Ultimate Cross-Country Road Trip Packing List

Featured, Travel

September 6, 2020

What to pack for a month-long road trip? That’s what this post is about!

My boyfriend, Cody, and I went on a four-week cross-country road trip from Delaware to Utah and back again. Both of our jobs allowed us to work remotely, so we would work during the day and then see National Parks in the evenings and on weekends. We stayed in campgrounds about 80% of the time, and essentially lived out of my 2019 Jeep Cherokee for a month.

Here’s a comprehensive list of everything we brought with us!

Most of the items are linked, but you can find a lot of this gear on my Amazon lists.


We packed clothing to be prepared for hiking long distances in both deserts and mountains, sleeping in cold weather down to about 45 degrees F, and driving up to 9 hours at a time. We did laundry at campgrounds twice in four weeks. Here’s what I brought!

  • 8 tank tops. This is my favorite tank top for hiking
  • 5 pairs of hiking shorts
  • 1 pair of denim shorts
  • 12 pairs of underwear
  • 3 sports bras
  • 1 sports bra top
  • 4 pairs of wool hiking socks
  • 2 pairs of casual socks
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 pair of regular leggings
  • 1 pair of fleece-lined thermal leggings (I slept in these)
  • 1 pair of wool base layer leggings
  • 1 flannel
  • 1 Smartwool pullover
  • 1 Patagonia puffy jacket
  • 1 raincoat
  • 2 buffs
  • 1 sun hat
  • 1 beanie
  • 4 cloth masks
  • 1 set of packing cubes. These are great for keeping your clothes organized within your main bag or suitcase. I love this 8-piece set from Well Traveled!

In this photo, I’m wearing my sun hat, Oboz hiking shoes, sports bra top, and hiking shorts. This was a typical outfit for hot weather hiking.


I got by with just three pairs of shoes. One for hiking, one for everyday, and one for swimming or walking through water. I used all of them on the trip.

I wore my Teva sandals (pictured here) to hike in water and swim in lakes/streams.



We tent camped almost every night. It’s important to have a good set of sleeping gear so that you’re comfortable. I get cold when I sleep, so I usually work leggings and a pullover every night.

This is the REI Half Dome 2 Plus tent that we used every night.

Food and Cooking

We ate a lot of sandwiches and dehydrated backpacking meals. We limited eating out to save both time and money. We went grocery shopping throughout the trip, but here is what we started with.

Cody sitting in the parking lot of Rocky Mountain National Park making a dehydrated meal for dinner after a day of hiking.


Since we were working remotely throughout the trip, technology was super important!

Camera Equipment

Backpacks and Storage

  • 2 large plastic totes. These are awesome for keeping things organized in the car!
  • Peak Design Everyday Backpack-I kept my electronics in here
  • REI Flash 18 backpack (I used this for my everyday hiking backpack)
  • Travelpro Maxlite carry-on suitcase. I use this suitcase for all my trips and I love it. For the road trip, I kept all my clothes and toiletries in this suitcase.
  • Roof rack for my Jeep


  • 2 towels-one for showering, one for swimming. Probably could have gotten away with one towel for both
  • Packing cubes. I mentioned this earlier, but these are so nice for keeping your stuff organized. I recommend this 8-piece set from Well Traveled.
  • Bear Spray
  • National Parks America the Beautiful Pass-this will get you into all Federally operated parks across the country
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Garbage bags
  • 1-litre water bottles (we literally used Smart Water bottles). It’s helpful to have bottles that hold 1-litre because on a lot of hikes, it is recommended to bring at least 2 litres of water per person. 
  • Strapping tape-for blisters
  • Sunglasses
  • Rechargeable headlamps
  • Trowel (for if you need to go #2 in the woods)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Cash


That’s everything! If you have anything else you can’t live without on a road trip, let me know!


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  1. I have no idea how I just spent an hour reading your site, but I fell in love with you and Cody. I am 51 and have been looking for a Cody my whole life. Enjoy every second. 13 years ago, I had a son. He has been my sole road trip companion. I have made three – four road trips with him every year since he has been born. BIG SUR is our heart place. My granduncle owns the hardware store in Cambria, and so we always have an excuse to travel up the coast ( I live in South Pasadena). If you and Cody ever need a free place to stay near LA, lmk. We are waterfall junkies and can take you to two in the San Gabriel Mountains. Much joy, Tylene

    • Abby Shepard says:

      Hi Tylene! Oh my goodness thank you so much for you kind words! You absolutely made my day. I’m glad you’ve had the opportunity to travel with your son. I love Big Sur too! I love California in general, so if I’m back in the area, I’ll let you know. And if you ever find yourself on the East Coast near Delaware, I can give you all kinds of recommendations. 🙂 <3

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Hi there! I'm Abby. 
I'm a traveling photographer, writer, and artist and I'm most passionate about using visual communication connecting people with the outdoors.


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