Is your truck bed a mess?

Organizing your truck bed

If you’re a life long pick-up truck driver, you’ve probably spent many years attempting to get the truck of your bed perfectly organized before giving up and just tossing everything in haphazardly. Organizing your truck bed doesn’t have to be a difficult task. In fact, if you pick up the right products and stick to a plan, you’ll find you having a place for everything will make your life that much easier. Here are a few tips to get your truck bed organized:

Start with a lockbox

Of course, driving a truck can mean that anything in your bed is susceptible to thieving passersby. That’s why it’s essential that you invest in a good lockbox to store your valuables that don’t fit in your cab. You can get one that is customized to the make and model of your truck as well as what you plan to keep in it.

Consider a truck bed organizer

It’s inevitable that you’ll have a variety of odds and ends that find themselves floating around your truck bed making lots of noise and ending up out of reach. If you get yourself a good truck bed organizer, you’ll be able to sort everything into its own space, keeping them secure and easy to get to at a moment’s notice.

Cargo bars or nets

If you’re looking for a temporary or easily removable means to store your belongings in your truck, check out a cargo bar. They can easily be installed in any part of your truck bed and removed if you find you need the space. A cargo net is another easy way to keep things in place. If you’re tired of opening your tailgate only to have a half-dozen items roll out onto your driveway, a cargo net will help keep everything inside the truck.

Gear drawers

For those of you who keep lots of expensive equipment in your truck that you need regular access to, a gear drawer is a great option. When you’re driving or the tools aren’t needed, they are safely locked in a heavy-duty container that is completely encased, protecting them from the elements. When it’s time to grab what you need, just unlock the drawers and slide them out to get what you need. To further organize your belongings, it can be separated into two individual drawers.

Is your dog ready for camping?

Bringing your dog camping

Camping is an activity that can be enjoyed solo, but many of us prefer to hit the trail with our loved ones. Those of us who are dog owners know that Fido isn’t just a pet, but a member of the family, so wanting to bring your dog on your camping trip is only natural. While bringing your dog along can be a fun change of pace for your and your pooch alike, there are a few special considerations you need to make to be sure everyone is safe and happy:

Getting ready

Bringing your dog camping isn’t as simple as just loading him up in your car as you get ready to leave. Before you head out, pay a visit to your vet to make sure he’s up-to-date on all of his vaccinations. Because there are lots of other wild animals in the woods, it’s important that he has had his rabies shot and, because mosquitos can transmit heartworms, be sure he’s protected from them, as well. You also may want to consider having him vaccinated against Lyme disease, especially if there is a large tick population where you’re planning on traveling. No matter how well-trained your dog is, always keep a collar on him with the appropriate contact information. If you haven’t already, consider microchipping as an extra precaution as well.

If you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, especially in hilly or mountainous areas, be sure your dog is physically ready. Take him on long walks and practice hikes so he can build his endurance and keep up with you where ever you go.

Packing

Find out whether there is plenty of water available for your dog at your campsite and, if not, pack enough for the entire trip. Same goes for food – bring along his regular dog food and treats along with a food dish and water bowl. You’ll probably want to bring an extra leash and collar in case one gets lost or is broken. If you have a bigger dog, pick up a dog-friendly backpack so he can carry his own weight on longer hikes, just be sure to give him a chance to get used to it before your trip.

During your trip

Be sure to bring a few toys to occupy your dog. It’s likely that he’ll be somewhat unsupervised at times, so keeping him busy will prevent him from wandering off and getting into trouble. If you are planning on bringing along any firearms or valuables that can be chewed on, take the proper precautions and keep them in a portable safe or small lockbox to make sure everyone is safe.

