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How to Pack for a Road Trip Vacation

by Camryn Rabideau


Do you have plans to hit the open road for a few days this summer? Road trips are an incredibly fun way to spend time off, as they give you maximum together time with your companions and allow you to embrace your spontaneous side.

However, if you’ve never spent several days in a car before, you might be wondering how to pack for a road trip vacation and still stay stylish. You want to be prepared for whatever and wherever your journey takes you, but you know you have limited packing space. Here are some guidelines that will help you make the most of your road trip wardrobe.

Versatility Is Key

When you’re picking out garments to bring on a road trip, it’s important to prioritize both comfort and versatility.

Chances are, you’re going to be in the car for several hours each day, so you’ll want to leave that skintight dress and too-small blouse at home. For every piece of clothing you consider, ask yourself if it will be comfortable to sit in for a long period of time. If the answer is no, leave it behind.

Secondly, you’ll want to consider whether each garment can play double (or triple) duty. Is it comfortable enough to drive in for five hours, but also cute enough to wear to a trendy rooftop bar? The more versatile your garments are, the lighter you’ll be able to pack.

Start with the Basics

Not sure where to start? These basic garments are must-haves when traveling:

  • One or two T-shirts or tank tops
  • Well-fitting jeans or shorts
  • A sundress
  • Leggings
  • A wrinkle-resistant button-up shirt
  • A light sweater
  • A cute yet functional jacket
  • Shoes that are comfortable for walking and driving
  • Socks and underwear

White House Black Market T-shirt

Prioritize Wrinkle-Free Fabrics

Another important factor to consider when packing for your road trip is whether garments will end up helplessly wrinkled. You won’t have access to an iron as you cruise across the country, so you’re stuck with your clothing as is.

For this reason, it’s better to bring along items that won’t get too crumpled when shoved in a duffel bag. Synthetic fibers like polyester and spandex are naturally wrinkle-resistant, and the same is true of knitted fabrics like jersey. However, if you’re traveling somewhere warm, keep in mind that synthetic fabrics aren’t as breathable and may leave you feeling clammy.

Know What to Leave at Home

When considering how to pack for a road trip vacation, it’s important to outline a few items that you shouldn’t bring along.

In general, you’ll want to leave these items at home when you’re cruising across the country:

  • Jumpsuits. Although comfy and versatile, jumpsuits and rompers aren’t ideal for road trips because they make it difficult to go to the bathroom.
  • Heels. Not only do heels take up a lot of room in your bag, but they’re also not good shoes to drive in. Opt for a pair of cute flats instead.
  • Expensive jewelry or accessories. You’ll want to leave your favorite designer handbag and diamond studs at home for this trip—seeing as you’ll be keeping most of your stuff in the car, you don’t want to risk having someone break in.
  • Skintight pants. There’s nothing worse than having the waistband of your jeans digging into your stomach for hours on end, so leave those tight skinny jeans behind.
  • Light-colored items. You won’t have access to laundry supplies on the open road, so avoid bringing light-colored clothes that will show stains easily. After all, you’re probably going to be eating in the car, and accidents happen.

Featured in this article:

Everyday V-Neck Tee, $34

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