Packing Essentials for Your Route 66 Road Trip

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Route 66 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.

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

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

Pre-Trip Preparations

Before you set off on your Route 66 journey, there's more to do than just packing. This includes preparing your important papers, planning out your route carefully, and choosing the right bags for your adventure.

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 bringing a paper map for a reliable backup and tangible memorabilia is also a good idea.

Before departing, mark out your must-see landmarks and align them with your planned stops. You get more essential information about Route 66 on this NPS page.

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
  • Multi-sport shoes that can handle various terrains, whether you're hiking trails or walking through cities
  • 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 the following:

  • 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

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.

Attractions 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.

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.

1. Route 66 Welcome Center, Joliet

Statue at the Joliet Area Historical Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center in downtown Joliet, Illinois.

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

2. Meramec Caverns, Sullivan

Interior view of the Meramec Caverns

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.

3. Gateway Arch, St. Louis

Sunset over the Gateway Arch and St. Louis, Missouri.

Moving westward, you can't miss the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, a prime example of an architectural marvel; it's a symbol of the city and the nation's expansion westward.

You can ride to the top for breathtaking views of the Mississippi River and the city below.

4. Pops, Arcadia

The large multicolors soda bottle structure, at Pops 66 Soda Ranch on Route 66. Vertical shot.

Pops in Arcadia is famous for its 66-foot tall soda bottle sculpture and the selection of over 700 kinds of soda. This roadside attraction combines a diner, gas station, and soda ranch, making it a refreshing stop on Route 66.

5. Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, Clinton

The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum is operated by the Oklahoma Historical Society

The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton takes visitors on a journey through the history of the iconic highway. With interactive exhibits, it tells the story of Route 66's development, its heyday, and its resurgence in popular culture.

6. Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo

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.

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

7. The Painted Desert, Arizona

The Painted Desert in Arizona offers a stunning panorama of layered rock formations in hues of lavender, red, and orange. This natural wonder stretches across the desert, showcasing the beauty and vastness of the American Southwest.

Scenic view of a landscape in the Painted Desert national park in Arizona, USA

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.

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.

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