Packing For Road Trips

Flying First? Our Advice... Pack Light

We love to travel, and 2020 was supposed to be a big travel year for us. Like the rest of you, that didn't happen. 2021 hasn't been so good either!

We're still dreaming about travel, reading about new destinations, and making (tentative) plans for the future. We hope all of you are well and staying safe... and that you find some inspiration here for YOUR future travels.

Let's hope we can all be traveling again in 2022! 

"Are there special tips packing for road trips in foreign countries?
It sounds like you take road trips all over the world.
We're thinking of driving in France.” - Susan

Packing for road trips...

That's something that most American families are familiar with...

In our travels, we're found that where people can afford a car, family road trips are pretty popular no matter what continent you're on.

But wait...

Susan asked us about taking a driving vacation in a foreign country...

So remember, we're talking about flying to your destination then renting a car.

Summer Vacation -- School Breaks!

Small rental cars have small trunks

When we were kids, summer vacation and school breaks meant a road trip somewhere.  Mom used to pack everything along.

Now You Need To Pack Light

The main difference in packing for a driving trip in a foreign country is... You have to pack as light as you would for any trip abroad.

You really can't include the kitchen sink as part of your luggage if you're flying there.

(For our international readers, that's one of those weird American phrases... as in "My sister packs so much she even takes the kitchen sink.")

Packing For Road Trips

We won't include a road trip packing list here...because...

You can find all of our packing lists in the "Navigate Our Site" box in the right column. See Lists at bottom--->

You're going to pack the same way you would pack for any other foreign trip... pack light...

Choose from lists for cold weather or warm weather or somewhere in between.

There are pages with tips about what you can take on the plane there too.

What we wanted to stress here is that if you're flying to the area you will be touring, packing for road trips really isn't different from packing for any other trip be it domestic or international.

Cars May Be Smaller

When we rent a car, we usually try to get the smallest car that we can for several reasons....

In most places in the world, gasoline costs way more than it does in the USA.... and it's even reaching all time highs here.

Smaller cars are generally better on gas usage.

They're easier to get through narrow village streets...

And they're easier to park.

The Car Trunk May Be Smaller Too!

Packing for road trips- your luggage needs to fit in the car!

Those smaller cars come with smaller trunks though... remember that for your road trip packing.

You need to be able to fit your luggage and those larger "personal items" like a travel purse in the car.

My "travel purse" is more than just the little bag I sling over my shoulder.

That's usually pretty easy when it's just the two of us...

...though even then, sometimes getting the luggage in is like putting a puzzle together.

When we travel with friends, we get a slightly bigger car... but then we're trying to fit four carry-on suitcases into the trunk or boot if you prefer. (Just like in that photo at the top.)

We've had cars where getting the luggage in was a challenge.... and they only fit if we loaded them the same way every time.

Shopping On Road Trips Is Fun

Driving into El Jem Tunisia
local help parking El Jem Tunisia

When we're giving you packing advice we always tell you to pack light because if you forget something, you can always get it at your destination.... that goes when packing for road trips too.

Stopping to shop on a foreign road trip can give you just a little more insight into the country you're visiting.

Shop in local towns and villages like we did in Tunisia (with parking help from a local).

Or stop in shopping centers.

Does it surprise you that you can find shopping malls almost anywhere?

shopping on road trips at LeClercs in France

We've stopped at grocery stores to by a picnic lunch and hardware stores to pick up an extra electrical adaptor.

If we're on a long trip, we usually shop for toothpaste, shampoo and sunscreen... can't take too many liquids on the plane in your carry-on luggage!

Many gasoline stations around the world have great convenience stores where you can get most of what you'll need... from just snacks and water to wine for the evening or a good fresh sandwich for the road.

There's a lot of variability here... depends on what country and what continent you're driving on...

The point is, there are shopping options.

Pack Your Maps

If you've planned your road trip, you've probably got some maps that you want to take with you.

We make a general plan for our driving route, but then adapt it as we go... that kind of freedom is what makes a road trip fun.

And we like taking paper maps still, but that's your choice.

Road trip crossing border in to Bulgaria

Sometimes you can get by with the maps you bring from home, but there are times when it's a good idea to buy a map locally.

On our road trip through Romania and Bulgaria, we bought maps there. That was especially helpful in Bulgaria where the alphabet is Cyrillic.

The map we bought had city names in both Cyrillic and the Latin alphabets.

That certainly helped us reading road signs, though at important junctions, the road signs also listed both... that was a relief!

