Jul 20, 20182349 views

Travel Lessons: From the Road

Gear Packing
Over the years, I've logged a lot of miles on the road- in search of, or on the way to my next adventure. Most of my travel occurs in a mid to small sized car-where space maximization and efficient packing are one of the many pieces to pulling off an enjoyable road trip to your next outdoor activity. 
When travel involves packing specialized outdoor gear, planning for extended stays in the backcountry and traveling into remote areas, the task becomes a bit more tedious and daunting than the typical weekend front-country camping trip.  Over the years, trial and error has allowed me to learn that certain things to be more useful for me to think about as I plan to embark on the next adventure on the road.
What I have found to be extremely useful and has enabled me to both pack efficiently and to not forget anything critical,  is to have a predetermined packing checklist (printed out/online/written/on your compute) with all of the standard items needed for a 2-3 day trip. Before I leave on my trip, I know if I bring everything on the basic checklist, I’ll be able to at least get by.  
Of course, if your trip is longer than 3 days, and depending on weather and other conditions, there may be items that you might want to add or subtract from the list. For a standard weekend road-trip these are the basics that I like to pack.  Something to note is that my backcountry packing list is much different, since weight would be a factor in what I packed.  All that being said, and keeping in mind that these are just my own general guidelines, this is my general list for car-camping/camping near the car:
  • Toiletries (i.e toothbrush, sunscreen, deodorant, etc.)
  • Toilet Kit (Hand Sanitizer, Toilet Paper, Trowel)  Note: I bring a roll of toilet paper for most trips, because bathroom facilities are not always stocked.  If doing your business in nature, make sure to follow LNT principles!
  • 2-5-Gallons of Water (depending on group size and duration of trip/availability to refill).
  • Flat Repair Kit , Jumper Cables, Basic First Aid Kit, Flashlight, phone charging device.
  • Tent or Hammock, Sleeping bag, sleeping pad and inflatable pillow
  • Kitchen Set Up - I keep mine in a Rubbermaid bucket with a lid. (Utensils, plates, trashbags, lighter, coffee press, fuel, stove, etc.)
  • Fire Kit (lighter, fire kindling/starter blocks, wood (as needed)).
  • As needed: Roll Table, Chair(s), tarp, other comfort items as space allows.
  • Relevant Outdoor Gear (Hiking, Biking, Climbing, Kayaking, etc.)
Meals:  If possible, I usually pre-cook any perishable items and try (as time allows) to plan and prepare each meal in advance.  Annies Mac & Cheese with bell peppers/onions/other veggies and sausage is one of my go-to’s, pre-made salads in a bag are also an easy side/meal.  Oatmeal with dried fruit is a good breakfast option with minimal prep and no refrigeration. For lunches, trail mix, cheese, crackers and summer sausage are easy, or if I bring a cooler, I like to do wraps or sandwiches (choose your fillings).
Favorite Gear:
Alps Mountaineering Camp Table 28X28X27
MountainSmith Ridgeback Camp Chair
Water-Proof Outdoor Blanket
Mountainsmith Mountain Shade/Rain Tarp
Tent: MSR Freelite 2
Big Agness Bootjack 25 Sleeping Bag
Favorite Apps:
Free Campsites: A great resource for checking out where to camp for free, or a quick spot to rest your head to break up a long drive. It is important to read the descriptions of the sites and check satellite imagery as some of the spots are just pull-offs or truck stops vs. nice camping spots. That being said, some of the best campsites I've stopped at have been found on this app.
Google Maps (offline maps): You can cache maps in google before going offline, the best part is that it is free, unlike similar apps that allow you to access maps while still tracking your location on gps. If you are not familiar with how to do this, check out this tutorial: https://lifehacker.com/setsession?r=https%3A%2F%2Flifehacker.com%2Fhow-to-cache-offline-maps-in-the-new-google-maps-for-an-729295083&sessionId=ff7d676d-4bdc-4f53-b001-00df7eba4679
Tricks & Tips for Space Saving on Road Trips with Limited Space:
Netting for Gear Storage: If you don’t have a van or a big truck, storing all of your outdoor gear neatly in your vehicle can be a challenge.  To remedy this, I went to a fabric store and purchased netting by the yard and used zip ties and hooks to secure the netting to hang and hold gear out of place.
Organize before you go: A day or so before I take off, I like to lay out all of my items to make sure I am not overpacking, and to give at least a day of buffer to think about items that I may have forgotten.  I try to organize items by what I will need first; packing the items I don’t need right away in less accessible parts of my vehicle, such as on my roof-rack storage or underneath seats.

What are your tips and tricks learned from the road?
Figuring out the best methods for packing for road trips and other types of travel is something that is learned over years, and through trial and error.  This list of tips is just a few of my favorites I have learned over the years. What are yours?
gwgrubb, ltopper, and 10 others

I can carry all that stuff on my gravel bike!
I like to bring some things that I leave in the car to keep it relatively clean after returning from the trail: a change of shoes, a bag for dirty shoes, a washcloth for a sponge bath and a towel to put on the seat.
That is a great point! I also do that - but it has become such a common thing I do, I totally forgot to mention that in the post. Thanks for sharing!
Awesome tips! When I road trip, I'm usually gone for 2 weeks at a time. I pack a fire extinguisher if I'm car camping. On one trip I ran into a semi that had its brakes overheated and caught fire. All I had was bottles of water. I was the first to pull over and I did what I could to help. Once people saw me, others pulled over and they all had fire extinguishers. From then on, I pack one on my trips. It's part of my essentials now just like my portable 12v air compressor, jumper cables, and flat tire repair kit are.
That is a great tip! I just published a post about basic car safety. The fire extinguisher is going to be added to my own kit. Thanks for sharing Jon!
For breakfast, I usually pack cans of coconut milk (yes, the same you use in curry; not the beverage kind) and granola + Reeces puffs. It makes for a great light breakfast and stores well. You can forgo the Reeces for space or swap out for dried fruit bits.
Yum! What a great idea.
Great article! Thanks for posting!
Thanks for reading! :)