This may be the most important road trip planning list of all. Sure, figuring out what to do before you go is important, and you don't want to leave any of the essentials behind, but traveling is all about hoping and making dreams come true, so no road trip would be complete without a wishlist.
These are the items you could probably do without on your road trip, but you really don't want to leave them behind. And then there are a few that make great presents (just sayin'). If you've got a holiday or a birthday or an anniversary coming up? Lucky you.
Road Trip Planner Wishlist
Unless your car comes equipped with one, it's good to invest in a separate GPS. Your cell phone may not have service and the battery could die. We've had good luck with Garmin. They now come with unlimited lifetime maps so you don't have to worry (as much) about the map being inaccurate.
Consider these a back-up for the talking part of your phone. If you get separated you can still communicate with these babies, old-school style. They're not even too terribly expensive. This pair of Motorola has 22 channels and a 23-mile range and runs about fifty bucks.
Keeping a picnic basket in the car means that when you see a perfect vista for lunch you can pull over and enjoy it. You'll also have the utensils to eat in your room, if you'd like. We've got one that has a fleece blanket inside so we can spread out anywhere.
See an outdoor concert as you're driving through that cute town? Keep some chairs in your trunk and you can relax with the locals. While you can get a chair with a foot rest or a canopy, all you really need is a cup holder (it'll pack smaller, too).
This is on my own wishlist. Imagine leaving the ice behind because you've got a cooler you can plug in to your car. There are several options available (since I haven't used one yet I can't personally recommend one).
A Bigger Car
Just kidding! (Although to fit all of this in, plus the cooler and snacks and suitcases, etc., we could probably use one...)
A Big, Huge, Giant SD Card
This, for me, is actually a need, not a want. Whether you're taking photos with your phone or your camera, make sure you've got enough memory to capture everything you want to remember. I always have my laptop and external hard drive with me, but downloading is a pain so I keep a 32gb card in both my cell and my DSLR. This is especially true if you want to shoot any video.
This list is going to keep growing, so I'd like to hear from you - what's on your road planning wishlist?