How to Pack for a Road Trip

Going on a road trip? With more than 59 national parks from Yellowstone to the Everglades, thousands of miles of highway spanning the entire country, and more museums, restaurants and shops than one could ever see in a lifetime, America is a road-tripper's paradise. With so much fun to be had, you want to make sure you pack just right.

Packing light for road trips can be tough, especially if you love to have plenty of clothing options on hand. We get it — you never know when you'll be in the mood to channel Audrey Hepburn and hit the town. However, as much as you wish to squeeze your whole wardrobe into your trunk before heading out, we recommend packing lightly as possible. We'll show you what to bring without sacrificing style.

When you go on a road trip, you only have so much room in the car, and if you're traveling with others, space gets even tighter. Also, you'll be spending long stretches in the car at a time, so you want to make sure you're dressed comfortably above all else.

We'll help you pick out the essentials so can you feel both cozy and camera-ready while traveling. Toss your suitcase on the bed and get ready to pack — here's our guide to road trip packing.

Outfits to Bring on a Road Trip

In general, road trip fashion is all about three things — comfort, simplicity and style. This does not mean you need to stuff a duffle bag with sweatpants. There are plenty of ways to dress casually with a touch of class.

You want to pack clothes that are lightweight and easy to mix and match, like neutral T-shirts and leggings. Make sure to check the weather before embarking on your journey too, because you want to feel comfortable no matter where you go on your trip.

Pack Clothing for Different Temperatures

Climates vary greatly between states, and some parts of the country undergo drastic temperature changes throughout the day. Weather can be unpredictable just about anywhere. For example, in Oklahoma City in November 1911, the afternoon temperature was 83 degrees. By midnight, the temperature had dropped to 17 — a record high to a record low. Crazy, right? In south Florida, you can expect rain every day during the summer months. Do your research before your trip and pack accordingly. You'll be glad you did.

Even if you travel to a place that is not known for moody weather, you still want to bring a jacket or sweater in case you get chilly at night. A denim jacket, flannel button-down or cardigan sweater are all flexible options. Also, aim to pack wrinkle-resistant clothes like denim, flannel or soft jogger pants. If you love wearing summer dresses, you'll have it made, because a cute dress takes up a lot less space than other types of clothing.

Strike a Balance Between Practical and Comfortable

If you cannot live without your favorite pair of jeans, definitely bring them along. Jeans are great for many different occasions because they can be paired with all kinds of colors and styles.

However, even though a good pair of jeans is a fashion staple, keep in mind that jeans are heavier than other types of bottoms, and they can quickly fill up a suitcase. Try to keep most of your jeans at home, and avoid wearing brand-new jeans. A pair of new jeans look great but can make for an uncomfortable car ride, especially if you drive for hours.

Whether you plan to tour a corner of the country or go all out on a cross-country expedition, you want to make comfort a priority so you can relax and enjoy every road trip surprise. You can leave your pair of heels at home guilt-free and still feel great for a night out on the town. We'll share outfit ideas for different road trip occasions so you can comfortably go hiking, shopping or dancing in style.

1. Choose Clothes for the Road

With your favorite sing-alongs blaring from the radio, you'll feel the weight of the daily grind drop from your shoulders like a wet sweater. Road trips create the opportunity to laugh with friends, share stories and get lost in a daydream. They're about enjoying the scenery, snapping fun pics and visiting quirky roadside stops along the way.

Long car rides also call for comfortable attire. So, as tempted as you might feel to dress like a '90s rebel with combat boots and a leather jacket, we suggest leaving that look for another occasion. You'll feel much happier and much more comfortable if you wear soft, breathable clothing instead.

As a passenger, you might want to take a nap if you need to. If you're behind the wheel, you'll want to feel relaxed in your clothes and not preoccupied with accessories. Does this mean you have to give up style? Absolutely not. Here are cozy outfit essentials that will make you feel photo-ready and content throughout your car ride:

  • Cotton tee or tank top: What says free-spirit more than a cute graphic tee or a simple tank top that goes with just about anything? Cotton feels great on the skin and is an ideal material for long road trips. Keep in mind that while traveling in the car, you might get into a messy situation — think juggling pit-stop coffee with a ketchup-laden hot dog. Sometimes it's hard to avoid getting stains on our clothes, especially while traveling in a car over bumpy roads. Stick to darker colors like a classic black tee, or keep a spare shirt handy.
  • Sweater: Temperatures vary state-by-state, and the weather can be unpredictable. Prepare for chilly nights, open windows or air-conditioning with a basic zip-up sweatshirt, button-down shirt, or lightweight sweater or jacket. Choose neutral colors like black, gray or beige so you can easily mix and match.
  • Black leggings: We all have a pair of pants that make us feel great and comfortable at the same time. Make sure you don't leave your favorite comfortable pants behind, especially for on-the-road travel. A pair of black leggings is an example of cozy pants that look chic with many different tops. You'll enjoy the feeling of curling up in the back seat for a siesta in leggings, and you'll still look stylish as you wander around the rest stop.