If this is your dog’s first time camping, there is a good chance that he’s never been around a campfire before, so make sure you keep an eye on him when he’s near it. Be sure he’s well-trained and understands commands like “leave it” something similar to get him out of trouble if he starts playing with something potentially dangerous. Perform regular checks for ticks, burrs or thorns, which should all be removed right away. While a burr may seem harmless enough, if your dog has long enough hair, you may find yourself having to shave the area completely to get rid of them if you don’t take care of them immediately. Ticks should be removed by pinching it as close to the skin as possible and pulling it slowly and gently. Be sure to wear gloves while you’re doing this, as diseases can be transmitted to you if you’re barehanded. If there is one nearby, you can bring him to a vet, as well.

There are times you may have to leave your dog for a while, so make sure he is safe and secure while you’re gone. Avoid tying him to a stationary object, instead opting for a crate or a portable fence. Make sure he has plenty of water, food and something to keep him busy while you’re gone.

Dog etiquette

Just like walking in the city or suburbs, there are certain unspoken – or clearly defined, depending on where you are camping – rules that you should abide by. If you have a dog that barks at his own shadow, it might be a good idea to leave him at home, especially if there are other campers nearby. Do your best to keep your dog with you while on the trail so he doesn’t disturb other hikers or stir up trouble with other wild animals in the area. Remember, not everyone is comfortable around dogs, so only let him off the leash if he is well trained in voice commands. And, even though you are out in the wilderness, it’s bad etiquette to let your dog do his business in the middle of the trail. Your best bet is to burry it off of the path.

Are you ready to bring your kids camping?

Making your kids’ first camping trip a success

Camping can be the perfect family vacation. It’s relatively inexpensive, there is plenty of together time and no television to distract everyone. Your kids can learn all about your love of the outdoors. Maybe you’ll bond over fly fishing as the sun comes up over the trees or quietly bed down and observe a herd of deer grazing nearby.

But, let’s all be honest with ourselves. There’s a good chance some of those things won’t happen. Camping with kids, especially very young ones, can be its own special challenge. Sure, it will be rewarding and a fun shared experience, but only if you go in prepared. Here are a few tips to make your first camping experience with your kids a fun one:

Stay close to home
For your first attempt at camping with your family, it’s not a bad idea to stay close to home. If you have a toddler who absolutely cannot sleep in a sleeping bag or a preschooler who discovers she is terrified of the dark, it will be much easier to just hop into your car and zip home instead of driving five hours out of the backwoods. It even opens up the option of spending a few days at the camp site and returning to your own beds at night.

Prepare the kids
The key to a successful camping trip is laying out the appropriate groundwork before hitting the trail. Discussing what camping is and what they can expect is a great start. Try watching movies or television shows where the main characters go camping, though make sure you stick to ones that show a fun and successful trip – maybe they can watch The Blair Witch Project when they’re a bit older. Another good idea is to introduce them to different aspects of camping in an environment where they are already comfortable. Try setting up a full-fledged campsite in your backyard for a night. Take a walk around your neighborhood when it’s dark out so they know what to expect.

Pack for the kids
If you’re a veteran camper, you can probably pack for a weekend outdoors with your eyes closed. However, packing for your little ones requires more than just bringing smaller clothes than usual. Make sure you have enough to keep your kids feeling safe and secure. If they are not quite comfortable with the dark, bring plenty of flashlights and lanterns. Consider bringing some disposable glow sticks along as well. They are great as makeshift night lights – just slip them into mesh pockets in their tents for some extra illumination without wasting batteries.

Bring along entertainment
While your idea of a perfect evening of camping may consist of a quiet evening around the campfire with close friends, don’t expect your kids to feel the same way. Be sure to plan kid-friendly activities for the evening when hiking is no longer an option. Of course, roasting marshmallows and making s’mores is a time-honored activity, but be ready with a contingency plan. While you’ll probably be happy leaving your smartphones and portable video games at home, being prepared with cards or other travel-size games as a fun way to pass the time before bed.

Get plenty of sleep
Nothing ruins a trip faster than tired, cranky kids. Because of this, it’s important to make sure your kids get plenty of sleep. There are a few things you can do to make this easier for them. Sleeping on the cold, hard ground in a sleeping bag may be tough for little ones. Consider investing in a camping-friendly air mattress to make them more cozy. A few days before the trip, have your kids try a night out in a sleeping bag in the safety of their own bed. If they find they can’t get comfortable in one, pack accordingly.

