It’s February (already!), the holidays (was it a holiday?) are a long-forgotten memory involving specifically not going to the beach, while being deprived of indulging in our, shall we say, Winelands heritage. Many of us, or those whose Airbnb hosts took pity on us, cancelled our plans for going away, rather making the staycation a thing again – if it ever really was a thing – at least until further notice. Which leaves us feeling a bit done in, if we’re honest, despite what our Instagram feeds might convey.

So, what are we going to do about it? Well, there’s waiting for Easter, but if our current, various-shades-of-lockdown existence has taught us anything, it is that there’s no time like the present, and going on that long-promised road trip – even if it’s just for a long weekend – may be just what the doctor ordered (along with a jab).

But the prospect of hitting the road, that is, going anywhere outside our local school district, or to work and back again, might fill us with a nameless dread brought on by what-to-pack anxiety. We don’t want that. What we want is ideas; how to make this the best road trip ever! Or at least this side of June. For that, making a list of essentials (including the nice-to-haves) is the best thing to get you excited about exploring the great wide yonder again.

Even if you don’t tick every item off your list, it helps you visualise the trip, which has a wonderful way of setting your mind at ease. Here, with no further ado, is a list of what to take with you to make your road trip a great one.

Cooler box

Does it take up space? Yes, but you really can’t travel any kind of distance involving more than one mealtime without one. Think of your comfort! Is there anything better than pulling over for a leg-stretch, cracking open the cooler and taking out a refreshing burst of effervescent goodness? Not in that moment, no. Not to mention its ability to keep all manner of spoilable finds in tip-top shape.

Water bottle

OK, let’s take a step back. If you had to choose between a cooler box and a water bottle, especially on a trip to the Karoo or Kalahari… actually, why do you need to choose? You need both. A cool glug of water is worth more than gold in the sweltering South African summer heat. Saying that, just look at this one’s insulating little jacket!

Power Bank

There are still parts of this country where you can drive for 6 hours on a dirt road with no signal (true story). That also means there are no quaint garage stops or padstals where you can ask a kindly shop assistant to plug in your phone for you while you linger for a spot of lunch. But what you also don’t want is, when your signal kicks in again, not to be able to use your phone if your journey takes you into the night, or you get lost. They did it phoneless in the old days, but we lost that particular skill some time ago.

Hand Sanitizer

Love it or hate it, it’s the right thing to do. And if it’s moisturizing, nogal with aloe vera, don’t hold back.

Travel Pillow

Don’t laugh, your physio will thank you later. Getting back to comfort, you really can’t put a price on it, especially not when it involves a cooling gel memory foam inner. Let someone else do the driving for a change.

Flight Socks

Still not joking. The benefits of wearing these fetching little numbers far outweigh their lack of sex appeal (then again, you could make it work). What isn’t sexy is deep-vein thrombosis, swollen ankles or tired legs. But let’s not go the full infomercial.

Botteltjies, botteltjies, botteltjies

Buying in bulk undeniably has its benefits but getting to the other side with a toiletry bag filled with half a litre of conditioner seldom ends in joy. Instead, decant! If you know you’re going to be away for a week, you don’t need the whole tube of shampoo, shower gel, or face wash. Plus, when they come labled in a zip bag, it’s not so terrible when there’s a bit of spillage.


Whether dealing with chocolatey smears across hands and faces (or the back of the passenger seat), or a simple pothole-induced water spill, there’s always a reason to have a jammer lappie handy. Instead of keeping a never-ending stash of disposable sanitary wipes in the cubby, rather opt for a towel (one you won’t feel sorry for, like a gym towel) or a nifty little microfibre cloth that dries at the slightest hint of a stiff breeze.

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