Category Archives: Packing Lists

A variety of packing lists so you can plan your trip with ease. Includes beach, road trip, hiking, female and destination packing lists with checklists.

Packing List Guides

Couple Jump Shadows Sunset Bolivia Salt Flat Uyuni

By Type of Travel

Glencoe from car road trip

By Destination

Hot Springs in Pai

Travel Gear Reviews

Cabin One hybrid carry-on luggage

Travel Gift Guides

La Maison Rose Paris

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Beach Packing List For All The Family Inc. Dog

Sandy Myrtle Beach with blue ocean and people sunbathing

Planning a seaside getaway or day trip and looking for a beach packing list to make your life easier?

This guide includes things to pack for the beach for a clean and comfortable trip which keeps you safe in the sun and entertained all day.

We’ve detailed what to pack for everyone in the group in section one, packing for the beach specifically for women in section two, men’s packing list for beach vacation in section three and beach trip essentials for teens, kids and babies in section four, five and six.

At the bottom of the guide you will also find a section on must-have beach items for dogs.

For ease, most recommended products are available on Amazon Prime. Check out their free 30-day trial clicking here for US Prime or here for UK.

This guide also features a beach vacation checklist so you can check off when you’ve purchased and packed items.

You may also like our road trip packing list and guide to the best beaches in the US.

Beach Packing List – Gear

Beach Towel

Whether you plan to lie on it or use for drying off after a swim, every beach visits requires a clean beach towel (US/UK).

If you hope to do both and have the room, pack two towels as there is nothing pleasant about drying off with sand stuck to the towel!

Alternatively, pack a beach mat (US/UK) or beach chairs if you want to avoid a sandy towel.

Towel Clips

Super simple clips that keep your beach towel attached to your sun lounger so it doesn’t blow off in the wind.

Beach Chairs

If you are fully committed to comfort during your beach vacation, invest in foldaway beach chairs (US/UK).

Push the boat out and get a chair with a drinks pocket!

Make sure the beach chair you buy does fold down as this will save space in the car or RV.

Beach chairs tend to be low to the ground.

If you have issues getting up, consider a camping chair instead.

Wind Break

Regardless of how hot the temps are, there is often a breeze by the water.

To resolve this issue, pack a wind break (US/UK) and remember the hammer or tool needed to secure it!

A shoe just doesn’t do the job as well as a hammer.

Beach Umbrella/Parasol

If you like to spend some time in the shade, pack a beach parasol (US/UK).

Again, remember the tools that will secure the parasol and make sure it can collapse down for the ride to the beach.

Also, consider how far the walk is from the car park to the beach and who is the designated beach gear carrier!

Cool Bag

Keep your lunch and snacks chilled by packing them in a cool bag before you leave.

Depending on the style of bag you might need to freeze ice packs overnight, this kind of cool bag is relatively affordable which you can see here (US/UK).

Picnic Stuff

Now that lunch is cool, don’t forget all the items you need for eating.

Plates, bowls, cutlery, cups and washing up liquid if there are washing stations at the beach.

Do not throw soapy water into the ocean/sea.


Sunshades not only protect your eyes from the rays they also help you see in the sun.

And they look pretty cool in beach pics.

Sun Hat

A sun hat is not just for Instagram!

Sun hats help you see in the sun so you can catch a tan comfortably or read a book under the shade of the brim.

For the kids, consider a sun hat with a draw string (US/UK) so you can secure it in place.


Sliders like these Adidas ones (US/UK) are super handy as you can shake the sand out of them.

They are also great for public showers, you don’t want to stand where others have!

Water Shoes

If you plan to visit a water park during your beach vacation/holiday, buy water shoe socks before you go to save yourself inflated prices at the park.

You’ll need to the water shoes for walking between park areas and waiting in line for chutes.

Water shoe socks are also recommended if you plan to wild swim as the surface of watering holes can be harsh on your feet.

Swimming Gear

Shorts, bikinis, suits – whatever your style is don’t forget to pack your swim gear!

And if you are wearing your gear to the beach, remember to pack…


Imagine you are packing up at the end of a lovely beach day and it strikes you, you have no clean undergarments to change into, noooo!

Hair Brush

Keep your hair tug-free by brushing it at the end of the day.

Dry Bag

Dry bags (US/UK) should be added to your summer holiday packing list for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, you can pack your wet swimwear in them at the end of the day and the bag will retain the water keeping everything else dry.

Secondly, if you plan to do any water based sports like kayaking, you can pack some items in the water bag to keep them safe from water damage.


Always check if the beach you are visiting allows individual BBQs.

Never put a used BBQ in a bin as this will melt it and may result in the fire service being called.

Never cover up extinguished fires in the sand as the sand retains the heat and will burn anyone’s foot who stand on it, even hours later.

Check out these portable, lightweight BBQ kits (US/UK).

Books and Earphones

You’ll need some entertainment which doesn’t involve your phone as you won’t be able to see the screen with the sun hitting down on it.

Download music, listen to podcasts or read the book you’ve had on your side table for months instead.

Phone Charger Pack

If you plan to be out all day, charge a phone battery pack (US/UK) overnight and add to packing list.

You might need your phone for maps, restaurants searches and accommodation details so ensure you always have it full of juice.

Write down any essential information in case you don’t have phone or internet signal.


If you plan to take photos, pack your camera and remember a case to keep sand out of it.

Make sure the battery is fully charged, you’ve packed an extra and you have a spare SD card.

Waterproof Speaker

We adore the JBL Clip (US/UK) and advertise it on all of our packing list and travel gear guides.

It is a circular speaker which has a clip that can attach to day bags and sunbeds.

It is also waterproof.

The speaker connects to your phone via Bluetooth so you can play your beach playlists to your group or family!

Tote Bag

You can never have enough tote bags!

Pack one for souvenir shopping, to help with the end of day packing up or to use as an impromptu seat.

Cards and Money

Pack credit cards for lunch payments, accommodation and fuel.

Have some loose change for ice creams and parking just in case the beach parking doesn’t support digital payments.

Beach Essentials List For Safety and Cleanliness

Sunscreen and Aftersun

There is no compromise here, every member of the family has to have sunscreen which should be applied before reaching the beach and reapplied throughout the day.

Check the instructions for how much sunscreen should be used and how often.

Aloe vera aftersun has a cooling effect if anyone has overdone it in the sun.

Prevention is better than cure though so use the sunscreen frequently.


Pack lots of water for drinking, cooking and cleaning!

First Aid Kit

Cut feet, bee stings, upset tummies – pack a first aid kit with all of the essentials your family or travel buddies might need during your beach trip.

If anyone is wearing new shoes, remember the blister pads (US/UK)!


Water spills, nose bleeds, when nature calls – a pack of tissues is a cheap beach trip essential.


While we wouldn’t normally recommend purchasing wet wipes for echo reasons, a beach trip is often the time when you do need some especially if you are visiting a beach without toilet or shower facilities.

Sticky fingers, sweaty pits, dirty bits – wet wipes can be the solution.

Try to buy echo wipes if you can (US/UK).

Don’t forget the hand sanitzer. As if you could now.

The following sections build on the beach vacation list above.

Sandy Myrtle Beach with blue ocean and people sunbathing

Beach Packing List For Women

Hair Protector

Avoid sun damage on your locks by using a leave in hair protector (US/UK).

It is worth doing this even if you throw your hair up in a bun.

Factor 50 Face Cream

There’s no hiding from the data – sun causes skin damage and speeds up the ageing process.

Invest is a lovely factor 50 face cream like our fave, La Roche Posay (US/UK).

Face Mist

Spritz (US/UK) your face to give your skin a breather and enjoy the refreshing spray too.

A Wrap/Cover Up

Pop a wrap or a cover up in your bag for trips to the ice-cream store or toilets.

Some cafes won’t let you in if you don’t cover up your swimwear.