Camping is naturally a fairly active adventure – lots of hiking, swimming and boating can really tucker the little ones out. If they are still taking naps, be sure to stick to their regular schedule to avoid a meltdown later in the day. Even if your kids no longer require daily naps, plan a little downtime during the day so they can catch some Zs if they need to recharge their batteries for the afternoon.

Stay safe
Whether it’s for safety or sport, you may be in the habit of bringing a knife or even a firearm with you when camping. While you don’t necessarily need to stop doing this once kids are in the picture, it is essential that you take extra precautions with dangerous objects around your kids. A handgun lock box or portable safe are both great options for guns and knives. They are lightweight and easy to keep close at hand without the risk of kids getting their hands on anything they’re not supposed to.

Is your bag properly packed for your trip?

Tips to properly pack your pack

Whether you are backpacking through Europe or through the Rocky Mountains, a well-organized bag is the key to comfort and convenience. The less experienced among us may be tempted to just shove as much stuff as possible into our bags and hit the road. However, there are lots of tips and tricks that will make packing easier and keep you as comfortable as possible. Here are a few:

Organize
If it’s your first time packing a hiking backpack, give yourself plenty of time to get yourself organized before actually putting anything in the bag. Obviously, what you pack will depend largely on where you’re going and how long you’ll be staying there. The best way to do this – and keep yourself from getting overwhelmed – is to give yourself plenty of space and spread out everything you need. If you’ll be camping, this includes any food, water bottles, tents, sleeping bags and other equipment you’ll have to carry with you.

Remember, it’s a good idea to leave any expensive or delicate electronics somewhere safe. You should consider picking up a portable safe if you’ll be keeping valuables anywhere besides in your home. While you are organizing the items you’ll be brining along, set aside your boots, water bottle, sunglasses, knife and first day’s clothing. You’ll obviously be wearing the clothes and boots, so no need to pack them, and you’ll need to keep the other items handy and on your person or attached to the outside of your bag.

Prioritize
Assuming you are hiking out to a camping spot, look at what you have and determine what you’ll probably need to access while you’re on the trail and what you won’t need until you reach your destination. Whatever items you probably don’t need to get to during your hike – sleeping bag, tent and other nighttime supplies – should go toward the bottom, while anything you may need to get to quickly or regularly – snacks, bug spray, a GPS or rainwear – need to be easily accessible.

Internal backpacks
Next, you’ll have to start thinking about the weight of your items. If you have a pack with an internal frame – the type that has become more popular as of late – you’ll want to pack all of your lightest items in the bottom of the bag. Next, the heaviest items. You’ll want to pack these items as close to your back as possible and centered halfway between the top and bottom of your bag. This will put them as close to your shoulder blades as possible, transferring the weight to your hips, which should hold most of the weight. If you are traveling over rough terrain, put the heavy items a bit lower to drop your center of gravity and make you more stable. The top of the bag should be reserved for more mid-weight items and things you’ll need to access.

External backpacks
This style of backpack is currently less popular, but they are certainly still perfectly good packs for trail hiking. Just like an internal frame, keep the most lightweight items low in the bag. However, external frame packs should have the medium-weight items in the middle, while the heaviest items go on top close to your back. This centers the pack’s weight over your hips and allows you to walk comfortably upright.

Whether you are using an internal or external frame backpack, it’s important to remember to balance your pack horizontally as well as vertically. If you load up one side of the pack, you will not only be uncomfortable, but you may do some real damage to your shoulders or back over a long period.

External gear
While a properly-packed backpack should not require many items attached to the outside of the bag, sometimes it is necessary. Usually, this is due to oddly shaped items or a bag that is a bit too small for your needs. Watch out for anything attached to the outside of your pack as they may swing, clank against other hanging items or get caught on branches or other obstructions along the trail. If attached improperly, it may also have a detrimental effect on your balance.

