Are you planning a road trip this summer? Whether you’re making the annual road trip to Grandma’s house or heading off on a new adventure, you’ll want to make planning and organization a top priority. Learning how to organize your car will help you start off your vacation with less stress. For my family, keeping the car organized creates space, keeps things clean and makes the journey more comfortable. Not to mention, I want to be able to find what I want, when I need it!
Before you hit the road, it’s important to make a list of everything you may need during your trip. Personally, I like to make 2 lists, one to help with packing our luggage and another for packing the car.
Food is a necessity when traveling with kids and I like to ensure we have all the fixings for breakfast and lunch, plus plenty of beverages and savory and sweet snacks on hand to keep the entire family hydrated and fed during our journey.
When preparing for my trip from FL to VA, I headed to Walmart to shop for our food supplies and to stock-up on bottled soda and water. Derrick is obsessed with chewing gum while driving, so I picked up a TRIDENT Unwrapped Bottle. It contains 50 pieces of gum and, since they are all unwrapped, there is no trash to throw away.
RITZ Crisp&Thins were also on my shopping list. These deliciously thin and crispy chips are oven baked to perfection. Even better for me, they have 50% less fat, per serving, than the leading regular fried potato chips.
We always pack a cooler and keep it within easy reach (usually in the back seat between the kid’s captain chairs). We don’t want to stop every time the kiddos need a drink! If you’re driving a smaller car, a cooler bag may work best. Along with water, I purchase bottles of soda such as 7UP®. The bottles can be sealed, so I don’t have to worry about spills. Plus, 7UP® is caffeine free. I don’t want hyped-up kids in the car!
Before we leave the house, we usually make sandwiches and pack breakfast for the ride. Eating gives the kids another activity to pass the time while we’re on the road. All cold items will be packed neatly in the cooler paying special attention to keep items we will consume first on the top.
Tip – Bring a hand towel to wipe water off the drink bottles. Lay this over the cooler, so it’s easily accessible.
The day before departing, clean out the car. Remove all trash and anything from the car and trunk that isn’t needed for the trip. Give everything a good wipe down inside and out, so you start the trip off without unnecessary mess and clutter.
Having plastic bags under the front passenger seat is also a must. It makes keeping all the trash in one place a breeze. Simply put all the trash in the bag and dump it in a trash can at the next rest stop or gas station.
Bring small hand towels to go on the kids laps (okay and the adults, too) to catch crumbs while eating. The kids can fold the towels up when done and just shake them out at the next stop. It keeps the car crumb free and if there is a major spill, most of it usually gets caught by the towel. I usually store the towels in the seat pockets.
Keeping the kids entertained while on the road will take some forethought as well. Our children both have a small container or bag in the car with sunglasses, tissues, wet-ones, headphones, colored pencils, drawing paper, journal, books, movies and electronics. They also have a travel blanket and pillow. Each child has his or her own bag. That way mom and dad aren’t distracted when the kids want to change activities. It also reduces fighting over who has what book or toy! Kids are responsible for keeping their area clean and returning items to their bags after use.
Take a minute to download and print these 3 kids printable travel games before your trip. After the kids complete the game, you can simply throw the pages away.
In terms of luggage, that goes in the truck, of course. I do, however, pack differently for each trip. If we are staying at many different hotels along the way, I pack multiple bags and utilize packing cubes. Why haul in 3 suitcases for just one night?
Please Note – I don’t recommend leaving valuables in the car. Take electronics and important paperwork in with you!
Toiletries and medication have their own bag(s) and everyones PJ’s are always kept in one cube. Then I just need to grab another cube that I’ve packed a days outfit in for each family member, and I’m good to go. I like to keep a bag in the car for dirty laundry as well. Again, why carry dirty clothes into to each new hotel room?
Before departing in the morning, I take a minute to swap out the packing cubes, so everything is ready once we reach our next destination. Then we add drinks to the cooler and restock our food bag in the front of the car. Now we’re ready to go!
How to Organize Your Car – Where to Put What:
:: Navigation system, map, itinerary and directions
:: Cellphone or iPod with cord for music
:: Trash bags under passengers seat
:: Medical kit in the center consul or under the seat
Back Seat –
:: Cooler with small towel laying over the top
:: Food bag (filled for that days drive only)
:: Kids bag, blankets and pillows
:: Small towels in seat back pockets for messes
:: Luggage (keeping the first bags needed on the top or easily accessible)
:: Extra food and beverages in a bag
:: Optional bag for dirty laundry
:: Tools and supplies (oil and washer fluid, etc) for car maintenance
Taking the time to make sure everything is organized and all passengers comfortable will make the road trip so much more enjoyable. When you plan ahead and have everything easily accessible, you won’t have to stress about forgotten items or pulling over to the side of the road everytime the kids need something. Find what you want, when you need it and enjoy the extra time together as a family.
Do you have more trips on how to organize your car? Please share them in the comments.