We've done a lot of huge cross-country road trips over the years. With six kids in the car, I've become pretty good at streamlining the hard stuff and keeping spending low.
I stopped in at KSL Studio 5 this week to share my top 7 tips for cutting stress and ramping up the fun on your next road trip. You can find all the products I mention on my Amazon Favorites: Family Road Trips Page
1. Create Stash Spots
Cars are limited on storage but you can find ways to stash the essentials if you get creative. For example, I keep a stash of first-aid/sunblock/sunscreen in the area where I store my tire jack.
Since bathroom stops are few and far between sometimes, I also keep a spare change of kid underwear/diapers in the lining of the car seats.
2. Keep it Handy
We love cupholders because they keep things within reach. I like to extend that to a few other areas. I use suction cup shower caddies on the windows to give the kids a place to stash their stuff.
I also love adding carabiners to the headrests so the kids can hang backpacks. Pop-up hampers are a great tool to corral the blankets, pillows, and jackets.
3. Curb the Questions
"Are we there yet?" This question rings through every road trip. To keep it at bay, I put a series of post-its up on the ceiling. I mark it in 50 mile increments or key stops and then pull them down as we pass them.
I've added this fun post-it note printable to my shop. You can find it here...
The other question that pops up constantly is "Can I use the power cord?" It's a hassle to share the power jack in the front seat so I use a power bank. I store the power bank and all the charging cords in a pencil pouch so the kids can pass it around the backseat without losing anything.
4. Keep them Comfy
Comfortable kids make road trip life easier. One of my favorite new tools is the Squish Headrest (Amazon). It folds down next to your car's headrest so you can avoid propping your head against a window.
To give littler kids head support, I like to add a fat pool noodle to their seat belts. I slice along one side with a bread knife and slip them on.
When the sun is too strong, I love to use these stretchy sun shades from Amazon. They're like a big nylon stocking for your window. You just slip them over the whole door and they keep your kids shaded even with the window down.
5. Feed them Fast
Nothing saves time and money on a road trip like skipping the fast food. I like to bring a stash of paper sacks so I can toss snacks in and pass them back without the mess. I use a lap desk in the front seat so I can make quick slider sandwiches.
6. Quick CleanUps
We usually pull out a seat so we have room for a cooler. I hate it when snacks and candy fall into the tracks so I fill them with pieces of a swim noodle to fill the gaps.
I also love to give each kid their own trash bag. I put a strip of double-stick tape on the seat back in front of them or on their door and then stick a ziplock bag to it. When we hit a gas station, we empty the bags or just pull out a new one.
7. Light the Night
Nighttime hours can be long. We like to break it up with a little glow gear. I like giving each of the kids glow sticks. It makes it easier to see kids - especially when we have to stop at a gas station. My kids also love using the star maker light (Amazon). It shoots stars all over the ceiling and makes the whole car seem a bit more magical.