Road trips are awesome, but when you’re getting ready to pack up the car, the concern of space is always at the forefront of your mind. Don’t worry: even the most experienced travelers have a hard time limiting excess baggage. Most people pack with the idea of “let’s see how much we can carry” rather than “let’s see how little we can get away with.” If you’re heading out on the open road and plan to be living mostly out of a suitcase, there are several ways for you to prepare so you can keep the cargo to a minimum.

Clothes and Toiletries

As a rule, each passenger should not bring more than one piece of luggage (excluding purses). First, check the weather forecast for all the days and locations you’ll be traveling through. Then, choose three outfits that fit the weather and environment. Choose colors and patterns that can be mixed and matched so you have more options. Also, don’t pack delicate clothing or anything that wrinkles easily, as laundry resources on the road will be limited. Don’t forget that underwear and socks are part of an outfit.

Small business / Hand holding tiny suitcaseBy now you should be familiar with rolling your clothes to save packing space, but if you’re not, now is the time to start. If you’re taking heavier pieces like sweaters or jackets, pack those at the bottom of the duffel or suitcase and put lighter items on top.

Next, get a gallon zip bag for your toiletries. But unless you’re going to be camping the whole time, leave shampoo, conditioner and bodywash behind, as hotels and motels typically provide shower items for free in the room or for purchase at the front desk for a small fee. Place medications and a small first aid kit in the same bag, then squeeze and roll the bag to remove as much air as possible before putting it in your luggage.


It used to be that if you wanted to take some entertainment on the road, you had to pack bulky books, DVDs (and a player), CDs, cameras and anything else you needed. But thanks to the wonders of technology, your device is perhaps the most compact of all your road trip essentials. Whether it’s a tablet like the Apple iPad, an e-reader like the Kindle Fire or asmartphone like the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, you can put all of your time-passers on a single device that fits right in your pocket. This is especially helpful if you’re road tripping with little ones who need constant distractions on long drives.


It’s inevitable that you accumulate a lot of trash and random objects during road trips. Instead of getting frustrated while you try to tidy the small area, hang a shoe organizer on the back of the driver and passenger seats. Again, this is a headache-saving super tip for parents.

Important Paperwork

Just because you’re packing light doesn’t mean you can throw preparedness to the wayside. Make sure everyone in the car has identification. If you’re traveling with non-family members, it’s essential that each passenger also has an emergency contact name and phone number in his or her purse or wallet. Then, of course, you need the vehicle registration and your proof of insurance (which should already be tucked away in your glove compartment).

Although sitting in a car for hours doesn’t really sound like the time of your life, remember that the journey is just as important as the destination, so make the most of it. And if you can’t, bring along a pillow and some headphones and try catching up on some sleep.