13 must haves in your road trip backpack

So at the end of last year, I took a road trip with 120 of my close friends(lol) to Kigali, Rwanda. It was for a college camp by our church and it was really an epic and fun-filled time that got me several passport stamps and thousands of new memories.  Now I am no stranger to road trips – our camp also took one in 2017 to Mwanza, Tanzania, we had a mission trip to Turkana, Kenya and my family and I have gone to Mombasa, Naivasha, Diani, Nakuru and Gatundu which are all in Kenya – I have been on the road and then some. These trips normally take between 6 hours to three or four days and let me tell you, there is nothing like the open road to decompress and relax you. The only thing is, there is always that moment when you realize that there is something you need that you never packed and it is usually when you are on a long stretch of road in the middle of nowhere.

With time and lots of practice, I have been able to come up with the ultimate essentials list for road trips(especially long ones) and I figured I should share with you incase one of your 2019 resolutions is to go on one. Whether you have a destination in mind or are just driving and chasing the sunset, here are the absolute must haves in anyone’s road trip backpack(or Tote).

Note: For those whose road trip is to a specific destination that will culminate in a number of days stay, this list is specifically for the smaller backpack that you will have with you in the bus/car and will carry into shops, rest stops and tourist sites. This is not your packing list for your suitcase, travel bag or bigger backpack.

1. ID and Passport:

You don’t know when you will need to verify your identity or when you’ll be crossing borders, especially if you’re taking a road trip in Africa, Europe or South America.  In Kenya, we have a mobile money system and when you need cash, there is usually an Mpesa agent around yet you cannot withdraw any money without your national ID. Ensure these are on you and well protected before you get into the car/bus because trust me, you will need them at some point.

black and gray camera beside drinking glass
Water is life

2.  Water:

Thirst is real, especially when there is wind whipping in your face and you’ve been on the road for 24+ hours. You don’t want to be dehydrated by the time you arrive at your destination or get back home from meandering through the roads. Hydrate your body, hydrate your life. A one liter bottle, even half a liter, should be enough for you, however long the trip. Just be smart and plan to refill it at each of your stops.

3. Coca-cola:

This one is especially for long road trips. Coca cola has caffeine and naturally dehydrates your body. I know that seems counterproductive when you are drinking water but you don’t want to be the person who keeps asking for bathroom stops every 30 minutes especially when you guys have a destination in mind and a time to check in or be there. Also, the caffeine in Coca cola will keep you awake enough to enjoy the scenery and or drive responsibly when you can’t find coffee so it is a definite must have.

4. Wet wipes and Tissue:

Tissue because bathrooms on the road(if you do find them) rarely have tissue paper or water to clean up. Wet wipes because they are your hygienic road trip friend. They will clean the dust off your face, the sweat from your body and the bacteria from your hands because who wants to be sick and smelly just because they are road tripping?

5. Deodorant:

You may be on the road, but no one should smell like death warmed over. You may not always find a rest stop with bathrooms and you may not have the money to stop at motels or hotels so the wet wipes will help but the deodorant will do most of the work of odor preventing, just until you can get to your destination or a place with enough water for a sponge bath.

selective focus photography of chips
Snacks will ensure your energy levels remain up even if you can’t stop for food.

6. Snacks:

Who wants a diet road trip? Snacks are life!!! Be sure to carry snacks that add energy and flavor to your trip without them being spicy because spicy on a road trip is crazy, trust me, I know. You don’t want to be stuck in a car/bus with someone who at the chips with curry or masala crisps and you definitely don’t want to be the person who ate that. So be smart; pack light, sweet and shareable snacks.

7. Road trip playlist and Aux-cord:

Music anyone? Switching through radio stations as you cross the country can get exhausting and boring so ensure you have a fire music playlist and an aux cord to make everyone’s journey more pleasurable. You want something that will lift spirits, mellow the late nights and fill the silences in between conversations. The memories made will have some background music and that music will determine whether the memories are fine, good, great or spectacular. If you are part of a large group/caravan (like the 120 twenty somethings in my last trip) then switch your Aux-cord for great headphones to enjoy the soundtrack to your trip.

8. Socks and a Cover-up:

In Kenya we call this a Maasai shuka and it is a staple; everyone carries one on a road trip. Basically, have something long, light but still warm enough to use as a blanket for the cold nights and chilly mornings. Hopefully you aren’t taking your road trip in the rainy season/winter because that is just unwise. But either way, the nights and early mornings can get quite chilly so a pair of socks and a cover-up will go a long way in ensuring you stay as warm as possible.

9. Camera:

At least one person in your entire group should carry a camera that is not attached or part of their phone. Phones die a lot on road trips therefore they are unreliable when it comes to capturing the moment(s). To ensure your epic road trip is caught on film, carry a camera that can be used by all of you and whose battery life is long.

10. Power bank/Charger:

I prefer carrying a charged power bank in my backpack and my charger in my other bag but either one or both is great. These will ensure you can recharge your phone’s battery and keep in touch with the ones you left behind and also keep the rest of the world updated on social media(if you’re that kind of person). Many rest stops will have a working socket therefore if you want to really use your phone, time your uses to coincide with times you are nearer a rest stop where you can charge your phone like a restaurant, church or cafe.

high angle view of shoes

11. Touch-up bag:

This one isn’t just for my make-up queens but for everyone in general. Have a toiletry bag that has your touch up essentials in your backpack because you don’t want to look like a greasy/dry and unkempt person just because you are on the road. This small bag can have a small bottle of lotion, body spray and moisturizer for your face. It can also have some cotton pads, sunscreen, nail cutter and lip balm. For the make-up queens, I hope you aren’t contouring your face on the road because that increases the things you have to fit in this bag that is meant to be small. Instead, put in some good concealer, SPF 30 and above moisturizing foundation, eyebrow brush and pencil/gel, eyeliner, makeup removing wipes, nude lip color and a cleanser. This way, you still slay your trip without the hustle of doing a full face or breakouts.

12. Light change of clothes:

Maybe a wash and wear chiffon dress or a light t-shirt. Ensure it is something that does not need ironing, doesn’t stain easily or visibly, gives your body breathing and airing room and dries fast. If your road trip ends at a specific destination, I’m sure you have a bigger backpack or a suitcase that has the rest of your clothes, make-up and bathing products but for the sake of smelling and feeling fresh, I always ensure that I have at least one change of clothes for my trip.

13. Cash:

Always have cash for in case of emergency. I know in a generation of mobile money, cryptocurrency and plastic cards we can easily forget to have cash in hand. Cash is good for buying things at convenience stores which we often need to do. Don’t count on having an ATM or mobile money agent near you during your trip but instead ensure you have enough cash to get by during the entire length of your road trip.

Hey there! I am Makenah, a passionate believer, writer, avid reader, poetess, wannabe globetrotter and amateur programmer. I enjoy dancing, listening to music, reading, cooking, travelling and eating. I started this blog as a way to share my journey through life; the pitfalls, the strengths, the beauty and passion, the pain, the beautiful places I go and people I meet and most importantly the triumph of grace in life. I do this so that through my sharing my journey, you can learn to embrace yours and trust the process of becoming who God created you to be and stop obsessing over 'making it' and 'being someone' or 'getting there' but realizing that life is a journey to be taken and enjoyed and the things and accomplishments are not a final destination but a pit stop on your way to forever. So sign up and join me, you won't regret it! And feel free to interact with me either via social media or in the comment section Love and light to you, Shalom, Kenah.

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