Most commonly, hikers will attach trekking or tent poles to the outside of their packs. These can be attached vertically on either side of the pack under the compression straps. Make sure you tuck them into water bottle pockets on the bottom of the pack to keep them from getting caught on clothing or plants.

The hip and shoulder belts of most backpacks usually have daisy chains or other ways to hook equipment on the front. These are intended for mountaineering equipment, so if you’re not heading for Everest, they make ideal places for things like water bottles or sunscreen so you can easily access them.

Do you need a roof rack for your equipment?

Tips for choosing the right car rack for you

If you spend your weekends biking, kayaking or snowboarding far from home, then chances are you need to look into car roof racks. Not only will a good rack carry your equipment securely wherever you go, but it also opens up lots of storage options for when you are going on a road trip and can’t fit your luggage in your trunk. Here are some tips for picking out the right rack for you, your car and your lifestyle:

What do you need it for?
Before you start checking out prices and models, consider what kind of roof cargo you’ll most likely be using the rack for. Are you simply an avid biker and want the flexibility to try out different trails in your area? Or are you more of a jack-of-all-trades and will be using it for packing everything from your snow skis to a kayak? While you certainly don’t want to limit what you’re going to be able to use your rack for, you probably don’t want to invest in a ton of extra accessories that can fit a paddleboard if you’ve never even used one before.

What kind of car do you have?
Make sure you drive a car that lends itself to a roof rack. Though given the correct equipment, the majority of cars can hold some type of rack, be realistic. If you drive a two-seater soft-top convertible, you’ll have to figure out a different way to store your bikes. Be sure your car has a secure and rust-free area the rack can attach to. Also, consider the height of your car. If it is relatively tall with a narrow wheel base, you may not only have trouble loading up a roof rack, but the extra weight may make it too top-heavy to be safe on the road, especially in crosswinds.

Factory or aftermarket?
Depending on the car you drive, there is a chance that the auto manufacturer makes a rack specifically designed to fit the make and model of your car. If this is the case, your job will be relatively easy. However, if you drive one of the many cars without this option – or if you just don’t care for the options the manufacturer offers you – there are plenty of aftermarket brands available for sale. The benefit of these brands is that you often have more ways to customize the product, as many are sold as individual parts as well as completed kits. So, if you drive a sedan and are a mountain biker in the summer and a snowboarder in the winter, you can put together a rack that suits your exact needs.

Can you install it yourself?
Depending on the type of rack you pick, you can probably assemble it yourself. Often, it’s no more difficult than putting together a bookshelf. However, there are many racks that require a little more work. If the rack you choose requires any kind of drilling into your car, it’s a task best left up to a professional.

What other options are out there?
A roof-top rack has plenty of advantages – they can transport a whole host of equipment, it keeps you from having to load dirty gear into your trunk and it never blocks your view. However, they aren’t right for everyone. If you keep your car in a garage and don’t have access to a driveway where you can safely load up the roof, you may run into height restrictions. If you are loading up a bike on a tall SUV by yourself, you may run into some problems. However, there are plenty of other products on the market that can attach to your trunk, spare tire or hitch as well.

What do you love about your Jeep?

Best parts of owning a Jeep

A Jeep is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic American vehicles on the road today. So what makes it so great? Here are some of the best parts of driving a Jeep Wrangler:

Rugged
Designed during World War II, the Jeep was created to keep Allied soldiers safe in the heat of battle. When adapted for civilian use, Jeep didn’t lose the its toughness. In the decades since then, it has continued to develop and change without losing the rugged 4×4 features that made it great. Today, the Jeep is lauded by off-road drivers and outdoor enthusiasts as a vehicle that not only fits into their lifestyle, but improves upon it.

