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 When I was packing for my road trip from California back to Illinois, I really had no idea what to expect. I assumed that it was going to be really hot, since it was the beginning of May and we were driving through the south-west United States. What I didn’t take into account, however, was the elevations that we were going to be at, and I ended up wearing the same pair of jeans I had worn on the plane almost every day that week.
In order to ensure that no one else suffers the same fate as me, I thought I’d compile a short guide on what to pack for a week-long road trip, and here it is!
Some tips and tricks before we start:
  • Do some weather research – My biggest mistake when it came to packing for my recent road trip was simply assuming that it was going to be warm. Well, you know what they say about assuming things, and it certainly got the better of me because of that. Before you even start packing, take a look at your favorite weather report for an idea of what the weather will be like in the places that you will be visiting.
  • Layers, layers, layers – Especially if you’re going to be driving through several different climates, you’ll be glad you packed plenty of layers. This way you’ll be able to layer on as many different items as you need to keep warm, but also be able to shed them off as it gets warmer throughout the day/drive. Packing layers will also save space since you won’t be packing for five different types of weather in one suitcase.
  • Stick to one color palette – By doing this you allow yourself to pack less while still maximizing your outfit options.
  • Pack everything you think you’ll need and then get rid of five items – Be practical when you’re packing, and don’t pack anything you’re not absolutely sure you’ll wear. You’ll be much happier in the long run with a lighter suitcase than if you had brought that one extra pair of shoes you only would have worn once.




  • 4 Shirts – Long sleeve, short sleeve, etc. depending on what kind of weather you’ll be driving through.
  • 1 Denim Shirt – for layering
  • 1 Jacket – lightweight for warmer weather, or heavier for colder
  • 1 Pajama Top


  • 2 Jeans – for colder days
  • 2 Shorts/Skirts – for warmer days
  • 1 Pair Pajama Bottoms


  • 2 dresses/rompers – much more comfortable than jeans for long driving days


  • 1 Pair Sandals – For warmer weather
  • 1 Pair Sneakers
  • 1 Pair Boots – for any hiking you might do
  • 1 Pair Flip-Flops – for the beach, sketchy showers, etc.


  • Socks and underwear – enough to last your entire trip, plus a few extra (you never know what might happen)
  • 2 Bras – One black, one white/nude


  • Shower supplies – Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc.
  • Makeup – Only pack what you use on a daily basis, not your entire makeup bag!
  • Medications – Any prescriptions you may have, plus a few painkillers are always good to have on hand
  • Toothbrush & Toothpaste
  • Deodorant – I usually bring along a men’s deodorant, since it works a lot better than women’s
  • Hairbrush, hair ties, etc.


  • Laptop/Tablet – I normally try to leave my laptop at home whenever I can, but I usually bring a tablet along just in case I need something with a little bit more power than my phone
  • Phone – For navigation and researching things to do along the way
  • Camera – For capturing all of your memories
  • Headphones – For drowning out your road trip partners when you just need some alone time
  • Chargers for everything you bring – including a cigarette lighter to USB converter!
  • Portable charger – If you don’t have the luck of the draw in getting to use the cigarette lighter to charge your phone, you’ll be forever grateful you brought a portable charger along with you


  • 1 Backpack – I found that a backpack was the best thing to use as a purse during my road trip since it was so versatile and could hold everything that I needed. I could both take it hiking with me, and anywhere else I might need to go.
  • 1 Pair Sunglasses – For driving into the sun
  • 1 Umbrella/Rain Coat – For rainy days when you still want to get out of the car
  • 1 Swimsuit – For any chance you may have to go swimming – from the beach to hotel swimming pools


Addie Gray is a recent college grad and a passionate solo female traveler. Having traveled to more than 20 countries, she now shares her knowledge on budget travel, solo female travel, and travel photography.

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