A great Southern road trip is as much about the journey as it is reaching the final destination. Whether it’s a jaunt to the beach to kick off summer or an annual trip to Grandma’s house for the holidays, most Southern families can’t make it a year without packing up the car for a long drive. There’s something nostalgic and even a little sweet about spending uninterrupted time in a small space with the ones you love—even when they’re driving you up the wall. When Southerners go for a ride—be it for three hours or eight—there are a few things you can bet they’ll be toting along. Keep reading to find out 10 things Southerners always bring on a road trip.
Like popcorn at a movie, everyone knows the most important part of a road trip is the snacks. And while Southerners love a bag of salt and vinegar chips or granola bar as much as the next person, they know the only proper way to snack on a road trip is with homemade goodies. Search any Southern car, and gallon bags of homemade snack mix, cheese straws, fire crackers, and puppy chow are most likely on board, too.
Southerners are nothing if not prepared, so they wouldn’t dare embark on a drive of any significant length without having a few “just in case” items. Number one on most Southerners’ list: a flashlight in case of car trouble. Bonus: It comes in extra handy on a camping trip or a for late-night crab hunting on a beach vacation.
Peanuts and Coca-Cola
This classic combo may seem like a strange pairing, but there’s something about pouring a packet of salted nuts into an ice-cold bottle of Coca-Cola that makes perfect sense on a road trip. It’s salty, sweet, and as easy to slurp down while keeping one hand on the wheel.
A Paper Map
Yes, most of the time we use navigation apps or in-car GPS system to do the directing, but Southerners just can’t seem to quit paper maps. Cell phone towers don’t reach everywhere just yet, so a trusty Rand McNally is always good to have as back up. There’s something to be said for finding your path the old-fashioned way.
A Sack Lunch
Fast food stops are for the faint of heart. Real road warriors know that a sack lunch is the way to go. We guarantee mom’s pimiento cheese or chicken salad sandwich tastes better than anything you can find under the Golden Arches. Bonus points if your lunch is packed safe and sound in an Igloo cooler.
A Good Book
When the conversation stalls and all the kids have dozed off, it’s the perfect time to do a little reading. Paperback or e-reader, a good book to get lost in is essential road trip packing.
Jimmy Buffet’s Complete Disc Set
If you’re on a Southern road trip, the soundtrack has to be Jimmy. A playlist queued up with favorites from “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes”; “Son of a Sailor”; and “Songs You Know By Heart” is not only a must for Parrot Heads, but a favorite for all. Though this larger-than-life Southern icon passed away earlier this year, his spirit will live on forever via our road trip playlists.
A Cozy Blanket
This one’s a little self-explanatory, but no less important. Southerners are all about comfort on a long car ride, so blankets, pillows, pajama pants, and sleeping accessories of all shapes and sizes are always along for the ride.
An Extra Dose of Patience
Even when a chorus of “Are we there yets?” resounds from the third row, well-seasoned road trippers maintain a sense of calm. These days—and this drive—won’t last forever, so it’s best to enjoy the road you’re on.
A Sense of Adventure
The best part of a road trip can be all the surprising stops along the way. Whether it’s a pop-up produce stand, a gas station for a quick boiled peanut break, or a quirky roadside attraction, Southerners know that sometimes unexpected pitstops can lead to the best memories and be well worth the delayed ETA.