If you plan to dine for lunch or dinner, pack an outfit you feel nice in and that shows of you new glow!

A sundress is always a winner.

A Cardi or Hoodie

Don’t underestimate how cold it can get at the beach when the sun goes down!

Take a cardigan or a hoodie to throw on and take the chill off.

You will especially feel it after sitting in the sun all day.

Wine Cooler

Decant your chosen pinot and pop it in an insulated wine cooler (US/UK) which can keep drinks cold for up to 12 hours.


Saves you awkwardly collecting the glass bottles at the end of the day.

Hammocks | Costeno Beach Surf Camp Ecolodge, Colombia

Beach Essentials For Men

Swim Trunks

Pack a pair of swim trunks or if you plan to wear them to the beach, remember your underwear!

Swim Shorts

Throw a pair of clean swim shorts for the ice cream run or lunch at a boardwalk cafe.

Tank Top

Some food places or taxis won’t let you in without a top on so keep your tank top handy.


As above, as the sun goes down you will start to feel a chill come in, a hoodie is the answer.

Dress Gear

Planning sundown drinks or a dinner in the evening?

Check out our best travel pants review for more.

Beer Cooler

Keep your beers cold with an insulated beer jacket US/UK.

If you are more of a wine drinker, see the above section.

Aerial view on Coney Island and sands of Brighton Beach at sunset in NYC

Must Have Beach Items For Teens


Donuts, hearts, unicorns, kayaks (US/UK) – whatever inflatable floats your tween and tween’s boat!

Don’t forget the pump (US/UK).

Lip Balm

Keep their lips luscious with moisture, pack a SPF lip balm (US/UK) to help protect them from the drying out by the sun.

Hair Protector

Avoid the sun damaging their hair by using a leave in protector (US/UK).

Factor 50 Face Cream

If splurging, go for our fave, La Roche Posay (US/UK) or a more affordable version here (US/UK).

Face Mist

If you don’t want to spend on a face mist for your teenage kid, decant some of yours into smaller travel spritz bottle.

A Wrap or Cover Up

Encourage your teenager to take breaks from the sun, a wrap or a cover up might be appreciated for shadier spots or for going out to buy beach snacks.


If you teenager likes to dress up, pack a sundress for the evening.

A Cardi or Hoodie

Remember a cardigan or a hoodie for your kids too.

Drinks Cooler

Pack a stainless steel cool cup for water or soft drinks (US/UK).


Earphones – check, podcast downloaded – check, magazines – check.

Aberdeen Beach

Beach Stuff For Kids

Water Goggles

The kids will be disappointed if you forget their water goggles (US/UK).

No one likes stingy salt water in their eyes!


Keep them in sight with these fun yet bright water inflatables and boogie boards (US/UK).

Remember to pack the pump (US/UK).

Water Wings, Arm Bands and Inflatable Vests

Depending on the age and stage of your child, you might need to add the water wings/arm bands (US/UK) to the beach packing list.

If you child is more comfortable, or you feel more satisfied with swim vests, check out these options (US/UK).

Swim Suits and Hats

If your family are arriving at the beach in their clothes and underwear, remember to pack the swim suits.

Some parents prefer to keep their young children fully covered in these kind of suits (US/UK).

Spray Water

Fill up cheap spray bottles (US/UK) to cool your wee ones down.

Be mindful of sunscreen application after your kids have been in the water.


If you young kids enjoy a nap, pack some blankets to keep the warm and comfortable when they are out of the sun.


Don’t forget the balls, dumper trucks and buckets and spades!

Some of the items in the above kids beach packing list section will carry over to the baby beach items below.

Belhaven Beach Dunbar Scotland

Beach Day Packing List For Babies

Beach Tent

Choose a beach tent that offers UV protection (US/UK) so your little bundle can enjoy the beach without being in the direct sunlight.

As with all bulky beach items, pick one that folds away so you can carry and store it and don’t forget to pack the pegs and hammer!

Swim Diaper/Nappies

Imagine what happens when a diaper/nappy meets a pool of water… We’d rather not find out, right?

The solution is water diapers/nappies (US/UK) which keeps everything in that shouldn’t be getting out while still fitting comfortably.

Most good quality swim diapers/nappies have UV protection too.

Baby Cutlery

As with the above picnic items, don’t forget the baby cutlery!


Ensure that your baby is entertained all day with their baby beach toys and fave cuddlies.

Achmelvich Beach NC500 Motorhomes

Beach Trip Necessities For Dogs

Planning to take your pup to the beach with you?

You will need to consider how to keep your dog safe in the sun as well as other beach day items to keep them entertained.

Outdoor Dog Bed With Roof

This outdoor dog cot (US/UK) has a curved roof to let lots of air through while protecting your dog from the sun.

The canopy roof is removable.

It is elevated which means it is not sitting on the hot sand or grass.

Remember to pack their fave toys – balls, frisbees and teddies!

Dog Poop Bags

Poop bags (US/UK) are an essential regardless of where you are taking your dog so you can clean up after them.

Consider taking your dog for a walk at intervals to try and encourage them not to do their business on the beach.

You might find that some dogs don’t actually like squatting down on sand.

Water Dispenser

Nifty dog water bottles have an attachment which acts as a water bowl for when you are on the move so your dog can have access to water driving to the beach.

For a full beach day, consider portable water bowls which collapse and flatten down.

A great space saver.

Remember to pack enough water for the family and the dog!

Dog Food

An obvious one but just in case you forget while you are packing the sandwiches, dog food and treats also needed on this beach trip packing list!

Dog Lead Tie Out

Dog lead tie outs (US/UK) screw into the ground so you can secure the the tie which holds the dog lead.

This means your dog can only go as far as the lead allows them.

Best used on surfaces which the device can screw down into like grass.

Dog Towel

If your dog loves running into the water, remember to pack a dog towel or two!

These microfibre dog towels (US/UK) are super absorbent and quick drying.

They also wrap around your dog like a coat.

Dog Toys

And just like the other kids in the family, your dog will need some form of entertainment so remember their dog toys.

Bass Rock Dunbar Scotland Bowie Dog

Beach List Checklist

Enjoy this free beach list checklist by copying the spreadsheet after clicking this link.

Sunset at South Padre Island Beach in Texas

You may also like our other packing lists

Is there a packing list you would like us to create? Tell us in the comments!

Final Words

We hope you found our summer holiday packing list useful.

If you did, please share with your friends!

Did we miss anything? Tell us in the comments.

Travel Essentials For Women + Female Packing List

Female Travel Packing List

Looking for a detailed ‘women travel packing list’? I’ve been packing bags and cases since I was 19 years old and this guide was created after a 17-month travel trip around the Americas and Europe. This is now the fourth edition of my travel packing list, I’ve whittled down my original oversized travel wardrobe and I now think I’ve nailed it! I’ve taken short trips and backpacked around extremely hot countries, very rainy climates, freezing snow for skiing and cities with a nip in the air. Hi, I’m Gemma, that’s me in the picture below.

Going away for a while? Check out my guide on how to create a  long-term travel itinerary. Taking a short-term break? Here is how I plan a trip. Now let’s dive into my recommended travel essentials for women.

For ease, most recommended products are available on Amazon Prime. Check out their free 30-day trial clicking here for US Prime or here for UK.

Vango 80 Litre Rucksack I Female Travel Packing List

Female Packing List Items

Long-Term Travel Backpack Or Case

Before you start purchasing your sunnies and sandals, it’s probably wise to think about where you are going to put them! So let’s talk about luggage.

Are you a backpack or a suitcase kind of girl?

For a long-term trip, I would advise considering a backpack. Why? Because there will be times that you are walking through cities and hopping on public transport.

Being able to throw a pack on your back makes moving much easier.

