Packing for a Holiday by Car

August 28, 2014

Everything went into this bag.

Everything fit inside this carry-on bag.

The summer season will soon be over, but not before I squeezed in one more holiday.  I’ve previously packed for both a shorter trip by car and a longer trip by air.  This time I packed for a long trip that was half car (on the way there) and half air (to return home).  Before I detail what I packed, you need to know a few facts about this trip.

Trip facts:

  1. The trip was 9 days, 8 nights by car going across 9 states.
  2. I returned home by airplane.
  3. This was a casual trip, with no fancy meals or special events.  Instead it was filled with long days in the car and lots of outdoor activities (horseback riding, bicycle riding, whitewater kayaking, hangliding, sightseeing, etc).
  4. I was unable to do laundry, as we often began the day in one state and spent the night in another.
  5. The temperature range was 75-100+F, so mostly hot weather clothing was required.  Few bulky sweaters/jumpers needed for this trip.
  6. My goal was to pack everything into a carry-on that was not a suitcase, so that I would be able to keep my carry-on with me at all times since I had a connecting flight.  In the past, when I’ve used a suitcase for a carry-on, sometimes I’ve had to gate check the bag because the flight was full.
What's in the bag.

What went into the bag.

For the bag:

  • 9 short sleeve tops/t-shirts (I packed one extra in case one was dirty)
  • 2 shorts
  • 1 jean
  • 1 cropped trouser
  • 1 hoodie (for evenings)
  • 1 pullover (for the airplane)
  • 1 swimsuit and 1 rashguard (shorts and top) (for water sports)
  • 1 t-shirt and shorts for sleeping
  • 1 ballet flat
  • 1 sandal
  • 1 water shoe (forgot to include in the photo)
  • 1 fanny pack (perfect for bike riding, zip lining and other activities where a hands free bag is necessary)


What I wore in the car.

What I wore for the car.

For the car:

  • Denim jacket
  • T-Shirt
  • Jeans
  • Sneakers (the bulkiest footwear I always wear instead of packing)
  • Purse
  • Sunglasses and case
  • Kindle
  • Wet wipes (for rest areas with no soap)
  • Camera with case

What I was thinking:

I made sure to use lots of printed tops for this trip, because I was not doing laundry along the way.  Prints tend to hide stains easier than a solid.  The white jeans were perfect for long days in the car while the shorts were often worn when sightseeing.  The second pair of jeans were often used for evenings in a/c settings.  And the yellow trousers were a backup for the shorts, in case those got dirty.  They trousers are cropped and a light weight material.

I prefer to limit footwear to 3 when I travel if possible, with the two smallest items in the bag.  Footwear, sweaters/jumpers and jackets/coats are always the biggest and bulkiest items to pack, so I tend to bring less of these pieces for traveling.

Do you prefer to travel with checked luggage or a carry-on bag?




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