A family road trip should be an exciting time for everyone involved. The reality is it can often descend into an anxiety ridden couple of hours thinking about all the things you've forgotten. It pays to be prepared and when you organize your car it helps your mental health as well! Car organization is one of the most important aspects of planning a good trip. We'll lay out a plan you can use to help keep your car clean and organized.
The first step in making sure a long road trip is a positive family bonding experience instead of a stress filled journey is to start with a plan. We like to start with a list, let every family member contribute — you may not end up taking everything on the list with you, but it's a great starting point.
Once you have your list filled with everyone's input it's time to start slimming it down to the essentials. While it would be nice to bring everything that everyone wants on the trip, you have a limited amount of space available. After everyone's agreed on the REAL essential items it's time to begin to organize your car.
It makes things easier if you think of your car in different sections. The front seat area is one section, the back seat area is another and the trunk is a separate section. Be sure to enlist the help of family members when planning your car organization. Each section of your car will be organized differently, with different items in each area based on the needs of the occupants in those areas and the needs of your trip.
Starting in the front seat area is usually a good idea. This is the main navigational area and you'll want to make sure you have the essentials close at hand. Start with the center Console and Glove Compartment. Make sure you really take advantage of all the free space available to you in these parts of the vehicle.
Some ideas for items to keep in these areas include:
One area that’s often overlooked when families are organizing for a road trip are the car’s storage pockets located in the doors. They are a great place to keep some items you may want to have within easy reach as you drive. These are things such as tissues, paper towels, printed maps or even a pack of gum if you like to chew while you drive.
It’s best not to keep items with a lot of value in these pockets like wallets or cell phones. If you open your door too fast and forget they’re there they could end up flying out — leaving you wallet-less or with a broken phone.
You only have a limited amount of space available to you when organizing your car for a road trip, so you’ll want to take advantage of all available space. An area that’s usually overlooked is the space under your car seats. You won’t get too much under there, but it can be a great place to keep a couple of items you may need at some future point. This includes extra garbage bags or maybe a small umbrella — just remember to store any items carefully so that they don’t get tangled in the chairs mechanism.
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If you have kids you’re going to want to take extra care organizing your rear seat area. Keeping young children entertained or teenagers engaged can be a challenge. Here are some great things you can do to create the perfect rear seat space on a long road trip:
The trunk of a car or rear storage area in a minivan or SUV is probably the most important area when you’re packing for a long trip. It’s where all your luggage will be stored, but it’s also the place you’ll want to keep some emergency and must have items. If you’re not sure what these might be, here are a few great ideas to get you started:
The space you have in your car is limited. You need to make the most of your car during the road trip, you'll need all the genius car organization hacks you can get. The goal is also to keep your car clean -nobody likes leaving a mess in the car. Here are some more car organization tips:
If you've followed the steps we've outlined above you should be well prepared for your trip by now. Of course you may have additional ideas that can make your trip more organized and you should definitely include them in your prep work. Some other supplies you may want to bring are extra tissue boxes and water bottles. You also want to ensure your vehicle has plenty of free space on the floor so your passengers don't feel cramped, including enough leg room.
There isn't one right answer to this question. If you're traveling with young kids or older adults you may need to stop a couple of times an hour so look for good locations along your route. For a group of young adults, a stop once every couple of hours to stretch and hit the bathroom should be more than enough. You may even choose to plan some stops along the way to visit a store or two that you may not usually have the chance to visit. When bringing items back into the vehicle from the store you visit, it's always a great ideas to toss out any plastic wrappers, empty water bottles and other trash to keep the care mess free.
This is another question that doesn't have one right answer. For young children you might want to bring along lots of games, puzzles and coloring books. Adults probably won't need all of these. The best advice is to consider your family's interests, the amount of room you have available and pack accordingly. For younger kids, a few toys may be a good idea. You can store smaller toys in the glove box to prevent the vehicle from becoming messy.
We've covered a lot of tips about how to prepare and organize your car for a family road trip, but how do you pack for it? We each have different needs, but one key piece of advice is to never pack more than you need and to be honest with yourself. Chances are you don't really need to bring 5 pairs of shoes! For a complete list of 55 items you might want to pack for your road trip check out this list created by The Road Trip Expert.
If you think it may be a while between restaurants, bringing snacks or other finger food in containers is a great idea.
With a little advanced preparation you can turn a dreaded long road trip into a fun family adventure. These tips are a great starting point in making that next long road trip a memorable one. We wish you well on your travels!