Whether you’re a seasonal road tripper, a “daring the distance” traveler, or find yourself on the road often for quick trips with the kids, these road trip hacks will help you in most every situation. So, plan your cross-country trip, grab the car seats for the kids, and hit the open road.
Depending on what type of travelers you are or what your total goal distance is, a short road trip is most likely considered to be 500 miles or eight hours of driving. However, if you’re driving with pets or children, you might consider a short road trip to be about 250 miles or five hours worth of driving. Here are some road trip hacks that are especially handy for shorter road trips.
Regardless of trip duration, make sure your car is outfitted for emergency situations during all seasons. Jumper cables, spare tire & jack, proof of insurance, car first aid kit, batteries, duct tape, blanket, sunscreen, bottled water, protein bars, $50 cash. You’ll be thankful you did!
Having a designated, small trash can that doesn’t spill or slosh around is a must when on a road trip. You can find something at the dollar store or use recycled items at home to make one. Try a coffee can or a used plastic cereal container with paper bags.
Always bring an atlas. This is more of a universal hack, but you’ll find that once you cross into a patch of lost service, your GPS or smartphone might cause you to miss a turn. To best utilize the atlas, be sure to write down a road marker or point of interest every hour. That way, if you do end up lost and your GPS thinks you’ve gone off the edge of the earth, you can backtrack on the Atlas to your last known location and hopefully get yourself back on the right route.
Don’t spend more money on the road than you have to. Bring a large vessel of water, a big thermos of coffee, a few 16oz Silipints with Silicone Travel Lids and Sili-Straws, and refill your own cups on the road. Traveling a short distance can feel like forever when you’re constantly stopping in a circuit of beverages and bathroom breaks. Plus, by bringing your own Silipint supplies, you’re also helping out mother earth by not participating in purchasing single-use plastics, papers, and foams.
Save your money, you might need it for gas down the road. Roadside gas stations usually have more expensive snacks than you’d normally find in your local grocery store. Pack a few energy-producing snacks in Stasher Bags (woohoo for not using plastic bags!) so you don’t have to stop on the way. Save your stops for beautiful views or must-see monuments, like the world’s largest rocking chair in Casey, Illinois (yep, it’s a sight to see).
A long trip in the car is typically anything over 500 miles. A lot of people consider RV traveling for long road trips. If you have an RV or are planning on traveling in something similar, check out these RV essentials that will make for an awesome trip. Whether this is an extreme road trip or family-friendly travels, here are a few ways to make for a more comfortable trip on lengthy drives.
To be fully prepared, you should take your car in for a general checkup. Some places offer complimentary brake tests and tire pressure checks with an oil change purchase.
However, it’s also a good idea to have a AAA membership. From getting gas brought to you, having your car towed, or even just getting discounts at hotels along the way, AAA can provide all of this to you at a more reasonable cost than out of pocket without the membership.
Depending on what type of room you have, a cooler might fit in between your seats like a console, or could maybe be strapped in an open seat. These soft coolers from ICEMULE Coolers are affordably priced and well built. Either way, a small cooler is a great way to travel long-term. Avoid fast food or frequent pit stops by bringing pre-made sandwiches, fruit, a container of homemade cold coffee to enjoy out of your Silipint. Plus if you bring your own cooler, you can stop at Farmers Markets along the way to enjoy local specialties and refrigerate leftovers!
Music is great, but radio stations change along your route, usually for the worst. Sometimes listening to music for hours on end while you drive actually makes it more difficult to stay focused and alert. Kiss daydreaming goodbye with a good podcast! Here is a list from TIME Magazine of the Best Podcasts of 2018. Find a genre you like, comedy, thrill, scary, or finance if that’s your thing, and prepare to be on the edge of your seat!
Sitting in a car with people for 8+ hours can be difficult on your senses, especially if someone gets carsick or ate bad food along the way. Although, not everyone likes the potent smell of an air freshener. Dryer sheets are a much gentler way to keep your car smelling fresh. Additional bonus, they take the static out of your hair.
No matter the distance you’re going, with kids in the car, the family road trip needs a little bit of strategy to avoid incessant “are we there yet” chants, temper tantrums, and car sickness. If you’re traveling with young ones or older kids, you’ll still want to plan accordingly to make the trip comfortable and fun.
Number one family road trip hack, before you hit the road, check your route for rest stops or fun attractions. From as simple as quick playtime at a beach to a more exciting stop at a water park, adequate breaks for long stretches will keep everyone in the car happy. Even if your drive is only a few hours, it’ll be much easier driving with kids who are less antsy. Try using an app like Roadtrippers to help find attractions along your route.
Make it even more fun for the kids by writing down the attractions and mileage it will take to get to each one. The kids will enjoy counting down miles and crossing destinations off the list.
Combat boredom with a few games. Just beware that some games are more likely to cause serious nausea, such as using an iPad, coloring, reading books, and watching movies. Try the classic, “I spy”. If you encourage your kids to look out of the front to find items it’s less likely to cause any motion sickness. The “License Plate Game” is a great way to keep kids looking ahead also. Here are a few more ideas for games, again choose wisely if your kids are prone to car sickness.
Keep your trip healthier and more eco-friendly by bringing along Silipint Half Pints with Silicone Travel Lids, and Sili-Straws. If you stop to order a beverage let your kids give their fun, reusable cup to the cashier for their refill. Plus, 18 oz Squeeze-a-Bowls are great serving dishes, from quick snacks to meals-on-the-go. Even better? They’re an unbreakable and eco-friendly alternative to harmful, toxic, plastic containers.
If anyone is getting carsick there are a few things you can do to help the situation.
However, even with all of these measures, a carsick occurrence could take a turn for the worst. If that’s the case, be prepared with a carsick rescue kit. From preventing the mess to cleaning it up, this DIY kit from Cul-de-sac Cool has everything you’ll need.
It doesn’t get much better than driving down a long road with your furry friend by your side with no place to be. Before your journey begins though, make sure you’ve got all the essentials for a road trip filled with wagging tails.
A safety seat is a great idea for your pet. Not only does it provide them a safer place to rest but hopefully keeps them from distracting you. Besides a safety seat, you could also look into a dog-seatbelt.
Check your route ahead of time to plan adequately timed stops for furry friends. Most of them have much smaller bladders than humans and will appreciate you stopping more frequently for them. Consider picking a few places, like dog parks or wooded areas away from the road, along the route that have more room for them to stretch their legs and run around.
Revamp any toiletry bag into a DIY dog organizer. It’s easy to just toss in the leashes and food after rest stops, but clutter adds up quick. Use a carabiner to attach the organizer on the back of the headrest of your seat so that it’s easily accessible. Store the leashes, dog food, treats, dog bowl, and maybe a second collar. Also, bring along some healthy chews to keep your pup occupied during long stretches.
Don’t forget the dog bowls! It’s no fun to pour dog food on your seats because you forgot a bowl. Not only is it a mess, but it will stink. A Silipint Aqua-Fur Bowl can fold up nicely, be carabined to the back of your seat for an easy grab and you can use it to feed them and fill with water.
Woohoo! Planning is done, road trip hacks conquered and bags are packed. Enjoy the trip, embrace the adventure and drive safely! If your road trip destinations ever lead you through the western states, in particular, near Bend, Oregon, stop in and say “hello”. We’d be happy to hear about your explorations. If there’s anything we missed that you’d suggest we add to our list, be sure to comment below!
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