This time three years ago, I had just come to the end of the greatest trip of my life to date.

Through a myriad of tiny coincidences and forks in the road, I somehow managed to book myself onto the one American road trip that would introduce me to Magro and change the path of my life forever.

Who knows where I'd be if it weren't for that chance encounter. Not here in Milan that's for sure.

I still marvel at all of the little things that led to this trip - my unplanned gap year, Magro being forced to postpone his travels by a year, the countless hours I spent with my travel buddy scouring roadtrip sites looking for THE perfect break yet somehow chose this one... and as if the universe or fate or whatever is still trying to milk me of respect for this design, I've just been contacted by RelayRides, an American car rental service based on owners sharing their cars, asking if I want to join them in their Road Trip Essentials campaign by posting about my top must-haves for roadtrips!

Do I need another excuse to daydream and soak myself in nostalgia? Absolutely not! So sit back, click play on my little playlist for dreaming and have a read; here are my eight essentials for being on the road...

 The most obvious of course but not always the easiest to sort out! We set out in our trusty (or so we thought) TrekAmerica van which broke down on the fourth day and left us sunning ourselves in the middle of the highway for an hour or so! Luckily a very friendly police officer was on hand to squeeze us into his car and escort us back to town! I would hands down go on another TrekAmerica tour again (possibly the exact same one ha) but I'd also love to have a bit more agency to explore at my own will so renting a car would be a perfect option. Or a horse, helicopter or motorbike. I'm not fussy.

The Open Road
One of the most incredible things about driving around America was the sheer amount of open space stretching all around us. Being from the UK I'd never seen anything like it. It felt like we were on the set of Thelma and Louise - which in a sense, we were! It's these kind of spaces, fringed by mountains and deserts and coast and lakes, that are absolutely fundamental to a good roadtrip. Being stuck on the M25 for hours? Not cool. Shooting down the highway, passing only a few other cars as you see landscapes melt and form before you? Life changing.

Junk Food
Yeah ok, it's very cool to be healthy now. But let's face it, holidays are the perfect time to eat whatever you want, whenever you want. And America is Queen of fast food. And the home of Ben & Jerrys (although this isn't recommended in hot cars).

The best things in life are free but you'll still have to work hard for them. Love, family, friends, mountains... you need to put the work in to get the best out of them. So whether you're getting up at 4am for sunrise over the Grand Canyon (top left), being told that you've still got to climb about 3km when you thought you'd made it to the top (top right - and yep, that's me with the long dark hair!), waiting for the cops to pick you up (bottom left) or saying goodbye to the amazing people you've met at the end of the trip (bottom right), you'll need a bit of personal strength to see you through. Which comes in the form of...

I was so lucky to have met the most incredible group of people on this trip. We still keep in touch and see each other when we can (although obviously I see a certain someone a lot more than the others! And Amy and Brett, I promise we will make it to Australia to see you and your growing family as soon as possible!) Grab your friends, the best, the oldest and the new ones, and jump in a car together for two weeks, you'll be surprised by how much those miles transform you.

You're in a confined space for a lot of the trip so you've got to make a huge effort to get along with each other. Again, we were really lucky and with one or two exceptions, we all clicked to form a huge bizarre family. Maybe you'll spot a penis-shaped rock to pose with or perhaps a bromance will break out. You might even drunkenly decide to recreate the climatic scene from Dirty Dancing only to discover that five people can't lift you up, let alone one! But mainly, humour for us meant...

We did it everywhere. It's such a good way to keep yourself entertained even if it is old news now.

But finally, I couldn't have done it all without...

My Travel Buddy, Tamsyn
We stuck together throughout our gap year, getting drunk in Brussels and dancing with old men in the streets, squealing with excitement when the confirmation emails came in, surviving a mishap in which she managed to book some kind of freak gluten-free vegan diet on the plane for us (I was not happy when everyone else got their GU chocolate puddings!), battling jetlag successfully, fighting over putting the tent up every couple of days, teasing each other about our old lady middle names (Mabel for me, Iris for her).. although we wanted to kill each other frequently, she was the best person for me to have done this trip with. I really hope we get to do another one in the future.