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20 Essential Road Trip Hacks (You Don’t Want To Be Without!)

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Don’t miss these essential and clever road trip hacks that will make your life easier, car tidier, kids happier, and your travels more fun and stress-free! As you read through these 20 clever tricks, you’ll get just as excited about these car trip hacks as you will about the destinations you are driving to!

You won’t regret spending some time preparing these suggestions before you head off on the open road. I’ve been on many road trips, and here I present to you my favorite and must-have car travel hacks.

As you move down the list of 20 (which covers road trip life hacks for kids, keeping food fresh, car cleanliness, space-saving, and family in-car activities) you’ll wonder how you ever coped without these things. You’ll be so proud of how organized you are when you get them all ready.

Let’s go straight into it!

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1. Give your kids a disposable or Polaroid camera, Pritt Stick, and a travel journal (perfect for older kids!)to store your road trip memories

Best road trip hacks for families
Best road trip hacks for families

Each time you stop at a destination, ask the children to collect mementos (such as theme park flyers, movie tickets, etc) and take photographs on their disposable or polaroid cameras. When back on the road, it is a perfect time to update their new travel journal, stick in their mementos add the pictures in too. A lovely memory that they can build on and look back on, one of my best road trip hacks for families!

2. Keep your car spotless with a car cleaning box!

When on the road, the car can get messy, your hands can get sticky from snacks, things get spilled, so be sure to keep your car clean by having a car cleaning box prepared. There is nothing worse than sitting in dirt, food, and having your hands feel icky whilst you’re on a car journey so you will be thankful for following this trick!

  • Wet wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Face masks
  • Extra bin bags
  • Towels

3. Have a small medication bag in the glove box

Road trip life hacks
Road trip life hacks

On your long car journey, use a food bag to store a small amount of medication in the glove box. A food bag is handy because you can see exactly what you are looking for in a hurry. There is no doubt you’ll get a headache, or need some kind of tablets or plasters, and having some handy means you don’t have to stop to search your handbag or suitcase.

Check out the Road Trip Packing List!

3. Use shower caddies with suction, to stick on car windows to hold the kid’s activities!

On a road trip with children, some kids can struggle to reach their activities from bags or care seat pockets, and you might feel like you need to break your back to reach it for them. An amazing trick is using shower caddies stuck on the windows to keeps activities at arm’s length which means endless fun and stress-free traveling.

4. Take food bag clips to keep food fresh

Good road trip hacks
Good road trip hacks

Food bag clips are a lifesaver both in the home and on the road for keeping food fresh and sealed. When on long car journey storage is minimal, and so you can end up spilling half-eaten packs of food on the car floor. Bag clips are essential, reduce waste, and save the mess. I recommend these food bag clips.

5. Make a ‘What To Chat’ lucky dip for conversation ideas.

In the lead-up to your long road trip vacation, write ‘what to chat’ conversation ideas on little pieces of paper, and keep adding them to a Tupperware box. When you get bored or run out of things to talk about on the journey, pick them out of the box. This is a really fun hack when traveling with kids, as they can make the lucky dip ahead, and then get to pick.

To help spark your ideas, take a look at our Questions And Conversation Starters.

6. Pack an overnight bag separate from your main suitcase for stop-offs

Road trip hacks packing
Road trip hacks packing

On a road trip with one-night stop-offs on the way to your final destination, there is no need to take your whole suitcase into a hotel. Pack an overnight bag with you with just the essentials (spare underwear, toothbrush, toothpaste, change of clothes, phone charger, travel documents) and leave the rest in your car.

7. Download podcasts or audiobooks to do with your new hobby

In case you run out of data or have no GPS in the car, it is a good idea to have podcasts or audiobooks already downloaded onto your phone or device. Why not find episodes or books that are to do with a new hobby you have taken an interest in or a different language you have started to learn. A great road trip life hack!

8. Pack a mini kitchen including a sharp knife, bottle opener, utensils, and napkins

Long Road Trip Hacks
Long Road Trip Hacks

Remembering to pack a sharp knife, bottle opener, kitchen utensils, and napkins is an important hack. Especially when you drive away from the service station and realize you bought a salad but forgot to pick up a fork! A sharp knife is amazing for supermarket stops; it means you can cut cheese, lettuce, and bread rolls for DIY sandwiches on your journey.

Remember to prepare and pack a set of the basics for each passenger in your car! And if you have any vegans on board, check out our Vegan Road Trip guide!

9. Pack a skipping rope and/or a hula hoop to burn off some energy on toilet breaks

Road trip hacks for families
Road trip hacks for families

Sitting in the car for hours on end can make you feel sluggish and tired so a road trip life hack is required here! Packing some lightweight exercise equipment like a skipping rope or a hula hoop is a simple trick to get you moving on the spot whilst you stop. If you have children, this is especially useful to beat boredom, agitation and to get back in the car feeling snoozy and calm.

