When it comes to a fun trip or vacation, it’s hard to beat a good, old fashioned road trip. But the success or failure of your next road trip hinges on a lot of factors. Some factors like weather and traffic are largely out of your control. But other factors, like being prepared with the right gear for the road, are completely under your control. In this list, we’ll show you all the top gear to make your next road trip the best it can be.
Rooftop Cargo Carriers
One of the most important accessories to install before your next road trip is some time of rooftop cargo carrier. By freeing up space inside your vehicle, you’ll have a more fun and comfortable time on the road, but that doesn’t mean you need to leave anything behind! You can store all the gear you’ll need for a camping trip or hiking expedition up top. There are tons of options to choose from. Base rack systems will simply give you the foundation to strap cargo down on and customize as you see fit. Other options like rooftop bags and hard-shell cargo carriers give you the framework to fully load a pre-portioned storage container that easily mounts to your existing roof rack or straps to your car on your naked roof. You can even opt for more specialized rooftop cargo carriers specifically designed for your skis, snowboards, or surfboards. For kayakers, a rooftop mounted kayak carrier is the perfect solution for taking a kayak or two on a trip without sacrificing all the interior storage space that a kayak would otherwise take up. And if you’ve maxed out rooftop storage and still need more space, a hitch mounted cargo carrier can be combined with a receiver hitch to net you even more precious cargo space.
Another great thing to store on your rooftop or on your receiver hitch is your bicycle. In fact, some bike racks allow you to carry as many as five bicycles at once so the whole family can bring their wheels along. There’s nothing better than having your bikes at your disposal during a camping trip. A nice bike ride is one of the best ways to get to know a new area or city. Don’t have a receiver hitch and your rooftop space is spoken for? No problem! You can also find bike racks that will strap to your trunk, or bolt into your truck bed. Automotive bike racks are designed to keep your vehicle and your bicycle completely safe and free of scratches and scuffs. Rubberized holders and safety straps keep your bike safe and secure even when you drive at highway speeds or across bumpy country roads. Because your bikes are kept out of contact from your vehicle, you don’t risk the permanent scratch that could come from tossing the bikes in your truck bed or the rips and tears that might occur if you try fitting them into your trunk or cargo area. Once you experience a road trip or camp out with a bike in tow, you’ll never want to go back without one.
Interior and Under Seat Storage
No matter how big your vehicle is and no matter how many storage solutions you have, there’s still never enough space. And if you think you’re out of space before you leave for your road trip, just wait till the car is even more full with souvenirs and other items you find along the way. With under seat storage, you optimize the space in your interior and find reliable storage that will help you out time and time again. You can also mount a sleek storage shelf up by your visors to store the essentials that you need to be able to grab on the go like phone chargers and road maps.
Floor Mats and Liners
For most people, a road trip means coffee in the morning, burgers and fries in the afternoon, and beef jerky, chips, and sodas in between. It can be fun to binge on junk food in the car, but not so fun when spills and stains from your weekend road trip are still visible years down the road. That’s why form-fitting floor mats and liners come in handy on a road trip. They’ll protect the long-term integrity of your vehicle’s interior from anything that might occur during a road trip. From spilled drinks and dropped French fries to muddy shoes and more, all-weather floor mats will keep your car’s floors protected. Once you return from your road trip, you can easily just hose all-weather floor mats off in your yard and let them air dry. Even the wear and tear that comes from daily driving can wear down your vehicle over time, which is why automotive floor mats are an especially good idea for your next road trip. Because custom floor mats are laser-measured to the exact specifications of your vehicle’s make and model, they’ll fall right into place and, if applicable, clip into the factory installed grommet on your floorboards.