We previously used the Vango packs but now that I’ve spent years researching travel gear I would go for the Mercedes of all bags, the Osprey Farpoint 55l US / UK, if you can pack small, or the bigger Osprey Farpoint 70l  US/ UK if you are me.

So what’s so great about Osprey?

Osprey only focuses on bags and bag-related products so they are known as the king or queen of backpacking luggage.

They also have a returns policy if the bag stops functioning the way it should.

The Farpoint is ideal because it opens up like a suitcase which makes access to clothes much easier.

Try getting something out of the ‘old style’ top access backpacks while nine other people doze off in a dorm, this is how to not make friends while you travel!

Respect the hostel dorm etiquette.

It also has a detachable day pack which you unzip and wear on your front when you have your pack on your back. It actually balances the weight very well.

If you just can’t see yourself with a backpack what about a hybrid? Hybrid backpacks fuse the best of both worlds – it takes the wheels from a suitcase and the straps from a backpack to create a rolling backpack.

The downside to backpacks with wheels is that they add more weight on to overall backpack as it has to take a structured back and wheel casing into consideration.

I’ve written about wheeled backpacks in detail.

You can read my comparison guide here. The main issue with taking a traditional suitcase on a worldwide/long-term trip is that most cases just aren’t durable enough.

Enter the Eagle Creek range.

Eagle Creek luggage is made for off-road which means you can pound the cobbles of Europe and pull the case through the sandy streets of Colombia.

I have been using the Eagle Creek Expanse 78l US / UK for trips over two weeks.

It comes with backpack facilities but it’s heavy, I use it like a suitcase. It is the studiest case I’ve had at this size.

Luggage For Short Trips

If you are going away for a shorter trip, say under a month, depending on how you pack you could get away with a much smaller bag or case.

I can’t recommend the Eagle Creek Expanse Carry-On US / UK enough.

It’s smooth, good-looking and like its bigger version, strong.

If you prefer an attractive hybrid check out the CabinMax One.

Or for an easy, no fuss 44L backpack, see the CabinZero. Here’s my guide to carry-on luggage.

Eagle Creek Expanse

Other Travel Baggage

While on the move, I usually have a cloth tote bag with my electronics in it for easy access on buses, planes and trains.

I do carry a safe net with me. It is made by Pacsafe US / UK and has protected my belongings well – I was not robbed while travelling!

In accommodation, I put my day bag into the net and secure it around a radiator or bed frame then close it with a padlock. I then cover with a coat etc.

Definitely buy an Osprey bag cover US / UK to protect your day bag and electronics inside.

Honestly, my camera stopped working after an Asian downpour in Vietnam back in 2013, so did my heart. Don’t risk it.

PacSafe Net Travel Safety

PacSafe net to deter theft

How to Pack for Long-Term Travel + Short-Term Trips

Packing for long-term travel differs slightly to short-term trips because you have to consider what you can’t get on the road.

It is also likely you are on a budget if going away for a length of time so you don’t want to waste money and have to spend too much on unnecessary travel items for women.

I detail what I replenished and bought at the end of the guide. Other readers have found it useful to see the reality of travel!

For short-term trips, you may be restricted by space and also size.

If you are taking carry-on only, you won’t be able to take anything bigger than 100ml liquids so consider this when shopping for travel toiletry items.

My best tip for packing is to roll your clothes, as opposed to folding, as this creates more space and fewer wrinkles.

Pack similar clothes in separate bags.

  You might also like our wheeled backpack review!  

Packing Cubes and Alternatives

During my big trip, I didn’t use packing cubes opting for large sandwich bags from an army store as they were super cheap.

Now I do use packing cubes. I like that they come in a variety of sizes and zip around the items.

You can pack a lot in and they place neatly in your luggage, stacking on top of each other. The grab handles on each cube are handy for pulling out from your bag or case.

See for yourself US / UK.

I also carry cute makeup bags which I pack my underwear and swimwear into.

You can see the contents of my backpack in the image below.

I read that Primark packing cubes now exist so may be worth a dig for future trips. 

Long-Term Female Travel Packing List + Short Term ‘Pic n Mix’

Please factor into your budget that it is highly likely that you will replenish some of your long-term female travel packing list at some point.

Washing machines and launderettes in the likes of Vietnam, Peru, etc are pretty harsh on your clothes ruining those travel essentials for women.

White clothing quickly becomes gross yellow colour! Suntan lotion, curry, alcohol stains can’t always be avoided (if it was a good night!)

Things get stolen, yes, annoying but opportunists carry a backpack too. Seriously think about investing in the PacSafe net if you carry expensive electronics with you.

We managed to avoid any theft using it.

Travel Clothes for Women

Travel Tops

Tops – this is where packing starts to get difficult for me because although I am practical, I still like to look nice.

  • 3 x day vest tops – mixed colours
  • 1 x night vest top – lacey, black
  • 1 x hoody – ditched when reached warmer climates
  • 1 x thin top
  • 2 x cardigans – 1 x black / 1 x yellow
  • 1 x fold-away raincoat, the Marmot waterproof jacket US / UK – love – definitely one to add to your packing sheet, perfect for the backpacking Europe packing list females, and menfolk! It goes everywhere with me from dog walking up Munros (Scottish mountains) to hiking through rainforests. 
Machu Picchu Packing List

International travel packing list: vesties are besties – easy to pack for trips to Machu Picchu, Peru

Travel Dresses and Skirts

I love dresses!

If you choose the right type of material (avoid denim and wool), they roll down very small.

Perfect for hot days, party nights, and Instagram photos!

Also ideal for a road trip packing list since they are so versatile.

  • 1 x fancy summer dress – black
  • 1 x black wrap-around – LBD for travel, top tip for female packing list South America, samba in style
  • 1 x yellow – my fave colour
  • 1x playsuit

Tip: I tend to avoid patterns – easier to dress up, dress down, to keep looking new.

If you’re going somewhere with cultural differences consider length of dresses and skirts.

For example, here is our guide on what to wear in Dubai.

Packing list for girls | Sunshine Coast BC

Going with your partner? Check out our trousers/pants review

Travel Trousers / Bottoms

I’m not the biggest fan of trousers or shorts.

My dumpy 5’2 1/2 body does not look good in denim shorts, praise be to the chicas who can rock that look.

For those who do look cool in hot pants, you could replace some items in the bottoms list.

  • 1 x black culottes – 4 years old, love them
  • 1 x khaki shorts – hiking
  • 1 x plain skirt
  • 1 x denim skirt – probably don’t need this as heavy but I like it
  • 1 x black long gym trousers – doubles up as disco pants
  • 1 x waterproofs – thin/light, pull on top of gym trousers for hikes and skiing

My friend Laura has a great review on travel pants (trousers to us Brits!), they actually look nice!

Volcano Boarding in Nicaragua
Hiked up and active volcano in Nicaragua and boarded down it, in culottes!

Mosquitos. The little horrors love me!

All guides tell you to wear light, floaty clothes but that look is just not me so I compromise with wearing the disco pants after dusk in areas which are very prone to them.

Take malaria tablets in malaria zones and be wary of Zika, especially if trying to get pregnant.

We did carry mosquito nets by Lifesystems for the first year but did not use them, definitely times where we should have.

Check if the countries you are visiting have a malaria warning.

For the first year we used mosquito repellent with DEET called OFF but then decided that since it was making no difference we’d use a DEET free alternative called Avon Skin So Soft US / UK.

DEET melts plastic, I’ll just leave you thinking about that.


This aspect of the long-term travel packing list for women is really a personal choice.

I would always go for the higher number of underwear as I’m a clean freak.

Yes, you can hand-wash (and you will) but it is often not warm enough from hand-washing to dry, especially when moving on every couple of days.

Tired of moving? It happens, consider the benefits of slow travel!

