Before we set off on our military move (PCS) from Kentucky to Iowa, I did tons of research on what we needed to bring with us for the long drive. I live by the Boy Scout motto of Be Prepared, or so I tell myself since I’m a chronic over-packer 😛 I always get nervous that I will need something that I don’t have (or that is packed away where I can’t easily access it) and I have to buy another of whatever it is, even though I already have one and only need one. Anyway, so for our move, I made a list of what essential items we would need during the 2 day trip to Iowa and set them in a separate room so they wouldn’t get packed in the moving truck. I guess the best way to refer to them is my “carry on” items 😉
A cooler full of sodas and waters
One of the things I hate the most is paying an exorbitant amount of money for a drink. Andy will admit to being the person who can go into a gas station “for a few things” and walk out having spent $20. To avoid this problem, I packed a cooler full of sodas and waters and put it in the bed of Andy’s truck. It was easy to grab a soda or water at each stop, plus they were nice and cold! A perk of having water bottles in the cooler meant it was so easy to give the pets water when they were thirsty. We kept this cooler full of extra drinks throughout our hotel stay to save money; we brought a few sodas/waters in each day to avoid lugging in the whole cooler.
Like the topic above, I knew I didn’t want to buy overpriced (and unhealthy) snacks at gas stations on our trip. So, I packed both Andy and me a “snack bag” full of our favorite healthy-ish snacks that I had bought in bulk at the commissary’s case lot sale. The snack bag was a total hit with the hubs! When we arrived in Iowa, I found Andy’s snack bag in the front seat of the moving truck buckled in. Whatever snacks we didn’t eat on the drive we kept in our hotel room during the house-hunting process. These snacks will also be sent to work with Andy in case he gets the munchies during the day 😉 Let’s be honest, my husband is always hungry, haha!
Pet supplies bag
I had heard from moms of human children that they pack a bag specifically for their kids, so I decided to do the same for my fur-children 😉 I packed a tote bag of all of our pets’ supplies, including treats, anti-anxiety sprays/chewables, their probiotics (yes, they take probiotics too! Hyperbiotics’ Pro-Pets, specifically), dog bones so Lily wouldn’t chew up anything she isn’t supposed to, extra grocery bags for dog poo, paper towels and fabric cleaner for any accidents, and their food. Instead of taking their gigantic food containers in and out of the hotels, we put them in gallon-sized zipper baggies and refilled them from the big containers (which were in the truck bed) as necessary.
Every military spouse says a PCS binder is absolutely necessary for all the Army-related things you’ll need for in-processing at the new battalion, and I wholeheartedly agree! After doing entirely too much research on the topic, I bought this zipper binder which has a pencil pouch included, separated compartments on the side for sorting paperwork, and zips up so nothing will fall out. Tip: Buy a black binder so your soldier can carry it into work if he needs to! I also bought page protectors so I wouldn’t need to hole-punch the documents.
Cell phone mount
I have no idea how I lived my life without a cell phone mount for my car but I never want to do it again! I found my cell phone mount for just $5 at Target in the Dollar Spot and bought it on a whim. It made navigating through unfamiliar cities a breeze because I didn’t need to look down at my cell phone in my lap. I also had my audiobooks running through my iPhone and I could hear them much better when my phone was in the mount versus when it was sitting in my lap. I also packed my cell phone jack and phone charger.
Printer and laptop
We in-processed at Battalion a few days after arriving in Iowa, so we were glad we had these to easily print paperwork from iPERM for in-processing.
I am an essential oil junkie, so it’s no surprise that I packed my oils with me! I have about 30-ish oils, but packed the essentials (ha!) with me while the rest were in a box of beauty supplies in the moving truck. I use Eden’s Garden oils (affiliate link), which is a non-MLM company with great prices and free shipping! My essential essential oils for the trip: Lemon for an energy boost, Lavender and Stress Relief for a good night’s sleep, Fighting Five and Purify to prevent any illnesses from the many germs we would encounter on our trip, Muscle Relief to soothe sore muscles from all of the heavy lifting, and Joy to keep my spirits up despite the craziness. Although I put all of my oils in a zipper-bag, it was a bad idea as I had a few leaks! I plan to buy a portfolio carrying case for the future.
Last but not least, a AAA membership. We’ve had to use it twice within a year to tow both my car and Andy’s truck to an auto shop. Especially now that our trips home to see family will be longer, I’m thankful we have it! Thankfully, we didn’t need to use it on the trip to Iowa. With our AAA membership, we were able to order free paper maps for our trip (called a “TripTik”). Although we didn’t need them, it was a great back-up in case we lost cell phone/GPS signal!
Oh, and one more tip. For our stays on Wednesday and Thursday, I took in only my duffel bag with enough clothes/toiletries for the 2 days and then when we got to Iowa, I rearranged things and grabbed my suitcase full of more clothes for the longer stay. I overpacked clothes like nobody’s business! 😉
What are your road trip essential items?