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Road Trip Essentials We’ll Never Travel Without in the US and UK

by Staff

Insider’s reporters share their road trip essentials for journeys in the UK and US.
Monica Humphries/Maria Noyen/Insider

  • Insider’s reporters have driven a combined 24,800 miles across the UK, Scotland, and England.
  • They have compiled a list of the most important items they never travel without.
  • From a good quality camera to a car phone holder, here they all are.

Road trips are certainly a lot of fun — if you do them the right.

But depending on the route and distance, or whether you are the driver or passenger, they can also be tiring. One thing that can also impact the quality of your trip is what you pack, which is why Insider’s lifestyle reporters have compiled a list of the most important items they’ll never travel without.

Our reporters have driven a combined 24,800 miles in a range of destinations in the US, Scotland, and England.

From a good quality camera to a car phone holder, here are the best items they’d recommend to make your next road trip the smoothest one yet.

For Insider’s travel reporter Joey Hadden, motion sickness capsules are a must.

Dramamine.
Joey Hadden/Insider

From the Southwest to the Northeast, Joey Hadden has traveled more than 20,000 miles on road trips around the US.

Hadden has always been prone to motion sickness, but even if you’re not, driving through the mountains could make you feel queasy. So she recommends packing the non-drowsy version of Dramamine.

Although you should talk to a healthcare professional before taking it, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that Dramamine as well as Benadryl are commonly used for motion sickness, though both are also known for causing drowsiness.

Hadden also suggests Mio Energy for hydration.

Mio Energy.
Joey Hadden/Insider

If you need caffeine to stay alert on the road like Hadden, she recommends packing Mio Energy, a flavorful boost to add to water, instead of coffee because it keeps her hydrated.

When you’re driving on open roads, you never know when you’ll lose service, so she always downloads playlists and podcasts to keep herself entertained.

Insider’s UK-based reporter Mikhaila Friel recently discovered that a good camera is key to turning pit stops into memories that will last.

Mikhaila’s friend captured fantastic images during their pit stops using his Google Pixel camera.
@pixel_lal

Insider’s senior lifestyle reporter Mikhaila Friel has traveled around 1,000 miles on various road trips across the UK, including a seven-hour journey from her home in Glasgow, Scotland, to London, England. 

She recently embarked on a shorter, three-hour journey from Glasgow to Kilberry on the west coast of Scotland with a group of friends. 

While not all road trips are scenic, Friel found that there were endless photo opportunities during this particular trip. The group frequently stopped at beautiful hill ranges to take photos, but Friel realized she forgot to bring her camera (which was better quality than her Samsung phone camera).

Luckily, one of her friends brought his Google Pixel phone and captured some fantastic, high-quality images during the group’s pit stops.

It was a reminder that pit stops don’t have to be rushed; if you do your research on where to go they can provide an opportunity to capture some magical moments during your trip. After that experience, Friel vowed to always remember her camera. 

Friel always makes sure to pack games or download mobile games for long journeys where there could be traffic jams.

An image of a traffic jam during Mikhaila’s road trip in Scotland.
@pixel_lal

On the drive back to Glasgow from Killbery, Friel and her friends got stuck in a major traffic jam that ended up adding a further three hours to their trip, making the drive home a total of six hours.

Friel and the other passengers in the car passed the time by playing card games on their phones, which they had been inspired to download after playing cards earlier in their trip.

It made the waiting more bearable, and the experience taught Friel that you should always come prepared with games or a fun activity to pass the time in case you ever end up driving for longer than initially expected. (Friel only recommends you do this if you aren’t the driver, of course.)

On a cross-country road trip from New York City to Colorado, Insider’s Monica Humphries packed snacks like Flaming Hot Cheetos to keep alert.

Monica Humphries made sure to pack plenty of snacks during her road trip.
Monica Humphries/Insider

Two years ago, Humphries embarked on a solo drive from New York City to her new home in Denver, Colorado. The 1,800-mile route involved 26 hours of driving, which she did over the course of three days.

While Humphries said she would typically opt for a Snickers bar or basic pretzels on a drive, she went into her grocery store on the hunt for snacks that would hopefully help her stay alert.

She landed on spicy foods like Flaming Hot Cheetos, Takis, and Trader Joe’s Spicy Mochi Rice Nuggets. She knew foods with a kick would help jolt her if she started feeling any bit of exhaustion.

Humphries also picked snacks like sunflower seeds that required some effort to eat. These snacks kept her alert and prevented Humphries from mindlessly eating for hours on end.

Similar to long plane rides, Humphries always opts for flowy pants.

Monica’s flowy pants.
Monica Humphries/Insider

While Humphries said that leggings are her typical go-to outfit for short car rides, she strategically wore pairs of flowy pants on her cross-country drive.

She noted that leggings often dig into her legs and can feel constricting after wearing them for hours on end. Meanwhile, flowy pants with an elastic waistband are both comfortable and adaptable to different temperatures.

So whether it’s a long-haul flight or a 1,000-mile drive, flowy pants are a staple.

Back in the UK, Insider’s Maria Noyen never forgets to bring a pair of headphones on long car journeys shared with multiple people.

Maria Noyen wearing headphones in a car.
Maria Noyen/Insider

Insider’s lifestyle reporter Maria Noyen has traveled the UK far and wide by car. From a family road trip to Scotland to recent car journeys to Dorset and Cornwall in England, she estimates she’s covered over 2,000 miles of travel by car. 

While most of those road trips were made by herself or in the company of one other person, there have been times when she’s traveled in a car with three or more other people, which has its pros and cons.

As much fun as it is to listen to music and podcasts, and talk as you drive down open roads in a group, Noyen always likes to at least have the option to tune into her own entertainment when she feels like having time to herself. 

This is especially helpful for times when she’s had to sit in the backseat of a car during a long road trip where those sitting in the front are in control of the aux. 

For nervous drivers on solo road trips, Noyen recommends investing in a car phone holder.

A car phone holder is helpful for nervous drivers on solo road trips.
Gogosvm/Getty Images

Over the past year, Noyen has gone on several solo road trips, including to an abandoned ghost town in Dorset three hours away from London, and to a tiny cabin in the woods of South Downs National Park. 

As a self-identified nervous driver who can get flustered by voice directions on apps like Google Maps, one of the handiest items that Noyen has invested in for long solo journey’s by car is a phone holder that conveniently sticks to the front car window in front of the steering wheel.

It may look a little nerdy, but having the phone continuously visible throughout a drive helped Noyen stay safe and navigate confidently while following directions by herself. 

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