Simple Road Trip Outfits: Travel Style with Tips and Tricks

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Simple Road Trip Outfits: Travel Style with Tips and Tricks

Having a recipe for comfy and simple road trip outfits makes traveling much easier. Once you’ve traveled by car many times, you start to realize what will work and what doesn’t work depending on all of the circumstances.
Yet, we are all different individuals and require different things which is why I’m including Lesley’s and Charlotte’s input on this subject.

Quote of the day: “Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.” Deepak Chopra

Even if you think you have your road trip outfits all figured out, I think it’s good to be open to other possibilities.
For example, I always wore pants for a plane trip. Until the time I decided to wear this outfit, and it was the best decision. In fact, I had one reader email me to tell me she tried the same basic recipe for a flight and agreed with me.

But let’s break down the factors that we should consider to create our perfect road trip outfits. BTW, this was really what we wore on our trip to the Grand Canyon. Even though it was just a one-night trip, you can see how we filled the back of the car with luggage in the very last photo.

Travel Factors

There are details that are essential to know before you start packing and deciding what to wear.

1- Time in the car.
It’s always good to know how long the road trip will be. The difference between a two-hour road trip and a two-day road trip can be vastly different.

2- Weather
Even though the temperatures inside the car are controllable and will be temperate, you need to consider the weather for your rest stop breaks.

3-Where are you going?
Surprises are fun, but not when you are traveling. Knowing the place you are going to end up can mean the difference between needing a coat vs needing sandals.

4-What is the itinerary?
The schedule of events is also a good thing to know when planning your road trip outfits. If you will be hitting the beach before you even get to your hotel, will impact your clothing choices.

Insider tip: The advantage of a road trip is not being limited to the amount of luggage you are able to take with you.

What to wear on a road trip

Biggest Factor for the Trip

If you ask anyone about what is important for their road trip outfits, the overwhelming answer would be comfortable pieces. Yet I believe that it’s also possible to look nice and put together.
Too many times we correlate comfort with sloppy. However, finding items that feel good yet don’t wrinkle is the key.

There are a couple of materials that are comfortable meaning they stretch and they don’t wrinkle.

  • Spandex
  • Knits
  • Jersey
  • Polyester

In listing these materials, you also want to take into consideration how heavy they are and the temperatures you will be experiencing. With that being said, it’s always good to find blends of these materials.

Insider tip: Don’t buy something new to wear for one of your road trip outfits. You’ll never know if it’s really comfortable and how it wrinkles. Wear your pieces that have a great track record.

3 Different Road Trip Outfits

All three of us wore comfortable road trip outfits. I will give you the specifics for each outfit and the reasoning.

Lesley

Lesley chose the shorter pants since it was a hot day. Even though we had the AC on in the car, if you are sitting in the sun, it can be quite warm.
Her pants are a pull-on style for ease and her shoes are slip-on shoes.
One lesson her mother always taught her is to always wear dark colors when traveling. And there’s a sweater packed into her tote bag.

Charlotte

Charlotte started with the pants and chose this pair of knit pants that she made years ago. She isn’t comfortable showing her arms, so this 3/4 length sleeve striped top was a great option.
Her choice of shoes was a comfortable sneaker that would also work for walking around at the Grand Canyon.

Jodie

I decided to try out a maxi skirt for the trip. While I love wearing a dress for plane travel, I thought I’d try out wearing a skirt with a top to see how it compared. Remember, you never know until you try it.
The t-shirt is one that is very soft, and I wore colorful sneakers that are perfect for loads of walking I knew we would be doing at the destination.

Insider tip: You saw this exact same maxi skirt styled worn longer, shorter, and differently to showcase how versatile many maxi skirts can be.

The Bottom Half

When I think about road trip outfits, my train of thought starts with the bottom half. Since you’ll be sitting most of the time, you want to wear pants or a skirt that isn’t tight or constricting.

For us older women, going to the bathroom is part of any length of a road trip. Therefore, taking into account how easy your pants pull up and down is key. Elastic waistbands would be the detail of choice.

You also want to think about the fact that the places you stop to use the restroom may not be the cleanest. Thus having long and flowy pants would mean they would end up on the restroom floor.

This is exactly why I like wearing a skirt or dress as described in my perfect airplane outfit. Of course, the type of skirt makes a difference.
You don’t want a tight pencil skirt. I tend to opt for the midi length and I like the ones that have either an “a-line” silhouette or have a lot of stretchiness.

Wearing a skirt or dress like this allows me to have some air circulation along with the fact I can move my legs around easily. And it’s extremely easy to go to the bathroom.

The Top Half for Our Road Trip Outfits

The second consideration for our outfit in the car would be what to wear on the top half of our body. Granted you want something that goes with the bottoms you picked out, but here are other things to think about.

