How To Take The Perfect Road Trip (And What To Pack)

There’s no time like summer to embark on an epic road trip. Whether you’re gearing up for a cross-country adventure or venturing just outside your city lines, you’ll need to make sure you’re prepared. Lucky for us (and you), adventure enthusiast, author and Tomboy Style blogger Lizzie Garrett Mettler has spent plenty of time traveling and has learned a thing or two along the way. Take note of her pro tips, and you’ll be ready to put the pedal to the metal and take to the open road in no time. Safe travels!

P.S. Follow along as Lizzie takes over our Instagram for the day with even more adventure-laden pics.

What To Pack

"Tops by Armor Lux are the perfect weight to be worn as a sweater, a shirt, under a blazer or with a pair of shorts—they may just be the most versatile pieces in the world.

Ursa Major Essential Face Wipes are a no-brainer for any trip—these wipes freshen your face in the morning or after a long drive and also take off your makeup. They're the next best thing to a hot shower.

As multifunctional is the name of the game when it comes to road trips, Capelo's hand-woven wrap can be worn as a sarong; used as a table cloth, picnic blanket or beach throw; or even worn as an oversized scarf.

Road trips are a great time to pack a chic duffle bag that’s not on wheels because you can load it in the car and not worry about crazy TSA lines at the airport."

What To Pack, Continued

" D opp kits are great for the obvious uses of carrying toiletries and makeup, but they're also really great at keeping other things organized and having a dedicated zipped pouch for phone chargers, camera cords and anything electronic that you don’t want to lose forever to that crevasse behind the seatbelt.

The key to any journey is a phone-battery case because if you’re navigating from your phone, no battery may leave you up a creek without a paddle. Mophie makes many versions that extend the power of your phone by 100%.

Bandanas look chic when tied as a neckerchief but can also come in handy in unexpected ways—such as using one as an eye mask when you need to take a snooze while your partner is at the wheel.

Don't forget extra bags! Laundry or garment bags are great for dirty clothes but pack a few others for shoes that get sandy or muddy, or for a wet bathing suit. If you're scoring when it comes to on-the-road shopping, bringing an extra duffle is a great idea."

Keep Your Schedule Flexible

"Give yourself more time than you think your journey will take and confirm that the places you’re dying to see are open. You can't rely solely on the internet when it comes to information on off-the-beaten-path locales (from a secondhand store to a national park)—call ahead and double check their hours so you don’t go too far out of the way. It’s also not a bad idea to get an oil change and a quick look at your wheels and air-conditioner before riding off into the sunset.

P.S. If you don't have a AAA membership, now is the time to get one."

Vroom, vroom—a vintage car ready to hit the road. Photo: @lgmettler

Be Prepared For Surprises

"The weather can have a huge impact on your road-trip itinerary. At high elevations, roads can shut down in a matter of minutes, throwing you off course for the rest of the trip. There are other variables you can’t plan for too, like having too much fun in a certain destination and wanting to stay an extra night. The way to prepare is to be flexible and make sure you’re not married to your schedule—make the priority your must-visit places versus the low-priority spots."

Wide open spaces—a scene from one of Lizzie's many road trips. Photo: @lgmettler

Consider Your Crew

"If you’re going with a friend, make sure you're compatible driving companions. Do you like long stretches of silence so you can drink in the gorgeous scenery? Then you don’t want to get stuck with a chatty Kathy. Do you love good conversations that twist and turn like the back roads you’re driving? Make sure you don’t have a Silent Bob in the passenger seat. Road trips are intimate: Make sure you treat it as such when you’re picking your copilot as you're definitely going to get to know each other along the way."

Boot circle—Lizzie and her crew hiking in the Pacific Northwest. Photo: @lgmettler

Soak In The Culture

"Crisscrossing the country on the interstate system is efficient, but Route 66 isn’t full of the magic and mystery it once was—today, it’s a whole lot of truck stops, gas stations and fast-food joints. If getting from point A to point B isn’t the only reason you’re out on the road, take alternative routes and smaller roads that lead to thrift stores and antique fairs, pie shops and road-side fruit stands, generations-old cowboy-boot makers and the like. Dive head first into anything that’s a local specialty—that's where the real flavor is."

Serape blankets at a store in Santa Fe. Photo: @lgmettler

Leave A Photo Trail

"The great thing about Instagram’s geotag function is once you’ve ’grammed your way through your road trip, you’ve also created a little map so other travelers can find the hidden gems!"

If you didn't Instagram it, it didn't happen—don't forget to take photos! Photo: @lgmettler