Essential Packing List for a Route 66 Road Trip [Your Ultimate Checklist]

Embarking on a Route 66 road trip is a quintessential American adventure, offering you a slice of history, culture, and diverse landscapes.

As you prepare for this iconic journey, you must pack thoughtfully to enhance your experience.

Route 66, often referred to as the Main Street of America, spans over 2,400 miles, crossing eight states and offering an array of attractions, from vintage motels and roadside diners to natural wonders and historic landmarks.

Ensuring you have all the necessities will allow you to enjoy the trip’s spontaneous moments while being prepared for its challenges.

Your packing list should cater to the varied climates and activities that Route 66 presents. You’ll encounter bustling cities, quiet towns, and stretches of remote countryside, so your attire and gear must be versatile.

Pre-Trip Preparations

Embarking on a Route 66 adventure requires more than just packing bags; it’s about ensuring a smooth journey with the right documentation, a well-thought-out itinerary, and the best-suited luggage for the trip.

Let’s start with what you need to organize before hitting the road.

Important Documents

You must ensure your passport and visa or ESTA are in order if you’re traveling from abroad, as these are mandatory for entry into the United States. For domestic travelers, a valid driver’s license is a must.

Always carry a credit card and some cash; they’re essential for unexpected expenses. Storing these items in a secure and accessible place will ensure peace of mind as you travel.

Route Planning

Your journey won’t be complete without the Route 66 Adventure Handbook or the EZ66 Guide, crucial resources that will enrich your road trip experience with their troves of information.

Having a GPS device or smartphone for live updates is important. But it’s also a good idea to bring paper map for a reliable backup and a tangible piece of memorabilia.

Before departing, mark out your must-see landmarks and align them with your planned stops.

Choosing the Right Luggage

The composition clothes accessories suitcase

Selecting the ideal luggage centers on the balance between ease of movement and packing capacity. Soft bags can be more versatile for car rentals, fitting better in irregular trunk spaces.

However, sturdy luggage protects your belongings and provides extra security against theft. Your choice should reflect your travel style and the necessities for your Route 66 expedition.

Clothing and Personal Items

Preparing the right clothing and personal items is crucial for a comfortable Route 66 road trip. Include essentials that suit various weather conditions, maintain personal hygiene, and provide entertainment during long drives.

Clothes for All Seasons

You’ll be crossing different climates, so layers are essential. You should pack:

  • Lightweight clothing like T-shirts and shorts for warmer days
  • A couple of jackets or fleeces for cold evenings
  • Hat and sunglasses for sun protection
  • Enough underwear for the trip’s duration
  • Packing cubes to keep your clothes organized

Toiletries and Health Items

A hanging toiletry bag is convenient, especially in shared bathrooms. Your toiletry bag should contain:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Biodegradable toilet paper and wet wipes
  • Sunscreen to protect against sunburn
  • A basic first aid kit for emergencies

Tech and Entertainment

To capture memories and stay connected, don’t forget:

  • Smartphones and/or GPS devices to navigate the route
  • A quality camera for photography enthusiasts
  • Books or downloaded entertainment for relaxation

On-the-Road Essentials

When embarking on a Route 66 road trip, understanding that having the right essentials is key for sustenance and enjoyment.

Here’s a packing list to ensure you stay hydrated, well-fed, and comfortable regardless of the season or climate.

Food and Hydration

Healthy lunch box with sandwich and fresh vegetables, bottle of water and fruits on wooden background
  • Water bottle: Staying hydrated is crucial, especially during summer. We recommend a reusable water bottle to refill at stops like Pops.
  • Snacks: Prevent hunger with easy-to-eat snacks such as granola bars, candies, and nuts.
  • Meals: Pack sandwiches and other portable food items for convenience. However, stopping at a roadside diner like the iconic 66 Drive-In is a delicious way to experience local flavor and history.

Comfort and Convenience

  • Climate Prep: Whether it’s summer or winter, ensure your clothing suits the current weather.
  • Seating: Comfort is essential, so include cozy pillows for long drives.
  • Souvenirs: Memories from Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum or Chain of Rocks Bridge are irreplaceable, so leave room for souvenirs.

Packing the right items can dramatically improve your road trip experience, keeping you content and prepared to create memorable moments along the historic Route 66.

Cultural and Historical Experiences

When embarking on a Route 66 road trip, you’re immersing yourself in a rich tapestry of American history and culture.

This journey isn’t just about the destination; it’s about the stories, the landmarks, and the memories you create along the way.

Attractions Along The Way

Famous Route 66 landmark on the road in Californian desert 1600x900

The Mother Road has numerous attractions that speak volumes about America’s vibrant cultural past.

Starting in Joliet, the Route 66 Welcome Center offers a nostalgic gateway to this historic journey.

As you meander, a stop at Meramec Caverns near St. Louis, with its storied past as a hideout for the infamous Jesse James, is a must.

Moving westward, you can’t miss the iconic Blue Swallow Motel in New Mexico, a prime example of classic Americana lodging.

Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation and sculpture in Texas, U.S. created in 1974

In Texas, the quirky Cadillac Ranch stands as a testament to American ingenuity and artistry, allowing you a moment to become part of the art by leaving your mark on the spray-painted Cadillacs.

  • Grand Canyon: A detour to this natural wonder isn’t just recommended; it’s essential.
  • Amarillo: Known for The Big Texan Steak Ranch, it’s a perfect spot to satiate your hunger for food and history.
  • Chain of Rocks Bridge: Connecting you to memories of the past with its unique 22-degree bend.

Each of these landmarks presents a unique photo opportunity and a chance to collect souvenirs that capture the spirit of Route 66.

But, remember knowing the best times of the year to visit can significantly enhance your experience.

Memory Keeping

Maintaining a travel journal is one of the best ways to preserve your experiences. Not only can you jot down your thoughts and encounters, but it’s also ideal for storing ticket stubs and postcards.

We encourage visiting museums along Route 66 to delve deeper into the history of each location.

For instance, the Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma, offers insights into the history of transportation and the evolution of the road trip culture in America.

As you travel from Illinois to the Pacific, stops like Pops in Arcadia give you modern twists on historic road trip staples with their eclectic selection of sodas.

You come across roadside attractions like the Gemini Giant in Wilmington, IL, embodying the kitschy, pioneering spirit of the highway.

Here’s a basic structure to log your memories:

  • Museums and Historic Sites: Note the names, dates visited, and interesting facts.
  • Souvenirs Collected: List items and their significance.
  • Photographs: Caption with locations and dates for a timeline of your journey.

By attentively cataloging these moments, you safeguard your memories, ensuring that the cultural and historical experiences along Route 66 enrich you long after the trip ends.