A Complete Summer Road Trip Packing Tips & Essentials Guide

Great Sand Dunes National Park

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A Complete Summer Road Trip Packing Tips & Essentials

Road tripping is one of our favorite things to do but it can be such a pain to pack your bags. We typically bring a variety of clothing, gear, and accessories in order to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, as well as our explorations in the urban city life. This comprehensive guide will help you pick and choose your packing list essentials for your next epic adventure!

Overall Road Trip Packing

Clothing: Because the average temperature in many areas of the U.S. fluctuates quite frequently based on location and elevation we always have a variety of clothing options to choose from in our summer road trip essentials solely depending on our trip stops.

summer road trip essentials

Summer Road Trip Essentials: Outdoor Apparel

Shirts: Wicking and layers are important. We each brought a variety of tank tops, short sleeve shirts, long sleeve shirts, and lightweight layering jackets.

Shorts: For us, athletic shorts that have breathable material are excellent for comfort while hiking and walking.

Pants: I usually bring along a few pairs of athletic leggings that are comfortable, flexible, and perfect for all kinds of weather.

Socks: We’re a big fan of wool socks because they help provide lasting comfort in any activity and help prevent blisters. Regardless of the brand, make sure you have thick socks that prevent rubbing.

Hiking Shoes: Our main pairs of shoes for hiking are from Merrell but they wouldn’t be complete without our Superfeet insoles (we use orange and carbon).

Rain Jacket: Having a QUALITY rain jacket is absolutely a necessity. We really like our Columbia waterproof rain jackets. KEYWORD: WATERPROOF… Not just resistant. How do you know if it’s waterproof? These jackets are seam-sealed and zipper sealed which prevents water from leaking through the stitching in the material or your zipper. It also is typically disclosed online or on the tag. Summer road trip essentials

Hats: Over the years we both became pretty obsessed with wearing trucker hats in the summer while hiking. They’re more breezy than a regular baseball cap, fit a little lower and looser, and protect your face from the sun.

Summer Road Trip Essentials: Evening/City Apparel

I’m not gonna lie. I really pride myself on being a light packer but there are times that I go overboard when packing daytime and evening apparel. Ladies, here is what I would suggest for your summer city or evening apparel!

Rompers: Ah yes, probably my favorite article of clothing for many reasons. You don’t have to worry about the wind picking up, they’re extremely comfortable, and you can effortlessly put together an outfit because there are no separates. Slip-on and go! (2)

Dresses: Three words: loose cotton dresses. You can dress them up or be casual chic and they don’t wrinkle easily. (2)

Pants: Even if you are visiting a particular U.S. destination in the summer the nights could get cool – check out the evening weather before you go! I brought a favorite pair of black jeggings and one of my favorite pair of jeans because they’re comfortable and can easily be dressed up if necessary. (2)

Shorts: I love cotton shorts as well as high waisted denim shorts as they can go with a variety of outfits. (2-3 pairs)

Shirts: Loose cotton basic tees or loose tank tops are my go to along with a lightweight sweater for the cool nights. (2 shirts, 1 sweater)

Shoes: I sometimes wear wedges or heels when out in a city but more often than not you’ll find me in a pair of sandals or comfortable, chic tennis shoes.

Bralettes: I’m a big believer in feminine, lacy bralettes. They’re supportive but have the comfort of a sports bra which is downright awesome. My favorites are from Negative Underwear which also has the most comfortable underwire bras I’ve ever owned.

Jewelry: I’m a jewelry girl, hands down. Some travelers might think I’m crazy by even bringing any jewelry but I love accessories. However, I refuse to wear jewelry when I’m hiking or doing other outdoor activities instead I wear my silicone ring. Typically I bring a favorite (or two) delicate necklace(s), a watch, a bracelet, and one pair of dangle and stud earrings. What’s key? Simplicity.

Guys, you peeps are easy. Logan is pretty minimalistic when it comes to packing as well and brought a variety of clothing items for evening wear/casual days. Again, like my clothing options, wicking and layers are important here too, maybe one day he will write about the worst chafe he ever had, but then again… maybe he won’t now that he has this secret weapon.

Shorts: Cotton shorts or shorts that have a little bit of spandex or lycra have become a popular option for summertime because they are breathable. (3-4 pairs)

Shirts: Loose cotton tees such as these are comfortable and easy to wash. For semi-nicer restaurants or places packing a collared polo is an easy fix. (3-4)

Shoes: A comfortable and versatile pair of tennis shoes are a must for everyday wear.

