Road trip survival kit

Posted by Catherine Rudolph on 19 April 2016

“All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road.

We’ve added a few extra things to Jack’s list to ensure your next road trip runs as smoothly as a classic Mustang.


roadtrip, road

Photo by Rachel Robinson.


1. A GPS – and an actual map

Tracks4Africa paper map
A GPS – or even a smartphone map app – is incredibly useful, but it doesn’t always get things right. I have had many arguments with that monotone computerised voice, and find it’s much more fun to have arguments with an actual human being – your appointed map reader. This also gives you a sense of where you are on a broader scale and helps you engage with your journey, rather than following the instructions of an automaton.

Also read: top travel apps to make your life easier


2. Car charger

If you’re using GPS on your phone, a full battery is somewhat essential. If you’re camping, this may also be the easiest way to ensure your phone stays charged.


3. Non-messy padkos

Lamb frikkadelle
Nothing worse than hearing the crunch of chip crumbs as you settle in for a 5-hour drive. Fruit, nuts, popcorn, chocolate and pretzels are good choices. Bring lots of water. Also have napkins and handwipes for sticky situations (you might feel like you’ve turned into your mother bringing these, but trust me, they help). You can break up the journey and soak up the scenery by packing a picnic lunch to enjoy in a roadside park.

Also read: six easy padkos recipes


4. A cooler box

You don’t want to get to your destination, trek to the top of a hill to watch the sunset, open a beer and take a sip of something lukewarm.

Also read: we test seven of the best compact coolers


5. Great playlists, audiobooks, or podcasts

Groovy tunes always help pass the hours, particularly those time-honoured favourites from Queen or Nirvana. My themed choices include Ray Charles’ ‘Hit the Road Jack’ and ‘Road Trippin’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Yet there’s only so many times you can listen to songs before you begin to hate them. With audiobooks you can be so engaged in a story that before you know it, you’ve arrived at your destination. Also, being read to is wonderfully soothing. Podcasts cover anything and everything, so you can listen to discussions about a diverse range of issues or interests, from politics to science to surfing.


6. Toilet paper

Because when you need to go, you just need to go. My friend recently tried to make #adventurepee a trend on Instagram, and I have to hand it to her, she found some pretty beautiful views. Better than the grimy inside of a garage toilet.


7. A good torch

For camping, or in case of power outages (this is South Africa), go for a solar powered torch, or make sure you’ve got extra batteries.
(Ed’s tip: make sure that the torch lives in one, and only one, easily accessible place. Needing a torch to find your torch is a dangerous situation for one’s sanity.)


8. Firelighters

campfire, campsite, lake jozini

Photo by Tabby Mittins.

Not just for warmth or cooking purposes, but because sitting around a fire with friends is one of life’s simplest and best pleasures. Marshmallows can only enhance this experience.


9. Check the simple things

My friend managed to forget the tent poles on our recent camping trip; this taught us that small things can make a big difference. Socks also become a scarce commodity. You can never have too many socks.


10. Emergency car kit

Pack a flashlight, batteries, jumper cables, antifreeze, a tyre pump (even a good bicycle pump will do), and an umbrella (because changing a flat tyre on a cold wet night is miserable enough, you don’t need to be rained on). Also have your oil, water and tyres checked before leaving.

Also read: These 13 items should be in your 4×4 recovery kit

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