How to pack for a USA road trip

I’m delighted to introduce my first ever guest blog from Tea And Cake For The Soul, or T&C for short, on how to pack for a road trip.  T&C is a lifestyle blog which covers various topics including recipes, moneysaving tips (which include a brilliant post about how to survive a car boot sale!), mental health and travel.   As a seasoned visitor to America and lover of road trips, as well as being a really organised planner, I’m thrilled that they have shared their top tips for how to pack for a USA road trip with me.  I actually used their advice when planning my own California Road Trip, including some of the best places to visit!

If you’re planning a USA road trip then I recommend Booking.com for great deals and an easy app to book, change or cancel your rooms.

How to pack for a USA road trip

A road in California with bright blue sky and mountains on the left

There are many different types of packer amongst us! There are those who meticulously plan and start weeks in advance, those who work by a list that comes out year after year and those who just chuck a few things together the night before. When I had young children (and a husband!) to pack for I would work from a list, ticking things off as I went.  Now that it’s only me and my husband I have it off to a fine art. In fact, I have holiday boxes that come out for each trip and it’s mostly all done for me.  I still like to start getting things together a couple of weeks before a trip so that I can just look forward to the holiday countdown.

Buy travel accessories now!

Tote Bag
Tote Bag
Packing Cubes
Packing Cubes
Ladies Urinal Funnel
Ladies Urinal Funnel
Cool Bag
Cool Bag
Travel Adaptor Plugs
Travel Adaptor Plugs
Plastic Container
Plastic Container
Multi Adaptor USB Charger
Multi Adaptor USB Charger
Waterproof waist bag
Waterproof waist bag
Waterproof phone case
Waterproof phone case
Survival Blanket
Survival Blanket
Portable Charger
Portable Charger
Travel Kit
Travel Kit
Rain Poncho
Rain Poncho
Car Phone Mount
Car Phone Mount

We’ve done several road trips in the USA and I have worked out a way to pack that makes it as easy as possible at the other end. Some ideas will still relate to a single destination holiday but here are some of my tips for how to pack for a USA road trip based on a couple travelling together with one suitcase, one hand luggage case and one handbag each.

End of Route 66 at Santa Monica pier

Suitcases

  • Split each person’s clothes between the two suitcases in case of loss and so that you only have to open one suitcase on arrival.
  • Packing cubes are a godsend. Buy in a different colour for each person and when you pack separate into clothing types. It’s unlikely that you will unpack your case at each stop so this will make it easy for you to find your clean underwear, t-shirts, etc as you can see what’s in them at a glance.
A suitcase full of clothes packed in packing cubes neatly, showing how to pack for a USA road trip

Packing cubes make it so easy to find what you need which is ideal when you are moving from place to place on a road trip

  • Roll your clothes. It takes up less space and prevents creasing.
  • If you are taking toiletries, store them in hard plastic Tupperware-style box and then place this in a cool bag. This will not only prevent spillages over your clothes but it’s a good idea to take a cool bag for use in the car.
  • If you’re a shopper or think that you’ll be bringing back souvenirs, you might want to add a couple of sheets of bubble wrap and some sellotape to the bottom of your case.  This might sound extreme but I often bring back breakables and it is easier to have it with you than shop for protective packaging there.
  • If you’re going through the desert, mountains or even to beach areas in winter, make sure you pack a jacket, gloves, hat, and scarf. Temperatures can change dramatically and it’s also a good idea to have a rain poncho in case of wet weather.  A survival blanket is a good standby item to pack for a road trip if you are travelling in remote or cold areas.
  • Any additional shoes and bags – yes this one is for the ladies, but it’s necessary, isn’t it?

Buy travel accessories now!

Packing Cubes
Packing Cubes
Portable Charger
Portable Charger
Car Phone Mount
Car Phone Mount
Plastic Container
Plastic Container
Survival Blanket
Survival Blanket
Waterproof waist bag
Waterproof waist bag
Waterproof phone case
Waterproof phone case
Travel Adaptor Plugs
Travel Adaptor Plugs
Multi Adaptor USB Charger
Multi Adaptor USB Charger
Tote Bag
Tote Bag
Ladies Urinal Funnel
Ladies Urinal Funnel
Cool Bag
Cool Bag
Travel Kit
Travel Kit
Rain Poncho
Rain Poncho

Hand luggage case #1

Again, some of these things might sound extreme but I do like to be prepared and I’m sure any other mothers out there will be the same. It’s all about minimising space and having everything accessible when you pack for a road trip. I pack the items listed here in one hand luggage case so that we have everything that we need to hand as soon as we get to the car hire depot. You really don’t want to be opening suitcases wondering where you put your sunglasses or phone charger. I also pack all of this in a rucksack first which we then keep in the car for use during our travels. When we get home it just goes straight into the loft so that it’s ready for next time.

