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Several stretches of Route 66 are quite well preserved

Historic Route 66 > FAQ > Renting a car to drive Route 66?

What to pack for a Route 66 trip?

Sometimes, having help while packing your luggage can make sure not to forget the important things.

The basics

You need to pack what you would on any other trip, and there are plenty of packing list generators out there on the internet if you don't have your own list already.

Clothing

What you need depends a bit on the season, but regardless prepare for all weather: it's likely to be relatively cold at the high altitudes (e.g., in Flagstaff, AZ), as well as quite hot in the desert (e.g. in Needles, CA). Similarly, you can expect sun and rain (or even snow).

Don't forget:

  • sunscreen
  • sunglasses
  • hat
  • light clothes
  • warmer clothes
  • rain gear
  • ...

Route 66 specifics

But there are Route 66 specific items you might want to consider in addition to your standard list:

  • Your EZ66 guide: get it up front to familiarize yourself with it. Moreover, it's typically not available in regular bookstores, nor will you find it in Chicago, IL.
  • Don't forget your camera: Route 66 is very photogenic, and all too often a phone's camera won't do it justice.
  • Plenty of storage for pictures: On a long trip with thousands of photo-ops along the way, many take more photos than on an average trip. You need a way to get them off of your camera or phone and store them till you get back from your trip.
  • If you have a GPS device (with US maps): take it along, it will show you where you are, as well as a map turned in the right direction. It's also handy to get you to your motel. Unfortunately, it's not very useful to keep you on Route 66.
  • Even as it's a road trip, you'll be out in the country as well with plenty of opportunities to get out of the car and start a hike, so pack:
    • A tick removal tool
    • Sturdy shoes
    • ...
  • If you use your phone with apps such as the Route 66 navigation app to help you navigate: you need mounting brackets and a way to power it along the way. Also, download the apps you need and most of the data while still at home (better internet connection).
  • An extension cord: older motels often have far fewer power outlets than a modern traveler needs to charge their gadgets, so if you stay in an old iconic motel, an extension cord is a handy thing to have.
  • 12 Volt car power splitters: if you end up in a rental car with too few (working) 12 Volt power outlets, this can save you a lot of trouble.

Pack light!

Laundry rooms in motels can often help in packing a lot lighter on long trips.

Packing lighter is possible if you take fewer clothes than the trip would need and rely on doing laundry in motels along the way. Many motels offer guest laundry rooms and sell small packets of detergents. It's mostly pretty painless to do this and saves you on having far too much luggage.

Similarly, take care with what you bring back as souvenirs: they can eat up a lot of luggage space, can be fragile, etc.

One tactic to employ if you like souvenirs is to pack mostly old clothes that you can abandon at the end of the trip, so you have more room on the return flight home for things you bought.

Airline security

When flying, make sure to verify what can be in carry-on luggage and what needs to be checked-in, as well as what is completely prohibited. See the TSA for details.

For international visitors:

  • The power plug converters you need are easier to find at home than in the US
  • Make sure all your electric powered devices want to work on 110 Volt at 60 Hz
  • If you opt to split the solution between data and voice telecom use: Bring a MiFi if you have a US one. To avoid compatibility issues: Don't buy it at home, buy it in the US from the network you intend to use it on.
  • A GPS device with US maps if you have one. If you don't have one, there are nowadays options to use software-only variants on your smartphone. Typically you cannot find the add-on maps to add US maps in the US (the GPS devices sold there have those maps already). So if you want to buy one, buy it in the US instead: it'll be cheaper there anyway.
  • A passport that is valid for long enough: the US typically requires that it be valid for 6 months beyond your entry date.
  • The address of your first night's stay
  • A valid ESTA or VISA. Apply for these on time!
  • If your driver's license is not in Latin script: an international driver's license in addition to your real one
  • Ways to pay for things:
    • At least one credit card, better more than one: you need it to let the rental car agency, the motels, etc. take a "hold" on
    • A small amount of cash (make sure to get only bills 20 dollars or smaller)
    • Your debit/ATM card
  • Copies of the invoices of electronic gear such as laptops, cameras, etc. you will bring back home (to avoid suspicion you bought it in the US and customs back home would try to charge you import duties or VAT on it)

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