Tips for Road Tripping in a Small Vehicle

If you’re preparing for a road trip and drive a small car, then you’re most likely well aware of how difficult it is to prepare your vehicle. Rest assured though, it’s totally possible to embark on an exciting journey with a compact vehicle. Here are a few tips and tricks when preparing for road tripping in a small vehicle.

Road Tripping in a Small Vehicle

How to Prepare for Road Tripping in a Small Vehicle

What to Pack for Your Trip and How to Pack It

Loading up your car for road tripping in a small vehicle isn’t like preparing for a flight or train ride; therefore, you’re allowed some leeway in terms of what you can and can’t bring. However, stuffing your car with half of your house can result in weighing down the vehicle and poor gas mileage.

Start by packing for emergencies. This is especially important when traveling cross-country. Some items that you should consider include:

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Motor oil
  • Tire pressure gage
  • Duct tape
  • Rags
  • Funnel
  • Gloves
  • Jumper cables or a portable power source in case there are no cars when you need a jump
  • Small first-aid kit

Try stowing as many items above where it won’t take up a lot of room like the glove compartment, under the seat, or under the trunk floor where your spare may be.

road tripping in a small vehicle

1. Clothing and Toiletries

If you can help it, avoid packing your clothing in large, boxy suitcases. Softer items like a duffel bag will not only free up lots of room in your trunk, but it won’t weigh as much as a suitcase. When packing your bag of clothes and toiletries, remember to limit the number of clothes you bring. No need to bring three pairs of pants when you can wash them at the hotel or local laundromat. As for toiletries, opt for travel size options. Make sure that bag is one of the last things that go into your trunk to eliminate you scrounging around for it when you reach a rest stop or an accommodation.

2. Space for Trash

Inside the car, things should be kept neat and tidy. The less cluttered the car is, the more organized and stress-free road tripping in a small vehicle will be. Wet wipes, paper towels, and trash bags are a must, as messes are naturally part of a trip. An easy way to store trash is by looping a plastic bag around the gear shifter, keeping it off the floor and preventing it from spilling. Remember, you’re going to be spending a considerable amount of time in your car, so prepare for messes to happen as well. Here are many more car trash hacks to consider as well.

3. Phone Chargers and Cords

Keep your phone chargers, portable power banks, and GPS devices up in the front for easy access and be sure to charge everything before leaving. If your car has charging ports already, this makes it much easier to stay organized.

4. Food and Entertainment

Food and entertainment are both easy to overpack, so consider where you’re going and how long you’ll be on the road before ransacking your local grocery store for snacks. Keep a cooler in the back full of drinks and snacks. It’s important to note that the only kind of food that you’ll find readily available on the road are gas station snacks and fast food, so keep some healthy snacks on hand.

What To Leave Behind On Your Road Trip

Road Tripping in Small Vehicle

Everyone is guilty of packing an item whose only purpose is to weigh down your car. Your trip will be a lot better if you leave these items at home. A lot, if not all, of the items below, are usually packed “just in case.”

1. Extra Outfits

Generally-speaking, traveling means that you’re going to be doing a lot of outfit repeating. Especially if you are road tripping in a small vehicle. If you’re planning on hitting a night out on the town, bring clothes that are versatile enough that can also be worn on other occasions throughout the trip. Also, limit yourself to one outfit.

2. An abundance of Food Items

It’s tempting, but you are likely to eat-out at renown restaurants, so just bring enough food to hold you over until the next destination. Unless you’re expecting the apocalypse to arrive during you’re trip, you can leave your non-perishables in your bunker.

3. Books You Never Get Around to Reading

If you didn’t begin reading the book you’ve been meaning to get around to before the trip, it is highly unlikely you will on the trip. Even if you do, opt for the audio version of the book to save space. Audiobooks also allow you to bring multiple books without the clutter.

Make sure you download all of your audiobooks, podcasts, and music beforehand, as streaming can eat up an absurd amount of data and a steady cell signal isn’t guaranteed at every twist and turn of your trip.

4. Clunky Electronics

Basically, the laptop. If you are working along the way, you won’t be able to avoid bringing it along. But if you have the option, leave it at home. If you’re truly enjoying your time, it is likely the laptop will go untouched. Also, if you pack the laptop, usually there are additional items to follow. Each item, no matter its size, adds to the load of the car. You’re already road tripping in a small car, don’t cramp yourself more than you have to!

About Haley Kieser

My name is Haley and I am originally from Arizona. I have lived also lived in Minnesota and South Dakota. Among my favorites are being outdoors, traveling, Arizona sunsets, Midwest greenery, craft beer, and the Green Bay Packers.

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