Traveling in the Southeast United States doesn’t vary much by season. I’ve written this packing list with the summer humidity in mind, but can easily be adapted for the fall. While most travelers imagine the great road trips of the Southwest USA, particularly Route 66 and the Pacific Coast Highway, the Southeast has some amazing road trips as well. The Natchez Trace, the Blues Highway and I-95 all have something unique to offer. Having just finished a road trip through coastal Georgia and Florida, I can attest to the importance of these items!
Since you’re traveling by car, you don’t have to worry as much about packing limitations, but I still recommend packing light. I recommend a duffel bag or backpack so it’s easier to carry from place to place. Remember, don’t pack anything you can’t carry yourself!
New Orleans, Mobile, Savannah, Charleston, Richmond, Asheville, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville and Atlanta are all stops to consider on your road trip through the south. It allows travelers to experience both mountains, beaches, cities and everything in between. Give yourself at least 3 weeks to complete this trip to avoid spending days at a time in the car.
Temperatures can soar into the high 80s F with humidity in the summertime, so your best bet is to travel in fall or spring. Remember that cars drive on the right side of the road in the United States. You may experience some tolls in major cities like Atlanta and Miami, so have cash on hand. It’s also a good idea to keep quarters in your glove compartment for metered parking. Make sure that your car, rented or not, is insured and has some sort of GPS system, even if it’s on your phone. You should also pack a paper map for those times you may be out of service.
What to Pack
2-3 dresses – When it’s humid down south, you’ll be glad to have a flowy dress to walk around in. Bring at least one casual dress that could be thrown on over a swimsuit and one more formal one for a nice dinner.
1 pair of leggings– I always bring one pair of leggings mostly to sleep in or to wear in the car, but they can also be good if it gets chilly at night.
1 pair of jeans– You may want to pack more, but jeans are easy to wear in any city.
2 pairs of shorts– These will be your staples during your road trip.
1-2 skirts– This is your choice, but I like to wear skirts every now and then instead of shorts.
1 hat– Getting sunburn on your head is the worst possible place, so if you will be outside for extended periods of time, do yourself a favor and wear a hat.
3 tank tops– I live in tank tops in the summertime.
1 cardigan– Throw on a sweater for a nice dinner out.
4-6 pairs of undies– There will be laundromats, but ExOfficio undies work better.
1 windbreaker– A waterproof jacket can save you a lot of trouble in a sudden thunderstorm.
1 pair of cute sandals– I constantly stumble in anything other than flats, so I substitute heels
1 pair of flip flops
1 pair of athletic shoes
Mosquito spray– The bugs can be ruthless, particularly in rural and coastal areas!
Baby powder– I use baby powder as dry shampoo as well as to put under my arms and other places to prevent them from rubbing.
Shampoo and conditioner
Body wash or soap
Toothpaste and toothbrush
For the Car
First Aid Kit – It’s good to be prepared for anything. At least have some bandages and aspirin in your kit.
Spare Tire and Wrench
Travel Insurance– If you’re not American, I highly recommend travel insurance to cover accidents or anything else that could go wrong.
Car games– If you’re not traveling alone, bring games to do in the car like a deck of cards or travel chess.
Snacks and water
iPod converter and phone charger
Paper map – You can get these for free from visitors centers in each state. They’re important if your cell phone is out of range.
Flashlight or headlamp
Travel tote – A foldable bag is good for running to the grocery store.
Since you’ll be in the car you can pack more than you might for an airplane, but I still recommend keeping it carry-on size. I also would use compression sacks to organize tops, bottoms and the rest. I also packed a cooler for my snacks.