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13 Road Trip Hacks to Keep Kids Comfortable & Adults Happy

Car taking a road trip on the coast.

The best road trips can go bad in the blink of an eye if you don’t have everything you need to ensure both comfort and survival. Life on the open road is a serious endeavor, and there’s often few rest stops and gas stations when you’re driving through our great nation from one destination to another.

Since we hate to think of any of our readers hitting the road without first making an organized packing list, we’ve thrown together this selection of basic items and ideas to help you, well, hack it. Whether you call them road trip hacks or just good old fashioned travel tips, we hope the following list of considerations makes your next road trip a breeze.

Some travel hacks go beyond the road to become full blown life hacks themselves. Here are some things you should always have in your car ,whether you’re on a long road trip or just driving around town:

Basic Road Trip Hacks

 

1. A trash can: This one might seem like a no-brainer, but how often have you found yourself in a car full of crusty old fast-food wrappers and empty water bottles? Whether you use one of the cheap models you can find on Amazon, an old bag, or a plastic cereal container with one of those lids that snaps shut, having a dedicated trash can is always better than shoving garbage in your cup holders.

2. A first aid kit: You never know when calamity will strike, and it’s always better to be prepared. Every car should have its own first aid kit stashed somewhere. Just remember to rotate medications and other items out once they’ve expired. And if you happen to get a kit that doesn’t have something for car sickness, you should definitely add that yourself.

3. An emergency kit: Although these dandy investments often have a lot of overlap with first aid kits, they usually contain handy items that the other doesn’t. Smaller kits that can fit in glove boxes and center consoles generally include things like emergency blankets, tiny pouches of emergency water, and rain ponchos. While these sundries are no doubt helpful in an emergency, you’ll probably want to shuck out the bucks for one of the larger kits that include everything you’ll need to jump start your car and change a flat tire safely.

4. A fire extinguisher: Since these aren’t always included in emergency kits, we definitely encourage you to pick one up. If for some unforeseen your car or something in it catches fire, you’ll be very happy you spent forty or so dollars to protect an investment that’s worth tens of thousands.

5. Tons of chargers: Not only do you want to make sure you have the right charger for every appliance you bring on your next road trip, you’ll also want to guarantee there are plenty of outlets. In addition to all of the appropriate chargers, consider investing in splitters that turn a single USB into a hub that can feed several devices at once.

6. Napkins: You never know when you’re gonna need to wipe some schmutz off your hands, blow your nose… or run out of toilet paper. It’s always a good idea to stuff your car’s center console or glove box with a wad of extra paper napkins.

7. Utensils: Whether you prefer reusable silverware, disposable packets, or wooden chopsticks, it’s always a good idea to have some emergency utensils on hand.

8. Toiletries: Ideally you won’t ever be stuck overnight somewhere without your toothbrush, a razor, or any of the other bathroom items that help complete your daily grooming ritual. This being the case, consider keeping backups of these essentials somewhere in your automobile.

Road Trip Hacks for Kids

RELATED: Road Trip Scavenger Hunt: 10 Games for Your Next Adventure

Anyone who’s ever been on a family road trip is more than familiar with the classic question, “Are we there yet?” Usually this has more to do with kiddo boredom than actually tracking trip progress in terms of miles. To make sure your family vacation doesn’t become the car ride from Heck, consider these preparations:

9. Shoe organizers and shower caddies: Why on Earth would you want these in your car? Both are great for keeping kid stuff organized and out of the way. Whether you’re storing crayons, toys, or snacks, these cheap items can help. Shoe organizers are great for draping over the back of car seats, while shower caddies with suction cups can be stuck to car windows.

10. Road Trip Games & Activities: One way or another, you want to make sure your kids stay occupied during any extended car trip. There’s a load of activities parents can choose from, and it really comes down to what kids are into. In addition to completely free games like Slug Bug, I Spy, and the License Plate Game, remember premium choices like word searches, crayons, and coloring books. Whatever floats their boat fits the bill! Most of this stuff is pretty inexpensive and can be found at a dollar store.

11. Healthy Snacks: While road trip snacks are a must for all family travel, they don’t have to be junk food. In fact, giving kids a bunch of oily chips, sugary candy, and acidic pop is just asking for trouble. Healthy snacks like fruit, bread, and vegetables can go a long way, both in life and on the road.

12. A travel toilet: As any parent can tell you, kids are a ticking time bomb that can only be defused with the occasional sit or squat. As it turns out, travel toilets are surprisingly affordable. If nothing else, it’s cheaper than having to buy new car seats after you-know-what.

 

13. Movies: You don’t have to buy and install a whole theater in your car to entertain your kids with their favorite Disney films. All you have to do is bring your iPad and rig a DIY holder to hang from the back of a headrest or a visor. Feel free to get inventive!

Know any great road trip hacks we should include next time? Give us a holler on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!

READ MORE: 15 Best Driving Songs to Start Your Road Trip Right

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