by Sarah Dickard
photos by Rebekah Hedge
I believe the key to a successful road trip is to be prepared for any and every emergency and to have three bags.
But to keep these bags straight, you need to plan, pack, and plan some more.
For those of us who are not Type A personalities, this will be your least favorite part. Not to mention, no one has time to pack when you are stressed trying to make sure all work issues are completed before leaving.
This guide will help you figure out how to plan and pack so you can enjoy a stress free transition into your road trip!
The best road trip I ever took was a two week trip with my husband and brother to the West Coast last year. Growing up, we took a ton of road trips so we knew some tricks of the trade.
I’ll share some of those with you today so you, too, can have the best road trip of your life.
You need 3 bags on a road trip:
Your suitcase, purse, and car handbag. Why 3? Let me distinguish the functionality and purpose of each:
- Your suitcase is left in the trunk of the car until your destination. This bag will carry all of your essential items for the destination, but nothing you need while traveling to and from each place.
- Do you know how easy it is to lose your purse or valuable items in the crevices of a car? The last thing the driver, or yourself, want is your wallet to the depths of a crack in between seats. The purse holds all of these sacred items and should be stored underneath your seat until you need to buy something.
And last, but certainly not least-
The car handbag. This will be your most essential item on the entire road trip. It is stored in the car with you at all times with easy access and carries everything you need on a whim.
Now that you know the purpose of each bag, here is a list of some of the most essential items you need for each:
Items for your suitcase
Because the suitcase is sitting in your car, you primarily want destination items only in this bag. This includes items like:
- Heavy coats
- Hair care
- Cute shoes
Items for your Purse
You don’t want to carry too much in your purse simply because these are your most valuable items that are not only the most precious, but the most devastating when lost. The last thing you need on a road trip is losing your money or keys. You only want to get out your purse for a quick gas station trip or fun shopping excursion in the middle of the day.
- Touch-up Makeup
Items for your car handbag
This should be a big bag so you can carry the most and be prepared for anything!
- Light jacket - No more fighting over how cold or hot the AC unit is
- Gym shorts/Jeans - Switch into gym shorts for freedom in the car, then change back into your jeans when you plan to go on a quick outing
- Flip flops/Tennis shoes - Stay barefoot in the car, and pop on some flip flops for a quick gas stop. Use your tennis shoes or other shoes for a mid-day hike outdoors.
- Make-Up bag - Do your make up on the road so you can sleep in late at the hotel!
- Hair Ties - When you get too hot, quickly pull that hair back
- Sunglasses - Protect your eyes! Get some good UVB/UVA and polarizing sunglasses to help prevent squinting and getting tired from driving all day.
- Hat - Even in the car we can still get irritated by how bright the sun is while we are driving.
And finally, here are some essential items to keep handy in the car, either in a glove compartment, purse, or day bag:
- Bandaids - We pulled these out when my brother randomly cut his hand on a piece of metal sticking out of our trunk
- Sunscreen stick - I hate using the lotion sunscreen and you can’t spray the aerosol sunscreen in the car. The sunscreen stick was the perfect solution to keeping our arms from getting sunburned while driving.
- Aloe Vera - No one likes getting burned, but sometimes it just happens. Having aloe on hand was helpful to soothe the skin while becoming uncomfortable the longer hours we drove.
- Vaseline - This has become my cure-all for everything in my life. Vaseline has the power to help heal wounds, cracked lips, and cracked skin. This stuff is perfect for cold, windy, or hot climates.
- Pillow - Some people can’t sleep in the car, but just having something of comfort nearby can make a car ride go faster.
- Cooler - If you are trying to reach a specific destination in a limited number of hours, the last thing you want to do is stop something as simple as a snack. No need to take 15-20 minutes pulling off the road for snacks when they are ready and available in a cooler.
Plastic Ware - On that note, having snacks means you might need forks, knives, or spoons to munch.
- Atlas - Although I would like to believe technology will never fail me, many times it does. Bring an atlas so you can supplement the navigation on your phone. Who knows, you may discover a better route!
- Bobby pins - Being in a car for hours on end leads to messy hair, whether I tried to make it look nice that day or not. Pin down the strays and fly-aways and keep from looking like you have been in a car all day.
Water bottles - It’s so easy to go through one water bottle in 30 minutes and then have nothing to drink for the next couple of hours. But with altitude changes, the sun, and general car sickness, it’s important to stay hydrated. Bring multiple water bottles you can fill up at gas stations and have water available for longer periods of time.
I hope this guide is helpful in preparing you for your future road trip. The key in anything is to have fun and live with no regrets!
Did I miss any essential items you take on your road trips? Please share them in the comments!