There are many reasons you may choose to travel in a small car, such as the fact that it’s lighter on gas, more maneuverable and easier to maintain. What you need to pack will depend on what you want to do and where you’re going. However, here are some tips that will help to eliminate stuff you don’t really need to take. 


Begin a packing list with the clothes you will need. This may include items such as underwear and socks, t-shirts, a pair or two of shorts and long pants, a fleece pullover, windbreaker or raincoat, gloves, hiking boots, sandals, and a hat. It helps to save space if each person’s clothing is packed in a duffle bag as these are easier to stack and squeeze into a tight space. 

Make sure to take weather into account—if it’s often rainy, keep waterproof items in the car and you may need light layers in case it gets colder. If you’re stopping overnight, you will need to pack one bag with sleep essentials and clothes for the next day. 

If you really don’t have enough space in your car, think about renting, borrowing or buying a cargo carrier. It’s a great option for adventurers who need more room for gear like backpacks, tents etc. 

Food and drink

Keep items like travel mugs, cutlery and whatever else you may need for a roadside picnic in a duffle bag. It’s helpful to have a cooler with drinks – especially if there are any delays due to heavy traffic or breakdowns. 

Each person in the family can have a small bag filled with easily-accessible snacks and activities near to them. It’s cheaper to bring snacks from home and you can include healthy options such as seeds, nuts and protein bars. You can even mix up items to create your own trail mix and put it in ziplock bags


Items such as toys, books and games help to prevent boredom on the trip. Get your kids to make their own lists. You don’t have to take all the items they suggest. The list could include items like journals and colored pencils, card games, electronics etc. Tablet devices can keep kids busy for hours. 

Another idea is to create an updated playlist with music for the whole family to enjoy. Avoid anything too soft or repetitive as this could make the driver sleepy. 

Remember to take a camera and binoculars in the car – you don’t know what sites you will see en route. 

First aid kit

A first aid kit should contain items like bandages, scissors, plasters, pain relief tablets and antiseptic cream. It is also important to take along insect repellant and sun cream. Pack in biodegradable wet wipes for easy clean-up. 

Emergency car repair supplies

A car repair kit may contain items such as miscellaneous tools, motor oil, washer fluid, anti-freeze, and a small air compressor. Make sure your spare tire is inflated, you have a jack on hand and that you take along a breakdown rescue number. 


A GPS unit will help you to navigate in an unfamiliar place. You can’t always count on using your phone with Google Maps because you may not always have service. Since electronics can fail, it’s worth bringing along a paper map too.


Make sure you take along a portable charger for all of your devices that connect with a USB. 

Important documents

When you’re going on a road trip, you don’t want to forget your license or registration papers behind. Do a quick check to make sure you have them with you.