Road trips are like a rite of passage in America. It’s like a badge of honor for avid travelers that like to forge their own path and take the road less traveled. It seems straightforward enough, but if you’ve never taken a road trip you may find yourself staring at an empty suitcase wondering what to pack.
Of course, the destination is going to heavily influence what makes it into the suitcase. A road trip to lower Manhattan is a far cry from a trip to Yosemite or Miami Beach, and what you pack should reflect that. But there are also a number of essential items and packing tips that are helpful no matter where your road trip takes you.
Start With Essentials That Make the Ride Safer
If you’re a frequent flyer you’ll quickly come to realize that packing for a road trip is a different process. There’s less concern over squeezing everything into a carry-on bag, but there are additional essentials you shouldn’t leave home without.
Sunglasses don’t just make you look cool. They also protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and help cut down dangerous sun glare. Of course, a road trip isn’t the best time to bring along your expensive designer sunglasses. Ride in style and still have money left over for gas with women’s and men’s celebrity sunglasses from online retailers that don’t upcharge.
If you plan on driving a convertible or rolling the windows down hair ties are an absolute must. They have a way of going missing so pack double the number of hair ties you think you need.
Three navigation essentials are a map of the local area, GPS system and car charger for your mobile devices. Chances are your smart phone is your GPS device. On some long stretches of road pulling over to find an electric outlet isn’t an option. Car chargers that have a three-prong outlet and USB hookup are ideal since they cover virtually every portable device.
Go a step further with your navigation by download the Waze app. In addition to general directions, the free app provides traffic updates and reports sent in by other users in the area.
No one wants to have a breakdown during a road trip, but it’s always a possibility. Every driver should have an operable spare tire and basic car repair toolkit. Your vehicle should also be outfitted with a first aid kit, just in case.
Comfy clothes and shoes are also a must. You may be spending hours in the car at a time. Constrictive clothing will make the ride uncomfortable and could become a distraction while driving. If you plan on driving also make sure to wear shoes that won’t slip.
Packing Tips and Tricks to Try on Your Next Road Trip
Now that the essentials are covered, it’s time to turn your attention to packing up your bags and loading them in the vehicle. It’s an art and a science that’s much easier when you know the tricks of the trade.
Roll Instead of Folding
A tried and true space-saving technique is to roll some clothing items instead of folding them. This allows you to fit articles of clothing into the cracks and gaps that would otherwise go unused.
Another reason rolling instead of folding is the way to go – fewer wrinkles. When clothes are folded it will create creases, but that isn’t an issue when you roll.
Store Small Items Inside of Shoes
Once you’ve rolled up socks, neckties, etc. you can save space by putting them in your shoes. Other small items and accessories can also be stored in shoes for safekeeping during transit.
Use Soft-Sided Bags
When you travel by air sturdy suitcases that hold their shape are the go-to bag. But on a road trip, your trusty duffle bag and other soft-sided bags are usually the better choice. They can be wedged into the trunk and tight spaces so you can fit more into the car.
Utilize Car Seat Organizers
Car seat organizers can be a lifesaver during a road trip, especially if you’re traveling with kids. They’re a sort of catchall that can provide extra storage, keep devices tucked away and contain trash.
Pack a Daypack
In the hiking world, a daypack is a small backpack with all the essentials you would need in the day. Using a daypack is a good idea during a road trip so you can keep things in easy reach and avoid digging through the trunk.