Pet Travel Accessories
When you bring the pooch along for the ride, you always want to be sure of two things. First, you need to make sure that your pet is comfortable. And second, you need to make sure that your vehicle is protected. With pet travel accessories like barriers and seat protectors you can keep the dog happy and your interior clean. Pet pad isn’t just for keeping your OE upholstery free of fur, pet dander, and permanent damage like scratches or stains, it also gives Rover a nice place to sit, nap, or just enjoy the ride. For SUV owners, you can also make your dog his or her own space in the cargo area with comfortable cargo liners. A pet battier is another great way to make sure your dog stays in the cargo area. You can make sure your dog is comfortable, but also safe and unable to jump around and try to climb into your lap while your drive. With the right gear, you can make your next road trip an unforgettable experience for you and your dog.
Seat covers are another must have for road tripping. They’ll protect your factory-installed upholstery from damage, and they can also be more comfortable. On your day-to-day driving, the comfort level of the fabric of your seats may not make a huge difference. But when you plan on spending hours on end in your vehicle, the difference comfort makes by the end of the day can be vast. With aftermarket seat covers, you’ll get a custom-made seat liner designed to follow the curves and contours of your particular make and model of vehicle. The results not only look like a professionally installed reupholstery job, they’ll also protect your vehicle form all the many interior hazards of a road trip. When you have kids eating fast food in the back seats, you’d better hope you have seat covers installed. As an added bonus, you can also improve the style of your vehicle by choosing from a wide variety of sporty colors or patterns, and a plethora of different materials.
Towing & Hitches
No matter where your next road trip takes you, a receiver hitch will expand the capabilities of your vehicle. If you want to tow a trailer with a boat or ATV, a receiver hitch is essential, but they’re not just for towing. You can also install other cargo accessories like bike racks or cargo carriers on a standard receiver hitch. A hitch is the first step towards so much functionality, it’s a shame they don’t come standard on all vehicles. While you’re more likely to see hitches installed on large trucks, Jeeps, and SUVs, even small cars and sedans can have a hitch installed on them. For something relatively lightweight like a bike rack, you don’t need real heavy-duty suspension, but there are limits when it comes to towing things like trailers and heavy machinery. But as long as you know what your rig is capable of and how heavy the items you’re towing are, you should be good to go.
Nothing beats the fresh air on the open road. But a sudden rainstorm can put an end to that real quick. Plus, sometimes on the highway all that fast-moving air can be a little too loud and choppy. That’s why window deflectors are such a great thing to install before you embark on your next road trip. With window visors, you can leave the windows cracked and enjoy a steady stream of fresh air without all the highway noise. Similarly, during rainfall you can keep your interior dry while you smell the wonderful rainy air. You can even leave your windows cracked on a hot summer day while you go inside of a store without needing to worry about thieves popping your door open with a coat hanger. Window deflectors are custom-made to fit your vehicle exactly and they’re easy to install. Depending on the type of visor, you might install them by sticking the visor directly into your open window channel, or by pressing it just above your window with automotive grade 3M tape. Whether your road trip takes you to the mountains, the country, or the beach, you’re going to want to smell that fresh air as you drive through it!
When it comes to lodging on your road trip, sometimes the easiest and most cost-effective plan is just to crash in the car at a campsite. But sleeping in the car or truck bed doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. When you bring an air mattress along for the trip you can blow up a comfortable place to sleep wherever you end up. Some are air mattresses designed to fit in your back seat by including an extra piece that reaches down to the floorboards. And if you drive a pickup truck there are tons of air mattresses that will fit right into place in your truck bed. With an air mattress that fits like a glove in your truck bed, sleeping out under the stars has never felt so good. Even if you decide to pitch a tent, an air mattress that fits inside of your tent can ensure that you have a good night’s sleep even on the dusty trail.
We hope you’ve found this list helpful. With some pre-planning and the right accessories your next road trip can be one for the record books, or for the road maps as the case may be.
Jake McKenzie is the Content Manager at Auto Accessories Garage, a fast-growing, family-owned online retailer of automotive parts and accessories. He manages all written content for the website including research guides, product descriptions, and other informative articles.