one of Karen’s playlists when I’m at the gym next.

    The 30 playlists sounds excessive. We had one play list for a three week road trip around California. It did have 200 songs on it but I don’t remember being bored!

    You’re more organised than we were. Although I did have the foresight to download a sat nav app that worked without data and it was a lifesaver.

    The only thing I would say is that, halfway through our trip we decided to start leaving stuff in the car and taking only essentials in to our hotel. And that was the night our car was broken in to and one of our suitcases was stolen.. granted this was on the mean streets of San Francisco and there is a car crime issue there (which we retrospectively discovered) but I just thought I should share! Bon voyage!

    1. Oh no Jennifer. I bet that put such a dampener on the trip 🙁
      Very good point though – probably only one to advise when you have secure parking x

  4. Laughing at your blow up cushion description Lauren! I have one too and my husband HATES it – he actually cringes when I bring it out on the plane. Though that in no way deters me from using it… 😉

  5. We’re headed to the States on a Road Trip and like you, I don’t want to be lugging around suitcases when we just have 1 night stop over. Thanks for flagging up the packing cubes – I have just purchased them!

    I’m like you with playlists – they do seem to take forever. Thankfully my other half has more than enough music on his iPhone….I have recently realised how miserable all the music on my phone is on my daily commute with a broken car radio!!

    Have an amazing adventure! x

  6. Sounds like an epic trip!
    There’s an app called which you can use as s satnav, it’s offline so doesn’t use data x

  7. I went to Sardinia when I was little and have such amazing memories, I’d love to go back. Have the best time, can’t wait to read your follow-up post about best bits! Also, second what someone said above about using a USB charger for phone in the car. Also also, pack your sat nav/sunnies in your hand bag and then everything is to hand when you arrive at your rental car and you won’t need to rummage in your main suitcase. x

    1. Thanks Sophie. Great to hear you have fab memories.
      Definitely taking the USB charger now. Great tip on the sat nav in the handbag x

  8. Hi Lauren – we just completed a road trip in Sicily and our rental car (a convertible fiat 500 – the Italian dream!), had a USB socket in it which meant we could use the USB iphone wires to charge and play music through the car stereo system simultaneously. We also took a phone charger which charged through the cigarette lighter too and had no issues with phone batteries dying.

    Enjoy! x

  9. Hello, we also did Sardinia in Fiat 500 for our honeymoon and it had USB & bluetooth so you were fine for charging & connecting – just make sure the car you are hiring has a usb socket and you’ll be fine!

    I love a good guidebook! For our recent trip to Berlin we had one of the ‘500 Hidden Secrets of…’ books which was excellent – written by locals and containing lots of hidden delights not in your standard guidebooks/blogs – imagine your bestie living in a city and recommending all their favourite places. There isn’t one for Sardinia, but if others are doing city breaks this summer then check out the series to see if they have one for your destination.

    Have a fab time in Sardinia. Enjoy the chilled red wine!

    1. Hi Rebecca, checked out the 500 Hidden Secrets books – they look ace!
      Good title for a post too! x

  10. This sounds like an amazing trip! I was talking to my hubby about road trips over the weekend as a suggestion of Las Vegas for next year’s holiday has come up! Ahead of Canada last year we downloaded a long rock ballad album and it was a lot of fun to drive along to.

    Don’t forget the sun cream in the car – driving arm sunburn isn’t a good look!

  11. Been totally off on catching up with blogs recently (full time work and a freelance business to run takes its toll) BUT just seen this and super excited for you Lauren! Sardinia with a little hop over to Corsica will be fantastic! We’re going to be back on Corsica in 4 weeks and absolutely cannot wait.

    As for road trips, also worth trying a podcast over music… Ben & I once listened to the entire of Serial S1 going to and from Manchester (From our home in South London) and it made the journey so much more bearable. We arrived home about 15 minutes before the end of the last episode and instead of hurrying inside, just sat in the car park to finish it off.

  12. I second the podcast suggestion, serial kept us gripped throughout our 10,000mile roadtrip around USA and Canada. We also downloaded the Harry Potter audiobook and listened to that on our way to Harry Potter world – Universal studios florida 🙂 geeks I know.

    1. Podcasts are such a good shout. We’ve been listening to My Dad Wrote a Porno – so, so funny. x

  13. This is a great post! Having these essentials really can turn a cramped and long car journey into one of the best parts of the holiday! It’s amazing how having a good playlist and being able to charge your phone and having accurate GPS can take away all the stress of driving and make it a really fun bonding experience!

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