Adaptability
One of the most fun factors of a Jeep Wrangler offers is that they are endlessly customizable. If you’re not happy with the standard Jeep storage features, you can go out and add on a storage box with lid. Want to attach a winch but your state requires front license plates? Pick up a flip-up plate holder. Are you going to climb into your car after a long, muddy camping trip? Grab some all-weather floor mats. Plus, you can alternate between a hardtop and a soft top depending on the weather you’re expecting. Just about every aspect of your Jeep is adaptable, so you can give your car plenty of personality.

Plus, there is a Jeep model for just about every lifestyle. If you are looking for a vehicle that can take you onto the back roads, check out a Wrangler. Have a few kids that you need to cart around but aren’t emotionally prepared to become a minivan owner? Maybe a Grand Cherokee is for you.

Style
Few vehicles on the road are as recognizable as a Jeep Wrangler. The classic look – largely unchanged in over 75 years – pays tribute to its military history. The newer models like the Liberty or Compass are sleeker and modern-looking without sacrificing the style that drivers have come to expect from a Jeep.

Safety
Whether you’re driving around in your Jeep solo or carting your kids to and from school, you can trust that it is going to keep you safe no matter where you are. For those of you planning on keeping your vehicle on paved roads, it comes standard with plenty of safety features. If, on the other hand, you plan on bringing your Jeep off road, there are lots of additional features you should check out as well.

Lifestyle
There is a certain way of life celebrated by Jeep owners across the country and around the world. Not only does driving a Jeep say a lot about you to the world around you  - that you embrace freedom, individuality and the outdoors – but it also gets you access to a kind of Jeep-owners club. Anyone who has found themselves driving down the highway in a Wrangler has likely had the experience of  passing a fellow Jeep driver – it often comes with a horn honk or a friendly wave.

Driving a Jeep allows you to easily transition from city life to a back-country excursion without ever looking out of place. No matter where you find yourself in a Jeep, you’ll always fit in with the world around you. The maneuverability delivered by its short wheel base is great for both tight country roads and winding paths as well as squeezing into that last spot in the grocery store parking lot. No matter what you’re lifestyle is, there’s a good chance you’ll find a Jeep that fits right in.

Is your RV secure?

Keeping your RV secure

There are no shortage of Americans – old and young – who consider driving the open road in a recreational vehicle to be the ideal vacation. Whether you are bringing your whole family along for the ride, exploring new areas with your spouse or striking it out alone, RVs are a great way to see the country. The great thing about RVs is that they are your home and your vehicle all rolled up into one. However, this does mean you’re probably carrying more of your belongings with you than you would if you were just on a road trip, and your RV likely  has a less-sophisticated security system than your house. Nothing ruins a vacation more quickly than a break in, so here are a few tips to keep in mind to help keep your belongings and family secure:

Locks
First and foremost, make sure you lock your RV before you leave it. When you’re at a camp site enjoying a drink outside the door after a long day’s drive, it can seem like no big deal to leave the door unlocked. But if you step away or are just out of sight of your door, it’s easy for someone to slip in and make off with your valuables.

In addition, RV locks aren’t always the strongest. A crowbar and some persistence will allow thieves easy access. Consider investing in a deadbolt to reinforce your door. It will not only strengthen it, but it will discourage would-be thieves from targeting you as easy prey.

Keep your valuables safe
Even if you’ve triple-reinforced your doors, there is a chance a particularly determined thief could still get into your RV. Because of this, you need to make sure you are keeping your valuables secure. The good news is, there are plenty of products available that can help you with this. A portable safe, for instance, is perfect for jewelry, small electronics or your firearm. Many of these also feature strong cords so you can securely tether them to part of your RV so no one can steal the entire safe. You can buy laptop locks for your computers, as well.

Use good sense
While you may feel like you are kindred spirits with another couple staying in the same RV park as you, be careful about what you tell them. Showing off your expensive new gadgets or diamond necklace can just tempt those with sticky fingers. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t chit chat with your temporary neighbors. On the contrary, do your best to be friendly to those you meet for a few reasons. First of all, you’ll get to know those around you, and anyone lurking around who doesn’t belong will be more conspicuous. Plus, if you have new allies, they may notice if a stranger is tampering with your RV.

