How to Pack Your Small Car for a Road Trip

It’s easier than you think!





This last summer, my friends and I all took a week off work to drive down to California and well… DO WHAT THE CALIFORNIANS DO! Isn’t it sad to say that I’ve lived in Oregon (the state RIGHT ABOVE Cali) my entire life and I’ve never seen California? IT IS REALLY SAD let me tell you. So planning this trip and actually making it happen was such a fun experience!

The two weeks following up to the trip though were super crucial in figuring out who’s car to take and why. We had to consider gas mileage, how much space we have in the car, how much we can fit into the car, if it had a good working radio, an AUX CORD (Probably the most important thing for us 20 year olds) and the car amenities like how many cupholders it has, the side door storage space, the trunk space, working A/C and heater, etc.

What we ended up taking was my friend’s 2014 Chevy Sonic. For being a newer car, everything was in excellent working condition and was ultimately our most reliable option to travel 1900 miles. The only thing was probably the size. It’s about the size of your average Honda civic so we definitely considered our comfortability with the car.


When our friends picked up my boyfriend and I in Salem we started packing that car with the best essentials we can think of! The trunk of the car held all of our duffle bags and a cooler to keep snacks cold. From there we packed the actual room of the car with things we need for it’s convenience unlike the trunk. These were, the middle seat in between the two people in the back, the car door storage space, the pockets behind the seats, the rear deck, the floors, and the glove box.

Here is a list:

  • Snacks (See seperate list below)
  • Personal books to read
  • Baby wipes
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • A Paper towel roll
  • a plastic bag to keep trash in
  • Phone Chargers (luckily she had a usb port and a car port to charge 2 phones at a time!)
  • Adult Coloring Book (can buy at any grocery store)
  • Pencil pouch (It was big enough to carry pencils, pens, coloring pencils and markers)
  • Small thin blanket (Each person brought their own)
  • pillow (Each person brought their own)
  • headphones
  • bug spray
  • hand sanitizers
  • GPS (incase your phone doesn’t have Wifi)
  • Waterbottles (hydroflasks are perfect)
  • Deck of cards
  • A tote to hold dry snacks in
  • Cooler in the trunk to keep cold snacks in

The cooler in the trunk held cold snacks while the tote in the backseat carried our dry snacks. The tote I used was one from Target I bought to keep my bathing suits in. It’s small square, and did the job just fine. It was able to hold a couple bags of chips, the coloring book and the pencil pouch. From time to time I would throw my phone in there.


Here is a list of snacks to bring for your trip!

  • Berries (any kind that comes in a sturdy container)
  • Pretzels
  • Hummus
  • Chips
  • Popcorn
  • Lunchables (our favorite for those long drives)
  • Granola Bars
  • Trail mix
  • Bagels w/ cream cheese

Utilizing the space of your vehicle is crucial for road trips. You don’t have to go out and buy specific organizing pockets to fit more stuff at all. The more room you have in the end leads to a more comfortable car ride especially when its 10+ hours long! Don’t lead your trip to a bad experience just because you didn’t have enough leg space! It’s all about the memories and the crazy stories you’ll have to tell when you get back.


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