My Summer Road Trip Essentials

This year is our fifth wedding anniversary, and to celebrate, hubs and I are taking a road trip. Where are we off to? Well, we’re going to circumnavigate Lake Michigan! It’s something we’ve been talking about doing before the wedding, but never had the time or money to do it. And now, we have both, so we’re both taking a couple days off work to spend a long weekend driving around the lake and exploring new and interesting lands!

Suburban Style Challenge's Summer Road Trip Essentials

Gotta credit my husband for this photo… our BMW wagon (a.k.a. “The Family Truckster”) is that car we’ll be cruisin’ in this weekend. I can’t wait!

Now, I’ll be honest, we have very little actually planned, and we are just going to be hitting the road, following the map, and heading towards a few things that we know we want to see. So with that in mind, I’m packing accordingly. Instead of just bringing a (most likely over-packed) suitcase for overnight stays, I’ll be packing an easy-access travel bag that has a few basic essentials in it so that, when hubs and I stop to check something out, I can grab what I need and go. This way, I won’t have to rummage through a whole suitcase for one or two essential-to-that-spot items, and instead we can make sure we’re seeing what we’re there to see, instead of wasting time trying to find the darn sunscreen.

Hours in the car? No problem!

Some people don’t do road trips, but hubs and I both enjoy driving and being in the car, so for us, a road trip is a great vacation. In fact, we spent two entire days driving around Maui on our honeymoon, with one of those days still being one of our favorite days spent together. And while the two of us have no problems being, well, just the two of us for hours on end, there are still a couple things I’ll want to have with me in the car.

Suburban Style Challenge's Road Trip Essentials

My Nook Tablet and a comfy travel pillow will help keep me entertained and comfy if I need a nap. You know, just in case!

Reading Materials
My Nook Tablet is an absolute travel necessity for me! Why the Nook Tablet instead of “regular” books? Well, my tablet is easy to read at night, without requiring a distracting (either during driving or while going to bed) light. Plus, since I’m currently reading a monstrous series of books, and am right smack dab in the middle of it, I don’t have to bring more than one book. It’s just the one small device that fits right in my bag! Plus, if we stay somewhere there’s wifi, I’ll be able to scope out some future spots to stop, or even some areas around where we’re at without draining my phone’s battery. Love it! Even if I don’t read in the car, I’ll likely read a bit before falling asleep.

In case you’re curious, I’m currently reading the Game of Thrones series (I’m on book number… I’m not sure, because I bought the “boxed set” as a Nookbook, so it’s like 4700-something pages, haha). But my Nook is stocked full of other stuff I can browse if, for whatever silly reason, I want to check out something else for a moment. Another plus of the Nook–an entire library of stuff right at my fingertips!

I will likely be bringing my most recent issues of Glamour and In Style magazines, so if I feel the urge to dive into something fashiony, I can do that too. I don’t anticipate too much time in the car reading, but it’ll be nice to have the options!

A Travel Pillow
I can’t remember when I got this U-shaped travel pillow, but I brought it with me on our honeymoon to Maui and it was great for the plane ride, so it makes sense that it would be just as great for the car ride. While I don’t anticipate spending much time sleeping in the car, it will still be nice to have the option so that hubs or I can close our eyes for a minute or two without blocking the driver’s view out of the passenger side window with a full size pillow.

Ready for the beach!

Since we’re driving around Lake Michigan, it’s entirely possible that we’ll want to hit the beach for a little bit. Granted, with my parents having a house near New Buffalo, Michigan, we get to experience the beautiful beaches in the area often. But there are some great dunes areas we might want to check out too. So I’m definitely going to make some beach essentials easy to get my hands on!


Gotta be beach ready! Sun protection in the form of sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat join a bathing suit, beach towel, insulated cooler back pack, and a safe place for my baubles to ensure I can grab and go if the waves are calling our names!