  • 5-7 pairs of pants/panties/knickers
  • 4 pairs of trainers/sneaker socks
  • 1 – 2 pairs of longer socks – traditional / ‘normal’ – better for hiking
  • 2 x bras
  • 1 x sports bra
  • PJs – 1 x vest / 1 x shorts

Underwear storage: Cute makeup bag with zip or packing cube.


  • 1 x black bikini top
  • 1 x blue bikini top – one halter / one straps is ideal
  • 3 x bikini bottoms

Storage: a stripy makeup bag or packing cube.

Travel Shoes

Walk your way to packing success by learning from my mistakes…

I used to carry way too many shoes!

This was pointed out to me when I posted a photo of packing list version three on Two Scots Abroad Facebook page!

Here are my long-term footwear essentials.

  • 1 x flip-flops – Havaianas US / UK – 5 years old
  • 1x day trainers – black
  • 1x walking boots/shoes – Salomon Ellipse trek shoes US / UK which I trekked with to Machu Picchu, lighter than boots but still waterproof, quite attractive as boots go
  • 1 x fancy sandals -black
  • 1 x sports trainers – if your day trainers can double up, great, but remember they will smell pretty quickly, especially if in warm and then rainy climates. My gym Nikes squashed down really neatly so I didn’t mind carrying them.
Long Term Packing Guide I Female Travel Packing List
Female Packing List #3 – get rid of some shoes!

  Going minimal? Read our guide to carry-on backpacks  

Exercising While Travelling

I packed a sports bra so when we moved to Canada for six months I began exercising again.

I bought cheap gym trousers from a charity shop and used a downgraded vest top.

  • Sports bra
  • Gym trousers
  • Downgraded vest top
  • Nike trainers (mentioned in travel shoe section)

Bling, Rings, and Other Accessories

  • 2 x sunglasses – lose / break / replace
  • 1 x large scarf – multi-use: cover-up, beach towel, create a den around your dorm bed for privacy
  • 2 x headscarf – hides day 2 hair
  • Jewellery – leave the expensive bling at home, this means engagement/wedding rings – most insurance policies will not pay back the full amount and obviously the sentimental heartbreak of losing them is not worth it
  • Watch – phone battery won’t always be charged!
  • Documents wallet
  • Small money purse
  • Handbag? I bought a cheap one in Vancouver as we moved there for 4 months
  • Cloth bag – beachwear / picnics / electronics
  • Drawstring bag – great for putting wet clothes in / or lunch on travel days as it attaches to clips on day bag

If you are planning beach trips also check out our dedicated beach packing list.

SXSW free parties
Partying at SXSW festival in Austin

Travel Toiletries List & Makeup

In all honesty, I rarely wear make when in super-hot climates like Nicaragua but I wore a full face on nights out in Austin, Texas so this will change with your own personal routine.

Face – Avoid Ageing Skin

  • Factor 50/60 moisturiser, always! La Roche-Posay US / UK. if feeling flush
  • Cream lotion wash – with re-usable makeup cloths
  • Exfoliating wash – I am prone to acne

Going green? Read our beginners guide to plastic-free living

Travel Hair

  • Solid shampoo – this stuff is genius, no liquid so no spill!
  • Lush solid conditioner too avocado – lovely
  • Bobbles
  • Kirby grips/bobby pins
  • Hairspray
  • Dry shampoo – I dropped this from list

My normal routine is washed hair worn down but watch for sunburn in your parting.

Day two hair is worn up.

I like quiffs and buns to pull my hair back.

I found head scarfs a nice way to hide greasy hair too.

Sandboarding sandskiing Peru
Throwing my hair up for sandboarding and skiing in Peru

Body Talk

  • Toothpaste – I love the Lush tablet version, Craig hates it
  • Soap
  • Body wash – I’ve cut this out
  • Deodorant – I tried the chemical-free stuff, not suitable for sweaty climates like Cuba!
  • Razor
  • Factor 50 suntan lotion – always
  • Avon Skin So Soft US / UK – midges, mosquitos and smooth skin

We did not bother taking a towel.

I hate those quick-dry microfibre travel towels!

They just move the water around your skin. Personal choice to hire instead.

If travelling as a couple and booking private rooms you’ll find that towels are often included. Oh, the privilege!

Solid Toothpaste Travel Gifts
Tooth tabs – no spill

Makeup – The Slap 

  • Light foundation
  • Urban Decay palette
  • Liquid eyeliner
  • Lipstick for party nights
  • Real Techniques brushes – comes with a case
  • No nail varnish – exploded twice, luckily packed in sealed Tupperware!
  • Nail file
  • Nail clippers
  • Tweezers
  • Luminous face paint for a festival!

I know some of you will not bother with make-up at all and high five to you  but I’ve been plagued with acne since I was 19 so like to have something to cover up the scars (the sun helps!)

Exploded nail varnish in a tub
Imagine they weren’t in a tub?! Summer vacation packing list for females – essential or bin?

Delhi Belly – Long-Term Travel Medical Kit

This covers every day normal pills to deathbed essentials.

  • Contraceptive pill (photocopy proof of prescriptions)
  • Paracetamol
  • Aspirin
  • Tablets for constipation
  • Tablets for diarrhoea
  • Malaria tablets
  • Anti-histamine tablets
  • Anti-bacterial cream for bites
  • Plasters
  • Blister pads
  • Leukotape hiking tape US / UK – does not budge so prevents blisters
  • Tubigrip support
  • First aid kit – including needles
  • Filter and purifying bottle – like DrinkSafe Travel Tap (read review) or Water to Go (quote TSA15 for 15% off at checkout)
  • Tampons! A reader pointed out in the comments that you may struggle to get them on the road, so true! I had to get my mum and mother in law to bring packs over for me on two occasions. Stock up!
  • I now pack a menstrual cup or period pants. I’ve tried both and prefer the latter.
Leukotape Tape

Travel Insurance

Don’t travel without it, it’s not worth the risk.

Us Brits have the luxury of socialised medical health care through the National Health Service so don’t quite understand that the cost of using health care systems in countries which charge.

My friend, Kaci, went over her ankle at the Grand Canyon and was charged $500 for a visit to the doctor and an X-ray. Luckily she had travel insurance and good friends (me!) to hold her hand all morning (while others were out hiking…)

I’ve shopped around, extensively (that’s how I roll, you can probably tell from the length of this article) and settled on True Traveller because they could insure hiking at high altitude (Lares Trek to Machu Picchu) as well as skiing at Whistler.

I claimed in Vancouver; I had to visit the GP and physiotherapist (I had ear crystals which were making me feel dizzy!) and they paid out speedily.

They also answered my stupid amount of questions before I bought, I really do wish I could be as cool and laid back as Craig sometimes! Get a travel quote for your trip from their site here.

World Nomads is one of the other popular travel insurances.

Read this comparison of World Nomads + True Traveller

Girl posing at Emerald Lake Canada
Canadian Rockies

Travel Electronics

Blogging, watching Netflix, taking snaps – here are the essential travel electronics which I travel with:

  • MacBook Air – maybe not essential for non-bloggers
  • I used to use a WD My Passport 1TB external hard drive
  • I now use Transcend US / UK and Craig uses a tiny Sandisk SSD US / UK
  • Camera – then Nikon Coolpix, moved to Sony A6000, now Canon M50
  • SD cards – I never delete images, another form of backup. Do not buy from eBay, I did and they were fake and lost my images, when compared to the real deal it was obvious they were fake. Learn from my mistake
  • Phone
  • I won’t travel without a second battery just in case. We use Anker battery charger US / UK
  • Earphones
  • Skross universal travel adaptor with USB slots US / UK
  • New addition – JBL clip music speaker US / UK – it’s light, splash-proof, clips on to your bag, and is cheap. Craig has bought a few for gifts this year, it’s love
Anker Portable Charger Phone
Skross Universal Plug USB Port

Before I knew how to take photos

Female Backpacking List – Replenishing Clothes

How do you guys look so suave all the time on the road?! I’d love a blog post about that! Seriously!!

