what to pack for a cross-country road trip

It’s been almost a year since Miss Rona came and shot our 2020 travel plans to the ground. The good news is now in the spring of a new year, we can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel.

If your wanderlust has been brewing, think about planning a road trip. This is a safer option, considering the fact that overseas travel has more risk for infection and contact. If you have a car that’s been parked in your driveway for months and some willing members of your pod, a road trip could be a weekend to a week excursion that you’re able to safeguard during this time.

I organized a cross-country road trip with my best friend last fall, in order to spend a couple months in my home state of Michigan. We drove from Los Angeles all the way over to the Mitten State in a week, hitting a couple national parks that I never would’ve visited otherwise. It was a beautiful experience that (safely) got me out of my four walls.


extras to pack for a road-trip

  • Collapsable water cube

This collapsable cube was so useful, especially now because it’s hard to find places to refill your water bottles when driving cross-country. The only place I noticed we were able to refill our bottles was at the information site at Zion National Park. The 20-liter cube I purchased took a couple hours to fill with filtered water so I did that throughout packing day.

  • External battery

Not just for trips, but also just great to have in general. Be sure to charge the external battery before you start driving!

  • Reusable tote bags

I like to have a larger tote bag exclusively for road trip snacks. The smaller ones I used for dirty laundry, hiking shoes, and other miscellaneous items.

  • Phone car charger

An essential to keep in your car for long drives.

  • Insulated carafe

This was a game changer- an insulated carafe will save you a little cash if you fill it up with coffee for the trip. One quart lasted me a couple of days when I filled it each morning before setting out on the road.

  • Cooler

A small cooler or insulated tote bag is wonderful to keep in the trunk for prepared meals and cold drinks.

  • Duct tape

Great to have in case of any car mishaps! A few days before my road trip, I was the unfortunate recipient of a parked car hit-&-run, where someone hit my front bumper and it completely ripped off. I tried gluing it back on with the strongest adhesive I could find, but at the end of the day duct tape was my knight in shining silver armor.

  • First Aid kit

This is always a great essential to keep in your car!

  • Hand sanitizers

You should have a smaller personal hand sanitizer you can bring with you in a purse or fanny pack, as well as a car sanitizer for your road trip pod.

  • Clorox wipes

As part of my ‘clean’ kit, I kept sanitizing hand wipes as well as Clorox wipes for wiping down door handles and surfaces at our stays.

  • Warm socks

I found that my thick fuzzy socks were perfect for our camping nights, as well as in-transit comfort.

  • Sleeping bag and pillow

A sleeping bag and pillow is added safety to have for overnight stays in hotels or Airbnbs.

  • Car sun shade

A sun shade for your car windshield is a great addition, especially if you’re driving through warmer regions where your car can get hot when parked.

Wait! Before you go:

  • Look into getting a AAA membership in case you get locked out or get a flat tire. Always better to be prepared!
  • Learn how to use your car’s cruise control. Trust me, this will make things easier for you!
  • Get you and your traveling pod tested beforehand and afterwards, as well as set a plan in place if there is an emergency.
  • Be sure to check out your local dollar store for items before heading to Amazon or other retailers. You’ll be surprised how much you can find.
  • Your car will get dirty during the trip, make sure you have sturdy rubber car mats to be able to shake off dirt and dust.