There are as many reasons to embark on a road trip as there are places to go. You could be looking to escape a controlling husband, attempting to deliver a truckload of Coors beer to Atlanta, or just trying to take the whole family to Walley World.
No matter why you happen to be hitting the open road this summer, you’re going to need to bring the right gear. I’m talking pieces that can stand up to endless miles, copious amounts of dust, and impromptu dips in the ocean. Not sure what to pack? Don't worry -- I've got a few ideas. (Plus a little practical advice.)
First things first: you’ll need clothes that can multi-task.
Yes, you can always bring less stuff on your trip and wash everything out in the sink, but if you're anything like me, you'll get crazy-bored of looking at the same darn clothes sometime around day five. So these clever reversible tanks, tunics and dresses from Los Angeles-based company FURTHERmade are the perfect thing to pack -- because they are all reversible, made with a whimsical vintage print on one side and a solid color on the other. It's literally two garments in one!
Every piece is made with real vintage fabric, so quantities and sizes are limited -- but the company takes custom orders up to a size 3X. (And after a little online sleuthing, I dug up a FURTHERmade discount code! Just type in 'flipit' to save $20.00 on anything site-wide.)
You'll also need a pair of sandals that can stand up to the ocean.
Even if you don't think you'll find yourself anywhere near an ocean, it pays to have a pack a pair of comfy sandals that can stand up to an impromptu dunking. The classic waterproof leather and rustproof buckled Saltwater sandal has been worn by children in the South for over sixty years, and the company has recently expanded their line to include women's sizes.
Saltwaters are a classic, simple, 1960s-style sandal -- cute with dresses, jeans, shorts and bikinis alike. They are ultra comfy, crazy cheap and last practically forever. A few pairs I had as a child actually got passed on down to my younger cousins once I outgrew them.
Don't forget your shades!
On my last road trip, I stupidly forgot to bring my sunglasses and ended up with a pair from the gas station -- because driving directly into the blazing Texas sun on a late August afternoon is an exercise in blinding yourself. But I was honestly pretty pleased with my purchase:
However, it's highly unlikely that you could find yourself traveling anywhere that's quite as fetishistic about the shape of their state as Texas is, so bringing a cool pair of shades with you in the first place is your best bet. Pack a fun pair from TOMS and you can help restore sight to a person with visual impairment at the same time.
Invest in some packing cubes.
I actually got these as a gift from my packing-obsessed aunt. When I first saw them, I thought they were kinda pointless, but I finally tried them on my last trip and I'm now a convert! I no longer have to dig through my jumbled suitcase like a deranged rat in search of clean jeans -- I just pop a pair out of its clever little packing cube and get on with my life. They also make re-packing to go home a million times easier.
Be sure to pack a little more than you think you'll need.
The only thing you can be sure of on a road trip is the unknown. You're likely to find yourself in at least one weird situation -- and clothes get dirty in a hurry. Laundromats can be hard to find, so do yourself a favor and pack a few extra T-shirts and undies over what you estimate you'll need. You'll be glad you did later on!
Bring a real map. (Made of paper!)
Halfway through my last road trip, the cigarette lighter in my car punked out, rendering my iPhone and my GPS completely dead -- and therefore totally unusable. The same people who laughed at me for going to the Auto Club in advance and getting a paper road map were the same people who were very freakin' glad we had actual, physical directions in the middle of the Mojave Desert in late August when all our gadgets left us high and dry.
And always pack a few things to set the vibe.
I never leave home anymore without my Mini Jambox wireless Bluetooth speaker. It's small, lightweight, smokes any wireless speaker I've tried right into the ground and connects to both my iPhone and iPad effortlessly. It's also REALLY loud for its size -- so there's a good chance you'll be asked to turn it down by hotel security.
If you're staying in random el cheapo motels on your road trip (like I always do), the absolute smartest thing you can pack is a bottle of room spray. It covers up stale smoke and other gross odors, making your spot seem like a tropical oasis -- even if it's just an air conditioned cube in the middle of a parking lot.
I’m on Twitter: @IveyAlison.