Road Trip Tips – 5 Easy Steps to Perfect Packing

We’re on a two+ week road trip through beautiful British Columbia Canada right now so I thought I’d share a few tips I rely on to make family road trips run a little smoother. Today I’m talking about how how to pack light but have maximum outfit options.

I’m no fashionista but I do like to look put together and coordinated when I’m on vacation. By spending a little bit of time thinking about what to bring ahead of time, and using a few tried and true strategies, I’ve found that I am usually pretty satisfied with my choices once I am on vacation. Here are five easy steps I go through when planning what to clothing to bring on a trip.

1) Where and What? Consider your itinerary, climate and the activities you are planning to do. This summer we will be hitting the beach at a lake in a small B.C. resort town with a very hot climate, visiting a major city with a coastal climate to sight-see and shop, and traveling to a mountain resort with a cooler climate to do some more adventurous activities. On top of this we will be driving for a few hours on each of six days. Some very different climates and activities!

2) Keep it Clean. Determine if there is some way you can do laundry during your trip. We stay primarily in condos which usually have an in-suite laundry so I can plan the maximum amount of days I can go between doing a quick load of laundry. If you don’t stay in condos, check if your hotel has guest laundry facilities. A last resort is to do a little hand-washing in the sink. No one loves doing laundry while on vacation, but this is the best way to facilitate packing light!

3) Work the Numbers. For a two+ week trip I follow the 5-4-3-2-1 strategy. I choose 5 tops, 4 bottoms, 3 shoes/3 accessories, 2 toppers/2 bags and 1 swimsuit/dress/active or lounge wear. Make sure each top works with each bottom/topper for maximum outfit options. I did a rough calculation and estimated that I can make over 20 outfit combinations that can be adapted with toppers, shoes and accessories to work for any of the climates and activities we have planned. (Note: For a shorter trip I simply reduce the numbers, ie: for a one week trio I would take 4 tops, 3 bottoms, 2 shoes, 1 bag/topper and 1 swimsuit/coverup/dress, and for a weekend trip I’d take 3 tops, 2 bottoms/shoes, 1 bag/swimsuit/coverup etc.) After considering all the activities we’d be doing on this trip, here’s what I packed:

Five tops – three tees and two sleeveless tops
Four bottoms – two pair shorts, two pair pants
Three pairs of shoes – one sneaker, one t-strap sandal and one dressier sandal
Three accessories – two belts and one scarf
Two toppers – one fleece hoodie and one open shrug-style sweater
Two bags – one tote and one cross-body bag (both Thirty-One of course!)
One swimsuit and cover-up, one dress and one active outfit (tee and yoga pants)

Note: I use the Stylebook app to keep track of my wardrobe. I love it and it deserves a separate post unto itself! 

4) The Little Necessities. Plan for as many undergarments and/or nightclothes as you need between laundry stops with maybe one extra set. Make a list of the toiletries that you use in your daily routine and see if you can find travel size versions or decant them into smaller containers (I’ve been thrilled with these silicone, leak proof bottles!) I’ve found out the hard way that vacation time is NOT the time to test out new or unknown sample sizes of products, especially if you have sensitive skin!

5) Choose the Best Bag. I used to mainly use hard, roller style suitcases, but they were hard to get in and out of the back of our vehicle and a pain to bring up and down stairs in some of the condos we stayed at. I now find that using soft luggage works much better on a road trip. I love the All-Packed Duffle from Thirty One Gifts because of all the fabulous features. It has inside mesh pockets, an outside zipper pocket, an outside pocket that holds 2 or 3 pairs of my shoes, a detachable shoulder strap and a reinforced handle for easy carrying. I love them so much that each one of us now has one and the boys are now at the age that they can be responsible for carrying theor own bag themselves.

I hope these tips help you consider what to pack for your next trip. Where are you traveling to this summer? If you’ve got any other tips on packing light I’d love to hear them! Please leave a comment below!
Happy travels!

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