How to Plan the Ultimate Road Trip, from an Expert

Pack your bags.

By Michelle Nash
your ultimate road trip checklist

The idea of a “summer getaway” looks different in 2020. And now that we’re well into August, it’s hard to believe that vacation season is coming to an end when most of us haven’t even left our home base in months.

The restoration, discovery, and reflection that travel imparts in all of us is tough to replace, but hitting pause on trips also tends to fuel dreams about our future adventures.

The classic American road trip has had a resurgence in recent months. Jordan Fronk, one of Camille’s besties and founder of Fronks, loaded up an RV with her family to drive from Texas through California, and the trip looked nothing short of magical. While they were able to ditch airports, security, and boarding deadlines, there’s no doubt a trip like this, especially with kids and a dog, can be hard to pull off. We tapped Jordan for the ultimate road trip checklist, and she shared the lessons learned from her family’s adventure. Hopefully a glimpse into Jordan’s travels will satisfy your wanderlust, and help you plan that road trip you’ve likely been mulling over…

your cool road trip check list


Map it out.

Where have you been dreaming of visiting? If you want to get the most out of your road trip, it’s important to start by looking over your bucket list, and finding a route that’s both drive-able and efficient. Travel guides and Pinterest are a great place to start for getting ideas, but don’t forget to leave some room for relaxation in your itinerary too.

Jordan’s route: “West Texas has always been a favorite of ours, so we started with our same usual route out that way and then just kept on going! Chris scoped out some amazing spots in Arizona/New Mexico to park the RV out under the stars. One night, we counted 12 shooting stars and had a great view of the NEOWISE comet. Our son, Townes, is fascinated by the animals of the Sonoran desert so a stop in the Saguaro National Park was a must.

Once we got into California, we drove through Joshua Tree, into Malibu and then headed inland to Los Alamos to visit some friends and chill for a few days. The break from driving was key, we stayed in an adorable airbnb, walked around the tiny, sleepy town, ate and drank amazing wine and played in the park. From there we drove up the coast and hit Morro Bay for sea otters, San Simeon for Elephant seals, and then stopped in Monterrey for a few beach days. After that, we made our way through SF, stopped for a quick beach hang with an old friend in the Marin Headlands, and landed in the Point Reyes Seashore, another family fave. This morning we kayaked Drakes Estero, picked up oysters and headed back to the campground for the afternoon. From here we will head into the mountains in Mammoth Lakes, Yosemite, Death Valley, White Sands and the rest of the days are up for grabs!”

your ultimate road trip check list


Pick your stops.

So now you’ve got your route, but you will need to pick out your stays along the way. You’ll want to check out hotels, airbnbs, camp sites, and RV parks in your major stops, plus make some restaurant or activity reservations, if needed, along the way.

“We mapped out the first week and a half of the trip down to a tee, looked up good stops along the way for takeout, best margs in El Paso, best coffee and chocolates in Tucson, best road side Artichoke stand in central Cali,” Jordan says. “A little planning makes the most of our frequent puppy bathroom breaks, especially during COVID times. On the way back we’re leaving the days a bit more open so we can be spontaneous.”

the ultimate road trip checklist


Download some entertainment.

Before your trip, make sure to download any podcasts or audiobooks you want to listen to on the drive. You can also make playlists for different legs of your journey, so that you can stay focused on the road once you’re on your way.

your ultimate road trip packing list


Get your bags together.

Having a good bag and some packing cubes is a necessity according to Jordan. “I use packing cubes for every trip because you can easily move your cubes from the suitcase or duffle into hotel drawers (or RV drawers),” Jordan says. “They are great for kids too since they know where to find things every morning.” Plus, don’t forget other smaller bags or coolers you might need along the way.

“Road trips are for Duffles! It’s a family rule and even the kids must follow,” Jordan says. “A duffle is so much more carefree and romantic, plus its easy to grab stuff on the road (especially when everything is sorted into packing cubes, another must have). I cannot with trying to open a suitcase in the back of a moving vehicle. Chris and I have a mix of Louis Vuitton and Billy Reid in brown leather. The kids have zip top monogrammed Lands End canvas bags.”

Your ultimate road trip check list


Make your packing list.

Even though you won’t be weighing your bag at an airport, the same rules of efficient packing still apply for road trips. Don’t overpack and aim for comfort and efficiency in your wardrobe and accessories. It’s helpful to think about starting with you ymake sure you’ve got your clothing items covered.

Shoes are a key element here, since you want to be able to stop the car at a moments notice to hike or take pictures. Depending on your trip, you may need water shoes, trail shoes, or simply just comfy shoes you can wear for hours and hours. And some advice from Jordan, “you’ll always need more socks!”

your ultimate road trip checklist


Make your must-haves list.

Similar to your carry-on bag on the plane, there are always a few essentials you’ll need on hand when traveling. Jordan calls this her “mission control bag” and says “it’s always at my feet for any road trip. It holds chargers, camera, computer, face masks, the dog’s leash, CBD, and all the necessities I need within reach.”

Jordan’s must haves:


  • Headlamps: The whole fam has their own and we use them for everything- walking the dog, heading out to get situated for stargazing, filling the water tang on the RV. They’re so handy and who has time to hold a flashlight.
  • My big green puffer: My hunter green men’s patagonia puffer is the best thing that’s happened to my wardrobe this trip. Over cut off Levi’s and a tank I’m instantly warm and cozy.
  • Our natural wine haul from our pal at Cool Kid Wine: good natural wine is key for waking up refreshed and ready for another day on the road.
  • Skin care comforts from home: oils, masks, everything I’m used to using at home came along in an attempt to outsmart the desert and mountain air.

your ultimate road trip checklist


Pack a cooler and any extra outdoor gear.

Don’t forget to have snacks and water on hand, and make sure you have a good cooler for any items that need to stay cold. Even though you’ll probably stop for food along the way, there’s no harm in being prepared for long stretches on the road.


your ultimate road trip checklist


Go with the flow.

According to Jordan it’s key to “plan as much as you can, and then realize that lots of things are going to blow your plan to bits and that’s ok too. It’s an adventure!”