This morning I reserved a rental car for my next weekend road trip.  Next, I’ll need to make a list of items to pack for myself and my kids.

Of course, everyone has favorite items to take on a trip.  Here are my Five Road Trip Essentials:

Diet Coke

If I forget my 12-pack of Diet Coke, the trip won’t be much fun.  I confess to a Diet Coke addiction.  This drink has no nutritional value whatsoever.  In fact, I just read that drinking diet sodas can lead to heart problems, strokes and other health disasters.  Too bad; I’m packing it anyway.

100-Calorie Packs

This clever invention, small packages of crackers or cookies that contain exactly 100 calories’ worth of food, is my kid snack food of choice when I’m on the road.  I know how much junk my kids are eating, and they know I’m not going to stop at a Kwik-E Mart and buy them jelly doughnuts.

Irish Music

It’s impossible to be depressed when those crazed Gaelic Storm guys are pounding the drums and belting out my favorite Irish tunes.  The tedious trip down I-64 goes much faster when I’m listening to Dramtreeo, Scruffy Murphy or Great Big Sea.

Emergency Kit

I’m married to an Eagle Scout, so we take emergency prep pretty seriously.  In winter months we drive with a candle, blankets and matches in the car.  We always carry water, an emergency triangle and spare headlight lamps.  So far, we’ve been fortunate; we’ve only needed to use the blankets to cover sleepy children, not freezing ones.


My car is littered with old Mapquest printouts.  I own an ADC map book of every county in the Baltimore area.  I’ve been a member of AAA since I learned to drive.  There’s good reason for this.  I can’t navigate my way out of a paper bag.  I even plan extra driving time for getting lost and finding the correct road.