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Packing and Planning Essentials for a Road Trip

Updated on March 24, 2015

Road Trippin' Summer

My summers are usually spent hanging out in the backyard with my family and friends for barbecues, drinks, and games. I take the occasional trip across country to visit family and when I do, I always forget something or things aren't planned as well as they could have been.

As a list writer, I write lists all the time. The point of a list is to organize the things I want to do or accomplish in a set time period. Packing and planning a road trip by using a list can be beneficial to you so that you don't forget anything after you've realized you might just need that....but you left it on the counter....four states away.

Route 66



It is essential to your trip to have some kind of plan. You don't have to plan every single detail of every single day, but a good outline is something that you will find useful, especially when it comes down to being prepared.

Start planning early. Don't wait until the last minute to write out that list of things you need as you throw things in a suitcase. Start a list as soon as you decide you are taking a road trip. Over time you can add things as you think of them.

Make a Plan. This goes right along with planning early. Decide when you are leaving, coming back, and what routes you might possibly take. This gives you options for where you are staying on the road, sights to see on the way there, and food and gas.

Don't Forget!

Every trip I have ever taken, I have forgotten at least one thing! Here are some essentials to remember when packing or planning what to bring on your trip:

  • Phone chargers
  • map
  • extra clothes
  • diapering essentials for young children (diapers, wipes, change of clothes, diaper rash cream, baby powder, etc)
  • Camera
  • batteries (Check all of your electronics that require batteries; grab an extra set for each item)
  • Feminine Products (nothing is worse than stopping at a bathroom and realizing you need something for "that time of the month")


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Maps and GPS

A map and/or GPS is great for locating things you want do, places you want to see, and even routing the trip to your destinations. Google has Google Maps, which the iPhone uses with built-in location services for Apple users.

A map is great for when your GPS isn't working or you don't have a GPS. Maps can be in the form of a small (or large) paper map, an atlas, or even a location guide found in the visitor's center of your destination. Maps are great for hikers and adventurers.

Pack your Gear

What to Pack
...for day
...for night!
Change of clothes
Layers! Tank tops, button up shirts, sweaters. You never know when the weather will change!
Long-sleeved shirt, sweater, button up blouse
Location, location, location! Choose sneakers or hiking boots for outdoor adventures, choose flats or sandals for city/beach walks
Slippers, sandals
Bug spray, Sun screen
Bug spray

See the Sights!

Enjoy your Trip!

Check out the local sights and don't forget a camera! Check out this video of the Northern Lights over Eureka, Alaska taken March 16, 2013!

Many places offer beautiful, natural sights that you can look up before or during your trip. Sights like the Northern Lights offer you a free "thing to do" that you can enjoy and it doesn't cost you anything except what it takes to get there!

Travel Tips

Don't Forget to Do These Things:

  • Notify your bank of your travel.

You don't want to get somewhere and discover your debit card is unusable! Also, ask about ATM limits and see if you can temporarily raise it for your trip, just in case.

  • Notify your credit card companies

You can also see if they can temporarily raise/lower your credit limit so you can spend more/less money while you are vacationing.

  • Don't post it Facebook!

Well, you can post it on Facebook, but make sure your privacy settings don't allow anyone you aren't friends with to view your posts! Too many people become victims of burglars who saw they weren't home by trolling a Facebook page for info.

  • Pets

If you aren't taking your pets, make sure you entrust a reliable person to come and feed them and let them out every day. You can also find a pet boarding business who will care for your pets for a fee while you are gone.

If you bring your pets, bring their vaccination records and any essentials like food, medications, etc.

  • Medication

Bring all of your prescriptions that you take regularly and any over-the-counter medications as well. Allergy medication, heartburn, gas medication, contact solution/case, eye drops, and more may be available where you are traveling, but don't risk it when you might need relief right away!


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