How to Pack for a Road Trip

Hi friends! As March is already halfway over, it’s time to think about cheap traveling into the spring and summer months. In a previous article I mentioned some great U.S. destinations to check out as the weather warms, but sometimes the best part of traveling is the journey, not the destination. You know what that means? ROAD TRIP!!

Whether it’s a four hour drive to the mountains or a week long trek across the country, there are certain things you don’t want to forget for your ride.

1. Food

Okay, so yes you can stop and eat at any old fast food restaurant,

Road trip breakfast at a retro diner in New Hampshire. [Photo taken by Kyle]
or you can grab some chips while you gas up. Both of these are effective strategies to stay full. What I encourage, though, is to find the local spots in the places you’re passing through! Last summer, on our two part trip to New Hampshire, on the drive between camping and a relaxing week in the White Mountains, we stopped for breakfast at a local 50’s inspired diner and let me tell you – it was d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s. If you need some help finding those hometown treasures, LocalEats is a top-rated travel and dining app featured by the New York Times, TIME Magazine and Forbes for its local-only restaurant options, and it’s one I plan on trying during this summer’s travels. We can give it it shot together! For now I always stick to good ole

2. Packing effectively for an effectively packed vehicle

If you’re traveling in a truck I recommend throwing the cap on for optimum packing space and water protection (stay tuned for a later article on other truck-traveling perks), if not then a car/SUV will do just fine! In order to fit everything for a road trip and a vacation it takes some skillful rearranging, but I’ve done it quite a few times and here is what I find that works. First, consolidate clothes and pack them in soft bags. Pack your socks inside your shoes and keep heavy clothes on your person to fit the most in your bag, and make sure

All packed up for our trip! Cap is on the truck and bins are stacked for maximum use of space. [Photo taken by me]
your bag is “squishy” that way it can be pushed in after everything else with the jackets and blankets, or it can be crushed at the bottom. In addition, refrain from packing fragile items like glasses or even makeup with everything else; keep that in a small pack on your person too.

Second, if you have a lot of loose items, rather than shoving them where they fit, use old cardboard boxes or bins to keep them all together. Bins stack easily in trunks to save space. Finally, if you’re on a road trip, you probably have a cooler or two. Like bins these pack fairly simply but I always recommend taking more than one. Split up food by what you would need now versus later and keep the “now cooler” by your feet with water and snacks so it’s one less thing to put with everything else. Pack those “squishy” items (i.e. blankets, coats, duffle bags, shoes, pillows, etc.) at the end to fill all the empty spaces; like socks in a suitcase!

3. Take a map, some blankets and a compass

Now I know that most smartphones and even cars some with GPS and compasses but hear me out. Worst case scenario here: you run out of gas, then your phone dies so you have no GPS and no compass. This is where it is crucial you have a back up plan and that means digging out a paper map and a handheld compass so you can figure out where you are. Even though it seems like it’s too close to being out a horror movie to actually happen, it happens so be prepared for it. Blankets are important too because while you might be on a road trip in the middle of hot August, that doesn’t mean it the nights are always warm too.

A glimpse of the emergency stash in my own car. The blanket is fleece and is super easy to make, check the link! [Photo taken by me]
If you plan on sleeping in your car or even if you happen to get stranded somewhere, staying warm is really important. Also, blankets allow the perfect set up for and off-road picnic! Here is a full list of things you should always keep in your car for those “just in case” circumstances.

Keep these in mind if the driving life is for you and be sure to look for upcoming posts on my own road trip experience that include recipes, activities, and more places to go!


4 thoughts on “How to Pack for a Road Trip

  1. Cool article! Love the idea of trying different options when it comes to food, fast food is overrated. Local dinners are probably the way to go! As far as the compass goes, I feel like I would have no idea how to properly use it haha. Awesome writing keep it up


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