What to wear on a road trip

Nikki Parkinson Fashion 26 Comments

Last week our reduced family of three set off on an adventure.

It was an idea thought up over a couple of wines one Friday evening and then scaled back a little the following Friday.

Our original plan had been to drive all the way to Adelaide for the very RAD Unlock Your Style book launch. With Mr SY only having one week off work and further studying of Google Maps, we came to our senses.

We scaled back the driving part – driving to Canberra via the NSW Southern Highlands – and then flew from Canberra to Adelaide and return before heading home via the NSW Central Coast and Coffs Harbour.

The scaled-back version ended up being one of the most fun holidays weeks we’ve ever had. Yes, there was work involved with me along the way and in Adelaide but it was broken up by visiting fabulous friends, seeing new parts of Australia and sharing the time together.

We didn’t do more than six hours’ driving each day. I got to read two books (Gone Girl and Dress, Memory) in the stints where I was the passenger/navigator. And we both wondered why we’d never done it sooner.

(You can read more about part of the road trip in this post; check out my Instagram feed for places we stopped at along the way; and don’t miss Mrs Woog’s account of the afternoon I spent locked in her toilet; BigWords’ account of our stay in her caravan, Audrey; and BabyMac’s Tour Guide Barbie post from our time with her)

Now, I feel a bit of a fraud every time I do a “what to pack” post because, well, you know already that I’m an over-packer.

This isn’t the place to come if you’re looking for ways to travel for five weeks out of an overnight bag. For me, an overnight bag is called an overnight bag for a reason … it’s meant to contain all you need for overnight. Not longer.

Anyway, you can imagine the freedom that comes with a driving holiday in terms of space. No luggage weight restriction and plenty of room for options.

Did I take advantage of this freedom? You bet.

In my defence, I did need to pack more than just clothes for a road trip. I needed to pack clothes for the Adelaide event as well as the pieces I use in my styling demonstration. I also did the shoot for this post in the Southern Highlands as I thought it a more jacket-appropriate location, so I took all the clothes for that shoot with me as well.

what to wear on a road trip

This post won’t address all the extra-curricular garments that made their way into the car. It will look at what to wear on a road trip based on the clothes I mostly wore each day of the trip.

The outfits were about comfort while in the car – or on the plane – but also about including pieces that would pretty much work whether we were out for dinner or shopping for spending an afternoon in the sun at the local pub.

Motto pants and cardi | Sussan tee | Frankie4 Footwear slides

Motto pants and cardi | Sussan tee | Frankie4 Footwear slides

Bohemian Traders dress | Seed Heritage scarf | MYOMY bag

Bohemian Traders dress | Seed Heritage scarf | MYOMY bag | Frankie4 Footwear slides

Mela Purdie top over Metalicus tank | Mela Purdie pants | Zoe Kratzmann sandals

Mela Purdie top | Metalicus tank | Mela Purdie pants | Zoe Kratzmann sandals

Mela Purdie pants | Blue Illusion top and hat | Frankie4 Footwear slides

Mela Purdie pants | Blue Illusion top and hat | Frankie4 Footwear slides

Blue Illusion jacket and tee | Everyday Cashmere scarf | Frankie4 Footwear slides

Blue Illusion jacket | Bohemian Traders top | NYDJ jeansEveryday Cashmere scarf | Frankie4 Footwear slides 

Mela Purdie top over sass and bide tank | NYDJ jeans | Frankie4 Footwear slides

Mela Purdie top over sass and bide tank | NYDJ jeans | Frankie4 Footwear slides

Blue Illusion jacket, pants and scarf | Sussan tee |Frankie4 Footwear slides

Blue Illusion jacket, pants and scarf | Sussan tee | Frankie4 Footwear slides

Mela Purdie top and pants | sass and bide tank  | Frankie4 Footwear slides

Mela Purdie top and pants | sass and bide tank  | Frankie4 Footwear slides

Style tips

1. Wear clothes you’d happily sit in for hours at a time. I know this seems obvious but just like travelling on a long flight, you need to have clothes that are super comfortable. Think elasticated pants, leggings and relaxed dresses.