Sun Protection: Sunscreen, Hat, Sunglasses
While I don’t mind getting a little color here and there, I largely prefer to keep my skin free of tanlines, sunburn, and the wrinkles (or worse, skin cancer) that baking in the sun can cause. So when I travel, I make sure I keep sun protection handy at all times. In this case, it’s sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. I’m not particularly loyal to sunscreen brands, but I know that some people have really sensitive skin, or use special sunscreen on their face. HSN has a great list of skincare items, including beauty items that have SPF in them, so you don’t have to totally change up your beauty routine or sacrifice your clear skin, for sun protection.

Normally, I’m a big fan of floppy hats for the beach. But for this trip, I’m sticking to an easy-to-pack hat that I can wear to the beach and beyond. A floppy hat might be great for the beach, but this fedora-esque one can be worn while hiking trails, walking around towns, or just sitting in the car without looking ridiculous or getting in the way.

Swimsuit & Beach Towel
I figured it would be easiest to keep a swimsuit and beach towel handy so that, should the desire to take advantage of the many miles of beach we’ll have access to hit, all I’ll have to do is find a place to change. While I don’t anticipate us spending a lot of time actually on the beach, it’s nice to be prepared for it and not have to dig through shoes, dresses, and undies to find my bikini. And the beach towel may come in handy other ways, like for an impromptu picnic.

A Cooler Bag
Speaking of picnics, this road trip is the perfect opportunity for hubs and I to take advantage of a bag we actually got at one of our wedding showers. It’s an insulated backpack, which makes it easy to carry stuff to the beach or while hiking, so we’ll be able to stop somewhere for snacks and drinks, and can keep exploring. We actually have two of these, but one is a totebag… I figured the backpack would be easier for us to carry around. I’m thinking we’ll keep an eye out for farmer’s markets, and load up on fresh stuff as well as neat local goodies you can’t find around here, and just pack ’em up in our cooler backpack for enjoying later.

A Safe Place for Jewels
While it’s not something I usually worry about, for this trip I wanted to make sure I had a safe place to put my wedding set and watch (and any other baubles) in case hubs and I wanted to take a dip in the lake. Normally, I just leave my valuables at home, but since we won’t be spending more than one night anywhere, that won’t be doable here. While I can leave them in the car, I wanted a quick and easy place to store them, so I grabbed a cute little bag from my stash of cute little bags.  This particular one was from a Clinique gift set that my mother-in-law gave me, and I chose it because of the zipper and the fold-over top. It’s small enough that I can toss it in my purse, my beach bag, the cooler bag, or even the car’s glovebox, and then I don’t have to worry about accidentally misplacing something important.

Prepped to hit the trails!

We definitely anticipate spending some time exploring by foot. There are tons of state parks, towns, and other areas we won’t be able to get to by car, so making sure we’re prepared to walk around a lot is definitely key. And while I anticipate being on my feet quite a bit, I don’t want to sit in the car in hiking gear either. So making sure that I have everything I need to get out and about within easy reach is essential to both my sanity and my comfort.

Suburban Style Challenge's Road Trip Essentials

I’ve made sure I’m trail-ready by having hiking boots, bug repellent, and blister relief at-the-ready! Hubs and I love “off roading” on trips, but I like to make sure I’m prepared for anything.

Hiking Boots & Comfy Socks
Because our trip is one that’s totally unplanned, we’re not sure where we’re going, and if we want to hike into the wilderness, I want to make sure I’m properly prepared. I scored these Columbia hiking boots on Black Friday at the Michigan City Outlet Mall… they were less than $30, which was fantastic, and they’re my go-to shoes for hitting the dog park and any other “off-roading” we do. While it’s entirely possible I’ll be Chucks-clad in the car, the extra ankle support and water protection my hiking boots give make them a must-have for exploring.

And comfy socks? They don’t have to be anything special, but I like to make sure there’s a barrier between my ankle and my boots. That way I can avoid blisters if we do a lot of walking. Having made that mistake once before, it’s not one I’m interested in making again!  The ones above look kinda tiny, but only because they shrink to baby size every time I wash them… but they stretch right out when I put ’em on.  It’s kind of weird, but they’re super comfy, so yea.

