Category Archives: Packing Lists

Packing lists for every type of travel. Clothes, equipment, and checklists.

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!

Our Top Travel Picks: Gear + Planning

Best Black Friday travel deals

Craig’s Fave Travel Gear

  • Bluffwork’s padded vest in blue. Up to 30% off shop wide
  • Scarpa boots for hikes US / UK 
  • Hydration tablets US / UK for hangovers 

Bluffworks Travel Vest with Pockets


Gemma’s Fave Travel Gear

  • Anker power bank US / UK. Have been using Anker for years now. 
  • Eagle Creek Expanse Convertible US / UK down in price. I’ve just bought the wheeled carry-on. It’s a sturdy beast. I’ve got it in black
  • Bluffwork’s new travel dress [showcasing this December in Barcelona]. Up to 30% off shop wide

Eagle Creek Expanse

Stay Safe On The Road 

  • PacSafe Travel Net US / UK
    we used this in 16 countries with no mishaps 
  • Water To Go purifying and filtering water bottle for countries where you can’t use the tap [quote TSA15 at checkout for 15% off]
  • World Nomads Travel Insurance or Travel Traveller for Europeans. No deals, just solid insurance options for longer trips

PacSafe Net Travel Safety

Book Your Next Trip

  • Our friends at GetYourGuide are offering 25% off popular tours including Barcelona and Rome as well as 15% of other options. Use the coupon, BLACKFRIDAY19 for the 15% ones
  • Booking.com has up to 40% off accommodation. I like Booking because loyal users unlock Genuis prices and you can cancel bookings, sorry accommodation owners! 

Las Ramblas of Barcelona, Aerial view3 days in Barcelona Itinerary

Zero Waste Travel Items 

Scotland T-shirts Clothing Sweatshirts

 

Hiking Gear List: Learn from my Mistakes

Hitting the hills and unsure what to pack? This hiking packing list will discuss what to pack for one-day hikes or long-distance treks. This guide has been created with years of experience of hiking at home and abroad. I’ve hiked up hills/mountains, trekked to the summits of volcanoes, walked along lakes/lochs and completed expeditions to epic landmarks. I’ve experienced sun, rain, wind, hail and even snow! Learn from my (many) mistakes during these treks by using this free hiking gear list which has clickable links to products I recommend.

Dog Canyon hike Big Bend National Park. Craig, hat, bag.

Dog Canyon, Big Bend National Park

Day Hike Packing List

The key to being comfortable when hiking is layers. They say there is no such things as bad weather, only bad clothes.

Hiking equipment and gear is something I recommend that you invest in. I am a walking example of ‘buy cheap, buy twice’. I’ve now learned and accept that some items of outdoor gear need money spent on them or they won’t withstand the elements.

Day Hike Checklist

Hiking Outerwear

  • A (truly) waterproof jacket like my Mountain Equipment Rupal US / UK .

OR

  • A lightweight, packable waterproof jacket like my Marmot Precip US / UK.
  • A down jacket like my Rab Alpine USA / UK for breezy stops. I love how it covers my bottom.

Top Tips

Rain should sit on top of your rain jacket, it should not be absorbed.

I’ve had too many to count, rain jackets which cost less than my monthly phone bill and they are point-blank not waterproof.

Water-resistant, maybe, but not waterproof like the jackets above. I was so uncomfortable during the West Highland Way multi-day hike when it rained. My clothes were soggy, don’t be me. Invest!

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

Just another rainy day in Iceland


Hiking Shoes/Boots (Broken In)

  • Salomon Quest boots US / UK – stylish, supportive and Gortex waterproof. Salomon Quest boots
  • If you prefer shoes, I also wear Salomon Ellipse US / UK but make sure they are GTX version.
  • Craig now wears Scarpa which are like slippers but heavier than my boots.
  • He has worn Salomon in the past but prefers his Scarpa leather boots now.

Top Tips

Go up at least one size when choosing hiking boots and shoes.

Previously I’ve gone for style over functionality but now feel I’ve got the perfect balance with the Salomon Quest. A well worn-in pair of hiking boots or shoes is a must-have hiking gear item.

Don’t buy new boots and then attempt a hard hike.

Gross one but cut your toenails! You’ll thank me later.


» You may also like our lightweight hiking footwear review


Salomon Shoes Ladies

Gibsons in British Colombia, Canada – lightweight Salomon shoes, great for travel

Hiking Clothes, Equipment and Accessories

  • Vest top or quick-dry t-shirt.
  • An Icebreaker Merino wool base layer USA / UK – 100% wool. Not cheap but top quality. I have two, they really neat too.
  • Fleece – make sure this in easy reach in your bag if you remove it.
  • Leggings/gym pants and/or…
  • Quick-dry walking pants.
  • Pull-over waterproof trousers USA / UK – love these, don’t have to change gym pants after a downpour as these take all the mud stains.
  • Sports bra.
  • Hiking socks like Bridgedale US / UK.
  • Gators which go over your ankle (optional).
  • Walking poles (optional).
  • Watch.
  • Swimming gear if you are taking a dip.
  • Bug net if visiting during high season. For example in Scotland the midges are crazy mid-May to late September on the West Coast so you need to cover your face!