Packing for Road Trips
          Pack As You Would For Any Trip

The bottom line here is, you have to pack for your flight and pack for the weather conditions you will be heading to.

Beyond the maps, and maybe an extra set of eye glasses (which are legally required in some countries) there really isn't anything special you need to do differently when packing for road trips...

You can find anything you need on the road... and have fun finding it!

Happy travels... even if you don't travel the world... just remember that life is a journey... embrace and enjoy it! Judy and Mark

Curious about what else we've written about?  Search our site for a destination or travel tip.

But... We'd love to have you share this page or comment on it…
Thanks, Judy and Mark

Go to International Travel Tips l Europe Travel Tips
Hotel and B&B Tips l Packing Lists and Tips
Go from Packing for Road Trips to MouseToursTravels Home Page

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Did it help with your travel planning and preparation? Eager to leave on that next vacation? Please leave your tips or comments in the box below.

Timely Tips

Shoulder Season
We love travel during shoulder seasons.
September, October, November...
Well, usually we do, but COVID is still making things a little harder.

Even so...
They're all great for travel somewhere!
Sunny Fall days with colorful leaves in the north.
Spring is greening things up in the Southern Hemisphere.

Fall foliage in shoulder season

The weather can be changeable, so be sure to pack layers and some rain gear...

See all of our Packing Lists and Tips.

We have had a summer of home maintenance and sheltering in place... we're so dreaming of future travel!

Need Travel Ideas?
Things to See in Europe
Africa Calls!
Travel In America

Don't just dream about it...
Start making plans!

Custom Tour Planning List
International Travel Planning Tips
Foreign Is Fun - Not Scary!
Get Your Passports and Visas


Search MouseToursTravels
Travel questions or destination info?
Find our answers faster..


We want you to feel comfortable out in the world and on our pages - so surf away in your own language...

Updated Tips & New Travel Stories

  1. 2020 Travels - What Travels?

    Our 2020 travels were slim. COVID kept us home too. One trip to the Three Guyanas, but dreaming of travel next year.

    Read More

  2. Discovering The Three Guyanas

    Love discovering less touristed regions? The three Guyanas are tucked up in the north east corner of South America that doesn’t get much attention.

    Read More

  3. 2019 Travels - Africa, Asia, Europe and USA

    On our 2019 travels, it was independent travel, a custom tour and a group tour. All work beautifully... just depends on where you’re going and what you want.

    Read More

Two Ways To Like Us!

Like Our Site Top Left
Like Our Fanpage Below
Thank You!

Navigate Our Site

Related Pages
Packing Tips

Packing Basics

Carry-on-Packing Tips
What Is Carry-On Size?
What Do Airlines Call A Personal Item
What We Recommend... Travel Light!
Packing Right
Why Put Identity Tags On Luggage?
Tips to Prevent Lost Luggage
Packing For Road Trips

Packing Lists

Basic Packing List
Tropical Vacation Packing List
Cold Weather Packing List
Mixed Weather Packing List


Packing Methods: Fold or Roll It?
Travel Luggage Recommendations
Travel Luggage Options

Packing for Airport Security

Security Packing Tips
Travel Security Alert Packing Guide
How to Pack That Plastic Bag?
Requirements for That Plastic Bag?
Packing Cosmetics for Today's Security


Electricity Worldwide - What To Know
Dual Voltage Appliances
Adaptors and Converters
Electronics for Travel - IF You Use It
Keep In Touch - Not Just Postcards!
GPS Satellite Messenger - Let Friends Know Where You Are

Packing Medication

Packing Medications
Pack Enough Medication
How To Pack Pills

Navigate Our Site

Related Pages
Foreign Rental Car Tips


Road Trip Ideas
Packing for roadtrips

General Information
Worldwide Roadtrips
Foreign Rental Cars
Driving In Foreign Places
Driving On the Left
Toll Roads
What Is A Highway
US Highways
Highways or Backroads
Reading Roadmaps

Know The Rules
International Roadsigns
Traffic Laws Abroad
Autobahn Etiquette
Parking In Cities

RV Stuff

RV Road Trip
Rent An RV
Traveling With An RV
RV Travel In Europe
Sharing An RV

And Just For Fun

Amusing Confusing Roadsigns
Funny Polish Detour Sign
Border Crossings
Document Rental Car Damage

Ready For A New Adventure?

We escape by traveling…
But there are more ways to escape. 
Work on something you LOVE…
With A Website
SBI Teaches You Everything

First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life