Cross Country Road Trip Packing List: What to Pack for a Year of Living in Airbnbs
April 25, 2022
If you’re considering a big cross country road trip, you’re in the right place! My partner and I are in the midst of an open ended road trip all around the United States. We are hopping between long term Airbnb stays, working remotely on the road and bringing our cat along for the adventure. After several months on the road, we’ve been taking note of the things we’re glad we have, the things we don’t need and the things that Airbnb’s tend to be missing.
Below you will find an extensive packing list for a long term road trip with everything from road trip safety items to kitchen accessories and much more.
We keep a backpack with emergency gear in our car at all times, whether we’re on a road trip or not. This list includes the things in our emergency bag plus some other items that are nice to have in the car.
- Jumper Cables.
- Tire Pressure Gauge and optionally, an emergency tire inflator.
- Visibility triangles, visibility vest and gloves for working under the hood of your car (you can buy these things together in a roadside emergency kit.)
- First aid kit.
- Emergency ponchos.
- Emergency space blanket.
- Bottled water.
- Basic tools. We bring a small socket set, screwdrivers and a crowbar.
- Flash light.
- Duct tape.
- Microfiber Towels. These come in handy way more often then I would have thought.
- Phone charging cables. Depending on your car, bring both regular cables and car adapter.
- Portable battery banks.
- A road atlas. (Or check if your car has a digital one preloaded.)
- Hand sanitizer.
- Ice scraper.
- Spare jacket and socks.
When it comes to packing your clothing, try your best to bring things that can mix and match together. Also be sure to bring layering pieces, you never know what weather you’ll run into several months away. Finally, be realistic with what you’ll actually wear. If you never wear that uncomfortable top now, you probably won’t wear it while traveling either.
- 1-2 weeks of underwear, socks and bras.
- 1-2 dresses or nicer outfits.
- 1-2 weeks of casual outfits.
- A week of hiking or athletic outfits.
- At least 3 pairs of hiking socks. Ideally, some lightweight and some heavyweight.
- An athletic jacket and a nicer jacket.
- Bathing suit.
- Winter gear if needed.
Pro Tip: Look for Airbnbs with laundry! And if you think you’ll have laundry access most of the time, bring even less clothing. (It can take up so much of your space!)
Here is a general list of the types of shoes you should bring, but this will completely depend on the time of year, your preferences and what activities you plan to be doing.
- Casual nice shoes.
- Running shoes.
- Dress shoes/ heels. Only bring fancy shoes if you know you have an event to attend and/or you really think you’ll wear them!
- Hiking shoes.
- Water shoes.
This will definitely depend on your needs, but here are some of things I bring along.
- Shampoo, conditioner and body wash.
- Face wash.
- Cue tips.
- If you wear contact lenses, be sure to bring enough with you.
These are some of the things we travel with for our outdoor adventures. This will of course depend on what activities you plan on doing. For a full list of what to pack for hiking, check out my day hike packing list.
- Hiking backpack. I am currently using the Gregory Maya 16 day pack.
- Water bottle and water bladder.
- Bug spray. I love Ranger Ready because it doesn't contain DEET and actually smells good.
- First aid kit.
- Fire starter.
- Dry bag if you’ll be kayaking or doing other water activities.
- Camping and backpacking gear if you will be doing those activities.
- An inflatable paddle board or kayak if that is an activity you love.
My partner is a software engineer and is very passionate about internet security. Here are the technology items that we travel with.
- Travel router. This portable device provides additional security to protect you from whatever wifi you’re using. We only need to connect this to the wifi when we arrive at a new place and all of the rest of our devices (including the chromecast) automatically connect. Also, if you are using a VPN, you can install it on the router and then it will work on all of your devices.
- The necessary cords and adapters to charge your devices. I recommend trying to find chargers that charge all of your things, like this GaN charger with multiple ports.
- Portable power banks.
- Power strip and/or extension cord.
- Google nest hub.
- This is completely up to you, but we travel with a Sony mirrorless Camera, a GoPro Hero 10 and multiple SD cards.
