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Top Things to Pack (And Leave Behind) On a Road Trip

Packing tips to travel smarter and lighter in the car this summer

An overstuffed suitcase is shown

Travellers often over pack, even for a road trip—and then find, upon their return home, that they didn’t use half the stuff in their suitcase. Here’s what you should never pack (and a few things you shouldn’t leave home without).

1. Multiple pairs of shoes

Shoes take up a disproportionate amount of space in your luggage. Pack no more than two pairs and wear another (preferably your bulkiest pair, such as running shoes) while on the road.

2. Too many toiletries

Hotel-supplied toiletries and water glasses are shown on a tray

Bring travel-sized versions of any toiletries you can’t leave home without, such as your favourite moisturizer. But, make use of the shampoo, conditioner and shower gel provided at your hotel or rental property. Many also offer toothpaste, razors and other items if you ask.

3. Wrinkle-prone clothing

Choose wrinkle-resistant fabrics that can be easily rolled up in your luggage to save space. They don’t require ironing and are ready to wear out of your suitcase. 

4. Daily outfits

A woman is shown with stacks of folded clothing

Unless you’re an influencer posting daily photos, you don’t need a different outfit for each day of your road trip. The old rule of thumb applies: pack what you think you need and then take out half. Ideally, pack items that can be mixed and matched.

5. Jeans

Jeans are heavy, and if they get wet they take forever to dry. If you must bring jeans, limit yourself to one pair. Otherwise, stick to lightweight, breathable materials, such as linen pants or bamboo leggings.

6. Multiple options for formal wear

A dress and sunglasses are shown laid out on a bed

If you require formal wear (or if you’re headed to a socially distanced wedding), choose one outfit that can be dressed up or down (think a little black dress for women and a flexible blazer and crisp white shirt for men).

7. Expensive accessories

Leave pricey jewellery, watches and purses at home—they make you a target for pickpockets. Plus, it’s easy to leave something behind when you’re on the go. If you’d be devastated to lose it, don’t pack it.

8. Multiple gadgets

A man is shown packing gadgets into his suitcase

Unless it’s necessary for work, avoid packing multiple electronic devices. Not only do they take up space, they need to be handled with care and can get lost or stolen. Consider it a way to take a digital detox.

9. Too much reading material

Some travellers recommend ditching books and magazines in favour of an e-reader, but if screens aren’t your thing, stick with one paperback.

10. ‘Just in case’ items

A woman sits on top of her suitcase to try and close it

Unless you’re travelling to a destination void of shops, avoid bringing every possible item that you might need, such as a mini-version of your medicine cabinet. You can buy most items when you’re there if you need them.

Bonus tips: things you should never leave home without

Bring a good pen for forms and other paperwork, or even to send a post card. A portable power bank for your smartphone is a must, especially if you’re using your phone as a camera. And a travel laundry bag conveniently keeps your clean clothes from intermingling with your dirty laundry.

Travelling with kids? Pack their favourite toy or comfort item, whether it’s a special blanket or plush animal, but leave the rest of the toy box at home. Also pack some games or activities to keep kids occupied during the drive, such as colouring books, stickers or a deck of cards. And don’t forget the snacks, whether it’s crackers or granola bars.

Shop with CAA

For everything from luggage to USB ports to flat irons—who says your hair can’t look good on a road trip—visit a CAA Store or shop online 24/7 today.

Keep reading

Looking to update your home this summer? Read about ways to use Dulux’s colour of the year and how your CAA Membership card can help you save on home improvements.

Image Credits: iStock.com/belchonock, iStock.com/NeonJellyfish, Sarah Brown/Unsplash, iStock.com/ben-bryant, iStock.com/Chalabala, iStock.com/Choreograph