13 Road Trip Hacks Every Family Needs to Know
Road trips are fun, exciting, and adventurous, but with kids, they have the potential to be a bit disastrous if you're not prepared. Don't risk having bored, restless, and hungry kids stuck in the car for hours on end — ensure your trip goes smoothly by keeping them and yourself sane with a few clever tips and tricks.
Scroll through for 13 road trip hacks every family should know.
Line your cupholders.
Cupholders aren't just for cups — they hold change, keys, glasses, drink bottles, and more. Keep them crumb-free and less of a sticky mess with rubber cupcake liners. The liners can be easily wiped down at the end of the road trip and used as a car hack well beyond your vacation.
Store change for tolls in an old candy container.
Reuse those plastic gum containers that fit neatly in cupholders for storing toll change or small bills — that way, you're not scrambling to pay a toll with screaming kids in the back seat (and can avoid attempting to scrape a quarter out of the bottom of the cupholder that's been stuck there since the time a soda exploded in the car in '08).
Keep everyone full yet in control.
Most people take full boxes and bags of snacks on road trips, and sitting idle for all that time could mean being hungry more often and eating more (the worst pit stops are puke pit stops). Organize snacks and portion them out for little bellies using a tackle box or craft container with sections.
Make boredom bags for easily distracted littles.
Instead of reaching into your big bag of tricks every few minutes, pack up "boredom bags" for older kids with a snack and a few activities that they can rotate through for a while (read: a few extra minutes than usual).
If you don't have a fancy car with a TV or DVD player, entertain the whole back seat by wedging the iPad between the two front seats and playing a movie. This way, everyone's watching together but can still do other things to keep themselves busy in their own seat.
Eat on the go with shower caddies.
Road trips sometimes mean fast food or eating on the go. To avoid spillages (and wasting precious french fries), use a shower caddy to organize the kids' meals — they can eat on their laps, or if they're smaller, you can help feed them without having to hold everything.
Invest in laptop desks.
A plastic laptop desk has everything your kid needs — a flat play surface, a cup holder, and storage space for their books and games.
Keep the essentials at hand.
Instead of packing all of the frequently needed things in a bag somewhere in the car, use a shoe caddy or organizer hung over the front seat to fill with the essentials.
Don't trash the car.
Kids make a lot of garbage, and without frequent stops, there aren't that many opportunities to dispose of all the trash. Use a plastic cereal container (or anything with a lid) filled with a plastic bag to keep garbage all together and the car neat.
Pack for different places.
Using plastic drawers can help you pack in a number of ways! If you're going to drive through a few different climates, pack for each temperature change in a different drawer (or save a drawer for each member of the family). Or make getting in and out of the car easier and avoid having to sift through and pack up a suitcase at each hotel.
Drop a pin where you park.
If you're exploring a new city — or taking a pit stop along the way — drop a pin in your maps app so that you can walk back to where you parked the car later. This is especially helpful for parents pushing strollers or carrying heavy, sleeping kids.
Pack efficiently to keep your trunk neat.
To maximize space in the trunk, pack suitcases efficiently — rolls clothes instead of folding them to fit more in each bag, pack up the kids in one suitcase instead of half-filling each one's case, and choose soft bags that have a little bit more wiggle room than hard ones.
Turn straws upside down.
To keep the straw inside your little one's sippy cup — and to help them avoid dropping their juice on the floor — turn a crazy straw upside down so that it won't come through the top of the lid. It makes the cup more secure and less likely to be dropped (though, because you can't reach the car floor, everything automatically becomes more droppable out of spite, right?).