My partner travels with everything needed for a mobile office so that we don’t have to worry if an Airbnb doesn’t have a work space. I, on the other hand, don’t mind if I need to work at a kitchen table, couch or coffee shop.
- Foldable table and chair. We have a plastic table that folds in half and a GCI Outdoors slim fold director’s style chair.
- Monitor. My partner actually travels with a large monitor in a large hard shell case. However, I would recommend a smaller portable monitor for most people.
- Web cam.
I’ve found that a lot of Airbnb’s are missing crucial items for cooking. If cooking is important to you, I recommend packing the items that you use the most.
- Favorite small non-stick skillet and spatula. Most airbnb’s have a skillet and spatulas, but sometimes the quality isn’t great. I have a small skillet I really like, so I bring it along and use it daily.
- Portable coffee mug.
- Favorite spices. Sometimes you get lucky with an Airbnb that has a lot of options, but a lot of places provide basic salt and pepper.
- Reusable silverware.
- Silicone food bags.
- Food containers. Airbnb’s almost never have this and so you will need to bring your own for storing leftovers. They’re heavier, but I recommend glass containers because they last longer!
- Oven mitt. This seems to be missing more often than not in my travels.
- Chef's knife and cutting board.
- Reusable paper towels.
- French press or coffee maker of choice. We don’t bring this but have found the quality and type of coffee markers in airbnbs to be all over the place.
- Depending on what you usually use, you may want to bring aluminum foil, parchment paper, olive oil, etc.
- Baking sheet and/or big pot. We have been in multiple Airbnb’s that haven’t had these things, so we started bringing our own.
- Reusable shopping bags and mesh produce bags.
- Bottle opener and corkscrew combo.
- Vacuum wine saver pump and stoppers.
- Garlic press.
Usually Airbnbs have some cleaning supplies, but you never know exactly what you’ll have. I always try to be a good guest by doing some light cleaning before checking out.
- Clorox wipes.
- Brush with handle for dishes.
- Dryer balls and laundry detergent strips. The strips take up much less space than traditional detergent bottles!
- Laundry hamper that folds down.
If there is something that will help you sleep better on the road, bring it! Not all Airbnb beds are created equal and sometimes having the pillow you like can make all the difference.
- Pillows. We love our memory foam pillows and they get really tiny inside of our vacuum seal bags.
- Soft throw blanket.
- Bath towels. Honestly, most Airbnb towels have not been very high quality and I like a fluffy towel!
Here are some ways to pack more efficiently.
- We like soft sided waterproof duffle bags for storage on the roof of our car. These allow us to pack them inside instead of on top of the car.
- Use packing cubes for your clothes and divide them by category.
- Use vacuum seal bags to make things like pillows, blankets and towels smaller. We use bags that don't need a vacuum!
Here are some tips for making sure you’re prepared to hit the road and begin living out of Airbnbs.
- Test out packing your car to make sure everything fits before you leave long term. If possible, also test out digital nomad living in general before you make the big jump.
- If you’re looking for month long airbnb stays, book way ahead of time. The best ones fill up quickly. I personally try to book at least 6 months ahead of time, but availability will vary based on location.
- You’ll be putting a lot of miles on your car. Know the maintenance schedule on your car and keep up to date.
- Consider a mail forwarding service.
- Make a budget, but shoot for an average across multiple cities instead of a fixed nightly price. Airbnb prices can vary widely depending on the city, quality and time of year, and some can be very expensive.
Here are some things to think about for finding and choosing the best Airbnbs or short term rentals.
- Ask the host about the wifi speed and avoid shared wifi. I recommend searching “wifi” and “internet” in the review section to see if anyone has complained or praised the wifi.
- Look for stand alone houses if you want to receive mail or packages. Apartments rarely come with mail keys but you can always ask.
- Ask for a weekly or monthly discount when applicable.
- Check out the area ahead of time using Google street view.
- Check Nomad List for neighborhood recommendations and to see the best cities for digital nomads.
I hope this list helps you plan for your cross country road trip! If you’re looking for ideas on where to go, visit my destinations tab for travel guides all over the United States.
Thanks for Reading!
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