Now that you’ve planned the perfect route, accommodations and made many exciting plans for your upcoming road trip, it’s time to tackle your packing list! On a road trip, your car is your home. You’ll be spending a whole lot of time there. Your packing strategy can make the trip much more comfortable and efficient. While you want to bring everything you may need, you also want to avoid overpacking and overcrowding your vehicle. Another vital preparation is packing plenty of healthy meals and snacks to avoid loading up on fast food. Check out our next post in the series for many ideas of healthy food to eat on the road.
Your clothes will probably take up a lot of room in the car, especially when on an extended road trip. They are also, in my opinion, the most important thing to pack strategically since they’re harder and more expensive to replace while you’re on the road.
- Rather than packing a large suitcase to drag to and from your hotel each night, you may want to pack your clothes in a large box or storage container. Then you can just bring a backpack with what is needed at each stop. On that same note, if you are also going to be driving overnight and stopping into a rest stop to freshen up, a large purse where you can stash your essentials and change of clothes into is a godsend.
- Bring clothing for both warmer and colder climates than you think you’ll need. On our last road trip, I checked the weather before leaving, but wasn’t prepared for how much colder the wind would make it would feel in Wyoming. Luckily, I was able to dash into Walmart to buy a cheap winter coat, but I wish I had avoided the extra purchase.
- Make sure your outfits are comfortable to ride in the car for a long time. I usually choose fashion over comfort, but not on a road trip. I love leggings with tunic length tops for the car, with a cute jacket to throw over top in case someone (my hubby) is blasting the A/C. It’s also great to wear shoes that slip on and off.
- Plan your outfits according to your itinerary, and decide on a general color scheme to make it easy to mix and match. Check out our free planner for an easy way to organize your route, itinerary and outfits!
- Re-wear what you’re able to. I find its easy to wear jeans, jackets, sweaters, pajamas, blouses multiple times. Dark colors are your friend here, as is wrinkle release spray, more on that below.
This is mostly a concern for women, but my toiletries make me feel a lot more comfortable and confident while I’m away from home. In addition to the normal everyday products, make a few special considerations for road trips.
- Dry shampoo and disposable shower caps – While you are on a road trip, your routine may be thrown off by very early mornings and late nights. You may also not have much time to get ready, only being in certain places for a short time. Throwing my hair up into a shower cap and using dry shampoo enables me to take a much quicker shower and not have to worry about driving around with wet hair.
- Makeup remover/face cleansing wipes – When you can’t stand to stay awake one second longer, face wipes make it easy to keep your skin clear. No sink needed!
- Wrinkle release spray – This stuff is awesome! You just spray the wrinkles, smooth them out by hand or throw in the dryer a couple minutes and you are good to go! Not only on road trips, wrinkle release spray comes in handy on every trip. Another tip is to spray the item with wrinkle release, then put it on a hanger and hang in the bathroom while the shower is on. Leave the door closed to keep the steam in as long as you can to get maximum benefit. Also in a pinch you can use the hotel provided hair dryer on stubborn wrinkles.
- Small makeup bag – You will be on the go and in the car a lot, so its good to have a makeup bag you can grab to get ready in the car or at a rest stop.
- Don’t rely on hotels to provide toiletries – On our latest trip, I opted to skip bringing face and body wash since I am not too picky and I figured these items would be provided at our hotels. By the end of our trip, my skin was very itchy and irritated. Bring a few of your favorites along so your routine doesn’t get too messed up.
- If you use a curling iron or straightener, you might want to have a heat proof case so you can travel with it while it’s still hot. I use a pot holder and hair tie. Just wrap the pot holder around the base of the iron, and secure with hair tie.
- For fellow light sleepers, I recommend ear plugs and an eye mask. It helps me tune out everything around me and get some good rest in a strange location. Also if I don’t get enough sleep that night, the earplugs and eye mask also help me sleep while we are on the road.
Other important items to pack
There are some other important things you may want to have in your vehicle to ensure you are safe, comfortable and help you stay on route:
- GPS and/or a map
- Cash for tolls and gas
- Jumper cables
- Spare tire and accessories
- AAA membership – With roadside assistance, a free tow, discounts on hotels and many other benefits, DJ and I decided to sign up!
- Car chargers
- Hand sanitizer
- First aid kit
- Tissues and/or paper towels
- Trash bags
- Snacks and drinks – More info in our next post: Healthy eating on the road!
- Music – If you haven’t before, road trips are a good time to take a free trial of Spotify or Pandora. But also bring some music that you don’t need cell signal to access, for when you’re driving through the middle of nowhere without service.
Our trip was a great success due to all the thought we put into packing. In order to not over pack, some sacrifices will need to be made. These items we found to be pretty critical and are pretty stock to our packing list. What other space saving methods do you have for packing? Feel free to share so we can all have a little extra room in our travel vehicles!