  • Ballet flats: A cute pair of ballet flats look lovely with leggings and are easy to slip on and off. That way you can relax in the car with no shoes and just as easily put your shoes back on when it's time to pull over and stretch. A pair of flats also fit nicely in luggage, making them easy to pack away. These highly versatile shoes are perfect for traveling in style. We recommend avoiding flip-flops, especially if you're driving.

2. Bring Clothes for Outdoor Adventure

Are you on your way to the Grand Canyon? Or do you plan to spend days exploring beachside trails? You definitely want to pack a pair of appropriate shoes either way.

Even if hiking, biking or other outdoor activities are not part of your road trip agenda, you still want to prepare for long days of walking. A trip to a zoo or amusement park can wear your feet out just as much as a mountain hike with the wrong shoes. If you plan to do any outdoor exploration, it's important to make room in your luggage for the following:

  • A light jacket and a warm layer: A light jacket is a must-have for a road trip to any part of the country. Bring along a warm layer, like a hooded sweatshirt, if you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors. You'll have better protection against weather changes, and you want to be able to protect your ears from wind or rain. Try to bring a raincoat if possible.
  • Tennis shoes: A comfortable pair of tennis shoes or hiking boots will keep your feet happy on long treks or while you spend hours walking around town. Bring shoes that you've already broken in to prevent blisters and sore feet. Don't forget to bring a few extra pairs of socks in case you step in a puddle or decide to cross to a stream.

  • Lightweight pants: If the weather is warm, choose comfortable, lightweight pants for long walks to protect your legs from insects or poison ivy. You might bring along a pair of convertible pants you can quickly and easily turn into shorts if the weather is too hot for comfort. If you're traveling to a cooler climate, make sure to bring pants that are roomy enough to add layers. Consider pants with plenty of pockets for storing snacks and other hiking necessities.

3. Pack Clothes for an Evening Out

Restaurants, theaters, music venues, beer gardens — where do you like to go after the sun has dropped below the horizon? If you're a night owl who loves to dress up and go out with friends, you want to bring appropriate clothing.

For those who prefer daylight festivities, you also can dress up easily while on the road. Whether you want to feel casually elegant for brunch at a cafe or charming while on a garden stroll with your significant other, great style is never out of reach.

No matter where you plan to stop on your road trip, here's what to pack for casual yet classy options. There's no need to load down suitcases with evening gowns and heels to match. Best bets include:

  • Maxi dress: A comfortable maxi dress is perfect for different climates and all types of occasions and doesn't take up much space. If it's hot outside, an airy, breathable maxi dress will help keep you cool. If it's chilly out, pair your dress with a cardigan for a timeless look. Add a denim or leather jacket for a look that's a bit on the edgy side. A maxi dress is a great way to be stylish and comfortable while traveling.

  • Another one-piece dress: Also, consider other summer dresses that fit your style and make you feel good. Simple one-piece dresses take up a lot less space than jeans and bulky tops, and they usually show fewer wrinkles.
  • Sandals: If there's one more pair of shoes to take on your trip, skip the heels and bring sandals you know fit your feet well. You want to be able to mingle in style, and a comfortable pair of sandals look great with a maxi dress and aren't too bulky when it's packing time. Bring a pair of matching flat sandals for a classic look.
  • Cute accessory: Add a simple accessory like a pair of chandelier earrings or a bangle bracelet to complement your overall style. You'll feel like a carefree bohemian queen with little effort or packing space required. Keep valuable accessories safe at home, because you don't want to lose something on the road that has great sentimental or monetary value.

4. Plan Clothing for Shopping and Sightseeing

While you're out exploring an unfamiliar city or town, you'll want to avoid a touristy style so you can enjoy your adventure without drawing attention. Stick to inconspicuous classics like jeans and a white t-shirt, and experience focusing on the sights and sounds of your surroundings.

Don't pile on too many accessories because you'll want to move around easily without anything in the way. Most importantly, be yourself and dress how you would anywhere to feel comfortable. You can have great style and keep it simple at the same time. One must-have investment is a cross-body bag.