Summer Road Trip Essentials: Toiletries

Bug SpraySome places you won’t see a bug all day, others you’ll be swatting at mosquitos. We kept a bottle of bug spray on us or near us at all times! Any bug spray will do, but make sure it has a larger percentage of DEET (the active ingredient that deters bugs from swarming your ankles).

Lip Balm & Lotion:  Air is refreshing but without some chapstick and heavy-duty lotion, your body could start to turn into a reptile, especially when in areas with high altitude.

Makeup:  Curious as to what makeup I bring along with me on my travels? Check out this guide! While I don’t typically bring everything on this list depending on the type of travel I’m doing (camping and hiking, makeup? NO!), I do enjoy getting a bit dolled up when dining out, strolling around a city, etc.

Sunscreen: Even with an overcast it’s important to wear sunscreen, even if you think you won’t need it. I can feel my mom smiling as she reads this.

SunglassesI mean, you can’t go anywhere without sunnies right? We brought two pairs each just in case one broke or decided to go MIA.

HeadlampGoing to explore some caves? No? Well, you might want to bring a headlamp for the purpose of camping or hiking. A headlamp is extremely useful in many situations.

Laundry DetergentDepending on how long we’re going to be road-tripping we sometimes will bring a small bottle of detergent to wash our clothes, especially if we are staying in a place for a few nights. Not only does this help you pack less, but it will also cut the cost of paying to have your clothes laundered by a hotel. While you’re at it, picking up this tiny travel clothesline is helpful too!

READ MORE: The Best Hair & Make-Up Products for Traveling

Other Summer Road Trip Essentials

Packing Cubes: We use these to organize our clothing, handy first aid kit,  and any other equipment effectively. They’re seriously a lifesaver! Summer road trip essentials

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YETI 45LWe LOVE our YETI cooler. Our main reason? It keeps ice in for days and technically became our own personal mini-fridge. During our time on any road trip, we kept tons of water, sandwich supplies, and other snacks ready inside.

Photography/Technology Equipment

This may not apply to you unless you are looking to take some epic photos. Trust me, there are plenty of opportunities to do so around the good ol’ US of A! However, you may find a new gadget you’ve been wondering about below.


GoProWe bought our Hero 3 three years ago and our Hero 4 earlier this year. We love having both cameras to be able to use them for varying footage, action shots, and now we both get to keep one on us.
We have a variety of accessories that we purchased for our GoPro that we love.  Check out this post to read about them!

Camera: To us, right now the Sony A6000 has it all, it’s compact, user-friendly, and takes great quality photos when using the right settings. We also have the 55-210mm lens, which allows us to take pictures of subjects a little further away while still fitting in our Crumpler.
Other accessories we included: extra batteries, external charger, lens filters, PNY professional SD cards, and a Hufa lens cap holder.

PowerbankBeing in the mountains our cell phones were always losing a signal, thus our battery life wasn’t great. We use two of these power banks to keep our phones charged and to charge our camera batteries on the go.

Quick Charge 6 Port ChargerAny time we’re traveling we always seem to run into the same problem, there are never enough outlets to charge all of our devices. With this charger, we are able to charge up to six devices quickly and only use one outlet!

READ MORE: Our Favorite Photography Gear & Travel Gadgets

Going Hiking? Prepare with a Daypack.

Backpack/Daypack: We currently use a few different styles of backpacks on our trips, the one pictured above is the Patagonia Petrolia 28L but any of these best travel backpacks would also do the trick!

Camelbak Antidote water reservoir: Dehydration and/or altitude sickness can be a REAL struggle if you aren’t prepared for it. While carrying multiple water bottles isn’t horrible, having a water reservoir is much more effective.

Also recommended to help keep altitude sickness at bay:

  • Dramamine: commonly used for motion sickness
  • Ibuprofen: helpful for pain, inflammation, and fever
  • SNACKS(see below↓)


  • Tortillas:  We used these bad boys on the daily for making breakfast wraps or lunch wraps
  • Peanut Butter:  Those little JIF to-go-packs are the bomb!
  • Cheese:  Sliced cheese is perfect for a quick snack or to add to a wrap! (We keep it in our YETI cooler)
  • Protein Bars:  Awesome for keeping your energy up while on the trail.