– Facebook follower.

Quick answer – we are vain!

Craig and I have purchased additional items to meet needs and replenished our clothes when required for the likes of moving to a different climate.

I usually shop in charity shops but with the exception of Canada this wasn’t really an option so had to settle for H&M.\

Peru (April)

  • 1 x scarf from a market in Cusco
  • 1 x fake North Face puffy jacket – below
  • 1 x Peruvian handbag – fell apart by June!
Osprey Bag Cover

Canada (September)

  • New brogue shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Denim skirt
  • Dress
  • Handbag
  • Tights
  • Socks
  • My friend brought over Marks and Spencer knickers and a Topshop dress
  • Splurged on 4 items for $12 CAD / £6 at the Salvation Army
  • New vintage raincoat – sent home (yellow)
  • Ski gloves – should have bought liners too at the hardware store. I’ve now upgraded to Hestra gloves US / UK which are really flipping expensive but I did not feel the cold once during our ski week in Austria this year
  • Grey winter hat for snowshoeing – Toronto Kensington Market
  • Winter hat – Vancouver souvenir…

… and a vintage wedding dress, but I don’t expect everyone has ‘eloping to Austin‘ on their long-term travel plan

Rings Austin Wedding Special

Portland, Oregon (January)

  • New vest tops as moving to Nicaragua – 35 degrees heat!

Austin, Texas (March)

  • Wedding shoes / bag / jewellery / underwear

Budapest, Hungary (May) Gearing up for warmer weather.

  • Three new dresses
  • 1 x vest tops
  • 1 x cardigan
  • 1 x bikini bottoms
  • Socks
  • Sandals

Lisbon, Portugal (July)

  • 1 x new dress for a festival, I was feeling pretty gross about clothes at this time
  • 1 x sunglasses

Our family kindly gave us money throughout the trip for birthdays, the Vancouver engagement, the wedding, and out of feeling sorry for us! This helped fund Project Replenish.

Packing List for Women Overview

When we returned home after travelling for 17 months it felt so good piling up the contents of the rucksack and burning them. Jokes! I’m pretty certain the culottes, Salomon shoes, and Marmot raincoat will be going on our next trip to Iceland too. Want more? Check out this crazily extensive packing lists directory!

You may also like our our packing essentials

I hope this packing guide for females has been of use. I have created a pin to accompany this long-term planning list for women – please feel free to save and share (pin to Pinterest packing board!)

Pack for success with this female travel packing list.

So what do you think? Have I nailed the ultimate packing list? What can’t you travel without?

» Read next: our hiking packing list – what to pack and what to leave

35 Road Trip Essentials You Should Pack (With Photos)

Car wing mirror, Iceland landscape

The following road trip packing list essentials will ensure that your next road adventure is safe, manageable and fun. You just can’t beat hitting the open road with friends and family to explore the outdoors and towns and cities along the way. Although the most popular time to do so, planning a road trip doesn’t have to be confined to the summer months if you are correctly equipped!

Whether you are heading abroad, crossing States or taking a staycation this ultimate road trip packing guide will have your cruising covered in comfort. Continue reading for tips on clothing items to handy electronics, games to keep entertained and easy road trip hacks. Don’t miss our free road trip check list below and tips on the popular topic of what to bring on a winter road trip too.

Why Trust Us To Plan Your Road Trip Essentials?

We (Gemma and Craig) love to road trip. We adore the independence that it brings.

The ability to pack the car or camper without worrying about cabin sized baggage or pre-booking activities and accommodation months in advance, although some popular destinations do require this.

We like that you can travel slower during a road trip and get off the beaten track too.

We love road tripping so much we’ve just converted a work van into a boutique camper van! This was before it was ‘the’ thing to do too.

Camper Fortrose North Coast 500 in Scotland_

Our previous adventures include a five-day road trip to Iceland.

We spent most of the week in the south of the island, avoiding the tour buses on the Golden Circle.

We took on the mighty West Texas road trip from Austin out to the wonder that is Big Bend.

We have road tripped the length of Scotland in our camper to the Highlands via North Coast 500 route, down below to South West Scotland, to Perthshire to see the fall leaves and we’ve even island hopped!

Learn how to plan the best road trip in Scotland here.

Enough about us.

Here’s the road trip packing guide you’ve been waiting for.

Car Iceland landscape water

Car road-tripping in Iceland 

Road Trip Packing List 

Here’s an overview of a road trip checklist which we then go into detail about each item below so keep reading to find out why we recommend them. 

  1. Car documents.
  2. Car audit (wheels, brakes, oil, water, gas).
  3. Car phone holder.
  4. Electronic battery pack.
  5. First aid kit.
  6. Windscreen covers (privacy and heat protection).
  7. Neck sleep scarf.
  8. Hand sanitizer.
  9. Poncho/cape/blanket.
  10. Day bag.
  11. Waterproof bag cover.
  12. Eco water bottle and cutlery.
  13. Food bags and clips.
  14. Waterproof jacket and over trousers.
  15. Hiking boots/shoes.
  16. Swimwear.
  17. Bug spray.
  18. High factor cream.
  19. Torch.
  20. Flip-flops, sliders or Crocs.
  21. Toiletry bag with a hook.
  22. Safe bag.
  23. Music speaker.
  24. Hydration tablets.
  25. Stove (if cooking), gas can + lighter.
  26. Cookset pack.
  27. Collapsible box if you need to take dirty dishes to campsite cleaning station.
  28. Fridge or a cool bag with ice.
  29. Water containers.
  30. Food (see list below).
  31. Camping table, chairs and groundsheet.
  32. Wheel wedges to balance RVs and campers.
  33. Washing line and pegs.
  34. Awning or tent and pegs/hammer.
  35. Hooks, rails, carabiner, bungee cord with hooks, heavy duty tape.

You may also like out guide on road trip hacks to make your adventure run as smoothly as possible!

Learn space savers, comfort tips and safety advice here.

Camper van, Texas map

Our wee campervan in Texas

Road Trip Essentials Packing List in Detail

For the Car or RV

Car Documents

Remember to carry your driving licence and store the car documents like the manual, break down details and insurance coverage in the car. Do you need any special cross border cards? Ensure your research and apply for it before you leave.

Road Trip Tips – Car Audit

Road trip necessities definitely include being proactive and not reactive. Before taking a road trip, remember to do an overall audit of the car. Check the oil and water levels, the tire/tyre pressure, functioning spare wheels and brake action.

If you are hiring a car, take photos of the previous damage to avoid being stung when you return the car (trust me, I used to be a car check-in chick!)

Don’t drive past a petrol/gas station without filling up in remote areas.

If you see the empty button flash, hit zero on the mileage and do not go above 63 km/40 miles.

Be sure to have breakdown cover and know how to access it (note down the number in case your phone battery dies and/or you have no phone coverage).

Hot destinations will require you to book accommodation or camp/RV spots ahead.

If booking hotels, ensure that they have parking.

We road tripped to Big Bend National Park in March and there was zero space at the official campsites.

We managed to grab a spot an unofficial overspill campsite just outside of the park lines.

Campervan with open door into kitchen

Phone Holder

Over the past decade, laws on phone use while driving have increased and penalties have become harsher and rightfully so.

This has pushed the importance of hands-free phone kits.

I like this phone holder US / UK as all you need to do is clip the base to your air vent, pop a magnet in between your phone and case and ta-da, the phone sticks to the base!

Ideal for car hire as you can remove the clip without damaging the car.

Handy for using maps (quick tip – hit ‘go’ in WiFi/4G/5G and the directions should work when out of signal) and playing tunes, two essential road trip items.

Electronic Battery Pack

I love these small Anker battery charger US / UK.

