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I just came from an epic desert road trip, and I wouldn’t have survived without these 7 travel essentials

Summer is one of the most euphoric times of year, thanks to the warm weather ushering in major traveling plans. Lots of folks are jet-setting this summer, with air travel volumes hitting record highs. If you want to avoid the anxiety and see one of the country’s most beautiful natural wonders paired with a new, epic pop-up experience, do what I just did and take a road trip to the epic Cheez-It Stop in Joshua Tree, California.

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While taking in the sights, though, you’ll need these road trip travel essentials to keep you sane and safe on the road. From snacks, sunscreen and tech, we’ve covered all bases to ensure that you’ve got everything you need on your next road adventure.

Credit: Katie Gardner for Cheez-It
Credit: Katie Gardner for Cheez-It

First things first, though, a little more about the epic, one-week-only Cheez-It Stop!

I got the chance to take an early visit to the epic Cheez-It Stop at 61943 Twentynine Palms Highway in Joshua Tree (yes, it’s the roadside that boosts the epic, vintage vibes to a 100)! It’s the perfect desert destination for fans who want to make the 128-mile drive from Los Angeles or the 168-mile drive from San Diego.

Available for one week only (Monday, June 5 to Sunday, June 11), the one-of-a-kind experience is the perfect destination or road trip rest stop for the snack lover. Its main attraction, though, is its uniquely crafted — and the world’s first and only — Cheez-It Pump. Think of it as a standard gas pump, but instead of fuel, small bags of crackers come out.

Credit: Katie Gardner for Cheez-It
Credit: Katie Gardner for Cheez-It

This is one of those one-time-only experiences you need to cross off your summer travel and bucket list.

While the trip was well worth it in the end, traveling in the California desert heat wasn’t for the weak. There were a few essentials I made sure to pack that kept me sane, sunburn-free and entertained the entire time.

Whether you're in the middle of the Mojave Desert or just heading out to run errands, sunscreen is the ultimate road trip travel essential. The Supergoop! PLAY Everyday Lotion SPF 50 has been my go-to body sunscreen for the past two summers because it rubs in clear and doesn't leave a white cast or any residue. It's also fragrance-free, so it won't irritate your skin or ruin your body fragrance if you're wearing one.

During the road trip, I made sure to reapply this sunscreen to my legs, arms and neck every two hours to prevent sunburn. Also, feel free to apply this product as liberally as you'd like to your body. The more protection you have, the better! This is, hands down, the ultimate road trip travel essential.

$34 at Sephora

Your face needs just as much sun protection as your body, and while the Supergoop! PLAY Everyday Lotion SPF 50 works for both, I prefer to use the Krave Beauty Beet The Sun SPF 40 PA+++ exclusively for above the neck.

This has been my all-time favorite sunscreen for over five years now, and after being discontinued for over two years, it's officially back and is surprisingly in stock! I love this Korean sunscreen because it's extremely lightweight (it has the texture of a slightly watery cream), hydrating and gives incredible broad-spectrum protection. Plus, it leaves a beautiful dewy finish, so you'll never look dry.

$20 at Krave Beauty

In addition to sunscreen, an OG way to naturally protect your face from the sun is with a wide-brimmed sun hat. This one from Lack of Color has the perfect easy-breezy desert vibe thanks to its natural straw weaving and finish.

Handmade in Mexico, the Lack of Color Palma Boater is one of my newest road trip travel essentials for this summer. It's made using 100% baked palm leaf and is extremely lightweight. What I love most about this hat, though, is that it has an inner elastic sweatband on the inside to help with the fit — so, no matter how long you wear it, it won't feel too tight or too loose.

The Palma Boater also has the highest achievable sun protective rating for fabrics (UPF 50+), so if you pair this with the sunscreens above, you won't have to worry about sunburns at all.

It currently comes in two sizes (S-M and L-XL) and two shapes (boater and fedora).

$109 at Lack of Color

When out in the summer heat — especially in the dry California desert sun — it's extremely important to stay hydrated. I prefer to take a reusable water bottle with me wherever I go, and this one from Fellow has all the features I love about my Stanley tumbler in a much more compact, manageable and travel-friendly package.

It's spill-resistant, has a true taste ceramic coating, is cup-holder-compatible and, best of all, keeps your water cold for over 18 hours. Also, if, like me, you just don't enjoy lugging around that giant Stanley tumbler cup, this one is a bit smaller and easier to take with you.

This road trip travel essential comes in six colors and is the perfect travel vessel for everything from your cold brew and your favorite cocktail to nice, ice-cold water.

$35 at Fellow

When I arrived at the Cheez-It Stop, I wanted to ensure that my hands were free, but I still wanted a place to store all my small essentials like my sunscreen, wallet and sunglasses. I've had the Dagne Dover Micah Crossbody for about two years now, and every time I casually commute or travel, I take it with me.

It's the perfect crossbody bag! Its length is fully adjustable, and it has tons of thoughtfully placed pockets on the inside. Best of all, since it's made of neoprene, it weighs basically nothing and is easy to clean. It also comes in eight colors ranging from classic black to hot pink.

$110 at Dagne Dover

Trust me — this is something you don't think you need until you need it. This super affordable and rechargeable Handheld Misting Fan is the perfect solution for staying cool. I mean, who doesn't love a personal fan that's always on them whenever they need it?

If you want an extra boost, add some cool water to the dispenser, and the fan will emit a fine mist through the blades. Don't worry — you won't be wet. It's that fine. Also, did I mention that it's foldable and super small? In fact, it's so small that it fits in my Micah Crossbody with plenty of room to spare. If you're looking for the ultimate road trip travel essentials to keep you cool, this one's a must-buy.

$25 at Amazon

Lastly, snacks are non-negotiable when it comes to road trip travel essentials. However, not just any snacks will do. They need to be easy to poppable, not too messy and provide enough variety so you won't get bored of having them for hours on end.

This Cheez-It Baked Snack Cheese Crackers three-flavor variety pack is my go-to. All three boxes (one Cheez-It Original, one Cheez-It White Cheddar and one Cheez-It Extra Toasty) are family-size and shareable, making them perfect for long-haul travels.

$21 at Amazon

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