It is a perfect purse for sightseeing. Your hands will be free while browsing shops or stopping to check your map. Also, you won't have to worry about a purse strap slipping down your shoulder, making the day a lot more about enjoying activities and a lot less about fidgeting with accessories.

For long days of walking and touring, a cross-body bag keeps essential items close by and within sight. You'll relax knowing your phone and wallet are more secure. Choose a bag that's a dark neutral color as it will look great with any outfit. Or, if you often dress in neutral colors, you might have fun with a bold-colored bag that pops or a trendy lavender or pastel bag.

For a busy day visiting museums and other attractions, consider wearing the following:

  • A jacket or sweater: Don't forget to bring your lightweight jacket or sweater, especially if you plan to be out all day. Even if the weather is hot, it can get chilly inside of museums with air-conditioning or when the sun sets. If you plan to walk around town for a few hours in the afternoon, you can probably leave the extra layer in the hotel and save yourself the trouble of carrying around a jacket. Consider your plans and be prepared in case you decide to extend an afternoon into a nighttime adventure.
  • Sneakers: You'll definitely want to wear comfortable walking shoes for a day of sightseeing, so leave flip-flops or heels behind. Choose lightweight shoes with good arch support and enough room for your toes.
  • Dark jeans: You might visit a variety of attractions, from museums to cathedrals. You want to dress comfortably and casual, but with a touch of class, too. Although there is no need to bring your work slacks on the trip, you might want to bring a pair of dark jeans along. Dark jeans look both stylish and respectable. They also match just about any top and hide wrinkles and stains.

Other Road Trip Packing Tips

The key to a successful road-trip wardrobe is to keep it simple and pack as light as possible. A pair of black leggings with flats feel just as cozy as a pair of pajamas without giving up style. You'll feel good during your journey if you dress for comfort and keep style in mind.

Before you take your trip, research the weather and plan where you wish to go and what you want to do. You'll have an easier time packing if you know what to expect.

If you plan to be on the road for weeks, still try not to pack too heavy. You probably do not want to take more than a week's worth of clothes, and even that may be too much. Bring the necessities and some laundry soap, and you'll be set. Try to leave clothing that requires dry-cleaning behind. Here's an example of what you might pack for your road trip:

  • One soft, comfortable t-shirt
  • A neutral jacket, sweatshirt or cardigan
  • Comfortable pants like leggings or jogging pants
  • A pair of flats and a pair of sneakers
  • One pair of your favorite jeans
  • One accessory that personalizes your outfit, such as a cute scarf

If this seems like too little, we understand. Feel free to add what you need. The point is, you really do not need to pack a whole lot for your road trip, and it is very easy to over-pack. So before you prepare for your journey, keep in mind that less is more when it comes to traveling.

Don't Forget the Other Road Trip Essentials Beyond Clothing

Obviously, there are other essentials you don't want to forget including:

  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Lip gloss
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Dry shampoo
  • Wet wipes
  • Make-up removing towelettes
  • An extra roll of toilet paper
  • Laundry bag or bag for dirty clothes
  • A duffle bag for sleepwear and a duffle bag for regular clothing
  • Satisfying snacks like nuts and dried fruit

Don't stress it too much. Road trips are fun and unforgettable. Unlike flights or bus rides, you get to move at your own pace and enjoy the journey in your own way when you travel by car. Once you reach your destination, you'll get to meet new people, taste local cuisine and take deep breaths of fresh air somewhere new. Travel makes us feel alive and creates memories that last forever. Wearing comfortable, cute clothes throughout your trip makes it even better.

If you realize you forgot something along the way, remember that you can always stop at a store and get what you need. Create a packing list for your trip to make sure you don't forget anything and enjoy greater peace of mind.

Shop at My Sister's Closet Boutique

We hope we inspired you to pick out the perfect on-the-road outfits. Just remember — long hours on the road do not mean you have to sacrifice your fashion flair.

At My Sister's Closet Boutique, we have the perfect mix of comfort and style. If you're looking for affordable classy clothes that will make you feel great, browse our designer bags, couture, shoes and accessories. We have everything you need for road-trip fashion from great pairs of sunglasses to chic flats.

Since 1991, we've been dedicated to bringing the finest names to our customers for up to 90 percent off of retail prices. Our clothes, accessories and furniture are all quality recycled designer pieces at prices that make our customers happy. We believe in offering apparel that follows the three C's — cute, clean and current.

Do you want to empty out your closet before heading on your trip? If you have designer clothes in excellent shape, contact us today and find out how you can become a consignor. Whether you're looking to buy or sell great fashion, stop in at one of our locations or enjoy browsing our online store.