Charge before you leave your accommodation and use it to recharge your phone once it’s drained by maps and music.

You can even use it to charge your portable music speaker and action camera.

If you are using a newer iPhone model you will be need a batter pack that is compatible with the lightning chord or MagSafe.

I personally don’t like the MagSafe for this kind of battery charge on the go as the phone has to be in one place.

If you’re hiring a modern camper or RV it is possible that the van includes phone charging facilities but don’t rely on just the van for battery juice! 

Anker Portable Charger Phone

Anker lipstick, we now use the bigger, flatter pack

First Aid Kit

Boring but essential. If road-tripping around somewhere with mediocre health care records be sure to choose a first aid kit with needles and 100% buy travel insurance before you leave.

I had to use ours with True Traveller in Vancouver.

They paid back my GP fees plus my two trips to the physio speedily so come recommended by us.

Windscreen Covers

This is a new addition after road tripping in Texas but we really could have done with window screen covers to keep the car cool.

It also offers another layer of privacy to keep the nosey RV people away from your business, one of the road trip essentials for adults!

Your items will bake through the glass, so make sure that you keep your electronics away from the window and stored in dark, cool areas of the car/van.

Campers parked at Helmsdale car park by the sea on the North Coast 500 Scotland_

Neck Sleep Scarf

Not for the driver! If you are lucky enough to be the passenger and are prone to the nodding dog, wrap this scarf around your neck for better sleep.

This is a great travel gift as well.

Hand Sanitizer

Because you never know where you have to go to the loo.

Baby wipes too, great for cleaning hands and spills.

I also suggest packing a few plastic bags for dirty shoes and food rubbish.

Versatile Road Trip Clothing: Poncho/Cape

This is the first year that I’ve road tripped with a poncho or a cape and it won’t be my last.

This garment is bigger than a scarf so great for covering up during the air-con tug of war. I like it down, Craig wants it up.

It also doubles up as a picnic blanket for romantic lunches.

Check out this attractive wool poncho/cape US / UK.

Bullers of Buchan Abderbeenshire

Aberdeenshire, Scotland – throws are very versatile


You just never know when you might see a spot for a hike and a dip or a shower in the morning!

I recommend packing a bag to keep wet swimwear separate from other items.

If you are planning of spending time at the beach during your road trip, check out our dedicated beach packing list too.

Secret Lagoon Iceland Hot Spring

Not so Secret Lagoon, Iceland road trip

Stove, Gas, Lighter and Cookset Pack

I was a little terrified of the camping stove and gas the first time we used it but there was nothing to worry about.

Just ensure that you disconnect the gas before packing away.

See the range here US / UK.

We’ve had experiences where the ignitor didn’t work, pack a lighter just in case.

You will need a cook set packing kit which includes all your portable kitchen essentials.

See below for tips on what food to take on your road trip.

Pack a collapsible box which stores neatly away if you plan to use campsite communal cleaning facilities, recommended long road trip essentials.

Collapsible Box Dishes Campervan Road Trip

Cool Bag and Ice in Bags

If you plan to travel with perishable foods and/or want to keep drinks cold you will need to invest in a cool box or bag US / UK.

We found that we replenished our ice bags every day to the second day.

The ice eventually turns to water which needs to be disposed.

I would much prefer to use our re-ice packs but there is rarely anywhere on the road that you have access to a freezer for a period of time.

Ice is easily bought at gas stations for a buck or two in the USA.

In Europe, some petrol stations may sell ice in bags but your best option is to use a shopping market like Aldi or Lidl (cheap).

Dunbar Scotland Camper

Water Container

A large water container is recommended so you can refill water bottles, use of boiling and also for cleaning after meals.

We never really consider this but you need somewhere to fill up the container! Hence the need to stay at a campsite/RV park some nights, I’d recommend every second, to restock and reload.

If you have a camper van, you will need one for waste grey water.

Camper Van Big Bend Texas

Big Bend National Park, Texas road trip 

Fun Things to Bring on a Road Trip

Driving for hours on end requires some kind of entertainment.

Here’s a list of road trip games to keep you amused and the driver awake

  • Name a celebrity, next person names a celeb whose name starts with your celeb’s second name.
  • I’m going on a road trip and I have packed (must name all items mentioned previously).
  • Singing game – player one sings a lyric, player two takes last lyrics and starts new song etc.
  • Would you rather… be a cyclops or human spider? The weirder the better.
  • 21 questions – yes or no answers only, guess the object/person.
  • Never have I ever (drink water, stay hydrated).
  • A-Z of pop songs/artists/90s movies etc.
  • You can also make your own games using our quiz questions guide.

Camping and Campervan Games

  • Cards 
  • Dominoes
  • Board games such as Connect 4 and Dobble/Spot
  • Pass the Pigs
  • Ring Toss
  • Ball games such as swing ball and Sketch – make sure you can control the ball to avoid hitting other RVs

Couple playing cards in converted campervan

Road Trip Essentials For The Trip

Day Bag

I bit the bullet and bought myself a Kanken day bag and I adore it.

Not only is it super stylish but it is also really sturdy.

There are grab handles at the top as well as shoulder straps.

The bag unzips at the very front of the bag and extends so you can pack a lot in.

There’s a secret section the size of the bag at the back as well as a small pocket at the front.

I played it safe and went for black but there are a variety of colours if you are feeling bolder than me!

You can fit a laptop, camera, purse, water bottle and cardigan in the larger Kanken. Perfect for a day bag during your road trip.

Craig wears a hiking day bag by Osprey US / UK. It has an airy back structure which suits his sweaty body!

Outlander Falkland Two Scots Abroad

Me doing the Jamie Fraser post at an Outlander location

Waterproof Bag Cover

Keep your camera dry in potential downpours by covering up your day bag with this Osprey bag cover US / UK.

It unfolds out of the bag, pulls over the daypack, a drawstring then pulls the bag around the day pack and clips around the middle for additional security.

There’s a neat pouch which attaches to your day bag for when it is not in use.

Osprey Bag Cover

Osprey waterproof day bag cover saves electrics from water death

Eco Water Bottle + Picnic Gear

This year I am pledging to go single-use plastic-free where possible.

For Craig’s birthday, I researched extensively plastic-free bottles and two stood out.

I had a choice between the stylish Chilly’s Bottle (UK only), practical Tree Tribe US / UK.

I went for the Tree Tribe which came with no plastic packaging.

A water bottle really is one of the things to take on a road trip to help do your bit for the environment – leave nothing but footsteps!

Tree Tribe Bottle Gift

Consider a picnic bag or cool box. You will have to pick up ice on the way since you can’t re-freeze cooler ice packs.

If you don’t want to go full picnic basket, pack collapsible cups.

Handy for some fizz at the end of the day and lets you contribute to sustainable travel by avoiding plastic throw-away cups. So no to plastic cutlery, pick up the wooden kit instead and consider my trusty bamboo cutlery set US / UK.

You will also need dishwashing soap.

Bamboo Cutlery Straw

Waterproof Jacket – Road Trip Essentials

This road trip essential item I can’t travel without because in Europe you can enjoy four seasons in one day!

I have certainly won the cost per wear games. This Marmot waterproof jacket US / UK comes with me everywhere.

Benarty Hill hike, Fife Scotland. Gemma wearing blue Marmot Precip jacket, bag, hat. Bowie the dog in background. Trees, loch._

My trusty Marmot Precip and dog, Bowie

I love the slimline fit, the colour and the fact that it folds away into its own pocket! It also helps that it keeps me dry.

Choosing a soft shell like the Marmot is great because you can squash it down small and pack it away in your day bag.

I can’t stress how important a high-quality rain jacket is for Europe – you can expect four seasons in one day if road tripping in the UK and you can’t always guarantee that your accommodation (or tent!) will have drying facilities.

For Iceland, I invested in the Mountain Equipment Rupal jacket US / UK which is thicker than the Marmot but more durable.

