How to Pack (and Stay Organized) for a Road Trip

Suitcases and a dog in back of an SUV

Road trips make traveling with your family affordable. You can bring whatever you want without worrying about baggage restrictions at the airport. Plus, you can pace yourself and make stops along the way to your destination. Soak up all the sights our great nation has to offer with a family road trip this summer!

The trick is to keep your car clean and make finding certain items easier as you travel. With this guide on how to pack for a road trip, never again will you misplace or accidentally ruin belongings while on the road.

Know What to Pack for a Road Trip

In addition to packing the clothing and toiletries you’ll need when you reach your destination, you must also bring items to keep your family safe and comfortable in the car.

Food and Drinks

You can save money by bringing food from home. Plan to at least pack a sack lunch for the first day, plus snacks to enjoy between meals. Here are some good go-to foods for road trips:

  • Sandwiches
  • Beef jerky
  • Durable fruits, like apples and oranges
  • Dried fruit and nuts
  • Protein bars
  • Pretzels and crackers
  • Yogurt and cheese sticks
  • Water, soda bottles, and juice boxes


Long hours in the car get tiresome, especially for kids. Keep everyone entertained by allowing each passenger to bring an activity bag. Here are the types of things to include:

  • Coloring books
  • Travel games
  • Books or e-readers
  • MP3 players and headphones
  • Tablets or laptops
  • Portable DVD players
  • Car chargers for electronic devices

Emergency Supplies

Even if your car is reliable, always pack emergency supplies just in case. Here’s what to bring:

  • Spare tire
  • Jumper cables
  • Blankets and sleeping bags
  • First aid kit
  • Paper maps in case of poor GPS reception


Don’t leave on your road trip without these documents in hand:

  • User’s manual for the car you’re driving
  • Car insurance and registration cards
  • Addresses of the hotels where you’re staying
  • Crucial contact phone numbers

Useful Tips to Stay Organized on a Road Trip

With your packing list completed and your bags packed, the last step is to load the car in an organized manner and find what you need — when you need it. These useful tips will help you stay organized on a road trip.

  • Compartmentalize belongings by using small totes, zipped bags, or boxes to store like items together.
  • Keep in-demand items in easy-to-reach places, such as by your feet, in the center console, or tucked inside seat back pockets. Pack any items you won’t need until you arrive in the trunk.
  • Place refrigerated food items in a small cooler or insulated lunchbox. Place all other food in a paper bag.
  • When loading the trunk, pack suitcases vertically. Place loose or oddly sized items in last.
  • Pack bulky sleeping bags and beach towels in space-saving compression bags.

Don’t Just Keep Your Car Organized

If you find cleaning and organizing to be an unbearable task, get help from Molly Maid. We offer the services you need, from one-time deep cleaning to ongoing assistance with household chores.

To read up on useful cleaning tips, or to hire a professional housekeeper in your area, please contact your local Molly Maid for a free in-home estimate.