Seriously Brilliant Road Trip Hacks for Your Next Family Vacation

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Before you load up the family truckster for your next family vacation, you absolutely MUST take a look at these brilliant road trip hacks.  From activities to organization to snack time, these road trip hacks will make your life on the road oh-so-much easier!  Whether your travels take you nearby or far far from home, a little pre-planning and prep will go a long way.

road trip hacks


Best Family Road Trip Hacks

Great FOOD road trip hacks!

1. Throw a cooler in the back of the car and fill it with juice boxes, water bottles, soda, whatever your family prefers to drink. Use the ice machine at your hotel to fill the cooler with fresh ice every morning before you hit the road.  Stay hydrated and save money and time by not having to stop for drinks! We usually pick up a case or two of bottled water before we leave home. I always feel physically better when I keep up with water consumption when we are traveling.

Cooler with Soda

2. Family favorite: packing cold cuts and fixins for sandwiches!  When we stop for lunch, we make up hoagies and sandwiches. I usually pick up a Walmart grocery order the day before we head out of town and load up on cold cuts, cheese, condiments, etc. When we travel in our camper, these items go in the fridge and/or cabinets. When we are driving without the camper, we use a big cooler with plenty of ice to carry the food.

rest stop lunch sandwiches

3. Use old coffee creamer bottles to hold snacks like this example from Stockpiling MomsThe flip-top lid makes the snacks easy to dispense and helps prevent some mess from spills.


4. Self-serve snacks: We have also had a lot of luck using these small plastic organizers to create snack boxes for the kids on road trips. You can fill them with any snacks you’d like and the kids get a variety of food in small portion sizes.

Mickey Mouse Snack

Kid Activity Road Trip Hacks!

1. Bring a hula hoop, jump rope or bubbles to give kids a quick and easy way to let off some steam!  When you give kids a chance to burn off some of that pent up energy that comes from hours in a car, everyone is much happier when it’s time to get back on the road. Utilize bathroom and gas station stops to give the kids a few minutes to move around. My kids love challenges so something like “How many jumps can you do in a row with the jump rope?” always get them moving!

Hula Hoop Popping Bubbles Road Trip

2. Make a travel coloring kit like this example from Living Well Mom. Toss some crayons and a few small coloring pages into a container and you’re set.


3. A bag of pipe cleaners will result in long periods of happy kids!  (Got a toddler?  Toss them an empty water bottle to put the pipe cleaners in over and over and over again!) See how we put together a few toddler friendly road trip activities for Landon when he was younger.  They kept him occupied for hours!

pipe cleaners

4. Collect old thank you cards and envelopes in a ziploc bag with a pen for an instant “post office” letter writing station.

write a letter road trip

5. My kids would LOVE a portable lego kit like the one that Mama Papa Bubba made!

portable lego kit

6. Hand toddlers a deck of cards.  You won’t believe how long they can play with this one!

car road trip boredom buster toddler pack of playing cards

7.  Magnets on a metal cookie sheet or cake pan are also wonderful boredom busters!

magnets on cake tray car road trip boredom buster toddler

8. Make up some Road Trip Goodie Bags.  These are great ways to reward good behavior! Check out our post for tips on what to fill them with and grab our free printable bag tags!

Road trip goodie bags in car HERO 2

9. Make a printable road trip journalPut that printable in a binder with other free road trip printables and you will have a great activity book for the kids to work their way through as you drive.

Printable Vacation Journal

10. Stock a dollar store treasure box full of prizes.  Let the kids earn Adventure Bucks for good behavior that they can redeem for prizes!

DIY Dollar Store Prize

Adventure Bucks Printed

Best Car Organization Road Trip Hacks

1. Use silicone cupcake liners in your cup holders to keep them clean.  There’s nothing ickier than trying to clean out sticky dirty cup holders in a car.  Avoid the situation entirely simply by placing a silicone cupcake holder in each cup holder.

Silicone Cupcake Liners

2.  I really love this car trunk organization idea using regular old shower caddies.  This example is from The Castro Family Happynings.

car trunk organizer

3. Turn a cereal container into a car trash can.  This example is from Better Homes and Gardens.

cereal container trash can

4.  Use suction cup shower caddies to hold snacks and art supplies like this example from Grey House Harbor.  (Just make sure to lock the windows or else you might have a big mess on your hands!)

shower caddies on car windows

5. These multi-device USB car chargers are absolute SANITY SAVERS in our car!  Whether we’re road tripping near or far, we always have umpteen devices that need to be charged.

Car Charger

6. Not an IN-car hack, but when you park, drop a pin on your phone map.  This will help you to remember in what garage or parking lot you left your car!  That’s a handy tip when you’re in an unfamiliar city.

iphone maps

7.  Use cheap plastic glasses cases from the dollar store to store various chargers and other cords. This is example is from our camping site, Glamper Life.

eyeglasses case

8.  Keep a claw grabber in the car.  Oh how I wish I had discovered this idea sooner!  If I only had a nickel for every time the kids dropped a blankie or pacifier or snack on the floor and no matter how I contorted my body, I could not reach it!

9. Another parking lot tip – take a picture of where you parked so you can locate your car!

Pic of Car in Parking Lot

10.  Keep a first aid kit in your car for any bumps and bruises that may occur.  Other great items to toss in this kit include bug spray, sunscreen, ponchos and wipes.

We made up dollar store first aid kits and mini first aid kits on the super cheap.  It’s so nice knowing that we have these supplies in the car wherever we road trip to!

DIY Dollar Store First Aid Kit

What are YOUR best road trip hacks for families?  I would love to hear them!


BRILLIANT Road Trip Hacks PIN 1

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4 thoughts on “Seriously Brilliant Road Trip Hacks for Your Next Family Vacation”

  1. My kids are all grown but when we would travel would wrap their happy meal little toys from before the trip in old wrapping paper. I would give them a new “gift” everytime they were bored with the toys they were playing with.

  2. When we are traveling for our summer vacation, we make each of our kids(pre-teens 10,11 &12) take their lunch boxes from school. We pack light snacks, drinks and junk food of course that are all right out of dollar tree). The front pocket holds their devices and side pouch holds their headphones and chargers or visa versa. its like an all in one deal. No ones asking who took who’s charger and they can eat when they’re ready while on the road. So no random stops outside of gas stops or stretching.


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