When you pick a spot to park your RV, look for one that is surrounded by lots of people and has plenty of sight lines. If possible, park near people you know and in good light. You may even do well to buy flood lights to make sure the door of your RV is always well-lit.

Finally, consider investing in an alarm system. Most RVs don’t come with them, but they are a great way to ward off intruders. There are all sorts, and they range greatly in price and features. A simple motion detector attached to floodlights may be enough to scare potential thieves off, and an alarm system will be sure to draw attention.

Are you ready for your kayaking trip?

Planning for a kayak trip

Packing for a kayak trip is like preparing for no other kind of experience. Everything you bring with you needs to be stored in your kayak and you have to expect that it will get wet. Here are some tips for packing for a successful kayaking trip:

Water, water everywhere
No matter how careful you are, there is a very strong chance just about everything you bring with you is going to get wet. With that in mind, pick your items wisely. The gear itself should be either waterproof or quick-drying. This means you need to leave your down and cotton belongings at home. Not only will your down coat or sleeping bag lose all of its power to hold in warmth if it gets wet and take days to dry completely, it will also essentially turn into an anchor, as it gets extremely heavy when wet. While cotton doesn’t have the latter problem, it also will chill you quickly and dry slowly.

On a similar note, unless you have dependably water-proof electronics, don’t bring them with you. If you needed a GPS or smartphone to get you to your launch spot, leave it in your car. To give you some extra peace of mind, consider picking up a portable safe to keep your valuables – wallet, electronics, firearms or anything that won’t react well to moisture – secure while you’re away.

Size and weight
Your kayak is going to be your home for the next night or two, so make sure you have everything you think you’ll need on hand. Of course, you can’t exactly tow a trailer off of the back of your boat, so you’ll have to be able to fit it all inside. Unfortunately, kayaks aren’t known to be particularly spacious, so it’s important to be smart about what you pack. Say goodbye to your beer cooler and cast-iron frying pan, you’ll be traveling light on this trip. Usually, the best way to pack is in a series of small bags, which will be easier to cram into every little nook and cranny of the kayak. That said, avoid overloading the boat – you will need to carry it to and from the water, a task that will prove difficult with a fully packed kayak. Make sure you have at least three others with you to carry a kayak that is fully loaded.

Placement
Don’t forget to balance out the heavier items across the boat. The last thing you want is your kayak to be nose-diving all day because you over-loaded the front end. The good news is, if you load up your kayak properly, the extra weight will make it even more stable than when it is empty because of the newfound low center of gravity. The heaviest items should be packed low and as close to the cockpit as possible. Then, pack outwards from there, putting the lighter items further toward either end. Avoid packing up too high on  your deck. Not only will this raise the center of gravity, costing you the aforementioned stability, but it will cause wind resistance. However, a low-profile deck bag or a couple of light-weight items shouldn’t cause too much of a problem.

When you’re packing, don’t forget to keep water within easy reach at all times – usually the best place to keep your water bottle is the deck. You may opt for a hydration backpack, but be wary about those. If you capsize, the last think you want is a bag weighing you down.

With a few simple steps, you can make your home less of a target for burglars.

Tips for protecting your valuables at home

Whether you’re off on a week-long road trip or away from home for a few hours to run some errands, you’ll want to safeguard your residence against burglars.

Your home holds much more than items with a high monetary value. It contains moments and many items that have significant sentimental value. Keeping thieves out of your home ensures that those valuables are protected from sticky fingers. Here are a few tips that may help with deterring burglars from targeting or successfully robbing your home:

Carefully store your lock boxes.
Keeping your valuables in a lock box goes a long way for keeping unwanted hands off your prized possessions. When storing your lockbox, be sure to hide it somewhere where burglars will not typically search for valuables. Additionally, when you’re on the road, be sure to store your valuables in a lockbox in your car so you can head off for a hike or a bite to eat without worrying about the safety of your belongings.