2. Wear flat, comfortable shoes. I like to slip my shoes off when I’m a passenger in a car so shoes that did that easily were a must. I also needed those same shoes to be safe and comfortable for driving so the Frankie4 Footwear slides I wore most days were ideal.

3.  Opt for clothes that don’t crush. This is a good motto for your whole wardrobe but even more so when on the road and living out of a suitcase. I didn’t pack anything that couldn’t spend the week rolled up in my suitcase. This also meant that I never look crumpled after a day of driving. I packed a combination of Mela Purdie, Motto, Metlicus, Bohemian Traders and Blue Illusion.

4.  Stick with a colour palette that easily mixes and matches. This gives you more bang for your buck in outfit department. For me it meant that the same pair of pants could be re-worked with different tops to extend the clothes choices I had on offer.

5.  Be prepared with garments you can layer.  The temperature ranges we experienced over the week ranged from single figures through high 20s. A jacket – leather or denim – and a light knit served me well.

Do you road trip regularly? What do you wear? Got any tips to share?

Comments 26

  1. Love the navy and white striped dress on you – very casual yet chic. Please please try to come somewhere near Castle Hill (Sydney) – maybe Parramatta. I hate commuting to the city but would so love to come to one of your tours.

  2. Gosh you looked fabulous in every single outfit you wore. It was so lovely to see people’s reactions when they met you for the first time in person – they were absolutely in awe of how gorgeous and glamorous you were. x

  3. We also roadtripped last week! I found by limiting my wardrobe to monochrome black and white, I was able to get a broad variety of outfits and layer more effectively using fewer pieces and adding interest with scarves, hats and sunnies. K x

  4. Great post. It was fun following your trip. Thanks for sharing. Love the look of those Mela Purdie pieces on you. Will have to see how they look on me : ).

  5. Hi Nikki, Just wondering where the first black and white dress is from, in the first picture for September Everyday Style. Thankyou Lindel

  6. I love car trips – I know I can throw in more things than I know I will need. My biggest issue with packing is shoes! You seemed to have nailed that!! My other “problem” is a couple of nights away requires almost the same number of beauty/hair products as 4 weeks away!!

    1. I know about the beauty/hair product thing – what I’ve bought for this weekend is as much as I did for the week! And with shoes – I was ok on this trip because it was one night that I had to be dressed up. This weekend, I’ve got four pairs of shoes packed because of speaking three days!

  7. I’m also a chronic over packer and given I have to travel for work I really should be better at this by now. However, I figure if I can lug it myself it’s not doing anyone else any harm and when I’m on car trip with my husband he just expects me to throw a coat or hat on the back seat.

    When my boss sprung a formal client dinner and overnight trip to Taipei on me the day after I arrived in Hong Kong, I was very glad I had packed a suitable top “just in case”!

    1. See, it’s moments like that we are justified Johanne! I think for this weekend in Sydney I’ve had my best packing effort yet!! Needed 3 different outfits for speaking but did a sneaky shopping purchase yesterday and changed one of the outfits around!

  8. Great tips Nikki I am glad you had a fantastic time on your road trip,I am an overpacker too,and also love clothes that don’t crush,because I dislike ironing,I only iron what I absolutely have to.Those frankie 4 slides look great and must be seriously comfy I bought a cheap Birkenstock looking pair but took them back as they were too wide on my foot and I really didn’t like the look of them,I must have a look at the frankie4 ones Xx

  9. helloo nikki! I’m always trying to pare back;0 when plane traveling, but when it’s a road trip the sky’s the limit!!! … woman after my own heart for ‘what if’ moments of clothing. … I love the large boot of a car … lol
    funny what we think is essential for surviving! … who am I kidding? I always take the essential oils, and spritzers and neck cushion … bits of pampering so it’s not too basic!
    loving your smart and relaxed outfits nikki … just how I like to travel. …
    love mela perdi fabrics are gorgeous! hope last evening went well for you … love m:)X

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