Don’t let the prospect of driving countless hours on a road trip get you down. Here are some easy road trip hacks to make the time go by as quickly as possible.
Taking a drive to a new place is one of the best things you can do with your family or significant other. In fact, most of my travels are road trips with my friends and boyfriend.
Road trips are way more appealing to me because I can choose my own route and choose where I stop along the way. I like to map out routes that have a lot of places I want to go to or see.
But if you’ve ever traveled a long distance on the road, you know it’s not always pleasant. There’s getting car sick, sometimes frequent stops at the gas station to fill up and go to the bathroom, and sometimes you just get uncomfortable for sitting for so long.
It’s also especially tough if you’re traveling with your kids for a family trip. If you don’t want to go insane hearing, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” check out our best road trip hacks to make your family road trip go as smoothly as possible.
Table of Contents
The first step to making road trips easier with kids is ensuring they have plenty of things to keep them entertained. Before a trip, I like to take a trip to the dollar store to pick up some cheap toys and coloring books to keep my youngest entertained. New things might be able to hold their attention better.
The other route you can go is bring a tablet or video game to entertain your kids. This is helpful if you’re a lone adult traveling with kids. It’s hard to focus on driving and entertain a kid, so giving them an electronic they can watch movies on.
One of the most popular road trip hacks is hanging an iPad, Kindle or other monitor off the seat in front of the kids. You can get a headrest tablet mount for fairly cheap on Amazon! This is obviously unnecessary if you’re lucky enough to have a car equipped with built-in viewing monitors.
But if you have a vehicle that lacks built-in monitors, letting your kids watch movies will help kill a couple hours. You can also download episodes of their favorite shows ahead of time. This will come in handy if you’re driving in an area that doesn’t have reliable Wifi.
Another one of the most popular entertainment-viewing road trip hacks is using a binder clip for a smart phone holder. Along with a rubber band, you can attach the clip to the air vent. If you’re worried about that not holding up, you can also buy a car phone mount!
Hacks That’ll Save You Money
For the best gas prices, download the GasBuddy app before your trip. The app finds the cheapest gas stations in your area as you make your way to your final destination.
Plan your lodging ahead using online search engines that find the best deals. If you have family or friends that you can visit along the way, you’ll save by not having to pay for a hotel.
Let’s get back to entertaining the kids in the easiest way possible: with Wifi.
If you have unlimited data on your cell phone, set it up as a hot spot. By doing this, you can stream live TV or recorded shows through your phone or device without having to worry about spotty Wifi.
However, keep in mind this tip is only good if you are on an unlimited data plan. If you don’t have such a plan or don’t want to use your phone as a hot spot, there’s another option.
Canadian Family recommends purchasing a mobile hot spot device. This is especially beneficial if you have more than one person along for the ride who wants to connect to the Internet at the same time.
If you don’t want your kids staring at a screen or don’t want to pay for data, how can you keep them occupied?
This life hacking website recommends hanging a backpack from the headrest. Fill the backpack with books, child-friendly laptops, puzzles and other toys and activities.
Other ideas are to have portable white boards and kids dry erase markers so they can have do tons of doodling. Or, try playing a few rounds of road trip bingo. You’ll just need to print some playing cards before you leave.
Glow stick fun
For nighttime driving, Red Tricycle says there’s no better way to make the time fly by than having a glow stick dance party! Put on some glow-stick appropriate hopping tunes to keep the kids distracted from the fact there’s nothing to see out of the window.
If your child or children are old enough, Red Tricycle suggests letting them play with a disposable or digital camera. Of course, if you’re driving through offbeat attractions in Wichita, Kansas, there may not be too much to photograph.
Nonetheless, kids can have fun playing family photographer. Have them keep a diary of what they’re taking pictures of; instruct them to record the exact place, date and time of each individual photo … that’ll kill some tedious time.
Road Trip Packing Hacks
Another way to organize kid-friendly knickknacks, says Red Tricycle, is hanging a shoe organizer from the back of each front seat. But, you can also get a nifty backseat car organizer with a tablet holder built in!
If you don’t want your car seats to get soiled with dirt, here’s one more tip courtesy of Red Tricycle….
Cover your car seats with a fitted sheet. By doing so, when you arrive at your destination, you can simply shake out the sheet to clear the mess.
Or you can do so intermittently throughout the drive.
Tips For Sleeping In The Car
If you’re travelling solo and you can fold your back seats down and have decent trunk space, you can sleep in your car. But unless you have a large van, sleeping in a car can be uncomfortable.
That’s why one of the smartest road trip hacks for solo (or for couples) travelers is bringing an inflatable raft or camping sleeping pad. Use the raft or pad as your mattress. They also have inflatable car air mattresses you can buy for a reasonable price!
If you’re going to sleep in your car, an important thing to consider is where to pull over for the night. Rest stops are tempting if you’re traveling along a major interstate. However, rest stops can be poorly maintained and, well, just outright sketchy.
Instead, some people who sleep in their car do so at big box chain-store parking lots. Some stores like Walmart may allow overnight parking of cars or RVs.
Another safe option is to park your vehicle in a hospital that has a large garage. There will always be a police presence at a hospital in case you run into trouble.
And if you’re going on a really long trip, say, across the country or far up the coast, pay the money to have a mechanic inspect your car.
Not doing so may result in paying far more money out of pocket for repairs.
Killing Time & Going Potty
If you’ve got a long drive ahead of you, visit your local library before you depart. Check out some audio books and download them. If you’re not downloading the audio books on your own device, you might be able to renew the audio books online, depending on your library’s policy.
When nature calls, most people like to stop at a rest stop. Others will stop in a fast food restaurant for a quick potty break. However, hotels are a better option.
Hotel facilities are usually cleaner. Plus, after driving a few hours, you can the time to stretch your legs in the hotel lobby or take a quick walk around the hotel’s perimeter.
Road Trip Food Hacks
If you want to cut down on environmental waste, buy a set of reusable bamboo utensils. They usually come with a handy carrying case.
Think about all the meals you’ll be eating while on the road and how many napkins and plastic utensils you would otherwise go through.
Another of the best road trip hacks is to buy Hot-Cold Insulated Thermal Food Storage & Carry Bags. You don’t need to invest in a $400 Yeti cooler; simple hot-cold insulated food storage bags are as low as a couple bucks each.
Family road trips don’t have to be a complete pain. Use some of these road trip hacks to make your life easier and to hopefully save some money!
In case you still have questions, I’ve answered some common ones here. If you need more information. Leave a comment.
Some things you may want to consider include packing snacks and drinks, planning your route, and packing a first-aid kit. If you’re traveling with children, be sure to pack games and toys to keep them entertained. And don’t forget to pack your sunscreen and sunglasses!
There are a few things to consider when looking for a good hotel when traveling. First, consider your budget and find a hotel that fits within your budget. Next, read reviews of the hotel to get an idea of what others have thought about their experience. Finally, decide what is important to you when staying at a hotel and look for those amenities. For example, if you want a pool or on-site restaurant, make sure those are available at the hotel you’re considering.
A GPS based map is the best map to use on a road trip as it can update with traffic information. If you have WiFi access on your smartphone, Google Maps and Apple Maps are great to use. Another popular option is Waze which provides things like hazards along the road.