  • In-car phone mount (or Sat Nav)
  • Long charging cable for phone or Sat Nav
  • Aux lead for iPod
  • Portable charger
  • Small first aid kit of plasters, tissues, antiseptic wipes, paracetamol
  • Maps, a pen, notepad, reading glasses and sunglasses
  • A fold flat tote bag (nowhere gives out shopping bags anymore)
  • Ladies, you might want to consider a She Wee! Some of these places are really remote!

Hand luggage case #2

  • A change of clothes and footwear each
  • Stick deodorant
  • Any medication
  • Headphones
  • Tablets and iPods
  • Any liquids/gels in a clear plastic bag (I find it easier to have all this in the one case to get out at security on the outbound flight)
  • Snacks for the flight
  • A drawstring bag of all your charging cables and adaptor plugs for arrival at your first hotel.  A multi-USB charger can be used at airports too if your phone battery is running low.
  • You might also want to consider taking a waterproof phone case or waist bag for protecting your phone or important documents if visiting beaches.
  • Most long haul flights will give you toothbrush and toothpaste, eye mask and ear plugs but check.  If not then you can buy a handy travel kit like this.

A road on the Pacific Coast Highway in California

Handbag

Take as large a bag as you are allowed for your handbag. Even if you don’t need it on the way out, you might want it on the way home for valuable or breakable items, or just to put your duty free in.

In here I keep:

  • Mints or chewy sweets
  • PASSPORTS
  • Money and cards
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Addresses of hotels
  • Car hire documents

I think that just about covers it. Hopefully this will give you some ideas that will make it just a little bit easier when you pack for your own road trip. Roadtripping and living out of a suitcase is a bit different from getting to one place and unpacking everything or being able to stop off at the local shop and buy what you’ve forgotten.

Make sure your first stop is to the nearest supermarket to buy bottled water and snacks for the car (this is where the cool bag will now come in handy). As much as we are all trying to reduce our plastic consumption, you don’t know where the nearest refill station is going to be and it’s really important that you drink lots of water in the desert and at high altitudes.

If you’re interested in any of the products mentioned above, you can click on them below to find out more!

Buy travel accessories now!

Waterproof waist bag
Waterproof waist bag
Tote Bag
Tote Bag
Car Phone Mount
Car Phone Mount
Travel Adaptor Plugs
Travel Adaptor Plugs
Multi Adaptor USB Charger
Multi Adaptor USB Charger
Rain Poncho
Rain Poncho
Survival Blanket
Survival Blanket
Plastic Container
Plastic Container
Portable Charger
Portable Charger
Waterproof phone case
Waterproof phone case
Packing Cubes
Packing Cubes
Cool Bag
Cool Bag
Ladies Urinal Funnel
Ladies Urinal Funnel
Travel Kit
Travel Kit

What sort of packer are you? Are you heading off on a road trip soon?   I would love to read about your upcoming trips so do leave a comment below!

You might like to look at other Tea And Cake For The Soul blogs including Road Trip USA – It’s all in the Planning which gives more in depth tips about all aspects of planning for a road trip.  Or check out their Days Out and Travel Section for free and cheap things to do at home and abroad.


Booking.com

To get a regular updates please subscribe to my mailing list. I’ll also share exclusive content and discounts and promise not to spam you! I send out a monthly newsletter filled with exciting news and tips.

I’m always interested in your news and ideas, so please comment below, especially if there’s something new you’d like to read about on this website.

Please support Diary Of A Detour!

You can support this website by making your online purchases via my affiliates. Doing this will earn me a small commission which goes towards the running costs of the site. I include affiliate links on most of my posts and you can see a full list here. Many may be brands you already use so please visit this page and as the list is always expanding please check back regularly. It won’t cost you anything and you will pay exactly what you would usually.

 

DiaryOfADetour.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.

Follow:

4 Comments

    • AliRichards
      Author
      September 15, 2018 / 7:20 pm

      I would love to be as organised as you! Thank you for the tips…

  1. November 13, 2018 / 8:56 am

    Good tips. Packing cubes and splitting clothes especially.

    • AliRichards
      Author
      November 13, 2018 / 10:08 pm

      I know, and can’t believe I’ve in,y just discovered packing cubes! Thanks for reading…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *