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Summer Road Trip Essentials

Hitting the road? What to pack, music to play and more for highway adventures

If you’re planning to drive off into the sunset with your buddies for a summer adventure on wheels, you’ll want to load up the car with essentials and pack your playlists to make it the ultimate road trip. Our guide includes drinks, snacks and gear from local brands so you can take a bit of Austin with you. There’s also plenty of recommended podcasts to help pass the time while you’re on the road and enough new music to give you a stellar soundtrack for making memories. Drive safe!

What to Pack


By now, you hopefully already have one of Kammok’s classic Roo hammocks for your outdoor needs, but the Austin brand has several new products to add to your gear. The Field Blanket is perfect for both impromptu picnics in town and road trip adventures: With a soft fleece interior and a water-repellent ripstop shell, the compact blanket is versatile for all outdoor activities.  — Hannah J. Phillips


If you’re hitting the road, you’ll need a kick of caffeine along the way. Pack the cooler with CLEAN Cause’s limited-edition, no-sugar, watermelon-flavored energy drink. Think of it as sparkling, refreshing, high-octane fuel for you, made with yerba maté (and 160 mgs of natural caffeine). The Austin-based company released its ninth flavor to celebrate a major milestone—$1 million donated to help people in addiction recovery with sober-living scholarships. — Aaron Parsley


Along with the wonders of nature comes the inconvenience of mosquitoes, ticks and other irritating pests. Cue Wondercide—another conscious and health-oriented brand that places importance on family. Avoiding artificial fragrances and synthetic pesticides, its repellants use plant-based ingredients that are actually effective, making it safe and easy for babies, kids and pets. — Holly Cowart

Maufrais Hats

An outdoor adventure calls for a good hat, and South Austin’s Maufrais makes eye-catching Stetsons for both men and women. Starting with an open crown hat, a Maufrais team member will create a custom work for you, steaming and shaping the hat to any crown style and tailoring accessories to your individual taste. Visit the Maufrais website to book a private hat shaping. — David Clough

Thunderbird Nut and Seed Bars

Long car rides require snacks. Instead of bringing junk food, take something good for you: All-natural Thunderbird Bars are made with nuts, whole seeds, spices and berries, with no added sugar or artificial additives. They’re also paleo, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan and dairy-free. Packed with micronutrients, Thunderbird Bars are perfect for when you need a bite of clean energy. Try the delicious Texas Maple Pecan bar (box of 12, $23.95). — DC

Howler Brothers 

Known for stylish outdoor shirts worn by the likes of Matthew McConaughey (who favors the company’s vintage-inspired Gaucho Snapshirts), Austin-based Howler Brothers has the right gear for any road trip. The brand’s limited-run, high-quality clothing seamlessly blends Southern influences with elements from surfing and fly-fishing culture. We recommend packing the lightweight and breathable Lazy Gators: Egret Mansfield Shirt ($69). — DC

Thinksport Sunscreen

Whether you’re hiking through the Texas Hill Country or hitting city streets, one thing is an absolute necessity this summer: sunscreen. ThinkSport offers powerful protection at no expense to the user’s health, ensuring a product that’s natural, environmentally safe and free from harmful chemicals. The award-winning line offers SPF 50+ sunscreen, sunscreen sticks, baby-safe options and even lip balm, so you’re covered wherever you roam. — HC

What to Listen To

Austin Art Talk

If you’re an artist or an admirer seeking inspiration, keep up with Scott David Gordon’s weekly Austin Art Talk podcast. The photographer, collector and overall art lover uses his platform to connect with local makers and visiting exhibitioners. With over 100 episodes available to date, listen in and discover the stories behind the individuals driving Austin’s creative scene. — HC

The Austin Anthem Podcast

Hosted by die-hard soccer fans, the Austin Anthem Podcast is a lighthearted and informative source for all things Major League Soccer and Austin’s own professional soccer team, Austin FC. Most episodes run an hour or longer. The program covers the latest Austin FC  Q2 Stadium and MLS news, as well as notable events and happenings in the Austin soccer community. — DC

Modern Renegades 

Ashley Kelsch knows dating—the ups, the downs and everything in between. She brings her experience to her weekly podcast, Modern Renegades, where listeners can have their innermost dating questions answered. Ultimately, Kelsch explores how to expand one’s mindset and look inward to discover something new. “I promise, it won’t be boring,” she says. “Love and relationships—even with ourselves—never are.” — HC

The Night Owl Podcast

Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? The Night Owl takes you to haunted bars, restaurants and businesses around the Central Texas area, unveiling the mysteries and stories surrounding each location. The podcast is currently on pause—meaning there’s no new episodes airing at the moment—but the program is slated to pick back up soon. Fortunately, there are plenty of episodes in the archive, guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat as you drive to your next destination. — DC

Hot Dish Radio

This mouthwatering podcast dives into the origin stories and unique perspectives that have turned our city into an unmatched destination for world-class cuisine. Host and celebrated author Mariam Parker delivers in-depth interviews with chefs, restaurateurs and professionals whose local impact goes far beyond four walls. Episodes regularly air on KOOP Radio 91.7 FM here in Austin and can be found online on Spotify. — HC

15 Minute History

Produced by the History Department at the University of Texas at Austin, this podcast keeps history lessons short and sweet. Focused on world, U.S. and Texas happenings, 15 Minute History takes an interesting topic from the past and delivers it in an accessible, bite-size format. Each episode runs under half an hour, which makes it great for binge listening. By the end of your road trip, you might feel like a history buff. — DC

What to Groove To

Photo by Jackie Lee Young

Tiarra Girls 

After signing with Cosmica Artists earlier this year, this Mexican American sister trio dropped a new single, “Soy Chingona,” in June. Influenced by rock, Latin, pop, soul, reggae and more, there’s a little something for everyone here. Definitely an Austin band to watch. — HJP

Angélica Rahe

After canceling the world tour for her debut album, Reina, in 2020, Rahe returns to the stage on July 16 at the Mohawk. The Spanish singer-songwriter recorded her first EP in 2018 with Adrian Quesada of the Black Pumas. — HJ

Bob Schneider

One of Austin’s iconic local troubadours releases a new album later this summer, but you can get a sneak peek on his song “I Love This Life”—a good candidate for Austin’s official summer anthem. — HJP

Photo by Ismael Quintanilla

Jonathan Terrell

The first line of Terrell’s latest song says it all: “I need to get out of the city for a minute / I need to turn off my phone.” Released in May, “Highway” is the first single from his upcoming album, slated for September, and is the perfect first track to get your road trip going. — HJP