What to Pack for a Desert Trip

Road in the Nevada Desert

From my quick summer vacation to Death Valley over the summer, here are my 8 essentials of what to pack for a desert trip. From maps to water bottles, and sunscreen to Shinesty panties, carefully pack the essentials for a safe and comfortable adventure in the desert.

A Road in the Nevada Desert.
A Road in the Nevada Desert.

Tangible Maps

Driving out towards Area 51, I was thankful for stopping at AAA before my desert trip to pick up maps. Why? Because out in the middle of nowhere, my iPhone lost service which meant I did not have a navigational system working in my car.

I cannot believe how attached I am to technology. But, a tangible, and not digital, map is MUST during all road trips, whether a desert trip or journey along the Eastern Seaboard.

Not a AAA member? If you join AAA using this link, we’ll both save $20 when it comes time to renew a membership. In maps and hotel and rental car discounts, I easily maximize my membership. Throw in a tow, tire change, or other roadside assistance item, and I’ve made the most of my AAA membership.

Hydration Vessel

I do not care how you do it but keep hydrated during your desert trip. But take hydration seriously. If you’ll be trekking around during the summer, drink at least a gallon of water a day.

Pack a water bottle and either fill up when you see water fountains or purchase gallon jugs of water. After landing in Las Vegas and before hitting the road for Death Valley, I shopped at Walmart for a cooler and other provisions. The cooler ended up being a carry-on piece of luggage on my way back so I was not wasteful. But, I’m glad I had it to keep chilled beverages during my journey.

Comfortable Shoes

Many people think flip-flops or sandals are the answer for a desert trip but in most cases, wrong! If you will be out wandering around in the desert, you’ll want something sturdy on your feet (to navigate over uneven terrain) and something that can withstand the heat. If you can cook an egg on the surface, you can do some damage to your tootsies!

Reef Safe – Biodegradable Waterproof Sunscreen Lotion.

Biodegradable Sunscreen

I live in Florida where water quality has been front and center. Because of this, I’m a bit more careful as to what products I use on me, my pets, and in my home. When it comes to sunscreen, a MUST when in the desert and whenever outside (even on overcast days), I use Reef Safe – Biodegradable Waterproof Sunscreen Lotion.

It has UVA-UVB protection, is waterproof up to 80 minutes (which means sweat-proof in the desert), and has been tested to biodegrade in oceans, lakes, and rives and is non-toxic to sea life. Yeah, yeah. I know. There is no sea life in the desert but our ecosystem is interconnected. Rather than buying some other sunscreen to pack, I use this almost everywhere I go.

I’ve taken a tour of Tropical Seas, which makes Reef Safe Sunscreen, and have read up on the elaborate science behind it. This included Mote Marine Laboratory testing the product’s impact on corals and finding this sunscreen does not.

Owner Dan Knorr explained, in addition to quality ingredients, the processing makes a difference. The way Reef Safe Sunscreen is processed makes it safe for sea life. Another feature that makes this uber-cool is in September 2019, after about two years, the USDA recognizes the biodegradable bottles made with sugar cane and NOT plastic.

Tropical Seas manufactures other biodegradable and/or reef-safe products from hand sanitizer with sugar vs. alcohol and a cooler cleaner with essential oils. Circling back to what to pack for a desert trip, make sure you have sunscreen!

Smooth and Protective Lip Balm

The desert is dry for a reason and I feel it right away on my lips. When packing for a trip to the desert, I carry at least two lip balms with me to ensure my lips do not end up dry and cracked. Yeah, it may seem like overkill, but I like to have my balms handy so one is in my carry-on bag and another with my toiletries. One of the balms I use is Reef Safe Sun® Oxybenzone Free Biodegradable SPF 30 Unflavored Lip Balm, another fantastic product from Tropical Seas.

Packable and Fashionable Hat

My dermatologist applauds my appreciation of hats and I always pack one for my adventures. Recently, I picked up a wide-brimmed hat and took it with me to San Antonio. It was a pain to carry on the plane. I was worried it would be crushed it the overhead bit and it was uncomfortable wearing it during the flight.

In 2014, David Kachadourian joined a friend on an ATV in New Braunfels, Texas. The friend, wearing a western straw hat, turned to Kachadourian, wearing a floppy bucket hat, and told him he looked like a dork. Kachadourian knew he did and once he got home, purchased a sewing machine from Walmart and other supplies online to make a better travel hat.

After several prototypes and years later, the result is the Pop Hat, a stylish, sturdy sun hat that folds flat in seconds. When flat, it’s 7 inches in diameter, making it easy to pack. It quickly becomes a wearable hat within seconds of popping open. Colors include khaki, black, faux brown leather, and camouflage.

That's Me in Death Valley Sporting a Pop Hat and Costa Sunglasses' WaterWoman Eyewear, Aug. 2019
That’s Me in Death Valley Sporting a Pop Hat and Costa Sunglasses’ WaterWoman Eyewear, Aug. 2019

Stylin’ Shades

Every woman wants to look her best when traveling and Costa Sunglasses introduced the WaterWoman eyewear this year. The bio-resin frame makes these sunglasses lightweight and sturdy. Over-sized frames with polarized lenses, angled temples, and accents to prevent slipping, make these swank and practical, whether enjoying a cruise or road tripping. Frames are available in four colors, shiny blond crystal, shiny palm tortoise, matte shadow tortoise, and shiny wahoo. WaterWoman sunglasses were a favorite at the ICAST fishing show this summer and voted “Best Eyewear” by participating retailers and media.

The Temperature Was 110+ at 10 a.m in Death Valley, But I'm Feeling Cool. What You Can't See are the Shinesty Panties.
The Temperature Was 110+ at 10 a.m in Death Valley, But I’m Feeling Cool. What You Can’t See are the Shinesty Panties.

Comfy and Wild Undergarments

Vacations are about trying new things and pushing boundaries and that’s what I did with my undergarments. I mean, I was in Las Vegas for a bit.

Specifically, I gave seamless thongs from Shinesty a try and by golly, it was as though I was wearing air. Which means, it felt like I wasn’t wearing any undies. Actually, with the desert’s dry heat and knowing my body, I was afraid I’d be a little hot and, uh, moist, down there. However, with these nifty panties, I was quite comfortable.

I’m not a thong gal. I’m more into practical wear. But, I totally dig Shinesty panties and feel more fierce having them wrapping around my lady bits.

Best of all, this company has a sense of humor and specializes in an “outlandish collection of clothing the world has ever seen.” Fun designs include Welcome to Flavortown Flames (pictured), Call Me Kitty Cat, and I Scream, You Scream. They have garments for just about every occasion, from election season to racecars, and beach parties to Christmas. There’s also a thong of the month club!

Sign up for the Shinesty enewsletter and get $20 towards an order.

Shinesty Seamless Thongs Styles Featured are  The Peach Purse and Welcome to Flavortown.
Shinesty Seamless Thongs Styles Featured are The Peach Purse and Welcome to Flavortown.


This post contains affiliate links to support this blog, my traveling habit, and my special-needs dog. All opinions are my own.


Solo Travel Girl

Jennifer A. Huber is the voice behind Solo Travel Girl. She's an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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