How to Pack for a Road Trip – My Top 7 Essentials


It’s no secret I love to travel, but taking road trips just may be one of my favorite means of traveling. Sure I love the convenience and {at times} ease of flying, but there’s something about being behind the wheel of a car and having control of your journey. I’ve taken quite the number of road trips in my time – both long (my family and I once drove from Alaska allllllllll the way to Virginia. Yup, my parents essentially drove across the entire United States with a pre-teen and a toddler – it’s truly a miracle we survived) and short – Tomorrow DCT and I are hitting the road again to visit Charleston and see one of my good friends tie the knot. Thanks to the handful of road trips we’ve taken before (Charleston part 1, Amsterdam, Colorado, & Texas) and to many a family trip, I have developed a method to ensure a {typically} smooth and stress-free drive. And as you may have guessed – it all starts with what you pack! Keep reading to learn my top 7 essentials for how to pack for a road trip.


1. Make a list

I had a problem where I’d wait till the absolute minute to start packing and therefore I would throw whatever I could into my bag not thinking if I really wanted/needed it. This usually resulted in having too many items that I didn’t need taking up valuable space. Now, while I still wait till the last minute to pack {old habits really die hard} I’ve started to make a packing list a few days before so that way I know what I want/need to take and I can just look at my list, grab and go with no worries about over packing or forgetting something I actually need.

2. Don’t pack your entire closet

This ties into making a list and is a mistake I used to frequently make, since you’re taking a car there’s no weight limits or regulations you have to follow as when flying, but just because you can fit your entire closet in your car, doesn’t mean you should! You’re visiting, not moving in – pick the pieces you currently love to wear and create outfits, then depending on the length of your trip add on only what’s necessary. Bringing too many options will be just that – too many options! You don’t want to spend a chunk of your vacay worrying about what to wear, so do yourself a favor and plan ahead of time.

Extra Tip: Use a duffel or soft bag instead of a large structured suitcase, you’ll feel more inclined to pack only what you really want when using a smaller bag and it’ll save more space in your car for any souvenirs or other goodies you may want to bring home.


3. Go for comfort in your riding clothes

Depending on the length of your drive (ours is about 13hrs) you could be sitting for quite awhile so be sure you’re in something comfortable. Stay with breathable fabrics that don’t wrinkle easily – a simple cotton dress or leggings paired with a tunic are usually my go-to’s. If you’re driving into different climates, layering will be your best friend. Lastly, opt for shoes that you can easily slip on and off – again, I like to get comfy when I know I’ll be sitting for a good while, so shoes usually get kicked off while riding. Slip-on sneakers are perfect for this, you can also go for a leather sandal or classic ballet flat.

4. Have a cooler stocked

I’m very much like my father when going on road trips, I want to get to where I’m going with as little stopping as possible. Though I’ve become more lenient with this the more I travel with DCT, since I’ve always just kept going having a cooler stocked with food, water, and the occasional energy drink or two was a necessity. Even if you’re the type of person who likes to make various stops along the way, it’s still a good idea to have some sort of food or drink in the car for those stretches where there really isn’t anywhere to stop.


5. Keep gadgets powered up

In this day and age, I feel this is a no-brainer – keeping your gadgets, especially phones, powered up is an essential, especially if – god-forbid – anything were to happen. Investing in a car charger is one of the best purchases you can make when hitting the road. Plus, how else will you be able to post snaps from your drive to Instagram if your phone dies?

6. Prepare your tunes beforehand

While most cars come with satellite radio nowadays, those of us with cars dating back to the late 90s/early 2000’s most likely only have radio, cds, and/or tape players in our dashboards. Either way, putting together a few upbeat playlists can help bring some energy back to your drive, especially after hitting 5 hours on the road and hearing that One Direction song for the 15th time.


7. Be flexible

Sure you have a set time you’d like to arrive at your destination, but you shouldn’t feel rushed. Leave some wiggle room for any sort of delays, changes in plans, or pit stops. Road trips are meant to be fun! So enjoy it and don’t let time stress you out.


Thanks for reading! Here’s to seeing you on the open road!




3 Responses to How to Pack for a Road Trip – My Top 7 Essentials

  1. Great tips and even lovelier photography! I’m so with you on tunes, tunes are so important. You should totally consider making a wardrobe essentials for the seasons – I never know what to I want to pack lol could be helpful