PACKING & PREPARATION: Packing The Vehicles

When it comes to Packing for your Road Trip, three things come to mind.

 First: Think through everything and DON’T make an unnecessary trip to Walmart! Of all the years we’ve traveled and all the places we’ve been, the only trip to a superstore we’ve ever taken was to replace a picnic tent in Tupelo, MS that a small hurricane turned into scraps. I have no desire to spend time and money (that we probably don’t have!) doing what we should have done at home.

Second: Zipper Baggies. Everything should have its place, and everything (ok MOST everything) should be in a baggie.  I buy zipper lock bags in various sizes and in bulk.

Third: Don’t be this guy:




In this blog we will be covering 2 lists of things that your rig will probably need.  These lists are by no means exhaustive, but they will help get you started.  It would be helpful for you to take a small weekend trip somewhere close BEFORE you hit the road, so you can add to the list things you need or want.

In ‘Packing For Your RoadTrip’ Here’s the Lists we’ll be addressing:

1). The Trailer’s Stuff

2). The Vehicle’s Stuff

It’s also essential, before we get started, to do a little personal inventory and ask yourselves this question:

“ What do I need to really enjoy my trip and not feel SO ready to be home by the end of it?”

Let me give an example of what I mean.  For me personally, in order to enjoy my trip and not be SO OVER campgrounds and my whole vacation, I need to feel clean, have really clean feet, clean ‘snuggly’ bedding, well-organized space as well as good food.

It’s important to take inventory and then provide yourself with as many creature comforts as possible.  We’ll talk more about personal things in another blog, but for now we’re addressing what the trailer and vehicle need to be equipped with.  Here we go!

 1). THE TRAILER’S STUFF:  These are the things you will need to cook with, clean with, and  generally camp with.

A). Here’s the loose things that we pack.  That’s not to say that they are not in bins or zipper bags, but that they can go wherever they fit best:

* 1 small folding table with built in benches (this is for a dishwashing station and dry camping if there’s no picnic table)

* 1- 5-gal container of bottled water (yep there are places we’ve been where we couldn’t/wouldn’t drink the water!)

* 2 camp chairs

* 1-1or2 gal container for transporting water from a pump

* 1 heatproof bag containing a portable stove and a grill grate for the fire pit (I got mine at Cabela’s)

* 2 coolers: 1 for food on ice and the other for dry food.  If you have a refrigerator then you only need 1.  I like my dry food cooler to be deep so that the bread can be packed on end and therefore not get smashed.  Make sure that they are both air/water tight and well insulated.

* 1 Picnic Tent that goes up easy and covers the picnic table

* Small container with a small microwave (oh yeah…this is truly an essential and can be used anywhere that there’s electric available. Make sure it’s in its own container for safety, and in addition have a towel inside to wrap the glass plate.  Keep an extension cord with it as well.

* 1 Small Port-a-Potty (opt)

* A Draw-Stringed bag with wood blocks for leveling

* Bedding & Pillows (we made a ‘sheet-sack’ which is 2 king-sized flat sheets sewn together at the bottom and the sides up 1/3 of the way.  This keeps our sleeping bag clean and can be used inside of or on top of the sleeping bag.  Inside the bag it helps the sheets not be a hot mess.)

* Emergency road assistance kit

Then there are 3 large plastic bins all well labeled:

*If you have a trailer with storage, then these things can be put into the appropriate drawers, cabinets and shelves.  Just make sure that they all lined with a towel or rubber so that things in place during travel.

B). Bin #1: ‘LIGHT & FIRE’ This container is for everything that involves …..well…light or fire….

  • Small propane bottles
  • Bag of Matches incl waterproof
  • Lantern & mantles / batteries
  • Long lighter (for the fire pit)
  • Baggie of various sizes batteries
  • Several long extension cords and a power strip
  • 2 flashlights – 1 large & 1 small
  • A small firewood axe
  • A clamping shop light with a bug repellant light bulb: (We got this idea from a guy at a KOA in South Carolina.  It illuminates the whole picnic tent from where it’s clamped up in a corner of the tent. It repels bugs and is CHEAP.  There’s where Walmart is great…I got one for $10)

C). Bin #2: ‘THE KITCHEN SINK’ This bin contains everything you need to clean up with.  I don’t bring any liquids except dishwashing / hand sanitizer:

  • Dish Rack (mine is from Cabelas, is collapsible and awesome)
  • Baggie full of Handi-wipes
  • Baggie with washcloths
  • Tiny (fit-in-your-hand) broom & dust pan
  • Baggie with bottle of dishwashing liquid
  • Baggie with sponges, S-O-S pads and a scrubby
  • 1 clothesline rope
  • Baggie with towels
  • Dry cleanser in a Baggie
  • Baggie with pump bottle of hand-sanitizer
  • Baggie of dry laundry soap or Tide ‘Pods’ & dryer sheets