A few of our favorites are:

Clif Crunchy Peanut Butter
Power Crunch Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter Creme, & French Vanilla

  • Jerky:  Quick protein, easy to carry, this is one of Logan’s favorites when we’re traveling
  • Dried Fruit: A few of our favorites are mango, apples, pineapple, raisins, and cranberries
  • Trail Mix:  We always make our own by combining our favorite nuts, chocolate, fruit, etc.

S-biners/Nite-Ize: Carabiners might be designed for climbing, but these lockable ones come in really handy when attaching items to our bags and accessories.

Dry Bags: In the mountains or certain states it rains at least one time every day. Having a dry bag in our backpacks was essential to save our electronics and photography equipment. Not to mention, if you plan to kayak or participate in any other water sports you can take your wallets, keys, and phones in a dry bag.

First Aid Kit: Having a well-organized and useful first aid kit is necessary when hiking, traveling, and much more.

READ MORE: Building A First Aid Kit

Vehicle Supplies

Jumper Cables: Because you just never know when your battery could decide to go kaputt

Basic Toolkit: Handy for quick fixes or repairs.

Pressure Gauge: Check the air pressure in your tires before any road trip and after traveling long distances! This will help with gas mileage and could even save you from a flat tire.

Flashlight + Extra Batteries: Super handy if you lose your phone, keys, or other items into the great abyss between the seats but also great to have in case of a flat tire at night or other emergencies.

Tire Jack: Check to make sure you have one in your car.

Car Charger: It’s not easy to navigate with Siri if your phone is dead right?

AAA Membership: While this might not be a necessity for some, it definitely can come in handy. We’ve used them for flat tires, towing, and much more. It’s not a bad thing to be too prepared. You can also get some great discounts by having a membership.

Driver’s License, Registration & Insurance Information: A big duh, but we’ve forgotten these before! Keep these items in a place you can easily find them and bonus points if you keep a copy of your insurance in your wallet!

Check Fluids Before You Go

  • Coolant
  • Wiper Fluid
  • Air Pressure in Tires
  • Oil
  • Wiper Blades

While we don’t pack ALL of this every time we’re headed off for a road trip we hope this comprehensive guide will help you begin to plan your next trip! What are some of your road trip or packing list essentials?

Face the facts, packing can be a pain! This guide to summer road trip essentials will help you pick choose what to take on your next epic adventure. #summer #roadtrip #usa #travel


  • Reply
    April 20, 2017 at 11:37 AM

    Very comprehensive and sensible advise. Love it. Love the photos too!

  • Reply
    Kallsy Page
    April 20, 2017 at 9:31 PM

    Thank you Sally! We’re glad you found it useful. 🙂

  • Reply
    May 8, 2017 at 10:09 AM

    Awesome list! Your snacks breakdown is almost identical to what we ended up taking along with us on the trails during a national park-focused road trip in 2015.

    We lived out of the car and it was the beginning of summer, so I actually bought a plug-in cooler for the trunk of my old Subaru. It plugged into the 12V outlet in the trunk and kept all of our perishables cool enough with/without ice the whole trip. It was a blessing to have it along, it gave us the ability to have a much wider array of foods along, especially for some absolutely great camp dinners!

    • Reply
      Kallsy Page
      May 14, 2017 at 11:25 PM

      Hi Tom! Sounds like you lived a dream of ours. I bet that trip made for some outstanding and everlasting memories. Which national parks did you visit?

  • Reply
    May 10, 2017 at 11:07 PM

    Hey! You forgot the most important part.

    The music. Can’t rock along Route 66 without a few rockin’, rollin’ tunes!

    Or an audiobook or two. Grapes of Wrath, perhaps?

    • Reply
      Kallsy Page
      May 14, 2017 at 11:20 PM

      How could I forget!? The music is the most important part of ANY road trip. 🙂

  • Reply
    Ryan Biddulph
    June 16, 2017 at 8:38 PM

    Hi Kallsy,

    Definitely need that waterproof jacket to do a road trip good in proper. Especially in the US. I pull out a cheap rain bag aka 10 cent plastic bag to cover myself when motorbiking during monsoons in SE Asia. I need to get myself a proper rain coat to keep dry when the torrential downpours hit.

    We’ve a road trip in about 2 weeks to North Carolina. Short one but should be fun!

    Thanks for sharing 🙂


    • Reply
      Kallsy Page
      June 21, 2017 at 12:57 PM

      Hi Ryan! We just got our first REAL rainjackets a year ago so we’re not too far ahead. 😉 Hope you enjoy North Carolina! It’s been a long time since we’ve been there.

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