Road trips are one of my favorite ways to travel. You can explore so much in a short amount of time and be completely flexible with your time and what you want to see and do.
However, road trips are also one of the hardest trips to pack for. You have to pack for different destinations (maybe even climates) in a limited amount of space.
But don't worry! I'm here to help you optimize your packing and tell you what to pack for a road trip, so you can focus on enjoying your trip!
I normally swear by trollies when I travel, but for road trips, I recommend using a soft bag (duffel bag or similar) as these are easier to pack, stack and squeeze into tight places in the car.
For day trips I use a backpack so I can bring only the necessary things with me and leave the rest in the car or at the hotel/hostel.
- Duffel Bag
Layers, layers, layers!
Driving from destination to destination makes it hard to predict the weather, so be sure to pack layers so you can be prepared for any changes. I always go for the basics to make sure I'm comfortable on long drives.
Most of the time you only need one or two bottoms and a few tops to get by for up to a week.
You can do laundry at most hotels and hostels, and if you bring a stain remover stick, you can take care of any urgent spills or stains.
I always bring at least one nice outfit in case we decide to go out or end up somewhere fancy. You don't want to be stuck at a nice party or restaurant in your jeans and t-shirt. 🙂
Shoes are one of the most important things when traveling. Wearing uncomfortable shoes when walking around can completely ruin your experience. I always bring at least one pair of comfortable sneakers and recently discovered the best sneaker brands I have ever tried.
The Swiss company Baabuk makes their shoes out of 100% wool, which might sound strange but actually makes perfect sense when you read about all the advantages of the material.
These shoes are perfect for traveling as they give you immediate comfort (no need to break them in and say goodbye to blisters!), they heat-regulate your feet perfectly, so you are never too hot or too cold, and they even have elastic shoe laces so you can slip right in and out.
I had the Urban Wooler model with me on a recent road trip to Iceland and I was so impressed that they will definitely come with me on all my future road trips as well.
For long drives (or nasty hostel bathrooms) I always bring flip-flops. They are great for quickly jumping out of the car and should be on everyone's road trip packing list.
- Comfortable sneakers
- Nice boots or sandals
When spending a lot of time in the car it's important to have the right equipment with you. Always bring a phone charger and a USB port that plugs into the cigarette lighter, so you can keep your phone charged for navigation, music, and emergencies.
I mostly just use my phone for navigation but a GPS unit is definitely an advantage in places where you don't have a signal or if you are out of the country and don't have data on your phone.
If you do decide to use your phone for navigation, a phone holder is a good investment so you can place it at the windshield.
When you are out exploring you never know when you will be near the next clean restroom or shower, so always pack a few rolls of toilet paper, some hand sanitizer, body wipes, and tissues to be on top of any situation.
If you are traveling during the summer, it's also a good idea to bring bug spray and sunscreen. No one wants to be stuck in a car for hours if you're sunburnt or covered with bug bites!
It's also not very fun to be driving with a headache, so always pack a few painkillers.
For the girls it's a good idea to bring some hair ties, so you are ready for windy days. 🙂
It's no road trip without an awesome playlist that everyone can sing along to, so do some research and find everyone's favorite songs!.
It's also a good idea to bring along some board games or a deck of cards to entertain yourself on quiet nights.
- An awesome playlist
- Board games
- A deck of cards
You can't have a road trip without snacks! Be sure to stock up before the trip, as it is way cheaper to bring them from home than buying them at gas stations. It also gives you the opportunity to add some healthier options.
It's a good idea to pack ziplock bags to keep the snacks fresh and the car tidy, and don't forget wet wipes to clean your hands afterward.
Bring a reusable water bottle so you can stay hydrated, and if you want the drinks to stay cool, bring a small cooler as well.
Comfort is essential, so be sure to pack sunglasses to avoid squinting when driving, a blanket for picnics or chilly nights, and a travel pillow for naps in the car.
It's also a good idea to bring a towel in case your accommodation doesn't provide one.
- Travel pillow
- A towel
Safety is always important and these things should probably always be in your car - but certainly don't forget them on a road trip.
Never leave home without your license and registration, and keep a copy of your car insurance policy in the car.
It is also a good idea to have the car's manual in the glove compartment in case you need to check up on something.
Be sure to pack a spare tire, a first aid kit, and an emergency road assistance kit in the trunk.
If you are traveling to cold destinations remember to pack a snow shovel and an ice scraper.
These are all my best tips for the ultimate road trip packing list. Be sure to leave a comment if I missed anything.
When you are ready to start planning your trip, head over to my resource page to find the best websites and tools to make travel booking and planning a breeze.
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