Top Tips

Don’t wrap your fleece around your waist.

If it rains it will get wet.

I stupidly once kept my fleece wrapped around my waist but put my rain jacket on.

Needless to say, the fleece was useless that evening.


Related Posts to Read


Sapa Valley in Vietnam, trekking, swimming in lake

Taking a morning shower at Sapa Valley in Vietnam


Day Bag Items

In this section, we will assume that your day bag is going on a one-day hike with you to carry all of your hiking essentials.

You will use the majority of the items during the hike, with a few reserved for emergencies. I also like a bag around my waist or a hip bag for easy access to my phone and tissues.

  • Buff/scarf.
  • Gloves.
  • Hat.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Clean socks.
  • Waterproof bag cover like this one by Osprey US / UK.
  • Phone – screenshot route, download map route, download music and podcasts.
  • Waterproof cover.
  • Phone cable.
  • Battery pack for phone – I use Anker battery charger US / UK.
  • A camera if taking photos.
  • Speaker, Craig loves the JBL US / UK as it clips onto your bag.
  • Lunch.
  • Earphones (if you want to zone out).
  • Water bottle(s) – I use Tree Tribe US / UK as I’m not a fan of the taste of camel packs.
  • Purifying bottle if applicable – Claim 15% off Water To Go bottles (quote TSA15 at checkout).
  • Thermos for coffee/tea.
  • Bamboo cutlery US / UK if required.
  • Snacks.
  • Money.
  • Credit Card.
  • ID.
  • Map in a waterproof case.
  • Compass.
  • Notepad.
  • Pen.
  • Bag for rubbish.
  • Instagram dress? Sometimes I do day hikes in summer dresses (optional).

» Read next: first timer’s guide to going plastic free


Colca Canyon, Craig, refilling filter water bottle, day bag, Salomon walking boots

Purifying and filtering water bottle in Peru


Comfort Items

  • Hair tie/headscarf.
  • Suntan lotion.
  • Chapstick/lip salve.
  • Hand sanitizer.
  • Insect repellent with Avon So Soft US / UK.
  • Tissues.
  • Leukotape US / UK – tape up your heels before you hike; I do this.

Hiking Sapa Valley in Vietnam, Craig, day bag, flip flops, bug spray, water bottle, native woman.

Hiking with the locals in Vietnam


Emergency/Functional Hiking Items

  • Carabiner clips – clip water bottles, keys, hats on to your bag.
  • Spare laces – don’t get caught out!
  • Swiss army knife.
  • Whistle.
  • Torch.
  • Blister pads (you won’t need them if you use Leukotape).
  • Plasters.
  • See the Lifesystems personal First Aid pack.
  • Baby wipes.
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Tube grip bandage.
  • Instant cold pack.
  • Tweezers
  • Pain killers.
  • Prescribed medicines.
  • Malaria tablets if applicable.

Leave in the Car

  • Vaseline/Petroleum – put on your feet before you put your socks on to hike.
  • Change of shoes – flip flops if warm, give feet a breather.
  • Change of clothes.
  • Water.
  • Snacks.

Soames Hill hike, Gisbons, Canada. Gemma, walking boots, day bag, trees

Soames Hill, Gibsons in Canada


Choosing a Day Hike Bag

When deciding on the perfect day hiking bag consider its weight without items packed. It doesn’t have to be waterproof if you carry a waterproof cover with it.

I had the unfortunate experience of a Vietnamese downpour killing my camera during the Sapa Valley hike. I’ve never hiked without a waterproof bag cover since then (2013).

The bag needs to be comfortable on your shoulders, straps that tighten and loosen are important. Ideally, the bag should have some kind of breathable material on the back.
Side pockets are great for storing water bottles, rubbish or maps in.


Multi-Day Hike Packing

The following section assumes that you are hiking with all of your contents, thus you are packing all of your trekking items in this bag.

Long-Distance Hiking Checklist

Similar to the day hiking checklist but more extensive. To avoid repetition, I will point to the above when the items are the same.

Hiking Outerwear

  • Same as above.

Footwear

Same as above with the addition of:

  • Flip-flops – give your feet a rest, overnight hiking essential in my books.
  • Casual shoes – like trainers. I actually ended up hiking in trainers one day when my Achilles went during a long-distance hike. Poles were my heroes too.

Machu Picchu hike, Craig, shorts, tshirt, day bag

The final steps to the incredible Machu Picchu in Peru


Long Distance Trekking Clothes

Consider how you pack your bag allowing easy access to next wear items.

