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Our Road Trip Essentials + Packing List!

Sep 1, 2020

Our Road Trip Essentials

We’re officially off today–Oregon bound! We’ve been talking about this road trip for what feels like FOREVER and we’re so excited it’s finally here! We’ll be driving the 30+ hour trip, camping along the way in South Dakota and Wyoming to reach my family in Oregon. It’s been nearly a year since we saw my mom, dad, sister, niece and nephews. (We typically plan a summer trip but obviously due to COVID that didn’t happen!)  I’m really excited to finally get to see them and also for our adventure along the way! (On that note, you could consider this a “sign off” of sorts, as I probably won’t be posting much between now and when we get back on September 15th as I’m trying to be as present as possible during that time, but don’t worry, there will be lots of action happening over on Instagram!)  

I’ve honestly never been on a road trip before (I think the longest I’ve ever driven in a car at one time is 8 hours), so I’m also slightly nervous for spending this much time in the car. ????But we’re definitely going in prepared, so I feel good about it!

Our Road Trip Essentials + Packing List!

Many of you have DMed me saying you are also preparing for road trips, so I thought it would be helpful to share what we’re packing to make the driving portion as easy as possible! (Note, if you need help with the camping portion, I updated my camping packing list blog post right over here to include most of the essentials we packed for this trip!) 

Our Itinerary: Chicago to the Badlands to the Black Hills to the Tetons

I will definitely do a big trip recap once we get home, but here’s a snapshot of our itinerary! 

Day #1: 

We’re leaving TODAY and will drive the first leg from Chicago to Sioux Falls, SD. I’m packing us a picnic lunch and we’re planning to stop and do a little hike halfway through when we get to Great River Bluffs State Park to break up the drive. 

Day #2 and #3: 

Arrive in the Badlands, where we’ll be camping for two nights. More on that later! 

Day #3 and #4: 

Drive to the Black Hills and Custer State Park. We’ll be glamping here (and have access to a real bed and real shower, haha!) I’ll be sharing more on where we’re staying, etc, after our trip! 

Day #4 and #5: 

Drive from South Dakota to Teton National Park, camping at one of the campsites there! (They are all first come first serve, so not sure which one yet!) 

Day #6+: 

Driving from the Tetons to meet up with my family in Oregon, stay with my mom for two days, and then we rented a lake house altogether with my sister and my dad for the next 5 days. (We’re renting the lake house my family used to own when I was growing up–we found it on VRBO! So amazing!)

Road trip snacks and meal ideas: 

Naturally, when it comes to the “road trip” part, I am most excited for the food–always. I tried to pack for most of our meals ahead of time because A. One gets sick of fast food REAL quick and B. I’ve heard neighboring states are VERY lax on their mask regulations, so we will be avoiding public places as much as possible. 

For road trip lunches: 

Ham on baguette: 

I love a good French ham sandwich, and it makes a great road trip sandwich because it travels well. If you want to whip up some make-ahead sandwiches, a bread like baguette (or anything that’s a bit sturdier) is a good choice vs. some sandwich breads that get soggy easily.

Get good quality ham, spread both sizes of bread with good quality salted butter, and layer on some good cheese like Gruyere and you’ve got an easy, mess-free sandwich! Planning to make these for our picnic lunch today and serve along with chips and fruit. 

Asian chicken slaw: 

I’m planning to make this slaw from What’s Gabby Cooking for lunch driving from Sioux Falls to the Badlands. I’m anticipating getting sick of sandwiches by the end of this trip so I wanted to throw in a salad of some kind so we didn’t burn out on sandwiches TOO quickly! 

If you’re feeling the same and want to pack some salads, choose hardier veggies–like cabbage, chopped broccoli, carrots, etc over regular lettuce, because they stand up well and you can make the mix ahead of time and it will last you several days! Just make the dressing on the side and store any meat/protein you plan to use separately, and assemble that day before you get on the road! 

Chicken salad with crackers: 

Whatever your favorite chicken salad recipe is–make that, and stash it in a container in your cooler. It’s super easy to pull out and scoop it up to eat with crackers on the go! Make it a meal with some fruit, like grapes or apple slices on the side, along with chips or nuts! 

White bean salad: 

Remember this white bean salad? This is TOTALLY road trip friendly because it doesn’t really require much refrigeration. (Granted if you won’t be eating it same day, you’ll want to store it in the cooler!) 

