How to Pack for a Summer Road Trip

Going on a Summer Road-trip? Not sure what to pack? Here's what you need to know.

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In a couple days I'm going on a very long trip, two full days of driving on the way there, and two full days back, and I'll also have a week at this place... so I've gotta be smart about my packing. I've been talking to my friends/travel buddies about how I'm making lists and going to try to be really organized in my packing, this is what i've come up with so far!

I broke this post into two sections, my "luggage essentials" and my "packing list/tips," so if you want to read the packing tips, just scroll past this first part! 

LUGGAGE ESSENTIALS

Road trips, especially looooong ones with an extended stay somewhere, mean you have to be really smart about your packing! Like, a small bag to take into a hotel with a change of clothes and toiletry necessities, and a bag with the rest of your stuff in it... but you also have to pack lightly enough that everything fits in the car and the toddler in the back has room to move around (this coming from personal experience, the summer my family and I drove to the Grand Canyon, up the coast of California, over to Yellowstone, and then back down to Alabama... with my toddler brother in the carseat next to me. Super fun, super cozy!)

I'll probably re-use some of my tips from my WHAT TO PACK IN A CARRY-ON(IF YOU'RE NOT CHECKING A BAG) post from last summer, but I wanted to post some new ideas on packing light/traveling well and gear these more specifically towards road trips! 

First things first, the luggage components. I think it's a really good idea to invest in some good quality luggage pieces! If you read that What to Pack in a Carry-On post, you know i have a 22 inch London Fog suitcase that I have been using for the last few years, on all of my trips, and this beach trip will be no different! When I'm traveling by plane I take a small backpack with me, especially since i can sometimes check the 22-in suitcase, but since this summer we'll be in the car, I'll have that small bag for the overnight hotel stop! Here are five of my luggage "essentials," click the bolded section to see some of my favorites!

Small Suitcase 

Mine is a 22-inch one –like I mention above – small enough to be a carry-on!

Backpack 

I've had my Hershel bag for YEARS and I love it! 

Weekender Bag

Great for road trips if you 're going to be making one-night-only stops along the way to break up the driving! Throw in a change of clothes, a toiletry bag, and some PJS!

Beach Tote

I found one at Target, so I'll be packing all of my swimsuits in here + my beach cover-ups

Hanging Travel Organizer 

This one is optional, and I'm still saving up for one, so for this trip, i'm using ziplock bags!

So, for this trip I’m actually taking a suitcase and three smaller bags, which is more than I had originally intended. BUT I decided I’m going to use either the backpack or the small weekender bag for my “equipment” (#bloggerlife 😅) and then the other one will have a change of clothes, my PJs, my makeup, and a toothbrush for my "one night only" hotel stays.

Scroll down to see my packing list for this summer's big road trip, & below that are some of my favorite packing tips! 

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Little Bleu Studio's Road Trip Packing Tips!

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  • Choose a Color Scheme

When I’m planning what I want to wear for a trip I start by going to Pinterest, or flipping through magazines to get some inspiration for the colors I think I want to wear, and then going to the closet and pulling all the pieces I have that I think would work well together(both color-wise and climate-wise, depending on where I’m going)… On this trip, for instance, I know I probably won’t wear a lot of dressy clothes, and will be spending the majority of my time in shorts & a tee shirt, or in a bathing suit, so even though I’m packing a pair of jeans, I planned most of my shirts to be paired with shorts. I'm also packing A LOT of whites and blues since its a beach trip, and I threw in some pops of red just in case I feel like being sassy.

Its also super helpful if you’re traveling with a friend, to coordinate clothes! If you and a girlfriend wear similar sizes/have similar styles, it can be super fun to pack a few things that you can both wear – that way you have more options, and can switch everything to avoid re-wearing things in pictures!

  • Lay it Out

Pretty soon after I took the photos for my Guest Room Reveal, I started laying out my clothes on that bed. It was very helpful! Even though I had pulled a lot of things out of my closet and put them onto my clothing rack, laying them on my bed was really helpful in “seeing” how everything would go.

I’m going to try to stick to:

No worries guys, I steamed all the clothes before I put them into the suitcase! 

No worries guys, I steamed all the clothes before I put them into the suitcase! 

  • 3-5 tees & tanks
  • 3 Beach-y cover-up things (I have a kimono, a dress, and two shirts)
  • 2 Sun dresses
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 4 pair shorts
  • Sandals
  • Keds

I also arrange things in a “yes” and “maybe” pile, that way if there’s a shirt that I think I might want to wear, but am not totally sold on it, I can keep it in the maybe group, and if I have room after I pack my must-haves, I can go back and add it in.

Putting them on the bed also helped me keep from having too many black things, because, as any good art historian does, I have SO MANY black clothing items, which is great for most occasions, not so great for beach trips.

  • Putting it in the suitcase

This is (for me) the hardest part of the packing process. I like to roll my clothes, its something my roommate in college taught me to help save space when you’re trying to pack a lot of things! It’s also helpful in avoiding wrinkles.

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While I like to roll some of the clothes, I usually leave some just folded if I know I want to be able to access them easily!

Something I learned recently is to pack your clothes inside out – that way if there is dust or something in your suitcase that gets on them, its not going to get the outside messed up!

I roll everything except sleep clothes, bras, underwear, and jeans. For me, rolling my jeans just feels like it takes up more room than folding them as neatly as I can and throwing them on top of the rolled clothes. And for this trip, I’m going to be wearing my jeans for travel, so I don’t even have to worry about packing them!

So now that I've said all these things – and this post was SO LONG – this isn’t me pretending I’m a packing professional, in fact, while I was packing for my trip, I picked out a pair of ankle boots and considered taking them on my trip. to. Key. West. That’s right, folks, I really did think about it. BUT I have learned some tricks to help me with my packing, and I wanted to share them with you guys! And I think – with the exception of momentarily wanting to bring ankle boots to the beach – I've done a pretty darn good job packing this time. 

What are your favorite packing tips? Let me know in the comments!

xo, Lauren

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