What to pack in a cross country road trip: Your questions answered

Driving holidays and road trips is always a great opportunity for those who imbibe aesthetic riches. From the breathtaking beauty of the mountainous nature to the fine detail of the off-the-beaten-track villages, you get to enjoy everything at your own pace. Just imagine having a drive along the coastline by car or by motorbike while contemplating the scenery on the go and feeling the breath of cool autumn air on your face, isn’t it the most perfect holiday experience? 

Such an experience should not be hampered by the hustle of packing up your stuff, especially when you are on a last-minute move and everything just becomes so overwhelming. If you often find yourself behind on deciding which essentials to bring each time you pack for a road trip, you’re not alone. We’ve all been through that. 

So let’s dig deep and see what essentials should be included in your baggage the next time you hit the road and which type of baggage is the most commonly used for cross country road trip

Basic Road Trip Essentials Checklist


First off on the list are all the important documents that may be used to prove your person's identity, such as birth certificates, driver's licence, and social security cards. Without these necessities, things may become pretty troublesome, so it’s crucial to organise these important documents at home beforehand. 

Electronics and chargers

If you attempt to document every day of your cross country road trip, make sure you bring your phone or tablet and add a portable charger as well to keep your devices charged at all times and capture every moment. 

Medication Box

A small bag with the most essential pills and medicine is definitely a must-have item for every traveller. A migraine trigger, high-climate fever, upset stomach or three of them happening all at once during your journey would be a nightmarish scenario. So keep these pills accessible wherever you go to prevent any possible inconvenience during your trip.

Toiletries bag

Simple essentials like toothbrushes, razors, deodorants, and cotton swabs are often left unnoticed when you need to prepare for an urgent trip or just try to get it all done ASAP. To deal with that, it's a good idea to prepare in advance a small toiletry bag packed with all the essentials you'll need for your trip. It doesn't solve all the problems, but it does take care of a fair amount of packaging. But remember not to pack too much. You wouldn’t want to bring an entire wardrobe with you on your road trip, would you? 

Hygiene essentials

Make sure you get a toiletries bag and toss your essential hygiene products into your travel-size luggage. Here’s the list we recommend:

  • Deodorant
  • Dental floss
  • Moisturiser
  • Lip Balm
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Hairbrush or comb
  • Tweezers
  • Cotton swabs
  • Nail file
  • Skincare products (only the essentials)
  • Lotion for body and face

Bare Minimal Clothings

Here's everything you absolutely can’t get by without bringing: 

  • 1-2 pair of jeans, pants or trainings for travelling
  • 1 pair dress pants
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 4 T-shirts
  • 1 light jacket or dressy jacket
  • 2 polos or button-down short-sleeve shirts
  • 2 long sleeve button-downs
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 1 pair of walking shoes or sandals
  • 8 pairs of underwear
  • 3-4 pairs of socks
  • Pyjamas/sleepwear

Be selective about which clothing to take and packing light to save space in your suitcase to ensure an ideal and comfortable travel experience.

Only pack the clothes you need. Image from Unsplash

Journal and pen 

Some may think these are just simply pesky space-fillers, yet it may be more necessary than you think. Who knows when you will come up with a new idea when travelling? Or, when you are in a rush and need to jot down some important information? Keeping these essentials at hand for more enjoyable and convenient travelling.


A pair of sunglasses is a must-have road trip accessory for keeping the sun out of your eyes while you’re driving. You can also consider bringing other essential items such as eye drops, a packet of eyelid wipes or a spare pair of glasses to avoid eye-related problems along the way. 

Hand sanitiser

Make sure to bring hand sanitiser in your pack on every ride and throughout your travel day. It is highly likely that you will be moving around constantly and seeing lots of new faces during your journey. It’s a must that you have a hand sanitiser accessible any time to avoid getting sick, especially when there are still trademarks of the pandemic of coronavirus that once loomed over our heads.


