by Sarah Eadie

Budget Goals to Up-Level Your Summer Road Trip

Organzed objects on the ground

Itinerary? Check. Co-pilot? Check. A sense of adventure? Check.

You’re ready to hit the road… almost. While you may have packed all of the snacks, clothing, first aid kits, and other things you absolutely need to hit the road responsibly, we have a couple additional flourishes to make the experience even more awesome.

An old-school atlas

The expansiveness of a paper map gets the imagination going in a way not even the biggest cell phone screens can accomodate.

Large scale road atlas of the U.S.

Unlimited music

CDs are great, but when you’ve listened to the same 12 songs more than four times, you’re going to wish you’d ponied up for a broader selection of music.

Subscription to your music streaming service of choice


Don’t let its humble appearance fool you, the sarong is one of the most versatile travel companions you can pack. Use it to dry yourself off after a roadside dip. Throw it over your windows if you need to change clothes in the back seat. Spread it over the grass for some truck stop stretches.

Skeptical? Just get one. You’ll see.

A sarong that suits your style

Boxed wine

You might be tempted to go for the pack of beer, but consider instead bringing a box or two of wine. With the amount of space you’d use for cheap beer, you could pack several boxes of wine. It’s not too boozy, but it packs a punch. And there’s a lot to go around, so it’s great for making friends. Just don’t forget your cups.

(Don’t drink and drive, obviously.)

A couple boxes of wine

Disposable cameras

Smartphone cameras and DSLRs are great for moments that need to be captured perfectly. Disposable cameras are better for snapshots that invite a certain rustic charm—like you and your partner making faces in front of the World’s Largest Penny.

Plus, getting photos developed allows you to relive moments you forgot you had.

4-pack of disposable cameras and post-trip development

Budget for tchotchkes

As you stop to see the sights, you will inevitably come across a funny little souvenir you can’t pass up, or a gift that would be perfect for your roommate. Don’t fight this impulse, plan for it.

Roadside tchotchkes

Journal kit

No matter how life-changing the trip, there will come a day when you will begin to forget the insights that came to you on the road. Stoke the afterglow of a great adventure by leaving yourself reminders of the profound thoughts you had while on the move.

Journal, plus a little extra for tape, stickers, and fancy pens

As much as we wish we could control the prices of things, the numbers in this article are just estimates. Actual prices are up to retailers, manufacturers, and other people who’ve been granted magical powers over digits and dollar signs.