Packing for trips can be stressful. It’s a pretty bad feeling when you are hundreds of miles from home, and realize you forgot something important at home. Unfortunately, there isn’t such a thing as a “master checklist” that can be posted on a website to fit everyones needs. You are unique, so you need to make your own list. This page will help get your thoughts together and help you think of things you might have overlooked. Get a pen and paper ready and start writing down things you think of, then create your own road trip packing list to be certain you aren’t forgetting anything.
What to pack for your road trip
Ok, so you’re ready to hit the road, but you want to make sure you packed everything you’ll need. Packing for trips can take some planning. While the personal items are going to be unique to you (medication, clothing, etc.) there are a few other things that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Packing for emergencies
What can go wrong, will go wrong. You should always take that into consideration when packing for trips. It’s important to plan ahead for those “just in case” moments. I highly recommend getting a vehicle emergency kit. It’s something you should have anyway, but even more important when driving long distances. I also recommend some road flares. Most vehicle emergency kits don’t come with them. But don’t get the “old fashioned” road flares. Standard road flares can actually be quite dangerous. Any number of flammable liquids can be ignited by a flare. So instead, get LED flares. They are typically just as bright and effective. Plus, they last much longer (keep extra batteries with you), and they can be used over and over again. Again, it’s something you’ll want not just for your road trip, but all the time.
Keep a flashlight within reach, and if the weather is cold, keep warm clothes accessible. If you break down, you might need to walk a couple miles if you don’t have good cell phone reception. Boots and/or comfortable walking shoes should be within reach as well. Keeping a gallon or two of water is also a great idea. There are thousands of uses for clean, fresh water. And of course, consider a cell phone a must have when packing for trips.
Packing for entertainment
“Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” Kids get bored quickly on long car rides. So if you’re bringing the kids along, make sure they stay entertained. One trick is to surprise them with a new toy just before you leave for your trip. Bring any small toys from home, and maybe even download a nice new game on your smartphone to let them play with it. Check out our road trip entertainment page for some fun entertainment options.
For the adults, a great road trip music CD or playlist on your MP3 player can really help pass the time. I have really gotten into listening to audio books lately. Most audio books will kill 4 to 6 hours. You don’t have to listen to them straight through. But often times, I find myself so into the story that I end up doing just that!
Packing road trip food
Pack a soft collapsible cooler and keep it in the trunk or somewhere out of the way – maybe on the floor near the back seat if there’s room, or in the rear of an SUV or van. Put some drinks, sandwiches, and snacks in it. This will be good for an actual meal when packing for trips. But keep some snacks and drinks within reach as well. I personally love some good beef jerky on my road trips. But anything from fruits to potato chips will work. It’s nice to have a little something close by for when you don’t want to stop and just need a quick hunger buster.
Packing for your car essentials
Alright, so you’ve finished packing for your needs. How about your car care? I mean, what’s a road trip if you got a malfunctioning car?
Yes, your car needs to be in good cognition throughout the trip, so make sure you pack the following car essentials as well.
Before thinking about anything else, make sure you have a spare tire and the tools that go with it in case it goes flat on the trip. Make sure you’re equipped with the proper know-how on changing tires as well or at least have someone who knows among your companions. Getting a flat tire without any clue on how to deal with it on your own can ruin a trip!
In addition, prepare all car emergency kit essentials that you can think of. For example, jumper cables (this is a must!), gloves, flares, and even the car’s manual – this will save you lots of trouble if you encounter any mishap down the road! If traveling within the country, make sure you also have the numbers to call if ever you need roadside assistance.
Next, bring lots of fluids to hydrate your car and to keep it running. At least a gallon of water is needed to aid you in case your car overheats. You might also want to bring extra transmission fluid, brake fluid, and wiper washer fluid. And just to be safe, bring extra gas! At least enough to get you to the nearest gas station in the unlikely case that you ran out of it! Again, it’s better to be extra careful.
How to pack for your road trip
Everyone is always focused on what to pack, but almost as important is how to pack! Chances are you have limited space in your car. So packing smart can save you time and frustration.
Leave the suitcases at home
Whenever possible, pack everything you can into soft duffel bags instead of suitcases. Duffel bags are much easier to carry, move around, and are more flexible so you can wedge them into smaller spaces. Most suit cases only act as large, solid, inflexible bricks. They might be nice to roll around in the airport, but when packing them into your car they quickly become a big pain.
It’s also a good idea to pack in several smaller duffel bags rather than one big one. Not only will you be able to access things much easier, but the individual bags wont be so big and heavy. Plus you can place them into nooks and crannies. Travel duffel bags are quite versatile.
Pack the essentials last
When it comes time to get packing for trips, make sure you pack the most important things last. Chances are, you won’t need to shave until you reach your destination, but that vehicle emergency kit might be needed in a hurry. So keep those important things in the most accessible locations. Medication, food, drinks, jackets, and flashlights are also some things you’ll want to keep within reach.