The Essential Road Trip Checklist

We’ve rounded up our best tips and tricks for throwing it all in a bag and hitting the road.

Wynn Myers

From Savannah, Georgia, to Marfa, Texas—Morgantown, West Virginia, to the Florida Keys—the Southern landscape begs to be traversed. And there’s no better way to see the vast and diverse region we call home than the open road. Hidden gems, rare finds, and unexpected discoveries are almost all guaranteed, and spontaneity is encouraged.

It doesn’t take much to get on the road; hit the time clock, grab your bag (and sunglasses!) and drive until the map turns blue (or green…or multicolored…You get it.). But, before you do that, just one thing: make sure you have a few essentials. We’ve rounded up our best tips and tricks for throwing it all in a bag and hitting the road—a sort of abbreviated road trip checklist. After all these years we’ve got road-trip planning down to a T. With gas in the tank and your bags (properly!) packed, your only concern should be which roadside barbeque pit to stop at first.

1. The Car Essentials

First things first. While this isn’t as fun as deciding which sundress to pack, this will ensure you at least get where you’re going with that dress. If it’s been a while since the car has been serviced, take it in. At the very least make sure to check the oil, wiper blades, battery, and tires. As far as packing the car, make sure you have a first aid kid, some water bottles, non-perishable snacks, flashlights, blankets, and jumper cables stowed away as well.

2. A Good Bag

Now the fun can start. Make sure you have a good bag. If you’re just going away for the weekend a jumbo overnight bag or small duffel will do. A few things to look for: it zips closed, has interior pockets for organization, and durability. We love this Craft Weekender Tote Bag from Sturdy Brothers in Thomasville, Ga.

3. Toiletries

For a short weekend you can get away with just a few things. Some double-duty supplies we love: Drybar Detox Shampoo, Dior Cheek & Lip Glow, and Garnier BB Cream (can you say SPF, moisture, AND color?).

4. The Day-to-Night Dress

Continuing the double-duty theme, your clothes should be just as flexible as your getaway beauty routine. A reliable piece that you can dress up or down (already a staple in Southern women’s closets!) ensures you’re free to be as spontaneous as you like.

5. Layers

The other must-follow rule of packing for a road trip is layers. So many options with so few pieces. Make sure you have a scarf that can pass as shawl or a light jacket for breezy evenings (or pack both, if you like your bases covered!).

6. Sunglasses

Every Southerner knows the importance of a trusty pair of (stylish) sunglasses. We’re eternally drooling over Krewe du Optic’s designs.

7. Tech/Entertainment essentials!

Finally, don’t forget the nitty gritty. A phone charger, ear buds, and most importantly—all your important apps. Handy travel apps include Waze for navigation, Roadside America for quirky attractions, and Gas Buddy to explore nearby fuel options and prices.

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