10. Print and pack endless kids activities and coloring books in a binder

Road trip hacks with children
Road trip hacks with children

If road-tripping as a family with young kids, it is extremely handy to take a binder full of activities and coloring. Each child can have their own binder, and you could even give it to them as a surprise when they first get in the car to get them excited and keep them occupied. This will keep them entertained on the long journey!

11. Hang a shoe bag over the front car seats to fill with kids essential travel items

You can grab a shoe bag cheaply to hang over the front headrests, and fill them with essential items that you or the kids might need to grab along the travels. The compartments that normally hold shoes, can hold all of your things and keep your car clutter-free!

If you fancy splashing out, you can buy specially designed backseat car organizers instead of a shoe bag!

12. Pack some bamboo toaster tongs to grab things that you have dropped down your seats

Best road trip hacks
Best road trip hacks

There is nothing worse than dropping things down the side of the front car seats on a road trip, so pack some bamboo toaster tongs to grab things that you have dropped on your road trip. Hint: pack two sets of these in case you drop one set!

13. Make reusable road trip bingo for kids, to use each part of the journey

Road trip hacks for kids
Road Trip Hacks for Kids

Print off or make your own road trip bingo for kids and make it reusable by placing it into a plastic wallet and packing a whiteboard marker. Each time you go to a new section of the journey, wipe clean and they have to spot and mark off the things on their bingo card along the drive! The first one wins, so pack some of their favourite treats as prizes!

14. Use a cereal container for a car waste bin

This hack is a lifesaver for keeping the car tidy; a cereal container makes a great car waste bin. They come with a lid too so this saves your car from smelling on your road trip. Line the container with a small bio-degradable bag (take spares!) and place it on the floor of a footwell. Empty the trash when you stop for gas along the way.

Don’t forget to pack all the essential Road Trip Accessories!

15.Use carabiners to hang bags and umbrellas off the car seats, leaving them in easy reach!

Clever Road Trip Hacks
Clever Road Trip Hacks

Carabiners come in handy to hang bags and umbrellas to the front seats. Clip them onto the metal part of the headrest, and hang what you need to behind you. It is a space saver and makes it easy to grab the things you need without having to search the car floor on your journey.

16. Only stop at the cleanest and best-rated toilet stops on your route

Use the Sit or Squat App to check to plan where to stop for toilet breaks. This really handy app makes sure that you don’t end up stopping somewhere unclean! Especially helpful for families with young children to make sure you have clean facilities and better hygiene for keeping well on your road trip!

17. Take a mini-fridge that can plug into your car as you drive, to keep snacks fresh!

Save money, save food waste and save time by packing your favourite packed lunches for the journey. A mini-fridge is so handy especially in hot weather, it will stay cool as you drive along your trip and will also be handy for picnics and day trips when you get to your destination.

18. Download the Gas Buddy app to save money on gas

On your road trip, a good hack is to download the must-have Gas Buddy app before you leave the house. This app helps you to locate the cheapest gas along your driving route, saving you money along the way!

19. Pack toilet roll

Great road trip hacks
Great road trip hacks

It’s a boring road trip trick, but trust me you will thank yourself for packing toilet roll. I’ve been on many long car journeys and in the busy seasons, ended up going to the toilet at a gas station where it’s so busy they’ve run out of toilet roll. Not just for the car, but always handy in hotels and on the beach too!

20. Carry cash as well as a card, you never know where you’ll need it!

It might sound obvious, but when you are out in new areas with minimal local knowledge, you might end up needing cash. Some parking lots only accept cash, and you might end up in quirky cafes that don’t have card facilities. It is best to be prepared so you aren’t left driving around looking for an ATM along your way.

Enjoy your road trip, and please let us know if you have any more hacks you’d like to share!!

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Holly Jaskolka Profile Image

Holly Jaskolka


Holly is an animal lover with a passion for travel and living a plant-based lifestyle. She enjoys practicing and teaching yoga, cooking, and visiting new places. She currently delivers self-care sessions that utilize EFT (emotional freedom technique) to support people struggling with their breakups. She enjoys writing about travel topics including road trips with pets and maintaining a vegan lifestyle on the road. She gained valuable experience during an epic road trip to Valencia from the UK!


Ashley Bonner

Saturday 14th of August 2021

Another hack specially if travelling in say a van etc with third row and need to pass something back, make a make shift "clothes line" using Paracord and a small bucket or bag. Then can roll it along the line to pass snacks or activities to the back and bring stuff forward as needed.


Monday 14th of November 2022

I love it!