A smartphone is undoubtedly a must-have item in your baggage. It can be used as a camera, entertainer, and for other purposes — from listening to music in the car, to ordering food upon arrival, to navigating your location via GPS, etc. So make sure to keep your phone in your pocket and always at hand.

Type of backpacks

When you’re on a road trip, it’s crucial to pick the right baggage to pack your essentials so it won’t feel like your luggage is weighing you down. Yet, there are multiple options available out there, varying from durability, packing space to value for money. Attempting to make a decision on the right one can be pretty much of a problem, especially when you have neither time nor experience in this type of shopping. So where do you even start?

Well, scroll down to check out our recommended list of expert-approved road trip bags to make the most of what you can carry with you while staying organised on the go. 

You can also visit our website to see some of the best backpacks and packing cubes, designed to accompany you on your cross country road trip. Here at CabinZero, it is our priority to advocate for our clients with our versatile, minimalist and lightweight products.


A carry-on sized travel backpack would be a perfect choice for any enthusiastic road trip traveller, especially when you’re planning on hiking. It will keep your gear safe when you get caught in a sudden downpour, and also make transporting your stuff a breeze. So choose a backpack that is made of waterproof sailcloth so you won’t have to be too concerned about clothes — or more importantly, your electronics devices — getting wet.

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Duffel Bag

A rolling duffel bag in your favourite colour or pattern is a great option for road trip luggage. It’s both stylish and soft-sided to allow the ultimate flexibility with necessary function in a packed trunk. This type of bag makes a great option for storing things in the car and will help keep everything you need in your car organised. You, your kids, or your travel companions know exactly where to grab something from and where to put it back in.

Packing cubes

If you’re about to head on a cross country road trip and contemplating whether a packing cubes would best suit your needs, you’ve landed in the right place. Packing cubes are another must when it comes to travelling. Make sure you divide your clothing into packing cubes  so you can locate things easier.

Tip For Cross Country Road Trip Packing

For those times when we don’t really know what to bring on our journey, here are some simple steps to help you get over packing problems and make wiser choices with your preparation.

Plan ahead

Obvious and boring as it may seem, we can guarantee that you will never regret researching information related to the destination and plan everything in advance, from places you would like to visit, a few hotel options that will be in your vicinity to the things you would like to obtain. When you fully make sure about the road plan and meeting information, you will save plenty of time for yourself and find the way to a hassle-free vacation.

Have a car check-up

On a day-to-day basis, we generally just assume our cars are ready to take us anywhere without a second thought. However, going on a road-trip means you definitely do not want to get into the situation in which your car suddenly breaks down in the middle of nowhere. It’s important to make sure your car is in tip-top condition for the road, or at least do some quick tire-pressure and oil checks before you go. Another important thing to take notice of is whether the spare tire in your car is properly inflated, and prepare a jack on hand as well.

Prepare a grab-and-go toiletry bag

All too often, people have a tendency to forget some of the essential items such as toothbrush, razor, deodorant or cotton pads, especially when they are in a rush and trying to get everything done as soon as possible. For this matter, we advise you to get a small bag designed for toiletries and fill it with all the essential things beforehand so that you won’t have to think long about what to bring the next time you go out.

Categorise your essentials

No matter where you go, there will always be so many things to remember. That’s why separating your essentials with desires should be a must whenever you’re about to hit the road. This will lessen the hustle of thinking long and hard about what you need to bring with you while also ensuring an enjoyable business trip.

Check the weather forecast while packing clothes

Depending on your destination, checking the weather forecast in advance and packing your essentials accordingly is definitely a must to ensure an ideal road trip experience. For example, if it’s often rainy, keep a jacket or some waterproof items — like travel umbrellas and backpack rain covers — in easy reach, and light layers if it might get cold. That way, you will be prepared for anything to come. So pack carefully the day before your trip to make sure everything goes as smoothly and comfortably as possible.

Double check

Last but not least, double check your travel packing list to make sure you get everything you need. Packing lists are useless if you don’t give it a quick check before you leave.

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