Keep your property pristine.
If you are going to be gone for a few days, have someone pick up your mail and newspapers. Additionally, enlist someone to take care of your landscaping. When thieves are scouting houses to rob, they look for signs that no one has been home for a while.

Invest in motion sensor lighting.
Consider installing exterior lights that come with motion sensors. They may give a potential thief the impression that you are actually home. Furthermore, you can be alerted if someone is sneaking around your home while you’re there.

Get to know your neighbors.
Your neighbors are there for more than borrowing a cup of sugar or a leaf blower. When you have a friendly relationship with your neighbors, they may be more inclined to inform you or the police of any suspicious people or occurrences on your property. When they are out of town, you can keep eye on their home to establish a mutually beneficial relationship.

Be proactive with your landscaping.
If you have a home with a lot of shrubs and trees, make sure they are properly trimmed, as overgrown foliage serves as a good hiding place for burglars skulking around your home. If you have considered adding a bush or two to your yard, lean on the conservative side to make your home a less desirable target.

Close your garage.
Open garages give potential burglars a view of the valuables stored in there, and they can act as a point of entry. If you are not in your garage for an extensive period of time, keep the door closed.

Shut your blinds and curtains.
It is nice to let some sunlight in during the day, but open blinds and curtains may give a thief a good peek at your valuables. Avoid creating an open view into your home by keeping the windows covered in any room you are not currently in and double-checking that all of your curtains and blinds are closed before you hit the road.

Are you ready for your road trip?

Packing tips for your next road trip

Taking a road trip is one of the great American experiences, whether you have a specific destination in mind or just want to take in the sights of the country. Here are a few packing tips to maximize the space in your car for your comfort:

Use your roof
If you are driving to a specific destination, utilizing storage containers on car roof racks is a great way to give yourself enough room to spread out in the car. Make sure you get one that locks securely. That way, if you are taking a multi-day road trip, you can just toss an overnight bag in the back seat and not have to worry about digging through piles of suitcases to find your toothbrush. 

Pack smart
Whether or not you can utilize roof cargo, it's important that you put some care into the order that you pack your belongings. Larger, bulky items that you probably won't need to get to during the course of your trip should always be arranged first. While your instinct is probably to use suitcases for everything, consider something softer. Duffel bags – or even garbage or plastic bags – are a great option for items like beach towels or clothes that you don't mind getting a bit wrinkled. The softer bags will allow you to pack more into a smaller space.

Keep things secure
If you're going to be stopping overnight at a hotel, make sure your valuables are kept safe. Whether you leave them in your car or in your hotel room while you go out to eat, it will give you peace of mind to know that no one can get to your things. Invest in laptop locks for your computers or a portable safe for small items like jewelry, passports or even a handgun. 

Be prepared
You never know what is going to happen out on the road, so make sure you are prepared for just about anything. When you're traveling in the summer, keep extra coolant on hand in case your car gets overheated. If it's the winter and you may run into bad weather, consider investing in snow chains. Double check your spare tire, and make sure you know how to change a flat. For yourself and your passengers, always make sure there is plenty of water and non-perishable food on hand. In addition, it's a good idea to have a flashlight, a first aid kit and jumper cables ready before setting off on a trip. 

Be smart with your smartphone
Nowadays, many of us rely on our smartphone for just about everything, and this is especially true for road trips. It's likely you'll use your phone for navigation, music and to chat with friends along the drive. Look into specific apps that may be helpful for traveling – there are plenty out there that offer traffic updates, can recommend restaurants in the area and can even tell you where the next gas station is. Let your passenger handle most of these tasks and always keep a charger in your car. Depending on where you're driving, consider bringing along an old-fashioned paper map as well. There are still plenty of places across the country that don't have cell service.

Stay comfortable
If your car is so stuffed that you and your passenger have to move your seats up to fit everything in, consider cutting down on luggage. Not only will you be uncomfortable crammed up against the dashboard, it also presents a real safety concern should you get in an accident. Plus, repacking the car for the return trip will be just as difficult, especially if you pick up any souvenirs along the way.