How to Pack Like a Champ For a Long Road Trip


Do you get packing anxiety? I do too. I will be the first to admit it: I love to travel, I hate to pack. I was never any good at it; therefore I would put it off until the last possible minute and pack for trips without putting any thought into it. As a result I would arrive to the airport stressed out and wondering if I had everything.

It is one thing to pack for a flight–It is a whole new ball game when you pack for a long road trip to move.  That is what I am doing this week and wanted to offer up some valuable Go! Girl advice as I am actively living it. Read on for tips on how to be the newest ninja warrior of packing for an extended road trip.

Start One Day Earlier

I did this and it has made a world of difference as compared to waiting until the night before. Not only has my level of tension been less but I can focus and also organize/clean the space I am leaving. If this is a space for others, or your old personal space, it means a lot to leave it clean and not in disarray. This will keep your mind right for your trip—clean mind, clear head.

Quick Bursts

Pack in bursts of energy; set a goal for packing one-two bags per burst and treat yourself after each round. The treat can be anything you enjoy; coffee, a movie, or get together with a local friend before you head off.

ROLL with it

I have moved 4 full times, backpacked for 6 months and learned a very critical lesson: always roll your clothing. Rolling allows for you to actively see all of your clothing (well most of it) and you can make a quick grab when necessary to reload your day bag.  Compression sacks are amazing to increase the rolling storage capacity if you are using only one backpack.

Treat Your Car Like Your Closet

For a road trip, think in terms of organization and ease of access; pretending that your trunk is your closet is a great way to visualize how you will organize things. Do not just throw stuff in. Plan ahead, especially if this is an extended road trip. For me, this meant putting bottoms with bottoms and shoes in a big Rubbermaid. I arranged my suitcases in such a way that I can open my trunk and grab whatever rolled up piece I might need if I show up in a town and the weather changes unexpectedly.

Security is Top Priority

Keep a low profile by keeping the inside of your car unexciting. Strewn about clothing, nice things, and bright colors scream, “There is an expensive party in here!” and who knows how someone might try to join the car party. Place valuables in the trunk or on your person. Taking out a travel insurance plan is also great for combating potential theft/loss of possessions.

Do Double Duty

Take advantage of transporting your bags and luggage by using them as the boxes. This may be a normal piece of advice but many people see moving as something that involves cardboard and sharpies. Use your backpacks and luggage as the storage vessels, that way you can transport them too and your beloved items. Also if you have linens or bedding to bring along, use these things as free ways to cover up backseat booty. (Get your mind out of the gutter). While you’re at it, take notice if any of your good traveling bags have defects like broken wheels and truly retire them as boxes. They’ve gotten pretty high tech lately, some even have tracking devices installed, making losing them close to impossible.

Snack Healthy and Hydrated

Make sure the snacks you pack for your car munchies are healthy and that you have a reusable water bottle. You can save loads of money, and help the environment by filling your water bottle at water fountains within rest stops. And, obviously the less you spend your money at Burger King, the more you can splurge at your actual destinations along the way!

Prep your Day Bag Well

Have your day bag done up backpacker style– compartment sacks, keep toiletries to a minimum and a handful of outfits.  You can always swap out at the next stop when you go back to your “closet”. Make sure your day bag has essential womanly things; hot outfit for the big night in the city, tampons, pads, Motrin, gym shorts for sleeping and a small journal to write your experiences.

Pick Your Tunes

Seriously get serious with your music.  This helps shape a journey!  Toss those throwback burned mixes in from high school….you never know what fun memories those will evoke or new ones might happen while you are rockin’ out.

What are some of your tips for extended road trips?


About Author

Traci is a bold New Yorker who loves taking her empire state of mind global. She holds a degree in International Business, and bleeds humanitarianism. Traci spent a semester in 2007 living in Italy and bouncing around Western Europe. In the past 3 years she volunteered at a homeless shelter in California, worked construction in New Orleans, and moonlights as a bartender everywhere she goes. She recently completed an epic 7 month backpacking trip through Central and South America and spent a month road-tripping the East Coast. Check out her personal blog at Based out of: New Orleans, LA


  1. I cannot agree more about the rolling thing! I always pack really light, and people ask how I fit stuff and it really is a matter of rolling your stuff (and being really picky about what you bring)!

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