No road trip planner would be complete without a list of essential items you need to pack before heading off into the sunset. Besides your clothing, sports equipment and camping gear (if you’re roughing it), there are a few recommended bits and pieces that will make the ride just that little bit smoother.

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Road trip planner 101: packing checklist

Use our handy Road trip planner 101: packing checklist to make sure that you’ve packed these all-important road trip necessities:

Sunscree​n: Even during the winter months, most of South Africa gets a fair dose of daily sunshine. While the wonderful weather is one of the reasons why South Africa is such a great country for road tripping, it also means that you need to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from the sun. Road trippers often forget to slap on some sunscreen while behind the wheel, but even though you’re ‘inside’, you can still burn – harmful UV rays penetrate windows and windshields.

Road map: Yep, we know road maps are borderline retro these days and that your hire car has likely come equipped with a state of the art GPS device. Nevertheless, technology has a way of making mincemeat out of your best laid plans. This road trip planner advises taking a good old road map along just in case your GPS malfunctions in the middle of nowhere, leaving you high and dry.

Water: Always have a big bottle of water on hand to keep you hydrated, especially on those long, hot drives. Dehydration can lead to headaches, dizziness and drowsiness. Make sure that you’re drinking enough water to stay alert, focused and healthy on the road.

Padkos: Padkos literally means ‘road food’ and it’s a cherished part of South African road trip culture. Travel like a local and pack classic South African padkos fare like vetkoek (deep fried pastry filled with savoury mince or butter and jam), a thermos of tea or coffee, rusks (dry biscuits), biltong (cured meat) and koeksisters (syrup-coated donuts).

Good music: Every road trip needs a rocking playlist to help keep the spirits high on those long, straight stretches of road. As part of your road trip planner, take the time to put together a playlist of your favourite tunes. Throw in a few South African favourites like Johnny Clegg, Mango Groove and Jeremy Loops and we reckon you’ll have yourself a winning score.

First aid kit: Having a good first aid kit on hand can be a life saver in a serious situation. It can also save you annoying visits to a doctor or pharmacy for small ailments and injuries that you could easily patch up yourself. Before setting off, check that your first aid kit is fully stocked with plasters, surgical gloves, antiseptic cream, mouth to mouth resuscitation aid, bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, scissors, tweezers, space blanket, neck brace and burn dressings. Throw in some rehydration salts, painkillers, motion sickness tablets and antihistamines too.

Camera: South Africa is blessed with incredible scenery, so bring a camera along to capture those moments of beauty so awe-inspiring that you have no choice but to pull over, get out and stare.

Mobile phone and car charger: Having a mobile phone is handy in an emergency or for calling ahead to book or confirm accommodation and activities. If you don’t have one already, it’s worth investing in a car charger too.

Cash: Keep some cash on hand for buying souvenirs and snacks and for paying road tolls or national park entrance fees.

Torch: Travel can be unpredictable, and you might end up arriving at your campsite in the dark. A torch will make your life a lot easier when you’re stumbling around an unfamiliar place in the dark.

Gees: In some ways, this is the most important thing you need to have. Gees is one of those Afrikaans words that you just can’t quite translate into English. It means something along the lines of spirit and enthusiasm, and we think that any road trip planner should rank bucket loads of gees as an absolutely indispensable ingredient of any road trip.

If you would like to have the freedom to explore the area you are visiting independently, you might want to look into car hire South Africa for the perfect set of wheels.