Pack a dry bag which can double up as a dirty washing bag and a washing machine! Just pop in warm water and travel detergent, give it a good swirl about and scrub holding on to the outside of the bag.

  • Vest top or quick dry t-shirt x 2-3.
  • Icebreaker top – 100% merino wool x2.
  • Fleece – make sure this in easy reach in your bag if you remove it x2.
  • Leggings/gym pants x 1 or 2.
    (and/or)
  • Quick-dry walking pants x 1 or 2.
  • Over trouser waterproof pants/trousers.
  • Shorts x 1 (optional).
  • Sports bra.
  • Underwear – number of days + one (unless washing).
  • Hiking socks like Bridgedale x number of days hiking minus one or two.
  • Sock liners – Bridgedale x2 (optional).
  • Cotton socks for the night – x2.
  • Nightwear – consider temperature drop in evenings.
  • Gators which go over your ankle (optional).
  • Walking poles (optional).
  • Watch.
  • Swimming gear if you are taking a dip.

Colca Canyon, Craig, vest top, head scarf, sunglasses, earphones

Craig rocking a headband


Comfort Items/Toiletries

See above plus:

  • Toilet paper.
  • Baby wipes – not very eco-friendly though.
  • Aftersun.
  • Toothbrush.
  • Tooth tabs – like paste but don’t spill.
  • Soap in a tin/wrapped in beeswax.
  • Face wash.
  • Moisturiser.
  • Hairbrush – I just stick mine up and add more clips as the days go on.
  • Clips/bobby pins.
  • Travel detergent – shampoo stinks after a while.
  • Dry bag US / UK – my Mum’s hiking bag bladder burst, twice! Protect your belongings.
  • Towel.
  • Tick remover if applicable.

Emergency/Functional Hiking Items

See above plus:

  • Mosquito net if applicable.

First Aid Pack for Hiking

See above plus:

  • Deep Freeze/Biofreeze US / UK for aches and pains.
  • Antihistamine.

Don’t let your ego get the best of you. If you are hurt then stand down for one day and join in the next. You will only cause yourself long-term damage.

This was the advice from my cousin why has hiked every Munro in Scotland. I sat out one day of the West Highland Way and joined in again on day five.

Stac Polliadh hike Ullapool Scotland Highlands, Craig, Gemma posing._

Stac Pollaidh on Scotland’s North Coast 500 road trip


Camping Equipment

  • Tent/poles
  • Sleeping bag
  • Liner (optional)
  • Padded or yoga matt (optional)
  • Cutlery
  • Plate
  • Bowl
  • Mug (attached to thermos?)
  • Stove
  • Fuel
  • Matches (in a waterproof bag)/lighter
  • Pan
  • Scourer
  • Bio washing up
  • Towel

→ Don’t forget the food!

Smore, hand, tartan nailsS’mores! Sweet crackers, chocolate and marshmallows from the campfire


Hiking With Your Dog

I love to hike with our dog, Bowie. She likes the attention of other hikers too! There are a few hiking items I recommend packing if you plan to hike with your dog.

  • Towels (x two, I tend to leave these in the car)
  • Food and treats
  • Water bottle with tray US / UK
  • Biodegradable poop bags
  • Don’t forget the lead!
  • Harness/collar
  • Name tag with telephone number and chip engraved

Do remember that your dog will do twice even three times the amount of steps you do. I met a very poorly dog who had hurt its paws on a multi-day hike. The dog dad was going back to the starting point to hire a car and meet the dog mom at the next stage.

It is recommended to keep your dog on the lead at times to reduce its steps and protect its paws.

Bowie, husky German shepherd on Ben Vorlich munro in Scotland.

Our dog, Bowie, up Ben Vorlich in Scotland


Games to Play While Hiking

Some stretches of the trek are laborious!

Here are some fun games to play to get out of the woods (sometimes literally!)

  • A-Z of… Pop bands, movies, world leaders
  • Name a celeb, next person names a celeb with a name which starts with your celeb’s second name first letter (Lady Gaga, Gillian Anderson, etc)
  • I’m going on a hiking trip and I have packed, repeat item and add a new one
  • Lyric Challenge. Singer one starts, singer two takes the last word and starts a new line of the song (stolen from Pitch Perfect)
  • Would you rather… Snog, marry avoid
  • 21 questions – yes or no answers

Craig and friend hiking in Hungarian, near Eger. Trees, red path

Save to your hiking board for future planning

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Final Thoughts

Whether you are a first-timer aiming to get outdoors more or an avid hiker, this guide to things needed for hiking covers you for one-day treks to long-distance hikes during spring and summer. I hope you found my hiking equipment list useful, please do tell me in the comments below if I’ve missed anything essential out.