Everything You Need for a California Desert Road Trip
Coachella is right on the horizon.
Remember the thrill of your very first road trip? There are few moments more freeing than peeling out of your driveway in a car packed full of your besties, multiple outfit changes, and an aux cord. The good news? That feeling never goes away, and with Coachella on the horizon, we’ve mapped out the essentials for a perfect California road trip through the desert.
Since you’ll be adventuring through less populated areas, you will certainly lose cell reception at times. I road-tested the 2017 Chevy Cruze, which has built in Wi-Fi, when I set out to explore the Cali desert, so I was always connected. Good gas mileage is also crucial since gas stations are not easy to come by in the middle of nowhere.
Another hugely important factor to setting the tone of a road trip is music—and when choosing travel buddies, having similar taste in tunes should be at the top of the checklist. I highly recommend Sampha’s new album, Process, Syd’s solo project, FIN, and her Internet counterpart, Steve Lacy’s Demo EP. Lacy’s project is truly made for Cali drives.
When the time comes for everyone to sing the words out loud at the top of their lungs (this always happens at least once), N.E.R.D.’s catalog is a great place to start, but don’t be afraid to put on Mariah Carey’s greatest hits. Apple Music also has a really incredible playlist called Best Slow Jams of the ’90s. (I know. Very specific—just trust me.) And don’t forget to pack Beats Pill+ to maintain the vibe when you aren’t on the road (like, when you pull over for a picnic or desert dance break).
And then there’s sustenance. You’re not likely to find many healthy options along the way, so you’ll want to pack water and snacks. CORE has pH-balanced water in a variety of flavors good for everyone in the car. I love Back to Nature’s trail mix options, too. However, be mindful of the salty snacks since you’re in the middle of the desert and it’s hot and dry as hell.
A few more in-car essentials: hand sanitizer, SPF, and sunglasses. Retrosuperfuture’s SS17 Gals Infrared pair is sturdy and great for driving. HeyDay’s facial moisturizer with 50 SPF is light enough for everyday use. Glossier’s Universal Skin Salve is the perfect all-purpose pocket-sized essential for your lips and hands, and fittingly, R+Co’s Death Valley travel-sized dry shampoo is great for attempting to keep your hair looking good between stretches of highways with the windows all the way down.
Now that your car is fully stocked and ready to head to Indio, it’s time to start packing. Here’s what we suggest bringing to do festival dressing right.