Road Trip Essentials

October 13, 2016

When I move from a big crowded city to the expanded and mountainous west coast, I inevitably fell in love with an activity that I never thought I would be enjoy-road trip. From the scenic highway 395 to the world famous CA Route 1; from the crystal and chilling Lake Tahoe to the hot and dry Death Valley, there are always views worth 8 hours’ drive.

(Photo Credit to Amos Bar-Zeev)


However, sometimes the excitement of road trip can be dimmed by the inconvenience and poor accommodation along the road. I used to hate organizing and packing, however, I developed my own methodology to make my road trip as comfortable as possible. 


As an amateur photographer and a girl who really want to be photographed in those once-a-life views and have something to Instagram, I have three packing rules: be safe, be comfortable and be photo ready.


Potable auto GPS. Google map is great until you find you end up in somewhere with no internet service. Honestly, most mountain areas have no signal. The auto GPS, however has built in maps and relies on satellite signal.

Food and drink supplies. Make sure you have enough water and at least some food in your car. Driving among mountains or through deserts sometimes means no stores and diners for hours.

Hand sanitizer. When you see those primitive restrooms at the head of the national park’s trail, you will thank me for this.

Potable power device or charger that can use on car. Admit it, we are all pathetic urban people who can not survive more than 8 hours without a smart phone. 

Sunscreen: driving in California without sunscreen will only end up in sunburn no matter whether there’s a cloudy sky. Make sure to apply sunscreen multiple times a day.

Mosquito Spray: California may not have that much mosquitos as Florida, but it’s better to have it because you never know what’s hiding under the brush!

Medicine: make sure to take your essential medicine.



A pair of sneaker or travel shoe. A comfortable sneaker is a must if you planning on walking some trails. New balance and Adidas Original has many pairs that goes with most styles of tops and even skirts!

Jacket. For the mountain area, the temperature may drop drastically at night. A light/heavy jacket, depends on the season, will let you enjoy the view without shivering and rushing back to your car.

Comfortable T-shirt and pants. As long as you can walk a 2-mile trail with those cloth, they are fine for a road trip.

Aloe gel. This is perfect for sunburn, bug bite and coolness. And you can easily buy at any local CVS.

Motion sickness cures. If you suffer from motion sickness (Like me!), this will make your trip a lot easier. Sometimes, you think you don’t have motion sickness, but the rough and winding mountain may make you feel it. Another key to cure motion sickness is simple-be the driver!

Your favorite playlist. There are not always radio signal available. So have your favorite playlist ready and that’s another reason why you need a car-friendly phone charger.

Flip flop. It becomes especially useful when you find a hidden beach or want to get near a creek.

Ziploc bags. To separate dirty cloth/shoes from the clean ones. It can also hold snacks and fresh fruits you bought on the way.



A sundress: I always like to bring an easy-to-wear dress with me. Because, obviously, wearing a dress always looks better than sportswear on Instagram. But make sure it doesn’t take 50 minutes to iron before you can put it on. I normally take the dress that can go with easy travel shoes or even my Stan Smith. It can be the formal dress when you finally come to a big town and want to treat yourself with a fancy restaurant.

A scarf: Instead of keeping you warm, a pop color scarf usually helps a lot on photo when you take a lot of basic white, grey and black cloth.

Camera: I usually take my old friend-Canon 60D and a cute instant camera. Normally an 18-74mm zoom lens is good for most views. But I usually take a 200mm lens if I expect to see wildlife. An instant camera is a lot fun to play with. And fun is all about for a road trip!

Selfie Stick: it’s always nice to have a selfie stick at hand when you want some selfie time.

Accessories: Here’s where we get creative: headbands, necklace and earrings. Small details sometimes make a photo pops up.

Travel Size Cosmetics and Skincare: I always take the travel size to save space. You can also take 1-2 masks to ensure your skin is hydrated.

(Photo credit to Ian Schneider)


The point of road trip is, at least for me, to have fun along the road! So, always pay attention to safety, keep yourself comfortable and get ready to have soooo many good photo!



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