As Lesley shared in her outfit of lilac with a dark neutral, she was brought up with the rule to travel in dark colors. That’s why she wore the black and white striped tank top.

A print or darker color can be beneficial in case there is any spillage of food or drink as you travel. Most prints will not show stains as easily.

It’s also good to pick lighter-weight tops. The advantage is you can always layer heavier items over the foundation top. Yet you want a top that looks nice when you get out of the car so that you don’t look bedraggled.

Shoe Choices

Our shoe choices for the road trip outfits play a big factor in comfort and functionality. Since shoes tend to be the item that takes up the most space in our luggage, it’s smart to wear a pair that not only feels good but will also be appropriate for the entire trip.

Do you take off your shoes in the car? That definitely plays a role in your footwear choice. Lesley does remove her shoes during our longer trips, so she likes a mule version.

Charlotte picked a pair that is open on the top of her foot in case there is any swelling. And my orange sneakers are easy to slide on and off without having to tie the laces. They also add a pop of color to the overall look.

Insider tip: I also made sure to wear my Sheec socks so my feet wouldn’t sweat as much.

Everyone will say that you need comfy shoes for your road trip outfits. In all reality, you could wear slippers in the car, and then have a pair of “real” shoes to change into when you stop and get out.
This is especially smart if you normally take slippers with you on the trip.
However, if you have to jump out fast to visit the restroom, you might not want to do this unless you have slippers with a rubber sole.

Purses, Totes, and So Much More

Since you don’t have to store your purse under the seat in front of you when traveling in your car, you can make sure it’s big enough to have all the essentials and even some extras.

Lesley is the queen of having a toe bag and then having her “purse” inside the tote bag. That enables her to have everything she needs in the car, yet she doesn’t have to drag everything with her when she wants to get out of the car.

Lesley’s tote is one that she showcased with an entirely different outfit last summer. It’s a reversible tote made by my friend, Loretta, who sells her creations on Etsy.
In fact, in her tote for this example, Lesley had a sweater, her water, along with her smaller purse she used for when we would stop along the trip.

I brought along a large straw purse that would fit the camera and my snacks. Even though I didn’t have a smaller purse inside of this larger one, I felt having this as my “tote” was nice because it was colorful and eye-catching.

Charlotte also had a tote, (not pictured), with her in the car but took her photos with the smaller purse that housed her wallet, lipstick, and other essentials.

Should You Wear Accessories?

Since accessories are part of our routine no matter what, we all wore them as part of our road trip outfits.
If it’s going to be a super long trip where I might be napping, I will make sure the earrings are stud earrings, soft earrings, or easy to take out and put back in.

Lesley even included a hat for our trip. Just in case, we need some time to get out of the car and walk around, then she would be protected from the sun.

Notice that none of us wore a necklace. That is not to say you shouldn’t; however, I would choose a thin necklace that wouldn’t tangle easily.

All of the Extras Needed for Your Road Trip

Now here is where you need to consider essentials to make the car feel like home for the time you’ll be traveling in it. Here are a couple of items that will make the trip better.

  • Shewee. Sure you plan to be able to stop at the rest stops to go to the bathroom, but one never knows how far they can be. Better safe than sorry to include this in your tote bag.
    There’s another version called Venus to Mars that comes with a zippered pouch. This one also means you don’t need toilet paper because you can pull it forward to wipe.

Insider tip: If you are desperate to pee, you can pull over to the side of the road, open both the rear and front door, and stand between them so you have privacy.

  • Water bottle. It’s always important to stay hydrated (which is why you’ll need the Shewee). The environment appreciates the reusable water bottle, and your body appreciates the BPA free ones.
  • Sunglasses. If you don’t have transition prescription glasses, then make sure to add in a pair of sunglasses.
  • Scarf. These pashminas are not only soft and inexpensive, but extremely functional. Even during the summer, it’s good to have a scarf for air conditioned places. When you are talking about road trip outfits and you have more than one person in the car, it’s good to plan for all different temperatures, since it’s hospitable to make the temperature good for the person who runs the warmest. (It’s easy to add layers, but you can only take off so much and stay decent, haha)
  • Pillow. While your scarf can act as your pillow in a pinch, it’s never a bad idea to include a separate pillow in the car. I’ve never loved the traditional travel pillows, but this one looks like something that would work for me.
  • Snacks and make them healthy. We usually grab a box of Lara Bars and a bag of nuts. These aren’t messy and yet will give you the nutrition you need. AND make sure to include napkins or paper towels for any spills. We also brought along an insulated bag to store the snacks and water in.
  • Sunshades. The sun can be awfully hot coming in the side window as a passanger, so having these are a good idea.
Packed for a road trip

In Conclusion

Of course, comfort is the main element when we are planning our road trip outfit. Yet I hope we’ve shown that it’s not rocket science to make yourself presentable also.

Road trip outfits

Photo credit: Rob Filogomo

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