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If you’re headed out of town on a road trip this spring or summer, you’re going to want to pack your SUV as efficiently as you can. Long travel in an SUV is not only doable, but it can also be a lot of fun. It’s important to make sure that your SUV is set up for success, though. Otherwise, you may find yourself digging through bags and climbing over seats to find something that you need. Here is the best way to pack an SUV for a road trip to reduce your stress and maximize your fun.

A gray 2022 Chevy Suburban parked in front of a mountain.
2022 Chevy Suburban | Chevrolet

How do I pack an SUV for a road trip?

It can be overwhelming to pack an SUV for a road trip, especially if you’ll be traveling with kids. It’s almost more daunting to pack a large SUV than it is a car, because there’s so much space that there are many decisions to make. Still, the larger your SUV is, the more it can handle. Consumer Reports also has tips on how to make the most of your road trip.

You’ll want to make sure that you pack wisely. Putting everything in the cargo area may seem like a great idea until you realize you need that car charger that’s in the bottom of the very first bag you put back there. When you’re packing for a road trip, everything has a place, and you should think about what you plan on accessing while on the road, and what you won’t need until you get there.

Keep your technology at hand

Will you need phone chargers during your trip? DVD players (if your SUV isn’t already outfitted with them)? Any devices that you’ll need, or accessories that go along with those devices should be easy to reach. Keep phones, laptops and their chargers, and DVD players and movies easy to access throughout your trip. You may want to use the center console or pockets behind the front seats to do this.

Have a trash can at the ready

One of the worst parts of a long road trip is trash accumulation. You might be snacking or eating meals in the car, drinking coffee, and creating a mess. Keep small shopping bags in a pocket or a small trash can with bags that’s easy to access so your family throws things away instead of on the floor.

Pack one overnight bag

If your SUV travel trip involves an overnight stay, you’ll want to try to pack just one or two bags to bring in to your hotel. This eliminates the ned to unpack your entire vehicle (or root through bags in the dead of night in a hotel parking lot). Of course, there is some risk in leaving your belongings in the car, so make sure you bring anything valuable in with you, and park in a well-lit spot with your doors locked and any alarm set. You can always bring everything in just to be safe as well.

Keep snacks easy to reach


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Snacks are one of the best parts of a road trip. It can be fun to map out some great food stops along the route of your trip, but make sure you have plenty of snacks and drinks at hand as well. Taking a road trip in an SUV means you should have plenty of room for a small cooler in the middle row, and you can make use of the cupholders and pockets in your vehicles. Waters, sparkling waters, and snacks like pretzels and granola bars will keep you full without causing a sugar crash.

Have other supplies accessible

Use the center console, glove box, and side pockets of your SUV to hold other things you’ll need on your road trip. Extra staws, cutlery, and napkins are great to have at hand. So is hand sanitizer (and masks, right now), as well as a pair of scissors. Remember that in the event of a car crash, anything not tied down or put away becomes projectile, and keep things like scissors stored safely away.

If you’ll be traveling in your SUV, smart planning and packing can make your adventure enjoyable. You won’t have to dig through your SUV to find something to eat or your phone charger. You just might even decide that road trips are your new favorite way to travel.