It’s the start of a new year and some of you might be planning a 2018 road trip. Let me help you pack with this small list of items I’m always sure to pack on my travels, electric vehicle road trips, and adventures. Packing is feared (and put-off) by many, but as with everything, the more you do it the better you get at it.
They are not items necessarily on the average check list, but you don’t need me to tell you to remember to bring a change of socks, a good book, and a toothbrush. These are items that have been added onto my packing list from experience and make my journeys easier and more comfortable.
PLEASE NOTE: I am in no way affiliated with any brands or products mentioned in this article.
On my longer trips, especially on the road, food isn’t always easily accessible. I am now in the habit of taking protein and meal replacement shakes with me when travelling.
I like to use Huel (Vanilla) for my meal replacement, because it is cheap (approx £1.50 per meal), vegan-friendly, nutritionally complete, and you can get different flavour boosters (I am a fan of Cacao, Banana, and Toffee) to mix things up. They also do a Gluten-Free version if you need.
For those not familiar with meal replacements you just need to shake it with water. I mix 3 scoops with 300ml, shake, then add another 50ml of water, and shake a bit more. You can also blend with a banana and/or almond milk if you want to. There’s a lot of flavour recipes on their website and on social media if you want to experiment.
I find it has a nice oat-y texture that keeps you feeling full and energised, whilst ensuring that you get a balanced level of macros and nutrients. The company have recently released a set of food bars as well, which I have not tried yet, but have ordered. I’ll keep you posted on how I find them.
Note: I don’t replace all my meals, but simply replace when convenient or when I don’t have any options or time.
For camping adventures, I like to pack a few basic herbs, spices, and seasonings. I’m not an expert cook (although I do love cooking) but the right herbs and seasoning can make a big difference to basic camp-fire food. Specifically, I’ll take Himalayan Salt, Black Pepper, Chilli Flakes, and a Schwartz Low-Salt Garlic and Parsley season-all.
I also keep a jar of peanut butter or PBfit (powdered peanut butter) around if I can, and if I come across a supermarket, I’ll always buy carrots, bananas, dark chocolate and some nuts (often cashew). If you have a nut allergy, I’m probably not a good example, but the message here is snack smart and healthy. You’ll feel better for it and it’s cheaper too.
Note: I also always take protein powder with me whenever I travel, but I will talk about this in a follow up article looking at fitness on the road.
This 500ml stainless steel refillable water bottle comes with me everywhere I go. It’s made by MYTAGALONGS but there are plenty of good bottles like this out there on the market. Not only does it cut my plastic waste down, but it helps prevent dehydration, which is a big problem with travel.
I find in particular on some of my electric vehicle adventures, being in the car for hours and hours with air conditioning or heating on is extremely drying. I dream of an in-car humidifier for these journeys!
Tea (Or Coffee)
I drink tea every day and if I suddenly take it out of my routine I definitely notice. I pack a few bags of my favourite green tea, mint tea and “sleepy tea” in order to keep my routine more regular.
Dehydration is also a problem for skin, but a small bottle of spray is the best thing to keep you feeling refreshed. At the most basic, a bottle of rose water can be home made or is pretty cheap to buy. After a bit of experimenting I stick with Sukin Hydrating Mist Toner, which is worth the extra money if you have sensitive skin. My friends and colleagues borrow it all the time when we travel together! The most accurate piece of advice I ever heard about skin is “I don’t care who you are, as long as you have skin, it needs moisture.”
This is obviously a big topic and very much subject to your own routine and preferences, but there is one product I have found to be a lifesaver when travelling that is worth mentioning. Dr Bronner’s 18-In-1 Pure-Castile Soap is ideal for when your packing space is tight.
This clever bottle of liquid can be used for almost any of your cleaning needs on your trip, including cleaning clothes (I have done this myself and can vouch), cleaning you (shower gel/shampoo/shaving etc.), washing hands, brushing teeth, cleaning dishes, cleaning cars… The list is endless.
It is concentrated, so dilute as appropriate depending on what you are using it for. There are a lot of blogs and articles listing all the various uses for it. It is suitable for very sensitive skin and is vegan and cruelty free.
Again another really personal topic, as everyone likes different scents. If you are packing light, Pacifica Beauty do a really good range of natural solid and roll on fragrances that are really small and convenient. Not a necessity, of course, but definitely helps you feel fresh on the road. I have several of these in different scents, but the Blood Orange is my favourite.
Ok, this is a bit of an obvious one, but especially if you are planning a road trip, apply sunscreen! Car windows don’t protect you from harmful rays and I learnt this the hard way on a trip in the summer when I ended up with one singular tanned arm.
It’s important to consider that if you are planning on doing any surfing, diving, snorkeling etc. you must use a sunscreen that is safe for coral reefs. I learnt about this from a very experienced adventurer and diving ambassador fairly recently and as I am the kind of person that needs to be covered in sunscreen at all times, I am so glad I found this out. You can find out more and view a list of safe sunscreens on the PADI website here.
If (like me) you are prone to allergic reactions to insect bites, you really can’t afford to get bitten on the road. The problem is that a lot of typical bug and mosquito repellants are not good for humans either, so if you are using them frequently, you might want to consider another option. I discovered Parakito last year when travelling through Europe and found that it helped prevent bites throughout the summer.
I put one of these bands on my ankle or wrist (or even both if I’m feeling particularly worried). The bands contain a replaceable insert of essential oils that seems to repel the mozzies. It smells a bit like menthol and is also waterproof.
If you are planning on spending a lot of time behind the wheel, you need to stretch your body, no matter your fitness level. A resistance band is a really useful piece of kit if you know you don’t have any gym access and it takes up next to no space.
I have a basic cheap Decathlon one with different “levels” of resistance and I normally put it in my suitcase/backpack everywhere I go. You can find videos on youtube showing you how to use it for strength and flexibility. This little band can replace weight routines and you can make it as tough as you want, using your own body weight.
As I mentioned before, there is a fitness-focused follow up article coming soon, where I’ll tell you some of the tips I’ve learnt from being on the road and hanging out with adventurers and athletes.
And Finally.. A Good Playlist
Goes without saying really. No road trip is complete without a great playlist. I like to be super-organised with my playlists and arrange them in advance,
If you know you need to do some overnight driving, make sure you include something to keep you alert and of course make sure you take the correct breaks for tiredness. If you are going on a group trip, you can create collaborative playlists in Spotify. We did this during my Australian Solar road trip and it worked out really well, keeping all of us (with very different tastes) happy. Plus, my colleague’s young son is now a Rammstein fan- win!
Obviously music is a very personal choice and I certainly have a taste that is pretty unique, but I’m always keen to hear about people’s favourite road trip tunes. Comment with your best ones below or send me a tweet.
Happy Adventuring in 2018!
If you want any further advice on the items I have mentioned in the list and where I shop (UK and Europe-based) please get in touch.