How to Pack for a Road Trip

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How to Pack for a Road Trip

Road trips are usually long distance trips between one point and another, possibly with several stops, in which the travel is on the road. These kinds of journeys are taken for recreational purposes or for business.

If you are a road-tripper, you might already know what I’m talking about or you are hungry for more. If that’s the first time you road trip, I have a guide here for you, in which I’ll teach you how to prepare, but most important, how to pack for different types of vehicles that you can use for such an adventure.

First, I’ll tell you how to start planning and preparing, before you’ll actually start to pack.

Prepare Your Trip

Before everything, you’ll want to make sure you know your start and destination points, as they are the key to planning ahead. Next, you’ll want to know how much it will take to travel between the two. Take into consideration that if you drive alone, you’ll need to take breaks, but if you have another driver with you, you can switch places anytime in order to get to the destination faster.

If it’s taking you too long, you might want to plan more than just point A and B. You might want to add more stops on the way, in order to actually enjoy the ride. From my experience, if you drive too much, you’ll not be able to stand staying in the car anymore. So, pauses are always welcome, when these pauses mean that you get the chance to explore another city on your way and experience what it has to offer .

If you stop during the night, plan you hotel stay ahead, as it’s going to be cheaper than booking on the spot. But don’t worry, if you are not able to do that, there are cheap motels or hostels on the way.

Next, I’ll explain three different ways of packing, because a road trip can be taken by any vehicle that go on a road. First, there’s the car, the obvious choice, then there are motorcycles, and last, there are the camper vans. Let’s explore each choice.

If You Go by Car

If you own a car and decide to drive it for your road trip, you have the best packing guide here. You’ll have plenty of space, considering it’s a 4-5 seated car. To be honest though, even 2 seated cars can be quite as helpful, if you organize them well.

Now it all depends on how long your trip is. If your trip is short, take a look at this article about duffel bags, which has a packing guide for short trips. If your trip is longer, read the list below with the essential things you’ll need.

  • T-shirts, pants, dresses, skirts, shorts
  • Underwear, socks, sleepwear
  • Appropriate shoes (maybe you hike, or you’ll attend an elegant event, or go to the beach)
  • Elegant outfit (in case you attend that elegant event)
  • Depending on your destination you may need: swimwear, ski wear etc.
  • Jacket, sweaters, hat, gloves, scarf (if it’s cold)
  • Raincoat, umbrella (if it’s raining)
  • Toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, conditioner, towels etc.
  • Electronics – phone, charger, car charger, don’t forget your GPS (or map)!
  • Food for your trip – like car snacks, sandwiches, chocolate (it will keep you energized)
  • Music – it’s always fun to listen to (and maybe sing) your favorite songs while driving

Don’t forget that you can always stop on the way to buy more stuff, but the most important is not to forget your GPS at home, only if you’re a driving guru and know your highways by heart. But even like that, it’s always easier to follow a live map on a screen. If you don’t have one, consider downloading an app for your phone, which can be just as good.

What About the Motorcycle?

Here comes the hard part. Road tripping by motorcycle is not as easy. First of all, you won’t have the same space for your things. Second, it all depends on your motorcycle, but you may only have three carriers plus maybe a backpack that you’ll wear. So you need to be very efficient in packing.

If you stop on the way, make sure to check if your hotel has laundry service. That way, you won’t need to worry that you have few clothes, because you will always have them clean.

You can follow the list above, with several conditions, like:

  • Toiletries – research if the hotels that you’ll stay at will offer you shampoo, conditioner and towels so you can only take your toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Clothes – it’s cold when riding a motorcycle, take appropriate gear, even waterproof
  • Only take the essentials!
  • Don’t forget your helmet!
  • Food – you can’t exactly eat on a motorcycle so don’t take too much of that, you can always stop and shop for food at a local store
  • Electronics – there is GPS for motorcycle!

To make the best of the motorcycle road trip, you’ll have to stop on the way and rest, as it’s very tiring to continuously ride. But, look at the bright side, you will explore more!

Maybe by Camper Van

If you own a camper van, my dear, you are the luckiest person reading this article, as you basically take your whole house with you. The rules of packing don’t apply to you, just take everything.

Of course, I’m joking (or am I?). You will need to organize, in order to be efficient and make the most of your trip. The biggest advantage of owning a camper van, is that you don’t need to book hotels, you just need to find a camping site or an approved parking lot for your bed on wheels. As for packing, you can follow the first list (for cars) as well, with the following improvements:

  • Bed sheets and pillows
  • Toiletries – take everything you need (no one is going to give you shampoo)
  • Warm sleepwear – it may be colder than in a hotel room at night
  • Electronics – you still need a GPS (or map)
  • Food – take a lot of it, you basically have a bedroom and restaurant on wheels.

Bon Voyage

In the end, the most important thing for an excursion like this is to have fun, enjoy and sing along. Don’t forget to pack everything you need according to the guides above for each type of vehicle: car, motorcycle or camper van, and plan your steps ahead.

Are you ready for your road trip? What will you drive? What is your must have?





10 Responses

  1. Tarun says:

    I LOVE your website! your article is so well written…its clear, it concise, its HELPFUL!

    I have been thinking about doing a road trip for years just been lazy to plan for it…but now with this check list! Let’s hit the road Jack!

    thanks and keep up the good job

  2. Dave says:

    Hi Stef, this is a great looking site full of good useful info and important points about preparing for your trip.


  3. Mike says:

    Thank you for the helpful article! It gives you exactly what you need to consider for packing. During my last road trip my cell phone fell and broke. I was not able to get a replacement quickly so my GPS was not much help. Fortunately I had a good old fashioned map in the glove compartment. It was a country map so it was not very detailed but it had all the major and state highways to help me get to my destination.


  4. Doc says:

    Travel is the best hands down. Taking a road trip is just the best kind of the best thing. But I am the worst when it comes to planning things out. Not that I have a problem with it but when traveling with others it can cause complications. Thanks for the read and hopefully i will use a few planning tips to make my future trips go a little smoother.

  5. Yanick says:

    Very nice website you have there and useful tips too. Sometime when traveling we tend to forget or minimize some things to bring with us that are as important as other things. It’s a good reminder to always bring everything needed very nice article.

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