7 Essentials For A Perfect Fall Road Trip

Last week, I wrote about a Pendleton plaid satchel that had me yearning to pack it up and hit the road for a fall road trip, and as the leaves have started changing colors, my road trip excitement has increased exponentially. Fall is the perfect time to take a long, lazy drive, because the weather is calm and the scenery is unbelievably gorgeous. Whether your road trip lasts a few hours or a few days, I highly encourage you to take one. Here are 7 things you’ll need to have the best experience possible…

1. A reliable car. Yes, this is a big “duh,” but it’s worth it to give your car a good once-over before you leave. Pump up the tires, make sure you’re not overdue for an oil change, and maybe see what the hell is going on with that “check engine” light. Trust me: you’ll be glad you did.

2. A well-curated soundtrack. Music is key to a road trip. The songs you choose will be the soundtrack to your journey, and as an added bonus, they’ll bring back warm, fuzzy road trip memories long after you return home. A couple years ago my dad, two of my brothers, and I drove through the Florida Keys with the first Mumford & Sons CD playing on repeat, and now whenever I hear those banjo notes I think of endless bridges, miles of open water, and frequent stops for boiled peanuts. My ideal road trip mix includes plenty of dreamy folk tunes (First Aid Kit, Bon Iver), indie rock (Arcade Fire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and peppy singalong jams (Janet Jackson is a must), but whatever kind of music you’re into, make sure to put some thought into your playlist. It will definitely pay off.

3. Something cozy to wrap yourself up in. Whether you choose a blanket sweater or a sweater blanket (yep, there’s a difference, although no one actually knows what it is), do not miss the chance to swaddle yourself in a luxurious cable knit something-or-other while you stare out at the passing scenery.

4. Snacks. Obviously, stopping at random diners for coffee and pie is an integral part of the road trip experience, but you want to make sure you have plenty to munch on for those miles in between. It’s tempting to load up on junk food, but you’ll feel better if you pack some healthy treats too. I aim for a ratio of 25% convenience store junk/75% real food. Twix bars and Combos are my junk foods of choice (how do they fit a whole slice of gooey pizza into one little nugget?!), while apples, carrot sticks, hummus, peanut butter, crackers, and string cheese are all good bets on the foods-that-probably-won’t-kill-you side.

5. Comfy pants. You know what can ruin a road trip faster than a flat tire or a homicidal maniac hiding in the backseat? Jeans. Or any kind of pants or skirt with buttons or a tight waistband, for that matter. Do yourself a favor and throw on some leggings or yoga pants for your journey. Depending on who you’re traveling with, no pants might be the best option of all.

6. A thermos full of a warm beverage. Hot cocoa? Turkish coffee? Chai latte? Vanilla steamer? All of the above mixed together? Hey, whatever floats your boat, just make sure you’ve got something yummy to sip on.

7. A camera. Mental pictures are great, but you’ll be glad you brought your camera when you get the chance to pose in front of The World’s Largest Rubber Band Ball or round a corner to discover a view so spectacular it simply must be documented. Bon voyage!