A road trip packing checklist ensures that you’ll be well prepared for your next road trip. I’ve created a free, downloadable checklist in Microsoft Word that is customizable so that you can modify it to fit your needs. This checklist focuses exclusively on the items that are specific to a road trip- for packing checklists for clothes and other general travel items see the General Packing Checklist and the Toiletries Packing Checklist. For kid-specific items, see the Kids Packing Checklist.
Items that are unique to a road trip packing checklist include:
- Sporting Gear (you probably do at least one of the following on a road trip: swimming, fishing, hiking, golf, tennis, camping… and they all require extra gear beyond your regular clothes)
- Snack Foods and Drinks that can be eaten during the ride (so that you’re not tempted to spend money on snacks at gas stations)
- Breakfast Food and Drinks for after you reach your destination (I’ll explain the benefits of this below)
Since the downloadable checklist is customizable, you’ll be able to delete the gear I listed and add in whatever sports gear you will use (life vests, goggles, fishing poles, compass, whatever) .
Packing enough snacking food and drinks for the car ride is critical to conserving money on a road trip- if you or your passengers get hungry and you don’t have something to offer, you’re going to waste money at the next gas station buying junk food. Cheap and easy snack foods include celery sticks, carrot sticks, popcorn, and trail mix. Pack lots of individual bottles of water, juice, and/or soda so that no one gets thirsty. (Of course, you want to keep things as healthy as possible, but if you or your passenger will insist on buying a soda on the trip anyway, then it’s better to preempt that costly compulsion by bringing along a soda that costs a fraction of gas station/fast food prices.)
We save $10-$20 per day on road trips by bringing our breakfast foods with us instead of eating out at restaurants, coffee shops, or fast food places. We bring individual packets of instant oatmeal, or cereal (either a big box, or a bunch of those single-portion cereal boxes). For the milk, we bring single-portion aseptic milks (you know, the little milks in rectangular boxes that don’t need to be refrigerated). To drink, we bring Starbucks VIA instant coffee (expensive, but still not as expensive/time consuming as buying at a coffee shop). For creamer, we either bring a powdered creamer (not that tasty), or a box of those little single-serve cuppies of aseptic half and half- sold next to the coffee and hot chocolate in the grocery store. And for our 5-year-old daughter we bring single-portion boxes of aseptic chocolate milk, or instant hot cocoa mix. As to fruit, we either eat the tangerines we bring with us, or we pick up fresh fruit from a grocery store in the town we’re in.
Don’t get me wrong, I love trying out a good coffee shop in a new town, and eating pancakes and eggs in a sit-down restaurant. And we do that- we just don’t do it every day of the road trip. By bringing along our breakfast foods we save a lot of money, and we save time, too- often, we want to get right to the day’s activity (like fishing, hiking, swimming), and waiting in line at a coffee shop just gets in the way of that.
Free Downloadable Road Trip Packing Checklist:
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You might also want to check out Part I of this travel packing list series: a General Packing Checklist, Part II: a packing checklist for health and beauty items, and Part III: Kids Packing Checklist. If you’re looking for road trip activities for kids, check out this free, downloadable packet from LivingLifeIntentionally.