Let’s face it, there are bumps in every road you will travel. We’ve found several life hacks for a stress-free family road trip. And we all know that less stress = more fun!
Here are some of the common problems we have experienced on our road trips and some hacks to solve them.
Are We There Yet?
Is there anything more annoying than hearing “Are we there yet?” a million times from the back seat? We’re lucky if we’ve been on the highway for more than 10 minutes before one of our kids starts asking how much longer it’s going to take. It isn’t so bad the first few times… but eventually, it WILL start to annoy even those most patient of parents.
Solution: A Map Just For the Kids!
The great thing about this idea is that it doesn’t have to be fancy or high-tech. It could be as simple as writing down or printing out a list of landmarks between home and your destination, and having the kids check them off or move a token from one to the next to track your progress.
For our upcoming road trip to LEGOLAND, we came up with a LEGO road map and mounted it on the ceiling for the kids. It has a strip of LEGO tape across the bottom. They can use a LEGO minifigure to track our progress! Amazing how a small thing can add fun to our stress-free family road trip!
There are many great apps you can use on your road trip. But, you can’t be holding your phone while you drive. That’s just dangerous.
If you’re like us, your cup holders and other spaces will be filled with snacks and drinks. You also don’t want to be a passenger who is constantly holding things for someone else. You could invest in some fancy attachments to keep things on the dashboard, but in a pinch…
Solution: DIY Phone Holder
A simple rubber band can become a phone holder. Just loop it through the vent and put your screen where you can glance at it!
Keeping everyone entertained on the road is important. The key is stocking up on a variety of things to do, and having things that can be done more than once. That will go a long way to achieving the stress-free family road trip.
Solution: DIY Travel Games
We saw this cool video online where Altoid tins were turned into mini travel games. Inspired by this, we came up with with a dual travel activity kit using a dollar store pencil case. One side is for LEGO pieces and has LEGO tape on the cover to use as a base.
On the other side, we put crayons and Post-its for drawing.
Solution: Phone/Tablet Headrest Mount
Having a movie to watch really helps to pass the time. If you don’t have an in-car DVD system, and don’t want to purchase a portable player, you can mount your phone or tablet on the back of the seat in front of you using a storage bag. We used a dollar store curtain fastener to hang it around the poles of the headrest.
Solution: Erasable Sheets
For past road trips, Lisa has put together some great age-appropriate activity binders for the kids. By putting the sheets into protective sleeves and using dry erase markers, the kids could use them again and again!
Having snacks and drinks in the car is essential. Having them organized so you don’t have to climb into the backseat to distribute them is where the hacks come in to play.
The Solution: Snack Containers
Almost any container with partitions can become an all-purpose snack treasure chest. Bottles with tops that flip open make great spill-proof containers for trail mix or smaller sized snacks. Tackle boxes with separate compartments are good for storing a variety of goodies.
Solution: Shower Caddy
Whether your stop for fast food or pack your own lunch for the road, a shower caddy makes a perfect holder for your food and drinks. This is especially good if one person is in charge of passing out the food to everyone else.
I Can’t Reach It!
For me, this one is frustrating because as long as I am driving, there is nothing I can do about helping the kids find what they need in the backseat. For Lisa, having to turn around constantly to help them has a tendency to make her a bit carsick. A successful road trip relies on being organized and keeping everything you might need within reach.
There are all sorts of organizers you can buy for the car, but you may also have things around the house to repurpose. Use a bin or shower caddy for a middle of the seat or trunk organizer. Mount a basket or container on the car window using suction cup hooks. Use a over-the-door shoe organizer on the back of the seats.
Solution: Put a Leash on it.
I don’t think we’ve ever had a road trip where something didn’t fall on the floor out of reach of the kids. This is less of a problem as they get older. For the young ones, fasten important items to their seats/seatbelts so they can simply pull them up! I used a dollar store dog leash to attach Jackson’s cup, and sheet/curtain fasteners for his favorite stuffy!
I Have to Go!
These are the four words that every driver dreads. You will usually hear these words just after passing an exit, and there won’t be enough time to make it to the next one. Or, you’ll be stuck in the middle of a major traffic jam with nowhere to go. When the clock is ticking, having something on hand could save the day.
Solution: Bottle & Funnel.
I’ve taken to carrying empty bottles in the car as a precaution. You never know when you might need it. By adding a funnel, it makes it easier to use for both girls and boys.
What’s That Smell?
Is it dirty laundry? Someone’s feet? Whatever it is, dealing with an odor for hours is not an appealing way to spend your road trip. Rolling down the windows may not be an option.
Solution: Dryer Sheets
Bring a box of dryer sheets along for the trip. Open the box and sit it somewhere to give your car a fresh smell. You can even stick one in the air vent to blow the scent through the car. Place them in your luggage to help keep your clothes from getting that hot car smell, as well.
What a Mess!
Road trips mean your car is going to get messy. I usually make it a point to try and empty out any trash whenever we stop for gas. To make it easier and keep the car cleaner between pit stops, try one of these hacks.
Solution: Cereal container trash bin
Put a waste basket sized trash bag inside a plastic cereal bin. Use this to collect trash during the trip.
Solution: Cupcake Liners
Cupholders are always getting filled with crumbs, garbage, and sometimes spills. Line your cupholders with cupcake liners to catch all the nastiness and simply throw away when you need to.
Too Many Bags!
I’m throwing this in as a bonus. We haven’t used this yet ourselves, but we’re seriously considering it for this upcoming trips because we’re making multiple stops. If we’re going to be stopping overnight just once, we usually pack everything for that one night in a single overnight bag. By doing that, we don’t have to bring every suitcase into the hotel.
Got a road trip sanity-saving life hack that we didn’t include for a stress-free family road trip? Let us know about it! Leave a comment below!