I bought Craig one for his birthday after a very wet road trip in Iceland! His coat, below, did not withstand the elements.

Rain Iceland hike. Mountain Equipment jacket, hat. Gemma and Craig._

So wet at one of Iceland’s waterfalls

Hiking Boots/Shoes

There comes a time where even the most sloth-like amongst us have to stretch our legs and with the potential scenery a road trip takes you through you’d be mad not to hike the hills.

When shopping for hiking boots and shoes you want to test their water resistance, support, breathability, comfort, weight and of course, the look.

For the past two years, I’ve been hiking in Salomon Quest boots and I can’t speak highly enough about them.

I like travel gear to look as good as it performs and this is a stylish boot.

I’m comfortable wearing them on the hills and then in the pub for the post-hike pint! Check out the rage here: Salomon Quest boots US / UK.

Salomon Quest Women Lightweight Waterproof Boot

Short hike during our Outer Hebrides road trip

I also like the lighter Salomon Ellipse trek shoes US / UK which I trekked with to Machu Picchu.

They are shoe-like so great if you don’t want anything touching your ankle like me back in 2015.

I injured my Achilles tendon during the West Highland Way – 96 miles from Mallaig to Fort William in Scotland.

I love how light they are for carrying in day bags and also how attractive they are. Their Contagrip® soles offer support as they do not bend when attempted to fold in half.

I use Leukotape US / UK on my ankles, this prevents blisters as this tape does not budge.

This technique was recommended to me by a serial trekking Canadian while hiking Maderas Volcano in Nicaragua.

Craig pretty much wore his Salomon every day for three years but now wears leather Scarpa boots.

Both come highly recommended depending on your need.

I’ll let you know how I get on. You might also like our lightweight trek boot review.

Hiking shoes | road trip packing essentials

Mosquito/Midges Repellent

Those blasted wee menaces are out to ruin every trip. In warmer climates, mosquitos come out to play at dusk which is a PITA when you want to watch the sunset.

We have used DEET repellents like Off in the past but moved to repellents without DEET after a year of constant bites.

DEET melts plastic so keep it away from your laptops.

If you don’t like the sound of DEET, try the alternatives Avon Skin So Soft US / UK.

In Scotland, we don’t suffer from mossies but we do have our own equivalent, midges.

They don’t carry malaria but can leave nasty marks so you need to pack a face net for dusk, road trip must-haves.

Midge Nets in Ardnamurchan Scotland

High Factor Face Creams

I love the sun but I love my life more. Take skin cancer seriously, even in overcast weather the sun can have an impact. We go to factor 30 or above.

I’m also vain, invest in a factor 50/60 face cream to avoid wrinkles. If splashing out I go for La Roche-Posay US / UK.

Santa, you there?!

Head Torch

I know what you’re thinking, I have a phone but those choosing a tent as their home will know the importance of a separate light for midnight toilet stops (remember the tissues and flip-flops).

Road Trip Packing List Items_

Flip-flops or Sliders

If you are staying in accommodation/camping grounds with communal showers, take some flip-flops to avoid having to share the germy floors.

My Havaianas are still going strong, six years later.

These flops were made for walking.

If you prefer to wear socks with your waterproof footwear, consider sliders or Crocs.

Toiletry Bag (Hook)

Don’t just pack any toiletry bag, buy with a hook.

Why? Because many of the showers we’ve used while road tripping have very small storage spaces in them and a hook allows you to access your toiletries while it hangs from the shower pole. Neat eh?

Shop for toiletry bags with hooks US /UK.

Safe Bag

Keep your belongings safe in communal dorms or busy hotels while you are out sightseeing with this Pacsafe safety net US / UK.

We survived 17 months of travel with our belongings intact.

How to use the Pacsafe safety net

  1. Place your electronics, passports, and money in a bag
  2. Pull the Pacsafe net over the bag and close the net around it
  3. Secure the wire string around a non-moveable object like a bedpost or radiator
  4. Pop in the clip and close with a padlock
  5. Throw a coat or scarf over the bag and you are locked and loaded

After 2.5 years of ‘the net,’ we upgraded to the more expensive Pacsafe backpack which has the net hidden beneath the fabric and the lock is subtle.

I still think the PacSafe net is the better option though and it keeps costs down.

PacSafe Net Travel Safety

Music Speaker

We love music. We actually chase gigs around the world, so no road trip is complete without a soundtrack.

This JBL Clip US / UK is economical, durable, loud and actually waterproof!

The clip allows you to hook it onto bars and bed posts.

JBL Clip Speaker hooked to a day bag

Hydration Tablets

A new and welcomed addition to our road trip packing list, hydration tablets or sachets helps the head the next day.

A British doctor recommended this hangover remedy while we were travelling around Cuba (yes rum I am looking at you).

This is one of our most popular items bought by you via our Amazon recommendations. Shop for hydration tablets US / UK.

Beer cheersing over Tobermory on Mull in Scotland

Hooks, Clips and Ropes

Sounds dramatic but these handy wee fellas will become your best pal!

Use hooks, rails and carabiner clips for hanging bags, towels, coats and hats.

Tie bungee cord around plastic boxed and bags to keep them secure in campers and trunks. Read more helpful road trip hacks here.

Bungee Cord wrapped around bags in campervan

How To Pack For a Road Trip

We adopt the three bag policy – 1 large, 1 weekend and 1-day bag.

  • A larger rucksack or a cabin-sized case like our Cabin X One (I love this hybrid case!) which stays in the car packed full of your daily threads and toiletries.
  • A smaller weekend bag to move overnight and next day clothes into for one night stays which you don’t want to lug your big bag to. A canvas tote would even do. Easy to pack and hang for trips to the showers if camping/RVing.
  • A day bag for the camera, waterproofs and snacks.

This is a great technique for a cross-country road trip packing list since some stays will be one night only and rooms can be too small for big cases which is the case in the Highlands of Scotland.

Bealach na Bar Road North Coast 500 Scotland

What to Pack For a Road Trip Checklist

Download your free road trip checklist here. You can print it and check off the items during packing, never forget a packing list item. So when friends ask you what to take on a road trip you can point them to this checklist too!

Road trip checklist to help you plan your road trip packing list

What Food to Bring on a Road Trip?

One of the most obvious things you need for a road trip is food and drink which travels well.

This is a tough question to answer because it depends on how long you are on the road for and at what temperatures.

For perishable foods, you will need a cool bag with ice. You will need to replenish the ice every day or two.

In the States, ice can be bought at gas stations. In Europe, you are best shopping at supermarkets for it.

Breakfast Road Trip Food

  • Hot oats/porridge, milk, fruit.
  • Overnight oats/porridge, milk, fruit.
  • Cereal, milk.
  • Eggs.
  • Sausage.
  • Beans.
  • Tortillas (Craig’s fave – Tex Mex breakfast!)

» Top tip: oats are a ‘mare to clean. Soak in hot water as soon as finished.

Lunch and Dinner Ideas

  • Homemade ‘Lunchables’ – cheese, meat and crackers.
  • Sandwiches/wraps.
  • Soup (tinned or pre-made).
  • Salads (avocados are great, own skin protection).
  • Spaghetti bolognese.
  • Tuna, pasta sweetcorn.
  • Chilli.
  • Omelette.

Road Trip Snacks

  • Cereal bars.
  • Rice cakes.
  • Crackers.
  • Nuts and dried fruit (trail mix).
  • Hard-boiled eggs (Craig bans this, I love ’em).
  • Potato chips.
  • Humous and carrot/celery.
  • Jelly sweets/candy.
  • Fruit with skin such as nectarines.
  • Caffeine drinks for the driver.

» Water is essential, remember to bring a durable bottle with you to reduce your plastic footprint.

