If there's a better bonding experience than piling into a car with your closet friends and heading down the highway, we haven't found it yet. Here's what to bring along for the ride, from must-haves you'll need for the journey to staples you'll appreciate once you've reached your final destination.
A Sing-Along-Worthy Playlist
A silent drive? Sacrilege! Set the tone for your trip with a high-energy playlist of nostalgic favorites. (Don't forget the AUX cord.) Alternately, should you need a break from the highway dance moves, download a book on tape or a podcast (like Southern Living's Biscuits & Jam , which features interviews with guests like Willie Nelson , Dolly Parton , and Darius Rucker ) for easy listening.
Squinting into the sun while driving isn't comfortable, nor is it safe, so you'll definitely want to toss a pair of shades with comprehensive UV protection in your bag. Plus, they're the perfect accessory to all of the daytime looks you've packed. Bonus points if you bring a hat too: We're here for stylish sun protection.
Plenty of Snacks
In case your route doesn't allow for a Buc-ee's stop for kolaches and Beaver Nuggets along the way, it's imperative to pack a variety of nibbles to keep bellies full and moods light. We don't head out on vacation without a gallon Ziploc bag of Fire Crackers .
An Old-School Camera
We know, we know. Smart phones let you snap all the shots you want and offer easy editing and posting. But there's something to be said for the nostalgia of an instant Polaroid or the giddy anticipation of disposable camera shots coming back from the printer. Plus, it's more fun to gift friends a little scrapbook of actual, printed photos than adding them to a shared album on the Cloud.
If salty gas-station munchies and delicious roadside eats have left you feeling a little puffy, there's nothing more satisfying than indulging in a hydrating face mask once you've reached your pit stop for the evening. Just be sure to bring enough to share with your friends.
A Bathing Suit
While including a swimsuit is a no-brainer if you're beach bound, it's still a good idea to throw one in the suitcase if you're not heading for sunny shores. You never know when a hike will lead to a cool watering hole or your crew will decide to spontaneously add a pit stop at hotel with an amazing pool . The same goes for a good pair of walking/hiking shoes—it's never fun to miss out an impromptu adventure because you weren't prepared.
A Deck of Cards
Whether you're in the backseat and desperate for a distraction from stand-still traffic or you're stuck inside your house rental due to rainy weather, cards (or any other small, portable game) can be a saving grace and offer hours of fuss-free entertainment.
Of course, road trips are all about the company, so don't sweat it if you forget any of the above essentials. Plus, every friend group has that one person who's prepared for every possible scenario. Surely, if all else fails, she 'll have remembered that thing you left behind. Isn't that what friends are for?