Band-Aids, Blister Covers & First Aid Cream
In addition to making sure I have the right footwear for walking trails, I’ll also be taking precautions to keep my feet (or hubby’s feet) happy should one of us get blisters. When I travel, I usually bring Band-Aids with me, but for this trip, I’ll probably double up and will definitely bring a pack of these fab blister relief bandages. They’ve proven to be life-savers before, so no doubt they’ll be great if we need them while on the road. And of course, Band-Aids and first aid cream will come in handy for any scratches hubs or I might get while wandering about.

Bug Spray & Anti-Itch Cream
Being that it’s summertime, bug spray is a must for me. I learned the hard way on our honeymoon that having both bug spray and anti-itch cream was absolutely essential. I hadn’t planned to be a mosquito buffet while checking out some of the areas on Maui’s Road to Hana, but boy was I glad the one little store we came across there had itch relief! Now, anytime I travel during the summer this stuff comes with me, and I’m sure we’ll need it on this trip along the shores of Lake Michigan. Heck, I might even bring extra… I’m a mosquito magnet and don’t want to spend hours in the car an itchy, miserable mess!

On-The-Go Beauty Necessities

Since the car will essentially be home base for us, we might not have a place to make ourselves look presentable before heading into a brewery for a tasting, or a restaurant for a meal. I figure that it would be best to keep a few beauty items on-hand so that we can freshen up after a day of wandering.

Suburban Style Challenge's Summer Road Trip Essentials

Sometimes, you just don’t have the time or place to freshen up and make yourself look presentable, so I like to make sure I have what I need to at least feel refreshed after a long day in the car (or out and about).

Dry Shampoo
Believe it or not, I’m still using the same dry shampoo sample I got in an Influenster VoxBox back in December or January (I can’t quite remember, but I posted about it here). I don’t use dry shampoo all that often, but it’s got to be the ultimate “I just spent all day wandering around in the sun and want to feel fresher” product, which means it’s perfect for this kind of road trip! Heck, it might even come in handy to add a little volume to flat “I’ve been sitting in the car for hours” hair.

My New Favorite Lip Balm
I love lip balm, and wear it every day and night. I put it on right after I brush my teeth in the mornings, use it throughout the day, and apply before bed to ensure I wake up kissable. For traveling, it’s even more essential, because car rides, lots of activities, and even hotel rooms can leave your lips parched. And let me tell you, Clean Apothecary’s Clean Lips lip balm is incredible! It’s all natural, and is made right in Michigan. I have two (the Tahitian Vanilla and the Coconut Lemongrass) and they’re both fantastic, and an application lasts for hours, which is awesome. Plus, even though they smell fantastic, it’s not so tasty that you’re licking it off your lips and constantly having to reapply. While one is a regular in my purse, they both come with me on trips so I can make sure I always have one handy. Besides, kissable lips are an absolute must on an anniversary trip!

Face Cleansing Wipes
With mascara being one of the few things I won’t leave home without, it’s entirely possible that by the end of a day full of exploring (and maybe napping), I’ll need a refresh. Face cleansing wipes to the rescue! With a stash of wipes (and a spare mascara) easily accessible, I’ll at least be able to feel like myself before setting foot in any kind of establishment. And right now, I’ve got some refreshing Burt’s Bees Cucumber & Sage wipes, which I think even hubby might enjoy using after a long day behind the wheel.

So there you have it, some road trip essentials!

Summer’s the perfect time to take a road trip, so take advantage of it, pack your bags, and see what kinds of adventure you can find! You’ll be able to follow hubs and my adventures over on Instagram, and I’ll likely post a recap of what we did and saw here too. In the meantime, feel free to share your road trip essentials in the comments below! Especially if you think I’m forgetting something!

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