Packing Tips for a Long Road Trip

by Eat Sleep Travel

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Road trips are their own adventure, but they quickly lose their appeal if passengers have to squeeze between suitcases for hours at a time. There’s an art to packing everything a trip needs. By following a few guidelines, drivers can make their car road ready and roomy.

Packing Essentials

Some items should always be in the car for emergencies. Travelers should bring both a first aid kit and a roadside emergency kit. Drivers should make sure they have a working flashlight with extra batteries. Other items to pack include a blanket, water bottles, and ice scrapers if the journey includes cold weather destinations.

On the day of the trip, drivers should bring a map or have some consistent form of navigation. Also, it doesn’t hurt to double check for the driver’s license and insurance card. Cell phone chargers for the car are important, as well as some method for paying for tolls.

There are a few apps that really help take the stress out of long trips. For example, SitOrSquat helps map the closest public restrooms. The navigation app Waze is popular because it relies on user input about upcoming construction or accidents in the road. GasBuddy helps users find the cheapest gas.


Skip splurging at the gas station and bring road trip snacks, so people don’t get hangry on the drive.

Travelers can bring a bag of trail mix, or mix their own using dried fruits and nuts. Use steel Tupperware containers for other foods, as they are more leak resistant and easy to wash. Travelers with children will benefit from lidded or sippy cups. And adults will appreciate a thermal mug that can keep coffee or other drinks warm during most of the trip.

Forget a lid? Use cling wrap on the top of a cup to make it spill-proof. Used peanut butter jars and coffee creamer bottles make great snack holders as well. Pack a few wet wipes to help with sticky fingers after eating. Also, don’t forget to bring a bag for trash disposal during the car ride.


Overpacking suitcases and bringing too many clothes is the easiest way to cramp a car. Limit the temptation by making a list of what to pack and sticking to it.

The general rule for packing clothes for one week is bringing undergarments for each day, and two days extra. Bring three pairs of shoes, with at least one pair being tennis shoes. Bring one nice outfit if necessary, and don’t overload on the jeans as they are good for multiple days of wear. Check the weather report beforehand, but still, carry some sort of rain protection whether it’s an umbrella or raincoat. Lastly, don’t forget sunglasses or a hat for sun protection.

Pack clothing in duffle bags instead of hard suitcases. Or if a hard suitcase is necessary, bring a large one and pack multiple people’s items inside. Duffle bags are much easier to pack in vehicles with smaller trunks. Roll clothing to save space and keep items wrinkle free. Another space saving tip is putting socks and belts inside of shoes before they go into the suitcase.

Outside of the main suitcase or duffle bag, travelers should bring a smaller backpack to keep near them that have snacks and entertainment options inside.


Looking out of a window is great during a scenic trip, but for other occasions, games come to the rescue.

There are a few handheld electronic games for passing the time. Nintendo has both the 3DS and the Nintendo Switch with popular titles that include “The Legend of Zelda,” “Super Mario” and “Mario Kart.” PlayStation offers a portable system called the PSP Vita, which has “Final Fantasy,” “FIFA 15”, and “Dragon Quest.”

Of course, people can put down the electronics and use a long trip for quality bonding time. There are classic road trip games such as 20 questions, the Alphabet game, and I Spy. Or people can try newer games such as finishing a song, movie trivia or word association. Mad libs is guaranteed for laughs, and other books offer plenty of road trip games. If peace in quiet is what the driver seeks, then try a coloring book. There are fun options for children and adults to keep everyone in the car occupied.

Where to stow everything

Once everything is checked off on the packing list, it’s time to put everything in the car without cutting down on legroom.

Put essential items such as phone chargers, a first aid kit, and napkins in the main console. Use the middle seat if empty to store any food or drinks. If the seat is occupied then keep snacks in the door or in cup holders. Use the passenger leg area to store games and portable devices. And finally, keep all other non-essential items such as suitcases in the very back. Suitcases should be stacked with the largest on the bottom.

Other items that go in the back include the roadside emergency kit and ice scrapers. Just make sure not to bury the emergency kit under the stack of luggage.

By following these tips, travelers can take the stress out of a long drive and just enjoy the adventure.

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Eat Sleep Travel


Eat Sleep Travel staff.

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