Best Car Hacks for Spring Break Road-Tripping Success!
It's March and that means Spring Break is just around the corner. Before you start pulling your hair out from hearing one too many “are we there yets,” take a look at our comprehensive list of car hacks for your next road trip. We're talking everything from cheap gas-finding apps to hot tips on keeping kids entertained for hours on end.
15 Tips for a Great Family Road Trip
1. Let's start with trash. We all know that spending hours in a car with kids will produce a lot of trash. It seems that snack wrappers, fast food waste, and used-up stickers all find their way to the floor within minutes of departure...
Contain the mess by always having on hand a DIY car-size closeable trash can. Simply line a plastic cereal dispenser with a 4-gallon plastic bag (the kind you use in the bathroom trash) to collect garbage and keep it from spilling.
2. Contain all those small toys and crayons in a shower caddy suction-cupped to the window next to your child. No more nearly dislocating a shoulder reaching back to hand the kids their toys—they will have everything they need right at their fingertips.
3. Use miniature clear plastic lidded containers to store game dice or any other small items that you won't want to search for under the seats. Toss the plastic containers into a game bag or the seat back for easy access. And because the containers are clear, the kids can simply toss it to roll the dice while they're still nice and secure inside.
4. You can also use pencil boxes or small plastic containers to put together custom kits for pint-size entertainment. We love the idea of small notebooks and crayons, sticker books, or basic crafting staples like felt pieces and a glue stick.
Keeping everything in one box you can hand out every so often makes it seem extra special.
5. All these coloring and crafting ideas might need a sturdy surface in the car, so store an extra baking sheet or cutting board in the seat back to for children to use on their lap. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to color or draw on an unstable surface.
If you really want to go the extra mile, apply small strip of magnetic tape to the back of every item (crayons, notebook, etc.) so that they'll stick to the baking sheet when not in use.
6. Another super popular idea for keeping the car clean is to line the cupholders with a muffin liner or a small plastic container. This is an area of the car that can get pretty gross after a long trip, so the ability to take them out and toss them will make life easier after you get to your destination.
7. Sometimes stinky feet can take over the smell of the car four hours into the road trip, so pack some dryer sheets into the seat backs or glove compartment to keep everything smelling fresh.
8. Put together a little kit of wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper (just in case those road stop bathrooms run out or you have to make a pit stop). Having a bag of plastic utensils, napkins, and straws on hand for eating can also be very handy.
9. Make a snack necklace to hand out when kids are getting a little whiny. Simply string cereal, pretzels or anything else that can be threaded onto a piece of yarn and tie into a long necklace. This clever idea will keep kids busy and is a little less messy than trying to eat the snack out of bag.
10. Anyone that has stayed home with kids during spring or summer break knows that when they are out of school, their hunger increases exponentially. For longer stretches in the car, it's also a great idea to put together a road trip snack caddy to keep everyone happy in between meal stops. We used a shoe box lined with some plastic containers to keep snacks organized and ready to be distributed when the whining starts.
11. In case of emergencies, bring along some extra cash. But, instead of keeping it visible, hide it in an empty sunscreen bottle or empty lip balm container. Most families travel to tourist-heavy areas that thieves are likely to target, so if you use this sneaky trick, you may save yourself from getting robbed.
12. Another disaster you could face is the loss of internet. Sometimes we rely on our phones for the map apps that get us where we're going. Most people don't keep maps in their cars any more, so make sure you screen capture all your maps and directions in case you don't have an internet connection. You can refer back to them and make sure you won't get lost, even if the worst happens.
13. If kids have tablets or other devices without internet, remember that many cell phone plans come with a hot-spot you can activate that will let them play their favorite games even when they aren't connected.
14. But, assuming all goes according to plan and you do have an internet connection for the trip, let's talk apps for finding cheap gas or interesting pit stops.
- Gas Buddy is a great app that helps you find the cheapest gas while you're on the road.
- We love Around Me for finding specific things like the closest Starbucks, Chipotle or bank.
- Sometimes you just need to know how much further until there's a restroom or restaurant. Road Ahead Highway Exit Finder is an app to tell you exactly that.
- Along The Way is an app that will tell you all the cool things that you can't miss without straying from the route to your destination.
- The Glympse app will put Grandma's mind at ease while she's waiting for you to arrive. Instead of texting updates to the person you are going to visit, you can use this app to let them track you along the way.
15. We also love technology for finding the best game apps for the whole family.
- Check out Road Trip Bingo app.
- Kick it old-school with the Mad Libs app.
- Road Trip Scavenger Hunt will keep everyone's eyes peeled to win the game.
- Sluggy Buggy is a twist on the classic.
- Free Road Trip Game helps you find state license plates, keep track and compete with others.
That's it! Absolutely EVERYTHING you need for road trip bliss this Spring Break! Hit the road and have fun.
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About the author:
Stephanie is mom to three small children and the founder and managing editor of Modern Parents Messy Kids (MPMK for short). There her team provides inspiration to thousands of parents on living well via kid-friendly recipes, parenting tips and organizational hacks.