The top 10 summer road trip essentials

June 07, 2016

By Maya George

The top 10 summer road trip essentials

Father and daughter driving in car with windows open on a summer road trip

When planning what to bring on a road trip, there are obvious items (keys? check!), but there are also plenty of things you might only think about once your car’s passed a state line – especially things with a financial bent.To help you plan, we’ve drafted a simple list of things to do to prepare for your big car trip below.

10 ways to prep for your ultimate summer road trip before you leave home: 


  1. Create travel notifications. Wherever you are headed, if it is out of your normal spending area, it’s a good idea to call and give your financial institutions a heads-up; this prevents unnecessary fraud-alert triggers and helps ensure you can use your plastic everywhere you need. To get started, log in to Alliant Online Banking and click “Travel Notifications” on the right sidebar. You can also call us at 866-444-8529 for Alliant Credit Cards and 800-328-1935 for Alliant Debit Cards.
  2. Determine your chief navigator. These days, there are at least three primiere smart phone apps designed for navigation (Google Maps, Apple Maps and newcomer Waze). Alas, none can ensure you agree with your travel partner about the best way to go. Chat with them before you hit the road and make sure it’s clear who’s in charge. There’s nothing worse than being in a new city and having multiple voices trying to give directions!
  3. Get your Alliant ATM Card handy – if you want to avoid ATM fees. Not having to worry about which ATM you can use is a key benefit of Alliant’s Free High-Rate Checking Account. We don’t want to toot our own horn – but it makes travelling so easy! Cheers, ATM rebates.
  4. Don’t check in on social media. We know. It’s tough not to share that great photo of the Grand Canyon on Facebook or Instagram. But…unless you trust all of your social media followers implicitly, do your best to restrain yourself. This limits the number of people who know you aren’t home, lowering the chance for burglary.  An alternative is downloading the newish Facebook app, Moments, which lets you selectively choose who receives which photos. 
  5. Get an oil change & car check-up. If you’re anything like most folks, you may not understand everything going on under your car’s hood. If you’re going on a longer road trip, kill two birds with one stone by getting an oil change prior to leaving to ensure your tires are full and everything else is in full working order. 
  6. Snacks. What is it about being in the car that makes everyone insatiably hungry? Make sure you pack a cooler full of cold beverages and a bag packed with healthy snacks for the whole family to overindulge in. This will save you from extra stops for pricey gas station munchies. 
  7. Cleaning supplies and toiletries. Plastic bags have never been more valuable and neither have tissues and wipes. Whether you have little ones or not, any car that’s lived in for days will start to smell like it. Plastic can help you sort and avoid stains and tissues and wipes can help you when you those spills and stains happen anyway. Buy them at Costco or the like before you leave to avoid paying convenience fees down the road
  8. A go-to for emergency roadside assistance. It used to be that AAA was the only option. Not so, anymore! Now, you can add on roadside assistance to most cell phone plans and car insurance plans. Some new cars even come equipped with roadside assistance for a designated warranty period. No matter your preference, be sure to have a roadside assistance option created before you hit the road.  
  9. Electric charger and USB cord. To your teenager, the worst thing that could happen is if her smartphone runs out of charge mid-trip. Many newer cars have USB ports, but most only have one, so come prepared. Also, make sure to bring a USB cord so you can alternate playing music across devices so everyone can hear their favorite song, if only until vetoed by everyone else in the car.
  10. Spare set of keys. While the sense of adventure would hit a new level if your keys were lost or stolen while roadtripping, it wouldn’t be very fun (or affordable) to replace them on the fly. Prepare in advance by stashing an extra set in your suitcase.

Sign up for our newsletter

Get even more personal finance info, tips and tricks delivered right to your inbox each month.