Packing for a Road Trip


Packing for a Road TripSummer is approaching quickly and for many that means a road trip is in the near future! How exciting! I love a good road trip, especially one that goes just as planned…if you road trip much, you know that’s a rarity. Some of the mishaps that happen while road tripping are just part of the adventure. Others you’ll likely wish never became part of the adventure but either way, the better you pack for said road trip, the more prepared you’ll be to take on these extra little adventures that pop up along the way.

With family split literally across the country, Florida to Canada, we spent many hours in the car growing up. We learned to love road trips and have so many wonderful memories from the time spent in the car. Our children have grown to love road trips now too. Last summer, we hit the road up the Blue Ridge Parkway in a campervan and in the fall, we packed up a minivan for a 9-week trip out west. (If you are thinking about planning a road trip and need some ideas, check out this post all about planning to head out west.) We are still learning what is necessary and what isn’t as we move through each phase of life, from diapered infants to potty-training toddlers to undies for everyone, but I thought I might share which items we are glad to have on our road trips lately!

First up, the necessities, easily accessible for the car. You know, the kind of thing you might need on an emergent basis while driving down the road.

  • Roll of paper towel
  • Baby wipes (great for all ages, not just babies!)
  • Small trash bag
  • Vomit bag
  • Roll of toilet paper
  • Car charger for your cell phone
  • Snacks (so many snacks)
  • Water bottles
  • Map/Atlas (for the times you’re without cell service)
  • Change of clothes for each person
  • Jacket for each person
  • Bandaids
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Flashlight

    Custer State Park, South Dakota

Next up, the handy items. The kinds of things that make travel a bit easier, but not must-haves.

  • Print-outs of each confirmation and purchase (not necessary if you have access to all on your phone, but can come in handy to have them printed)
  • Guidebooks for your destinations
  • Cooler
  • Blankets/pillows (great for sleeping in the car and hotels, fort-making in the car and hotels, using as a table or footrest)
  • Books
  • Dum-Dums (lollipops are a great treat for entertaining and bribery)
  • Window shades
  • Opposite pair of shoes (if wearing flip flops/sandals, pack sneakers, and vice versa)
  • Rain jacket
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • iPads or equivalent electronics for kids (and headphones!)
  • Extra chargers for all of the devices
  • Camera and charger
  • Backpack/sling pack/fanny pack (some type of hands-free pack)
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Bathing suit
  • Umbrella

    Monument Valley, AZ

And finally, the luxuries. The items that are great if you have the room, but you’ll be just fine without.

  • Tripod/selfie stick
  • Road-side potty
  • DVD player
  • Ziploc bags
  • Roll of quarters (possibly needed for laundry, air pump, car wash, toll booths)

Of course you don’t want to forget the very basic of basics, like your driver’s license, car insurance information, car manual, and clothes for each day of your trip. Packing can feel like a huge task, but if you make a list and categorize a few days ahead, you’ll be well on your way to remembering everything you think you’ll need to make the trip.

Route 66, Winslow, AZ

If you’re hitting the road this summer, whatever distance you decide to go, I hope you have a great safe trip, just as you planned!

Previous articleGuided By Grandma: How a Decades-Old Family Story Led Me to Kern’s Food Hall
Next articleDang It, I’m Doing My Best
I’m Kara, wife and mom of 3. A Florida native, I relocated to Knoxville over a decade ago to pursue a master’s degree where I promptly fell in love with the endless supply of sweet tea, southern hospitality, and peach cobbler. Oh, and my husband! I’m a physician assistant by day, wife and mom by day and night. When I’m not caring for sick patients, I enjoy traveling as a family and spending time with friends at local events downtown. We had always called Knoxville home, but after returning from spending two years living abroad, our lives are forever changed. We left a piece of our hearts on an island out in the Pacific Ocean and took with us the desire to see more. If words could explain, I’d write a book, but until then, occasional blurbs and social media posts will do!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here