Man cooking at campervan on Texas road trip

Road Trip Apps

The following apps will help inform and support you during your road trip. 

  • Google Maps.
  • Weather.
  • Spotify with music downloaded.
  • Kindle.
  • Netflix with shows downloaded.
  • Destination campsite app.
  • Preferred hotels apps.
  • OpenTable for restaurant bookings.
  • Photo edit apps like Lightroom.
  • Whatsapp to say in touch with family/friends.
  • Electronic car charge app if driving an electronic car.

Things to Pack For A Road Trip in Winter

Two very important things to consider here – firstly, is your (rental) car suitable for Winter road conditions and secondly, does it have Winter tires? Legally, you can’t drive in BC, Canada without switching to snow tires come October and this lasts through to April.

Check out Winter driving laws for the country you plan to drive in and abide them. We were checked frequently in BC when we drove from Vancouver to Whistler.

You should pack a shovel, de-icer, scraper, screenwash, torch with batteries, clean water for drinking and snacks for eating. A warm sleeping bag is also recommended. Just last Winter, drivers were stuck on Scottish roads overnight. This was all over the country, not just in the Highlands where you would expect snow.

It goes without saying you should be wearing (or have packed) boots with a solid grip and a warm coat. It is also recommended to pack a high visibility coat and a warning triangle.

Don’t leave for the day of driving without a fully charged phone, battery pack or in-car plug and a manual map (old school but necessary).

Tell someone your route too. The RAC asks you to check your FORCES – fuel, oil, rubber tires, coolant, electrics and screenwash.

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What to Bring on a Road Trip Conclusion

There’s no better feeling than independence and that’s what a road trip holiday brings! This packing guide has been curated by a seasoned road tripper and details truly useful items to make your tour comfortable.

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things to pack for a road trip list?

10 Best Road Trip Hacks For An Easy Ride

Camper Van Big Bend Texas

Looking for the best road trip hacks to make your adventure go as smooth as possible? Craig and I (Two Scots Abroad) love to pack up and hit the road so we know a trick or ten! This guide to road trip must haves includes space-saving tips, comfort items and advice to keep you safe regardless of your style of travel.

Don’t be afraid to share your useful hacks in the comments below. We’re always up for learning too.

1. Pack Collapsible Kitchenware

Collapse kitchenware items are great space savers as they pack flat and for neatly into tiny spaces.

When they pop up, they form the shape of dish draining racks (US/UK) and boxes (US/UK) for taking dishes to communal cleanings facilities on campsites.

Pack your own detergent, cloth and dish towels too.

Collapsible Drying Rack Closed Dishes Campervan Road Trip
Collapsible Drying Rack Dishes Campervan Road Trip
Collapsible Box Dishes Campervan Road Trip

I’ve been a huge fan of collapsible Tupperware (shop US/UK) since I evaluated my environmental impact.

Pack collapsible Tupperware into day packs for snacks and doggy bag container replacements.

If you’re keen to reduce your plastic habit, read our zero waste guide here.

Collapsable Tupperware

2. Replace Liquid With Solids

This is a great hack for travel fans too. 

Ditch the liquid shampoo, conditioner, clothes detergent and washing up liquid for solid versions.

Solid products ensure that spillages are avoided which can be messy and annoying!

They can also save space and are more environmentally friendly as they don’t come in plastic bottles.

Check out the following and make the switch:

  • Solid shampoo (US/UK)
  • Solid conditioner (US/UK)
  • Solid clothes detergent (US/UK)
  • Solid dishwashing liquid (UK)

3. Plastic Tubs/Bags with Handles

Being able to dump outerwear gear such as hiking boots and raincoats into large, durable tubs is a blessing during road tripping.

While these outwear items are road trip essentials, they’re not required all of the time so you need somewhere to store them to avoid cluttering up limited space.

This works for both car road trips and campervan adventures.

You may also like | Our walking boots review

Bungee Cord wrapped around large bags in campervan

4. Bungee Cords Hold Things In Place

Bungee cord (US/UK) isn’t just for throwing yourself off bridges safely!

This tough yet stretchy rope is perfect for pulling around the above tub handles and a secure fitting in the campervan or car to keep them in place.

You can close them tight using the hooks on either end.

Bungee Cord wrapped around bags in campervan

5. Invest In Hooks, Rails and Secure Gadgets

Everything needs to be secure in a campervan because as soon as you move, loose items move too.

Cue mess, scratches and destruction.

Hooks are ideal for coats, bags and hats.

You can tie bungee cord around hooks to create lines.

Curtain hooks with clips can connect toiletries with shower storage rails.

Rails make the perfect towel racks. Fit at least two in your camper.

Caribiners and lanyards are ideal for hanging bags from car seat rests.

We also use ours to hook our JBL portable speaker clip (US/UK) to our day bags.

How do the Insta-perfect campers keep their spices in place?

Velcro! No one wants suspicious looking oregano all over their floors!

If you don’t have cupboards for storage, buy packing cubes (US/UK) to store clothes.

If using public or communal shower rooms, pack your toiletries in a case with a hook.

Don’t assume every shower will have a clean shelf.

6. Bring Wedges For Balance

If you’ve ever tried to sleep in a campervan or car you’ll know what I mean by this road trip hack.

Since you can’t always handpick the space you park up to sleep on you might find the angle is a little off.

This will result in heads hitting walls or bodies slipping down to the bottom of beds and a very restless sleep!

The solution? Wedges or jacks.

Wedges (US/UK) will level the van via the wheels and jacks act just like car jacks used to change wheels.

Use a marble to find out where the slope is.

Game changer!

7. Shower Wearing This Footwear

Hands up who wants to stand in a communal spot where people with verrucas have stood or even worse, potentially peed at?

There’s an easy and affordable solution to avoid this when you use campsite showers, waterproof footwear.

Flip flops work but sliders (US/UK) or dare I say it, Crocs (US/UK) are better options as you can wear socks with them to and from the shower block when it’s a little chilly in the morning.

This footwear is ideal for wearing in the shower because it is waterproof so driers quickly.

You want to try to avoid wearing your day shoes in the shower area to stop the spread of outside mess into areas that campsite owners try to keep clean.

8. Masking Tape For Phone Frames

Isn’t masking tape the answer to everything?

Recommended by dads around the globe for general makeshift fixes, masking tape can be used to fix your phone above your pillow so you can watch your downloaded shows without hand strain!

Requires an area above your head to work and it’s not recommended on rented vans because the tape is so strong it can rip off paint.

9. Find your Vehicle with Maps

Drop a pin where you park up so you can find your campervan easily after a day trip.

Also a good way to document your road trip itinerary to share with friends.

If you’re wild caravanning, send family the map so they know where you are.

Helmsdale car park camper van North Coast 500 Scotland_

10. Do a Test Run

Doing a test run is recommended if you’re road tripping with kids or a dog.

Drive for an hour to see how they react and also evaluate what moves about in the trunk/boot or back of the campervan.

If you plan to buy a campervan, do a trial trip in a rental beforehand so see which road trip accessories you actually need!

Thurso Campsite Campervan Window North Coast 500 Scotland_

General Tips

The following aren’t hacks but things you should think about before your road trip adventure.

  • Secure every drawer, cupboard and table
  • Avoid denim and wool in rainy season as it doesn’t dry
  • Windows require blackout blinds
  • Reserve number twos for public loos
  • Leave no trace, pack your trash
  • Avoid arriving in dark so you can find your endpoint
  • Learn and obey destination driving rules
  • Note what fuel the vehicle takes if renting

Read next | The ultimate road trip essentials list – everything you need

Car wing mirror, Iceland landscape

Did you find this useful? Pin to your road trip planning board!

Looking for the best road trip hacks for your next big cross country adventure? Our road trip tips include space savers, comfort tips and safety advice so you can hit the road running with these road trip essentials! Click to read more.

Share your road trip tips below!