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The Best Travel Clothes To Wear On A Road Trip

The Best Travel Clothes To Wear On A Road Trip
Carly Jacobs

As a child, most of my summer holidays were spent in the back seat of my parent’s car making the 8 hour trip up the central coast of Australia to my grandparent’s house for Christmas. I’d pack my side of the car with Sweet Vally High books and my walkman loaded up with my road trip mixtape I spent hours recording off the radio.

My mum would never let me wear anything trendy or cool in the car. ‘You’re just going to be sitting down all day and no one will see you. There’s no point in wasting a good outfit on a road trip!’. 

She was dead right but this was back in the 80s before the fashion industry decided that comfort and style didn’t have to be mutually exclusive. For real, why was it so hard to find comfortable and stylish travel clothes back then? It was either stretch stirrup pants or a flame retardant party dresses. There was no in-between.

Thankfully now there are some excellent companies making stylish and comfortable clothes you can travel in. I’m usually partial to a cotton dress when I travel on planes or a comfy and stylish summer frock if I need to look cute on arrival but road trips are a whole different beast. For a start, I sleep most of the time when I’m in moving vehicles and I also like to do acrobatics, so unless I want half of the eastern Australian coast seeing my lady garden, I need a comfy pant situation.

travel clothes


Yoga jumpsuit from Ripple – I bought this for summer thinking it would it be a great thing to slip into at home on a hot day when I want to be comfy but I’ve randomly been wearing it as proper clothing and layering it with a cardigan. It’s so freaking comfortable.

Cardigan from Anthropologie – I’ve had this cardigan for about 8 years now and it just keeps on giving. Excellent purchase.

Birkenstock Amsterdams – These have pretty much replaced my ballet flats. I struggle to find the perfect ballet flat that’s light, comfortable and hard wearing and after Merrell discontinued my favourite ones, I needed an alternative. These have not been a disappointment although they are a bit warm on really hot summer days.

Tips for planning road trip travel clothes…

Wear flat shoes 

To be fair, I do so admire women who commit to wearing fancy shoes on road trips. I once saw an amazing woman at a petrol station on Route 66 in California wearing full-on Christian Louboutins. It was at least a 4-hour drive to the nearest town and she was in full fashionista mode, tottering across the empty car park to the toilets. Internet fist bump for you, mystery shoe lady. I’m not that gal and few of us are so just wear your comfiest flats so you can kick them off for comfort. Mr Smaggle and I also share the driving so wearing shoes I can drive in is a must. I also like to wear slip-ons so I don’t have to bother with laces and buckles when I’m busting to go to the loo at the petrol station. I just slip on my shoes and go.

Pack your essentials in a big ol’ tote bag

These are my road trip essentials – Water bottle, sunscreen, hand cream, snacks, sunglasses, headphones, Thermos with coffee, wet wipes, tissues, lip balm, Panadol, wallet and phone. This is more stuff than I usually carry every day so I pack my smaller handbag into a tote bag so I can fit all the extras in. I then use the tote bag when I get to my location as a dirty washing bag. Smart right?

Put your hair up 

If you have long hair, wear it up. Unless you have magical hair that can withstand being flattened against the headrest for 7 hours or whipped around your face when you accidentally open the window while you’re going at 100 km along the high way, it’s better to just start the day with your hair up. I tend to wear a headscarf because it keeps my hair off my face and out of my way for the whole trip. It also acts as a mini pillow for when I fall asleep with my head against the window.

Stretch is best 

You don’t need to be wearing too tight jeans or a fitted dress on a road trip. Go stretchy and comfy all the way. Yoga pants are totally acceptable.

Dress in layers 

If you drive for 8 hours, the weather is probably going to be quite different from where you started to where you’re going. I always pack socks in case my feet get cold and I make sure I can add or strip off layers if I get too hot or too cold. Most discomfort on road trips comes from the temperature. This is usually because there’s more than one person in the car and it’s such a small space, someone needs to compromise when it comes to heating or cooling and either wear a jumper or take one off. You can easily warm up or cool down if you dress in layers.

Be sun smart 

Sunscreen, hat and long sleeves. Also, don’t forget to wear sunscreen on your hands – so many people forget to put sunscreen on their hands and that’s the part that gets the most sun exposure if you’re driving. Don’t forget to reapply every few hours and drink plenty of water.

Wear breathable undies 

The thought of wearing synthetic underwear on a road trip makes me itchy. Go comfy, go cotton and dare I say it go granny. I tend to wear my daggiest, comfiest undies on road trips because they’re like a familiar little hug for my bum. Love it.

This outfit was worn for a road trip to Canberra. I’m staying in town for a week before Christmas and I’m so excited to catch up with all my favourite people. I have a date day with my niece, I get to meet a brand new bubba who came into the world last week, there’s a ladies day with my favourite girls and tonight I’m off to Cellblock 69, which is always my favourite night of the year. I work for myself so I don’t really get a Christmas party or an official clock off at the end of the year but Cellblock is always my unofficial ‘last day of work’. I generally always work after Cellblock but I’m a bit more chilled and it signals the start of the wind down to the silly season.

Are you going on a road trip these holidays? What are you going to wear?

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  1. Missy D 7 years ago

    We just did a road trip: Melbourne to Brisbane. Definitely agree that comfy clothes are the way to go. Though I generally keep my hair down or in a very lose plait – my hair is long and thick, so having it on top of my head for too long starts to give me a headache. Argh, heavy hair.

    Safe travels to Canberra. 🙂

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 6 years ago

      We just did Canberra to Melbourne and I swear it’s going to take me a week to recover!

  2. Harlow 7 years ago

    I actually wore a jumpsuit for my last road trip and came to regret it very quickly! Yes it was very comfortable, but I quickly changed my mind about that at our first rest stop which was reeeeaaally not the kind of place I wanted to get almost naked in order to use the restroom… I also wore crazy platforms which made walking to the bathroom across a gravel strip an obstacle course! On the way back I came to my senses and wore a light cotton dress – I learned my lesson…

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 6 years ago

      I love this for travel because it doesn’t get all tangled up when I do acrobatics in my sleep in the car. The near nakedness peeing thing doesn’t bother me – I’m behind a door! 🙂

  3. Lisa Hill 4 years ago

    Great article! I love to travel and I really enjoyed reading this article. I like this and found very helpful for me. I am so inspired by this article. Thanks and keep sharing.


  1. […] Jumpsuit from Rippl, shoes from Birkenstock, cardigan from Anthropologie, scarf from Sportsgirl […]

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