Road Trip Packing List:
Road trips are a perfect way to explore and experience new areas. This road trip packing list contains a list of recommended items and travel gear to take on your road trip to anywhere.
Climate of Road Trip Destination(s):
The climate or your road trip’s destination can greatly effect what you should pack when visiting. Before embarking on your road trip, first check out the weather of the areas that you will be passing through. Depending on the weather, you may want to bring more or less warm weather clothes or cooler weather clothes. A great source for checking the average weather per month, and average rainfall is worldweatheronline.com
Depending on your style of travel, you may want to bring either a suitcase or a backpack. I happened to pack relatively light, so I only needed a large backpack.
Luggage – If you are looking for a suitcase to bring on your road trip, you may want to check out the eBags EXO 2.0 Hardside Spinner, or the Samsonite LIFT Spinner. These two suitcases are durable and can easily fit in the trunk of most cars. The spinner wheels on the suitcases allow them to be rolled around easily.
Kelty Redwing 50 – The Redwing 50 was the primary backpack that I used while on a road trip. The Redwing 50 is a 50-liter capacity internal frame travel backpack. Unlike most other travel backpacks, the Redwing isn’t obnoxiously large and doesn’t make you look too much like a backpacker. Also, the neutral colors of the backpack don’t attract much attention. The pack barely meets airline carry on requirements, so I had to be careful not to over pack it. You can read my full Kelty Redwing 50 review here. You might also want to check out the Kelty Flyway and the Osprey Talon series, which are both travel backpacks that I’ve heard other travelers rave about.
REI Flash 18 – In addition to my Kelty Redwing 50, I also brought the REI Flash 18, which is an 18-liter daypack. Whenever we arrived in our destination after driving, I would take my 18-liter pack while touring the area for the day. I usually pack the backpack with some essentials such as a water bottle, camera, cash and snacks. My primary backpack or suitcase would be left at the hotel or in the car. When not in use, I would pack the Flash 18 into my Redwing 50 or in my luggage. The pack weighs less than a pound and can be rolled up to take up less space, which makes it a good choice for being a secondary backpack. See my review of the Flash 18 here.
This a minimalist list of clothing that I packed while on a road trip:
*Note: Depending on your needs and activities, you may need to bring more or less clothes. You usually don’t need to bring too many clothes since you can always wash your clothes in the hotel.
1 Pair of Jeans – Jeans are perfect to wear while on a road trip since they are durable and versatile. Jeans can be heavy and take up lots of space in your suitcase, but their versatility and durability makes up for the extra weight. Depending on the length of your road trip, you may want to bring another pair of jeans.
1 Pair of Convertible Pants – Pants that convert into shorts are especially useful in while on a road trip because they can be used as shorts when driving through a warm area and as pants when it gets cold at night or in a colder area. When it gets hot during the day, you can easily unzip your convertible pants into shorts. Some convertible pants such as the prAna Stretch Zion Convertible Pants are water resistant and UV protective. Convertible pants are also much easier to hand wash and are faster drying than jeans.
2 Pair of Athletic Shorts/Shorts – Athletic shorts are casual, lightweight and can even be used as pajamas. If you are planning on traveling to a hot area or exercising in your hotel, athletic shorts are extremely helpful.
3 T-Shirts – I prefer for my travel t-shirts to be made of materials like polyester rather than cotton. Polyester is usually lighter, easier to hand wash and faster drying. I would highly recommend are the Patagonia Capilene 1 Silkweight T-Shirt, which is quick drying, UV protective and odor resistant.
1 Polo Shirt- For dinner in certain fancier restaurants.
2 Long Sleeve Shirts – I brought two long sleeve shirts, one being the Columbia Baselayer Midweight Mock Neck Long Sleeve, which I wore often. The Columbia baselayer is both odor resistant and extremely warm while being lightweight.
1 Rain Jacket – Depending on where you are traveling to, you may or may not want to take a rain jacket with you. Waterproof jackets with waterproof and breathable technologies such as GORE-TEX, are fit for serious outdoors enthusiasts and can handle the most extreme conditions. They can be expensive, but worth are the cost if you wear them often. If you aren’t planning on using your rain jacket often, you can just bring a poncho.
