USA Car Trip: 6 Things You Shouldn’t Forget at Home

9 mins read

So, you carefully planned each detail of your upcoming journey: you bought flight tickets, booked a hotel room, chose insurance and finally reserved 7 passenger van rental for a big family trip to the USA. Yes, a 7-seater vehicle is great for traveling with children, but you can also pick up something different to your liking.

If the suitcases are packed, and everything you need is in place, then you can go! But let’s just in case go through the list of things you must have with you on your car trip. This will help you avoid unexpected situations and fully enjoy the road trip to the USA. Keep reading!…


We won’t remind you about passports and insurance, but you need to take care about a driver’s license. First, check the expiration date of your license. It must be at least 1 year old. Otherwise, you may have some difficulties at the pick-up point. Of course, any car rental company’s agent won’t provide you a vehicle for expired or temporary license.

Next, find out if your home license is suitable for driving in the country you are traveling to. The fact is that if your license is not in the Latin alphabet, you will need an International Driving Permit (IDP). This document is actually a certified translation of your driver’s license in eight languages, including English. Don’t know where to get it? Then read the detailed instructions on how and where to get an IDP.

When booking a car online, you must also have a confirmation voucher. It‘s needed to quickly complete the contract upon arrival at the counter.

Now, let’s take a quick look at what documents you need:

  • Driver’s license, plus IDP if required
  • Passport
  • Insurance (however, you can purchase it at the car rental counter)
  • Car rental voucher


Smartphone, navigator, chargers

At the car rental point, you will probably be offered to get a navigator or pay for the use of what is already installed in the car. Save money: take your navigator from home or simply download the appropriate software to your phone. By the way, don’t forget to download the maps of the necessary areas in advance so that the device works without the Internet connection.

It’s also important to take chargers that connect to automotive power socket or just have a USB connector. It may be worth taking a dash cam as well, especially if you feel more confident behind the wheel with it.


Cash and credit card on your name with sufficient limit

Most often, a credit card is required to rent a car. It’s a credit card – not debit, not prepaid. Judging by the numerous reviews on the Internet, you may not even get a car without a credit card. Also, remember that the credit card must be in the name of the main driver – this is written in the car rental conditions. If you have any problems with this, contact the agency and clarify this question.

When picking up your vehicle, the rental office will block a deposit on the account. The deposit is the amount that you leave as a guarantee of compensation for damage to a car due to your fault. Also, the deposit can be used if you took a car with a full tank and returned it with an empty one. The amount of the deposit is usually negotiated in the conditions in advance, but most often its amount is $500-1,000, depending on the car class.

When traveling, you should always have cash dollars in small bills, as well as coins for small expenses and payments in various machines (for example, for pumping a wheel at a gas station). They may also be needed to pay for gasoline in case your bank card doesn’t work.


USB flash drive with music or a cable to connect a smartphone to the car audio device

In case you’re going to have a long-distance journey, it’s easy to get bored on the road. Of course, almost all rental cars have a radio installed onboard, but it’s not a fact that you will find a radio station to your liking, and if you plan to travel to remote cities, the choice may be reduced to one or two options.

So it’s best to take your favorite music with you. Since it can be difficult to predict whether a rented car will have a disc/USB flash drive reader, don’t forget to take both USB drive and a smartphone with downloaded music. If you have a portable speaker- take it, and all questions will be immediately resolved.


First aid kit

In any case, you will take it with you on a trip, but it won’t be superfluous to remind about it. Be sure to take the following medicines and things:

  • anesthetic
  • antipyretic
  • sorbent
  • antihistamine,
  • motion sickness medication
  • wet wipes
  • local disinfectants
  • bandages and plasters.

If you or one of the passengers needs specific medications, it’s also important not to forget them – it may be difficult or even impossible to buy them on the spot.


Other items to make your trip easier

Traveling by car will become much more convenient if you bring comfortable clothes and shoes with you, for example, a soft tracksuit and sneakers. Small pillows and blankets for passengers will also come in handy, especially if you are traveling with children.

If hot weather is expected during your trip, stock up in advance with a special windshield protector cover, which is installed when your car is stopped. It’s made of a material with a reflective surface, which makes the car less hot.

Also, you should always keep clean bottled water in your bag – you can both quench your thirst and wash your hands. Sandwiches, vegetables, fruits or some kind of snacks are also recommended. If possible, grab a small bag to keep the products cool. It’s not necessary to take a full-fledged car refrigerator, since bags with walls lined with special foil are often enough so that the food doesn’t deteriorate during several hours of travel.


Traveling on a rental car in the USA is always a new experience and fun adventures. Thousands of miles of high quality highways, incredible views behind the window and sights along the way will make your trip truly unforgettable. All you need is to choose the right car and take everything you need for the trip – this is a guarantee of an easy journey filled with positive emotions!