Summer means it’s time for family traveling! One of our favorite ways to save money on travel is to drive whenever possible. It is cheaper and it also takes the headache and hassle out of checking carseats and strollers at the airport. After years of traveling together, you learn a few tricks. Here are 20 road trip hacks all moms need to know before taking your next trip!
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I love road trips. On more than one occasion, we’ve randomly packed up the kiddos and taken an impromptu trip to our favorite destinations. Those trips are memories that I hope our kids will cherish long into adulthood.
That doesn’t mean they’re always a breeze. Some of the craziest, most stressful road trips end up being the hilarious stories you tell for years. It’s the imperfection and craziness that sticks with you. Luckily, there are some mishaps that can be avoided. These road trip hacks help make that possible.
You can use one of these exclusively for your car to wrangle essentials like baby wipes, tissues, and hand sanitizer. In addition to that, these are great for road trips. Kids can each have their own to load up with their “travel gear” such as headphones, favorite movies/CD’s, and books. The reason I love shower kits for this is that they usually come with a hanger already attached. You can use that to hang them right on the seats (even the middle seats for the kids in the back).
2. Place Diapers in Potty Seat for Emergency Potty
This is absolutely genius for more than road trips. Even well potty-trained kids can catch you in a position where there isn’t a bathroom readily available. (My 5 and 6 year old are infamous for this… it’s like they plan it.) Now, you can put a diaper into a potty chair so that you’re always ready for emergencies. Make cleanup even easier by placing a plastic bag in the seat before adding the diaper. After it gets used, remove the bag with the diaper inside.
3. Keep the Car Clean with a DIY Trash Can
Again, we use this hack all year round. It’s even been used as a bucket on one ill-fated car ride when my daughter got the flu. Don’t forget to keep extra bags in the car (or in the bottom of the can) so that you always have a spare.
4. Attach an Empty Bag to Each Seat
In addition to using a car trash can, I also recommend attaching an empty grocery bag to each seat or car seat. This lets your kids collect their own trash throughout the trip. Simply toss the bags at your next fill up and keep your car wrapper free!
5. Use Window Crayons to Entertain Little Ones During the Ride
These are one of our favorite boredom busters at home and they’re great for road trips too. Let kiddos create works of art over and over again during the ride. Windex wipes are great for clean up in between.
6. Tie Sippy Cups and Water Bottles to Car Seats
How many times even on a short trip to the store have your kids dropped their cups and asked for you to get it? No one wants to deal with that on a road trip. You don’t have to when you tie the sippy cups and water bottles to the seats. Then kids can easily get the back without assistance from you.
7. Pack Changes of Clothes
Pack a small bag with changes of clothes for everyone separate from your luggage. Small kids and babies, especially, are prone to accidents and other grossness. You definitely don’t want to ride around in a car with a vomit covered child but you don’t want to pull out all of your luggage either. A change of clothes for everyone in an easily accessible bag is life-saving.
8. Bring Plenty of Quarters
Keep an empty pill bottle or M & M container filled with quarters in your glove box during road trips. Use them for toll roads, vending machines, and any other small conveniences. This will save you a lot of time and headaches on your trip.
9. Use a Cheap Plastic Tablecloth to Protect the Backseat
Spills are going to happen. Luckily, you can protect your seat by covering them with a cheap plastic tablecloth. Cut slits where the buckles for the seatbelts are and then place your carseats as usual. When spills happen you won’t worry as much.
10. Don’t Forget Towels
Even with your seats protected you still want a way to clean up spills when they happen. Bring a few extra towels from home to successfully clean up spills and other mishaps during your trip. I recommend bringing older towels that way if they get stained or can’t be salvaged, it’s no big deal.
11. Let Each Child Bring a Blanket
Let’s face it: kids and adults never agree on the temperature of the car… especially if the sun is beating down on you and not them. Keep everyone happy and more comfortable by letting everyone bring their own blanket. Then you can keep the car cooled down without complaints from the little ones.
12. Hold Some Surprises
Keep kids entertained throughout your journey with surprise gifts. Dole out surprises throughout the trip at predetermined times/stops or keep a mini-stash to whip out when they start getting whiny and frustrated. A new coloring book or movie is a great way to reinvigorate their spirits instantly.
13. Bring a Lap Board
Lap boards are one of the most useful items you can have on a road trip. They make activities easier from drawing and playing with toys and they make meals in the car less messy. It’s awesome (and worth any price). You can DIY your own version or buy one here.
14. Keep Sunglasses Handy
No one naps well when the sun is in their eyes. You can’t always rely on the kiddos to remember theirs on the trip. Keep a stash of extra sunglasses in the car to pull out in a pinch. It will make your road trip a lot more enjoyable.
15. Hide Extra Snacks
Snacks and food are essential to road trips. Unfortunately, bored kiddos sometimes eat when they’re not hungry. Give them a few snacks to eat at their discretion but keep a stash of extra snacks for later in the trip. Hangry toddlers are as bad as hangry teens… don’t get caught unprepared.
16. Invest in a Headphone Splitter
I want to enjoy some tunes during my road trips, even when the kids are watching a DVD in the back. However, 3 kids and only 2 screens means that headphones won’t work for everyone. This headphone splitter allows you to hook multiple headphones to the same jack and it’s worth every penny, I promise.
17. Make a Medicine Kit
Everyone knows that an emergency first aid kit is important to keep in the car but these don’t have some basic medicines that your family needs on trips. Make your own medicine kit and include things such as allergy medicine, motion sickness medicine, and heartburn medicine. I also recommend including vitamins and any prescriptions family members take.
18. Extra Plastic Cups
Another item you may not think to bring is extra cups. I like to use disposable ones but you can totally use any plastic cups. These make doling out snacks easy and also make a great organizer for crayons or small toys. Keep a stash handy on your next road trip.
19. Bring Along DIY Road Trip Bags
I love these road trip bags! My kids get excited when they see me packing them and I love that they each have personalized activity kits ready for the trip. They’re super easy to personalize to your child’s interests and you can pick up the drawstring bags for a dollar at the Dollar Tree making them totally budget-friendly.
20. Suction Cup Shower Organizers to Wrangle Kids Items
This is a brilliant hack to organize activities while keeping supplies within your kid’s reach. Suction some of these to the windows to hold art supplies, snacks, and other road trip essentials.
Your next vacation will be a breeze with these 20 road trip hacks all moms need to know! Now you can save money by driving without the headache being stuck in the car usually brings. Do you have any sanity-saving road trip hacks? Let me know in the comments so I can update my list!
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I’m a nerdy, crafty mom of three adorable little kids. I love writing and creating, but in my non-existent free time I also love karaoke, taking my kids to the zoo, and reading. I got my degree in Science (no idea how that happened) but I took every English class I could get my hands on because, yeah, I’m that girl.