It seems there’s one in every relationship—the packer. The Tetris loving, organizing king or queen, the one who might be a little* anal when it comes to loading up the car for the road-trip. It’s me. It’s definitely me. The road trip packing genes run STRONG in our family too. Don’t even mess with my dad when it comes to packing up the car. So, I’m not entirely surprised that I turned out a little extra when it comes to packing the vehicle.
I’ll preface with saying that we take road trips often. Like, way more often than I thought I’d ever take. I used to love it—you know when it was spontaneous and solo—now, I tolerate them. I like them, at best.
The destination definitely matters when it comes to how/what I’m packing and ahem, how anal I get. Don’t ask my husband, just don’t. There’s a list of things I won’t travel without—basic medical supplies, a battery jumper, fire extinguisher, etc. But, those are non negotiables on a trip for me. As is making sure my gas gauge never gets below 1/3 of a tank, an embarrassing number of vomit bags (because I’ve yet to find motion sick remedies for carsick kiddo), and some things to help me feel extra safe when traveling solo or with minors.
I’ve tried a lot of road trip packing hacks and I’m here to report the most effective and efficient, but don’t get your sights set on aesthetics, please! I’m not your aesthetically pleasing gal, please look elsewhere, like on the ‘gram or tictock, just not here.
The Basics of Road Trip Packing: What to Pack In
Traditional Road Trip Packing Options: Suitcase
Packing cubes–You know the classic scene where your suitcase is way too stuffed so you have to sit on it to make it zip? That’s how I like to pack my packing cubes for optimal number of clothes in tiny spaces. I might be known to overpack a bit. I have my packing cubes for clothes, shoes, and toiletries. Each member gets his or her own colored cubes for ease of knowing where everyones things are.
Shoe hanger–You may have seen this floating around social media, but essentially it’s an over the door shoe hanger that fits (namely babies’/small kids’) clothes, diapers, wipes, snacks, etc. The hanger rolls up to fit perfectly inside a suitcase and makes the unpacking process as simple as unrolling it and hanging the bag on the back of a door at your destination.
Folding Hanger–It’s like hanging shoe basket meets packing cubes. This hangs in a closet with clothes neatly folded and even has a compartment at the bottom for shoes (or we use it to put dirty clothes in). This really only works for smaller trips, as it doesn’t save a ton of space but it is very convenient, unlike traditional packing cubes.
Nontraditional Road Trip Packing Options:
Laundry basket–I know, it’s not pretty, but honestly sometimes it’s easier to just throw a bunch of the miscellaneous things in and call it a day. It’s convenient to carry, and you don’t have to worry about that pesky zipper not working when you overpack.
Tupperware drawers–I havent tried this method yet, but my goodness does it seem practical if you have the space in your vehicle. It’s like taking your dresser with you. Everyone gets their own drawer and there’s no unpacking when you reach your destination.
Garage totes–Don’t like the mess of throwing everything in a laundry basket? We recently packed a good bit of things in our empty garage totes and it turned out to be an efficient use of space and made packing up the car a breeze.
The Backseat Essentials
Medical supplies–at minimum keeping a basic first aid kit is important, because we all know someone is going to need a bandaid for some reason (whether its an imaginary booboo or someone got a paper cut doing arts and crafts.) We also keep a heavy supply of bags to vomit in for those who get motion sick. I like to venture into a little deeper than just basic med supplies, but that’s a story for another day. *make sure to not forget any medical supplies for anyone in your family that has more than the basic needs*
Potty–we keep a potty in our back seat with bags and wipes and all the things you might need when someone needs to GO. My husband has rolled his eyes at this one for years, but guess what toddler needed to poop when we were somewhere with no toilet? Yep, came in handy, but I’ll spare you the pictures.
The Backseat Extras
Electronics holder–iPads, toniebox, phones, etc. Make sure to have easy access to what passengers might need or want on the drive. Making things easily accessible is necessary, especially when carseats are involved.
Secret stash–I like to hit the dollar section of Target or the Dollar Store before a particularly long road trip because we always need those last ditch efforts when there might be only 15 miles until the next stop and the whining just. wont. stop. Hidden snacks always work too!
Happy road trip packing, mamas!