“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Abraham Lincoln

With nearly 6,000 kilometers on the trip odometer there are a few items we’ve come to appreciate bringing with us. Some things we could do without, especially now that we have a teardrop, while others are used almost everyday.

So here is our list of the things we think every road tripper should bring along on their journey. Some depend on your comfort level and some, like walkie talkies, add extra security and safety.

Portable Power Bank

This is a must have if you’ll be camping during your road trip. For our trip we purchased a 300w Jackery power bank and a Jackery 100w solar panel. So far it’s been the item we would miss the most.

A lot of campsites won’t have a power source so you’re on your own as far as running out of juice goes. With a power bank we always have a 100 AC receptacle and USB ports for our devices. It lasts for days on a full charge, charges from your car’s 12v plug while driving, has a 110v charger for motel rooms, and can charge via a solar panel for trips to the boonies. Ours has recharged our iPhones, iPads, camera batteries, rechargeable batteries, and my laptop. We also use it to keep our campers 12v battery topped up.

The solar panel we use is also made by Jackery and on a bright day it can charge a 300w power bank in a just few hours. The solar panel comes with a couple USB ports built in so if you’re in a jam you can charge your phone in no time. Our panels output was 97w under a bright sun, plenty of power for our needs.

Two Way Radios

A set of old school walkie talkies go a long way in places without cellular coverage or wifi such as Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan. Even with coverage it’s a good way to stay in touch at a campsite. When we were camping at Aaron Lake Provincial Park we used them when we separated (going to the bathroom, walks, etc) just in case one of us needed help. Remember to change the channel to anything other than 1 or you’ll end up listening to people park their RVs; “Okay left, good, back, stop, stop, STOOOOPPPPP!”

Thermacell Mosquito Repellent Kit

You’ve seen these things at Walmart or Canadian Tire and most likely thought the same thing I did, “Gimmicky.” Given some of the locations we plan to camp at we knew mosquitos will be a problem so we headed to the Internet and read what users thought of it. Wow! For the most part users loved it, so we picked up one and after a few weeks of steady use we can see why it’s so popular. It works great!

We went for a walk once and as soon as we were out of range of the tabletop version (a Thermacell covers a circle about 15′ across) we were swarmed. So they were around, just not around the Thermacell. They also make a portable unit you can take with you on a hike.

A single charge set can last about a day if you remember to turn it off when you don’t need it. Recharge packs are available almost everywhere should you get low.

Rechargeable Bug Light

Pesky mosquitoes in your tent or camper can drive you nuts at night. With a rechargeable bug light, the kind that attracts and fries them, that problem can be greatly diminished. The one we bought for about $30 has a bug lamp and a three setting regular lamp. It also has a rubber pad on the bottom that glows in the dark. This is a nice rechargeable lamp that works and isn’t too obtrusive.

We picked up ours from Amazon but have seen them in hardware stores and Walmart.

A Privacy Shelter

Don’t underestimate the importance of having something set up for privacy, especially if you’re car camping. We purchased a CLAM Quick-Set Traveler 6 x 6 from Walmart for about $300 and it’s one item we’re grateful to have. Putting aside how nice it is to have something to protect us from flies and mosquitoes, it also has three removable walls so you can sit inside and enjoy your evening in privacy, a big bonus for tent campers.

We setup our in the open plains of the Grasslands and it gave us the perfect place to chill. The CLAM also did a good job keeping us dry in the pouring rain we experienced at Lake Superior Provincial Park.

RV Ground Mat

We liked our ground mat so much we bought a second one. They keep your feet off the dirt and mud that many campsites have and keep your site looking clean. If it rains the water just goes through the mat, making them quick to dry. We also found them easy to clean using either water or a brush.

While it’s not really a necessity, a good ground mat will be something you come to appreciate. We keep one close to our camper door so we always get in or out with clean feet. They go for about $40.

Things We Didn’t Need

  • A big ass cooler. Go small with the essentials like milk, cream, butter, and eggs and you’ll spend less time screwing with ice bags.

  • Sleeping Bags. We went with a double but found they make to much noise. Go with a good quilt or heavy blanket and a flannel sheet set.

  • Cell coverage. Sometimes it’s nice to be completely disconnected from the world.