Road trip snacks

Beef jerky:

Jerky is one of the few snacks that actually goes a long way in warding off my hunger like a meal would. Once my hangry levels have reached the point of no return, it’s one of the few things that can bring me back to life. (It’s also my #1 gas station buy ????) We’ll have a couple bags at arm’s reach this trip for sure! 

Skinny pop and chips: 

I love the little mini bags of cheddar Skinny Pop you can buy at the store, so I got some of those, and of course, any chips you love, too! 

Goldfish:

Self explanatory. Flavor blasted cheddar, obvi. 

Fresh fruit:

Apples and bananas travel super well all on their own, so they’re a go-to. Another favorite is to cube up a melon like canteloupe or watermelon and toss it in a container to bring along. It’ll keep for a few days (chilled) and so much more interesting and delicious to eat than bananas day after day! Great for breakfast, too! 

Road trip charcuterie snack box:

I love making little snacky trays to-go! Anything you’d usually put on a cheese board at home is fair game. I love to cubed or slice a couple kinds of cheese (string cheese works great because it’s so easy), toss it in a container with some salami, a pickled veggie (I love pickled green beans or asparagus), some grapes, some nuts. Pop the top off, grab some crackers, and you’ve got a whole meal! 

Chopped veggies and dip:

Assemble your favorite veggies in a to-go container–I love carrots, celery, broccoli, peppers, and snap peas. Dip them in your favorite dip like ranch or hummus (it’s easiest to pop some in a small container for the perfect serving–tip–make sure there’s lots of room at the top of the container, so you don’t risk any spillage). 

Other road trip essentials: 

Cooler: 

We got this large Coleman cooler (which we need for camping too, otherwise we probably wouldn’t need a cooler this big! But hey, it never hurts to have a lot of snack options, right?) It supposedly keeps things cold for five days! It’s also inexpensive if you don’t feel like shelling out for a Yeti! 

On the flipside, we also have a Yeti Backpack Cooler that we LOVE. It keeps things super cold for a long time and it’s really nice to be able to carry it as a backpack–no more struggling to lug around a super heavy, awkward cooler! (BTW this would make an awesome gift, too!) 

Hydroflask water bottle: 

I adore this water bottle so much! I have had one for years but got another with a sport top during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. (It’s sold out but you can find the same one on Amazon!) I take my hydroflask with me everywhere, especially on the road! It doesn’t fit in the cupholder which is a mild annoyance but since it’s spill-proof I just lay it down on the seat next to me and then it frees up room to use the cupholders for coffee, etc! 

A converter for the car: 

We got this big ole power converter for the car so we could easily plug in laptops, charge my camera, phones, etc. It plugs into your cigarette lighter! So awesome! 

Portable chargers/power bank: 

For times we aren’t in the car (i.e. camping) this is how we’ll charge our phones, smartwatches, etc. 

Podcasts + Audiobooks: 

We’re starting with Nice White Parents mini-series podcast (I’ve listened to it, it’s really thought-provoking–he hasn’t, so I’m re-listening) and Becoming by Michelle Obama (again, I’ve already listened/read it but I know he’ll like it too, and I don’t think I can ever get enough Michelle!) Another favorite podcast of ours is My Dad Wrote a Porno–get ready to nearly drive off the road laughing. For more podcast reccos, see this post for a whole bunch

SeaBands: 

Okay, listen up, fellow car sickies. These are going to CHANGE YOUR LIFE. They’re motion sickness bands that basically just apply pressure to an anti-nausea pressure point. They’re a game-changer. I get deathly carsick, and these have truly saved my life more times than I can count. 

Pillows: 

Nothing really to elaborate on here. ????

Comfortable clothes! 

This is another pretty obvious one, but comfort is king in 2020 and that is no exception when it comes to long drives! I plan to wear a lot of bike shorts with flowy linen tops to keep me comfy during the drive. For bike shorts, I will be bringing my Lululemon camo pair (runs small!) and my Alo pair (runs TTS!) For linen tops–you know, the same ones I always live in–the Outerknown button-up I have in two colors! 

I think that’s all for now! I hope this was helpful, and make sure to follow along on our trip with us over on Instagram

P.S. Want more camping tips? Head over to this post to read my camping novice guide! 

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