A couple are shown sitting in a convertible driving down a road by the ocean on a sunny day.

8 Essential Accessories You Need to Enhance Your Summer Driving Experience

Summer time is when you whip out the swimsuit, flip-flops, beach gear, hiking equipment, camping tents, boats, jet-skis, trailers, and everything else in between. It’s the time of the year where you enjoy your hard earned cash and vacation or adventure someplace fun. Getting there is one thing, but once you do get there you’re going to want something to do. That, in itself, may require equipment, gear, tools, or other accessories to help make the trip more enjoyable.

If you’re planning on vacationing, adventuring, or traveling by road this summer, then you’re going to need the necessary equipment to make the most of the journey. That’s where this article comes in, with some nifty ideas and accessories you might want to take with you in order to further improve and enhance your summertime adventures. Let’s roll through a few of the must-haves if you’re going to be taking your sedan, coupe, van, truck, or SUV out to soak in the sun, explore the open road, or tackle a dirt trail this summer.

#1: Cargo Management

The cargo management dividers available from aftermarket or OEM providers will provide many options when it comes to organizing what you’re going to take with you on a road trip. The great part about cargo management accessories or cargo dividers is that there are a number of different options available for you. There are cargo net dividers, which allow you to keep certain items in the storage area divider as you see fit. These are perfect if you have tools, supplies, food, luggage, or other belongings you don’t want moving around in the back. One great solution is a movable cargo divider, which allows you to not only store stuff in the back of the vehicle, but also carry it with you inside. It’s perfect for moving everything out of the vehicle at once in a single trip, all while keeping the items organized.

#2: Portable Powered Coolers

If you’re planning on trips to hot places a long way away from home, you’re going to need to keep your beverages cool and your drinks fresh. For long road trips under a beating sun where air conditioning just isn’t enough, there is a solution in the form of portable powered coolers. As long as you have a way to run the cooler by plugging it in or letting it run off the battery, it will keep the contents inside cool, just like your refrigerator at home. The best part is that these are also useful if you aren’t going on a long road trip. Even if you’re just heading over to a family gathering and you’re bringing food or drinks that need to stay chilled, a portable powered cooler will ensure the contents stay cool. This makes for a great summer accessory for tailgate parties and get-togethers.

A blue 2023 Ford Bronco is shown with a woman sitting in a set up rooftop tent.

#3: Sport Tent and Shower

Lots of people love to go camping when the weather is nice. There’s nothing better than taking in the great outdoors and enjoying the beauty of the night while camping out under the stars. However, camping can be a bit of a problem when it comes to things like sleeping arrangements and hygiene. If you have a van, truck, or SUV, there are actually solutions for this conundrum in the form portable sport tents and collapsible showers. It’s great that you can find a convenient solution for staying clean and getting a good night’s sleep while camping outside. Various sport tents are even designed to directly attach to certain SUVs and trucks, so it makes it easy to keep your supplies close or use the bed or tailgate lights as additional lighting for the tent. The sport tents and portable showers are great accessories that you’re going to want for your summer camping trips.

#4: Removable Roof Rails

One of the more common and almost essential accessories you could get for your vehicle are roof rails or side rails. If you get a sport or off-road trim of a sedan, truck, van, or SUV, they almost always come with roof rails or side rails as standard equipment. However, if you have a vehicle that did not come with roof rails, there are removable roof rails that you can buy for your vehicle. Why are these important for enhancing your summer driving sessions? Roof rails allow you to add additional accessories and attachments to the top of the vehicle. If you want to bring additional cargo, attach a kayak or canoe, or put various carrier kits on top of the vehicle, you can do so with removable roof rails or side rails, depending on your vehicle make and model. These are essential if you’re planning to bring a lot of cargo that just won’t fit into the back of the vehicle, as it makes the roof a perfect place to store your cargo.

#5: Bicycle Racks

An extremely common activity during the summer is taking bicycles out to a trail and enjoying a ride or two with family or friends. Whether it’s mountain biking, leisure biking, road bikes, or racing bikes, there are lots of people who love to pack up their two-wheeled pedal-operated device and have some fun. However, in many cases a lot of people don’t live near where they like to bike, so in order to get there you need to pack up your bike, a spare inner tube (or two), a pump, and any other gear you need to travel to that location. Unless you have a full-size SUV, van, or truck, you won’t be able to easily store your bike inside the vehicle. Thankfully, there are bike racks available from both OEM providers and third-party manufacturers. A good bike rack can easily be attached on top of sturdy roof rails or to a trailer hitch, which makes all the difference for conveniently traveling to your favorite riding spot with the bike on the rack.

A blue 2023 Subaru Outback is shown driving down the road towing a trailer with bikes in a roof rack.

#6: Trailer Hitch

Almost all of your vehicular excursions that involve large item transportation will require carriers, rails, kits, or trailers. The most important accessory you can have for your summer travels is a trailer hitch. Even if you never plan to tow a trailer, a hitch provides you with the versatility and options to outfit your vehicle with exactly what you need. A hitch mount will allow you to attach everything from a trailer to a cargo box, bike rack, and even hammock kits. A trailer hitch will enable you to attach all sorts of cool accessories to your vehicle. It’s probably the most important accessory you can have to enhance your summer travels, whether it’s biking, canoeing, boating, fishing, or traveling to your favorite sports game. The accessibility and options a good trailer hitch provides is incalculable, and a must-have for almost all summertime travelers.

#7: Hitch-Mounted Carrier

Let’s say that you have a lot of gear or equipment that doesn’t fit inside your vehicle, and it’s not quite easily attachable via roof rails, like a basket full of sports balls and equipment that has a cargo net covering. You may not feel comfortable transporting that stuff around on the roof because you fear the wind might detach the net and everything will fly out. A safer way to transport that equipment is a hitch-mounted carrier. This is basically a giant box that will allow you to store your equipment inside and not have to worry about aerodynamics ruining the fun. Any vehicle with a trailer hitch can be equipped with a hitch-mounted carrier kit.

#8: Cargo Trailer

For larger items, such as motorcycles and boats, you may want to invest in a trailer to bring the fun along. A cargo trailer can carry as much weight as the vehicle’s designated trailering capacity, including the weight of the trailer itself. This is perfect for summer adventures, because if you plan on going boating, rowing, using jet skis, or bringing ATVs to an off-road ranch, you will need to transport them to the designated location, and a cargo trailer is the best way to do it. Instead of paying someone to tow your boat or small vehicles to the location, you can just use a cargo trailer and do it yourself. This not only makes it easier and cheaper for you, but also allows you to take your trailered cargo where you want, when you want.