Travel writer Alex Temblador shares her packing list for a nearly two-week road trip from Austin to southern Texas and back.
Prior to the pandemic, my job as a travel writer had me traveling at least once a month to destinations around the world. I became a pro at packing—one bag, one purse, no más. But my packing strategy had to change when I took an 11-day road trip through some of the most remote parts of Texas during the coronavirus pandemic. Ultimately it boiled down to one idea: bring everything I might need to stay safe.
Some might perceive my packing enough outfits and face masks to be able to change at least twice a day as overdoing it, but I saw it as limiting my time in possible virus-covered clothing. I created a special “pandemic-fighting backpack” full of sanitation wipes, 10 bottles of travel hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, masks, and a first-aid kit. I prepared for everything.
Safety items aside, I made sure to make space for the most important items I’d need to get through the nearly two-week trip—those that bring me comfort and joy.
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1. Jackery Explorer Portable Power Station and Solar Charging Panels
I’m one of those people who packs for the worst possible scenario, which is why I brought along the Jackery Explorer Portable Power Station and Solar Panels. This compact power station can charge anything – my cell phone or laptop while on the road or provide power to major appliances if the electricity goes out. If necessary, I can recharge the station with two solar charging panels making it an eco-friendly power source. With the Jackery, I have power no matter what happens—and that’s the peace of mind I need on a road trip.
2. Mono CleanPod UVC Sterilizer
My Mono CleanPod UVC Sterilizer has joined the ranks of my must-have travel tools, as it does something that cleaning wipes can’t do—sanitize cloth surfaces. Designed like a wand, it emits UVC light at the push of a button, killing 99.9% of bacteria and pathogens on all types of surfaces in just 30 seconds. You better believe I used this rechargeable tool to sanitize my steering wheel, hotel pillows, and even my face masks.
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3. Away Longitude Tote
The Away Longitude Tote fit everything I needed and then some. Even at its heaviest, the straps held up wonderfully at any weight and the pine leather coloring made it a versatile piece for day-long drives and upscale dinners.
As a solo female traveler, I love products that keep me connected to those I love and the Somewear device does just that. This blue-colored unit pairs with an app on my phone, allowing me to send my location to family even when I’m driving or walking in areas with no cell reception. Plus, I can send messages through the device, call for SOS assistance in case of an emergency, and check the weather.
5. California Cowboy Robe
I’ve stayed in enough hotels to know that a robe comes in handy, hence the packing of my California Cowboy La Sirena Kimono. I’ll throw this kimono-style robe over my swimsuit or when I hop out of the shower, relishing in the terry cloth interior that doubles as a towel. While I love the waterproof pocket, I think we can all agree that the champagne-sized bottle pocket on the back of the robe is a game-changer.
6. Away Mini
Some use the Away Mini to pack their toiletries and such, but I like to use it for my makeup. It’s the perfect size to store my essential beauty products and it opens wide enough that I can search quickly for any item.
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7. Dickies Rinsed Utility Chore Coat
The Dickies Rinsed Utility Chore Coat is the ultimate travel jacket. I love the army green color, the white detailing, the way the sleeves roll up, and the fit. It can be worn with nearly every type of outfit, whether I’m going to dinner or hitting the trails for a hike. Bonus? It folds so easily into my suitcase.
8. Costa Egret Sunglasses
I was not going to drive over 22 hours through some of the sunniest sections of Texas without a great pair of sunglasses. Costa Egret sunglasses were my top choice because they have 100% UV protection polarized lens and a textured integrated rubber that ensured these babies never fell from my face. Plus, I love the circle-like design; it’s very 70’s-esque which is a trend that never goes out of style.
9. GoSun Flatware Travel Cutlery
I didn’t want to snack on chips or cookies the entire road trip, so I packed GoSun’s Flatware. This innovative travel cutlery set includes a retractable fork and a spoon that fit into a black case that is the size of a credit card. It’s so small, I can put it in my wallet! I thought I might use the cutlery a few times on the trip, but discovered that I used it almost every other day.
10. Away Bigger Carry-On with Pocket
Away’s Bigger Carry-On with Pocket is everything I could possibly need in a suitcase. Though I couldn’t fit everything I needed for this 11-day trip into the case, I was able to pack what I needed on a nightly basis. (I had a second suitcase that I packed the rest of my clothes in and just pulled items when needed.) Let’s be real—I don’t take many 11-day trips—so this suitcase will do the trick 90% of the time. Beyond the durability and ease of maneuvering, I like this suitcase for the leather laptop sleeve on the outside, the various interior pockets for organization, and the TSA lock. Best of all, it comes with a built-in battery that I can remove and pop into my purse to keep my phone charged throughout the day.