How I Survived a 7-Day Road Trip With One Tiny Suitcase

Rev the engine, hit the road… it always seems that high summer is peak road trip season. And with out-of-town adventures on the horizon, figuring out what to pack and throw in your trunk can be half the battle.

These days, as a New York resident, I don't have a car to call my own, but each summer I manage to catch a ride out of town with friends for a ride up the east coast. While packing into a car with the windows down and music up is as exciting as Crossroads makes it look, without learning to pare down the packing, the car might never make it out of Manhattan.

Packing for a road trip isn't the same as for a European getaway or a jaunt somewhere tropical. Road trips require a little more practicality—free space is limited, and lugging a bag into and out of the car begs for editing. Knowing that what you wear is comfortable for a few hours sitting shotgun is crucial, but you also want pieces that can survive a short hike or maybe even a nice dinner if you feel like dressing up.

Below, I'm highlighting the essentials I've learned to lug around when I'm headed on the highway. Armed with this packing list, you'll be ready for your next road trip, too.

Choose a soft-sided duffle instead of a hard suitcase to better fit in the trunk.

Keep your hands free with a backpack, but try a style that's made in a natural material for summer.

Pack one pretty top that won't wrinkle in your bag.

For summer travel, always bring along denim shorts—they go with everything and are guaranteed to be comfortable.

A sleeping mask will come in handy come nap time.

Make sure to pack something soft and easy to throw on for chilly evenings or anywhere with air conditioning.

Whether you're taking a hike or just hanging out, these leggings will keep you comfortable.

When things cool off in the evenings a rough-and-tumble jacket will come in handy.

Never underestimate the power of a classic striped tee.

A cotton dress can be as dressed up as you need it to be, but it will keep you cool. 

There are plenty of ways to wear a bandana, all of which will add a little something cool to your look.

Whether you're heading out on a quick hike or just running to the hotel for the night, sneakers are a must.

Opt for vintage-inspired sunglasses for a cool take on summer style.