When I’m packing for a road trip, either in the US or abroad, I plan pretty carefully. Why? Experience. Too many times I’ve realized what I needed or wanted only after I was halfway to my destination. And I used to end up with way too much stuff to lug around.
Now, since I travel so often, I keep a couple of cosmetic bags ready to go, already filled with travel-sized items of my favorite skincare products (Dr. Perricone), a travel toothbrush and toothpaste, mini soap and lotion, etc. When an opportunity arises, all I have to do is grab and go. I also keep a mini Smashbox makeup set that includes everything, all in one flat little box, and a set of travel makeup brushes that roll up into a tube. So that part is now a no-brainer. But what to wear?
I like soft, stretchy jeans for driving or riding in the car, with flats and a loose, comfy tee shirt or sweater. My favorite jeans are by Helmut Lang, because they fit me well, are so comfy and don’t lose their shape.
I like to have one pair of nice black jeans or pants with me, too, that I can dress up with a little jacket, just in case I suddenly find that a great restaurant happens to have seating available exactly as we’re passing through town. If a special performance or event is happening while we’re in town, its nice to have options, too. In that case, I’d wear the jacket and change my shoes. I always pack one pair of neutral, mid-heel pumps even on casual road trips – because you never know what opportunity might come your way. And the shoes change everything.
T-Shirts Can Do Double Duty. Pair with Pumps and a Jacket, and You’ve Dressed your Jeans up Enough for a Night Out
I always have a mix of comfy t-shirts, sweaters for layering and one or two tops that can be dressed up a bit if I want to, with the jacket or a scarf. Sometimes I also take a t-shirt type dress.
I usually don’t pack jewelry – I just can’t be bothered. I do pack several scarves, which can serve to warm you up, or can be used as a chic accessory. And they take up so little room. I know to pack light. I want one small-to-medium roller suitcase, full-stop, so space is at a premium.
I do like to take a separate, folding bag, because you never know what you might find along the way to fill it up with!
I also pack a pair of tee-shirt or jersey pajamas. Slightly boring, but comfy.
When I choose them, I imagine, how I’ll feel if I suddenly have to leave the hotel in them at 2:00 in the morning! Because, yep, that’s happened.
Once it was a fire alarm in my hotel. Once it was a tornado warning where all the guests had to huddle in a basement stairwell together. So in that case, I don’t really want to be wearing something skimpy or too revealing and I don’t want to be slowed down looking for my clothes! (Sounds weird, but it has happened several times so I now know what makes me comfortable!)
Also, take a light jacket with a hood – great for popping in and out of the car when’s it drizzling rain. You could also take an umbrella, but to be honest I don’t always. I find the jacket is enough for dashing in and out in, no matter the weather.
The main thing is that everything should be able to layer together, if the weather changes as you travel. I like to stick to a somewhat complimentary color scheme so that basically, everything goes together.
On longer trips, pack a couple of mini-packages of Tide or other detergent, in case you stay in a place with a laundry along the way.
If style is your thing, here are some other things to think about:
- If you’re going for a longer trip, make sure you get all your normal grooming appointments in before you leave. Don’t postpone a haircut or color touch up. Nothing’s worse that looking at your roots every day in the car mirror!
- If you prefer color on your nails, get a gel manicure before you go. You don’t want to be picking at chipped polish halfway through the trip. That’s gross.
- If you prefer your nails natural, as I do, bring clippers, an emery board and a nail brush. Its amazing how dingy your nails can get on a simple road trip.
MOST IMPORTANTLY – bring your camera, your map apps, your chargers and get ready for a fun adventure.
Get off the highways and onto the back roads as often as you can. See how people really live. Meet some locals.
Check TripAdvisor, Yelp! or iExit to see what interesting restaurants are nearby every day. Try not to eat at a chain – find something local. Discover a couple of unique places to stay along the way – maybe a historic hotel, a glamping experience, a rented cabin, a houseboat. Check local event listings – we’ve managed to hit towns just in time for a jazz festival, a special museum exhibit, an arts festival, a Scottish Games festival, a gallery walk and a food truck event. All by accident! and…