1 Jacket – You should definitely bring a jacket with you, just in case. I wore the First Ascent MicroTherm Down Hoodie, which is extremely lightweight and moderately warm.
1 Swimwear – If you are planning on swimming in your destination.
Undergarments – Amount depends on the length of your trip, though I wouldn’t bring more than 7 pairs of underwear.
4 Pairs of Socks – Socks are easy to hand wash, so you probably won’t need to bring too many. I brought 3 pairs of below ankle socks, and 1 pair of long warm merino wool socks for colder weather. You can read my review of my merino wool socks here.
Be sure to have extra space inside your backpack or suitcase, because you may come across several great places for purchasing souvenirs or goods.
1 Pair of Sneakers – I wore a pair of Vivobarefoot trail running shoes as my ‘go-to’ pair of shoes in on my road trip. They are lightweight, comfortable and have good traction.
1 Pair of Sandals – I also brought a pair of Adidas Superstar Slides. They are really comfortable and great for wearing casually. I primarily used these sandals when walking around the hotel.
Toiletries and Hygiene:
There will probably be several places you will come across on your road trip to purchase toiletries, so it isn’t completely necessary to bring all of your toiletries from home.
Etc. – See the general packing list for a full list of toiletries you may or may not need to bring.
iPhone and iPhone Charger – You may want to purchase a protective case for your smartphone before leaving, just in case. The case in the image above is the LifeProof case, which is waterproof and shockproof. You can read my review of the LifeProof Case here.
MacBook Air and Charger – While in on my road trip, I still needed to do some work, meaning I had to use my computer pretty often. Thankfully, my 13-inch MacBook air wasn’t too heavy or bulky. I also brought a laptop sleeve to protect my computer.
Music – To keep yourself entertained in the car, you could listen to music. Remember to download some songs onto your smartphone or MP3 player before leaving.
Apps – Before leaving, load your smartphone up with game apps and other apps to keep yourself entertained while on the road. You can get board game apps, such as Monopoly and also download ebooks.
External Battery – To keep my electronics powered up on the go, I brought the Anker External Battery, which can recharge an iPhone 4-5 times and an iPad 2 once. You may also want to bring a car charger. Another possible external battery that you can bring while traveling is the RavPower Element 5600mah, which is lighter weight than the Anker. You can watch my video review for the RavPower Element here.
Flashlight – Just in case there is an outage, or in an emergency.
Voltage Converter/Adapter – If you are planning on taking a road trip out of the US.
Hard Drive – for backing up images.
GPS/Map – Before leaving for your road trip, you may want to prepare directions on your phone or on a GPS. Also, you should bring a physical map, in case your GPS or phone stops working.
Money Belt – Money belts are extremely helpful when traveling because you won’t need to fear pickpockets. Money belts are great for keeping large denomination bills just in case. My money belt, the Travelon Money Belt, can hold about 8-12 bills.
Camera – I’m not a photographer, so my only camera was the one on my phone. If you are serious about taking pictures, you may want to consider taking a DSLR camera.
Lock – I used the Master Lock TSA Luggage Lock.
Watch – I took my Timex Ironman Sleek watch.
- Travel Pillow – I would highly recommend the J-Pillow, which is a “J” shaped travel pillow that helps to support your head while sleeping. You can read my review of the J-Pillow here.
- Travel Blanket
- Travel Journal
- Plastic Bags
- Portable Fans
- Pens and Pencils
- Accessories, i.e. bracelets, earrings, necklaces
- Earplugs and Eye Covers
Snacks and Food:
The amount of snacks and food depends on the length of your trip, but try not to over pack food since you can always buy snacks at your destination, though at an inflated cost. When choosing snacks to being, try to aim for less crumby and non-staining items to prevent messes and stains.
- Granola Bars
- Protein Bars
- Canned Foods
- Water Bottles
- Thermal Containers/Thermos/Vacuum Flask
- Coffee Mug
- Can Openers
See the travel packing list for more items that you may need to bring with you on your road trip.
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