D). Bin #3: ‘COOKING AND MISC’ Which includes pretty much everything else

  •  flat griddle pan
  •  saucepan
  •  skillet
  •  spatula & Tongs

(I use all cast iron pots & pans.  They are a little more work to keep clean, as I scrub all the rust off each time we get ready to go, but they can take the open flame.  I also wrap each in a small trash can liner to avoid mess)

  • Set of 4 Plates
  • Set of 4 Silverware
  • 2 coffee Mugs (we use ours for hot Tang, cocoa and hot tea)
  • 2-4 telescoping forks for hot dogs and marshmallows
  • Container (NOT a ziplock) with 2 cutting knives: 1 large & 1 small
  • Bag of large black trash bags
  • Bag of small trash bags
  • Large zipper bag with lots of other zipper bags (you know it!)
  • Small container of spices
  • Plastic table cloth & wind clips

These 3 Big Bins carry most of the necessities and can be loaded into the back of your vehicle or in the trailer itself.  If you have a small lightweight trailer, it’s good to put some weight in it because road travel will beat it to death. We noticed this on our first trip through the Deep South as we watched our ‘Little Guy’ dance in the rear-view mirror……..

There are also a few other smaller containers that I keep stocked in the trailer:

E). ‘THE FIRST AID STATION’ This one is probably obvious

  • Bandages in Various sizes
  • Antiseptic Cream for cuts
  • Bug Bite Cream
  • Splinter / Tick removal kit
  • Anti-Itch Cream for bites or allergic reactions
  • Bug Spray

F). ‘MISC BOX’ This is my junk-drawer box of whatever doesn’t go anywhere else and lives in the trailer’s storage area

  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver with reversible (flat & phillips) bit
  • Level
  • Duct Tape
  • Vinyl Repair Kit
  • Can of ‘Flex-Shot’
  • Small travel sewing kit
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil, pen & small notebook

2).THE VEHICLE’S STUFF: The following are some things that stay put in the truck and are accessible while driving.  The bins and loose things listed above are either in the truck bed or trunk.  These things are in addition to Eddie’s & my personal bags that are stored in the backseat (See PACKING THE PERSONALS):

A). THE RECTANGLE TOTE:  This is the ‘Utility Tote Bag’ from the Thirty-One Bag Company, but any bag that fits (I put mine vertically) on the backseat (between my 3 personal bags and Eddie’s 3 personal bags) will do.  I like the stiff sides so that it doesn’t all collapse when I need to get into it.  If you are in a 2-seater truck, you will need to be really creative with your ‘on-the-road storage!  In my tote you will find:

  •  Bag with all my paperwork, books, and magazines
  •  Bag with healthy snacks
  •  Water jug for refilling
  •  Water bottle for each of us (ours are metal which stays cold all day,           doesn’t get broken when dropped and has a lift up straw so we can drink and drive!)
  • Bag with CDs and things to listen to
  • Roll of Paper Towels

I like having everything that we keep in the truck organized and travel proof.  Otherwise, the whole vehicle is a hot mess and I can’t find anything, which violates my ‘what I need to really enjoy my trip’ list.


B). THE LUNCHBOX:   We have a small insulated lunchbox that plugs into the cigarette lighter to keep cool.  You can also just get a regular small insulated tote. I usually pack lunch first thing in the morning complete with napkins, plates, plastic silverware etc…which provides everything that I’ll need for lunch without having to get into the coolers or the trailer.  If you don’t have one that plugs in, you can purchase mini ‘instant cold’ packets that you break to activate and throw one in each day.  They can be found at the local sporting goods store with the first aid items.

And there you have the list of items that we pack in our trailer and truck.  Here’s the list for you to print off and take to the store: PACKING IT UP

Happy Packing!!



6 Comments on “PACKING & PREPARATION: Packing The Vehicles

  1. Hey Jan, I am having so much fun reading your blog! Nice to have you back in my life again.
    Hugs, Laura Peirce Bahl

    • Hey You! Im so excited that you are reading my blogs! I LOVE to have you back in my life as well! Let’s catch up soon!

  2. I am so proud of you! You have seriously found your ‘nitch’!
    Run with it because you have something for everyone.

      • I still Love reading your blogs. Your doing great. We have a “new to us” motor home (it is great, big, but great). It even has a DISH WASHER and GARBAGE Disposal! I feel very decadent!! The home is actually 20 years old but only had just under 30,000 miles on it and has my child hood name painted on the back (Margie May). Looking forward to camping with you guys soon!

  3. Pingback: 1). QUICK BREAKFASTS ON THE GO - Road Trips and Tiny Trailers

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