Pack a (Small) Bag and Hit the Road

Road trips are the best. A couple of days of freedom to do whatever, be whatever, see whatever. The feeling of freedom out on the open road is like no other. Freedom…that perfectly describes the feeling.

Packing a small bag to take with you adds to that amazing free feeling. It is exhilarating to have one small bag and nothing else to hold you down.

Have you heard the saying “Less is More?” Well, it’s true.

So, how do you pack small for a trip?

It’s easy. Anyone can do it!


Get creative and choose your clothes wisely. Mixing and matching your clothing is key to packing lightly since they typically take up the majority of room.

Underwear / Socks/ Bras – Always pack 2 or 3 extra pair of underwear and socks to take on your trip. And if you’re a female, pack 1 extra bra. They are small and easy to fit. If you decide to stay on your trip an extra few days, you will be covered.

Shoes – Shoes can take up a lot of room so I suggest being cautious with how many you pack. They are really bulky. Depending on the type of trip you’re taking try to limit yourself to 1 or 2 pairs total. 1 pair to wear in the car or on the plane and 1 pair packed in your bag.

Bottoms – Bottoms are also really bulky. I also suggest only 1 or 2 pairs of bottoms total. For example, if you plan to wear pants on your trip the whole time, pick out 1 or 2 pairs that have a classic style that you can wear with a lot of different types of shirts. 1 pair to wear in the car or on the plane and 1 pair packed in your bag.

Tops – You can go a little crazy with tops since these are the main items that will make your outfits look unique each day. For a typical 2-3 day road trip, you can pack 5-6 shirts (as long as they’re not too bulky). Make sure each one goes with the bottoms and shoes you picked out.

Sleepwear – Let’s be real. Packing only 1 sleepwear item is fine for a typical 2-3 day road trip. If you don’t wear sleepwear (we all know what this means), even better! Don’t pack anything in this category!


Makeup – If you wear makeup you can really trim down on the items you bring with you on your trip by trimming down on this category. I bet most people who wear makeup have quite a few more makeup items than they actually wear each day. I know I do! Choose only the items you know you’ll wear and bring those. When I go away on a typical 2-3 day trip I usually bring face powder, a brush to apply it, mascara, and sometimes eyeshadow. That’s it.

Bathroom Stuff – Before you start packing bathroom stuff, find out what your destination has available for free (if anything). A lot of hotels offer free shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap, towels, and hair dryers. If you plan to stay with family and friends, I bet they offer the same stuff for free too, just ask them ahead of time. If this is the case, all you need to bring is your toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, and a hair brush or comb. You’re good to go!

Other Stuff

I understand there may be a few other items that you want to bring but don’t actually need. Hey, we are all human.

One item that I hate to go without is my pillow. I normally bring my own pillow on trips. It just helps me sleep more comfortably. A comfortable sleep is worth a lot.

Another item that I like to bring along is a small hand towel. When I’m removing my makeup at the end of the day, I don’t want to get anyone else’s towel messy in case my makeup gets all over it. Totally worth it.

Water. This is important. Always carry a bottle of water with you. You never know when your car could break down!

And of course I bring my purse. I tend to have a few extra items in there just in case such as a nail clipper, nail filer, tissues, a few snacks, pad of paper, pen, etc.

My husband, who is the boy scout type, also packs a few safety items just in case. He carries a few tools in case the car breaks down, a pocket knife, and other items I don’t understand.

Pack Freely

Next time you go on a trip, give it a try. Pack a small bag using these guidelines and see how it feels. I bet once you get on the road you’ll enjoy the feeling of freedom. If you find yourself saying “Oh man I wish I brought X or Y” I urge you to pay attention to whether or not you really need that item. Can you figure out a solution that works just fine for the purpose you would have used X or Y? If yes, great! If no, make a note for your next trip.

Think packing this small is crazy? Check out this article from CNNMoney about a guy who has visited every country in the world…sometimes packing close to nothing and traveling on a shoestring budget.

Packing small is a wonderful feeling. Give it a try!

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