While road trips provide an opportunity for friends and families to bond over long stretches of open highway, they can be a bit of a pain in the butt (sometimes literally). Between boredom, discomfort, and everyday messes, these lengthy trips are often nightmarish — but they don’t have to be!
Finally, the biggest problems in vehicular travel have been solved thanks to some road-trip maestros and their seriously creative hacks, tricks, and tips. These 20 handy ideas are guaranteed to reduce your road rage and make your automobile adventure headache-free…
1. The iPad set-up: Kick up your feet and relax in the passenger seat or distract your kids from the idle passing of highway lines by attaching your iPad to the sun visor. Just remember to charge it first!
2. Laundry basket cup holder: Let’s face it: most cars don’t have enough cup space, which puts any fluid-heavy road trip—and the car’s upholstery—in jeopardy. Instead of juggling tons of drinks, try sticking a muffin tin into a laundry basket for additional cup security.
3. The portable bed: Driving long distances solo has its downsides, but saving on housing is a big plus. If you don’t mind sleeping in the car, an inflatable pool raft might make for the perfect inexpensive air mattress!
4. Cupcake cup holders: Nothing accumulates grime like a cup holder, so if you want to keep yours looking brand-new—and not like a bacteria-laden petri dish—try keeping cupcake liners in them for easy cleaning.
5. Car deodorizer: You don’t need your friends and family piling into a car that smells like an onion crammed into re-heated tilapia just before a big trip. Freshen up the interior of your car by sticking some scented washing beads flavor bags and toss those under the seat.
6. Cell phone storage: It’s too risky to drive while navigating via smartphone GPS. Instead, use a rubber-band and a clip to make a perfect phone-holder. That way you can keep your eyes where they belong: on the road.
7. Secret compartment: Glue cup holder lining material onto the top of an empty mint container, and then slip the liner-covered container into the cup holder. It’s an easy way to hide some emergency money. (Plus, secret compartments are awesome.)
8. Baking soda deep clean: When the trip’s all over, and your car seats are soaked with sweat, food stains, or the tears of whining children, pour some baking soda on the seats. After it sets, simply vacuum it up—taking any stains with it.
9. The penny test: Before you hit the road, conduct the penny test on your tire’s tread. Stick ol’ Abe’s head down into the tread, and if the rubber reaches his hair, you’re good to drive; if not, change your tires! There are other tricks to try before starting your car, too.
10. Dog bed: Traveling with man’s best friend will fill your backseat with hair—and maybe tear up your fabric in the process—so make life better for all involved with a DIY hammock. A big blanket will do the trick.
Choosing to be Colorful
11. Carabiner organizer: Oddly enough, carabiners are a cheap and handy option for long road trips. You can keep purses, umbrellas, backpacks, and more in easy-to-reach spots just by clipping a few carabiners to your headrest.
12. Food handling: Fiddling with plastic bags and snack boxes is one of the fastest ways to distract yourself while driving—and make a mess in the process. Solve that problem by dumping your snacks into easily-accessible containers!
13. Packing: Lugging your suitcases to and from the trunk and through hotel lobbies can be tedious. Why not just bring your closet with you? With plastic portable crates packed tight in the trunk, you can just grab what you need when you need it!
14. Cereal container trash can: Ditch the cereal and bring the empty containers you might use to organize and store those breakfast carbs. With the addition of just a bag, you’ve got a trash can that can fit right at the passenger’s feet.
15. Center console storage: Pop open that center console—which is probably stuffed with hair ties, pennies, and your car registration—and line it with Tupperware. Store loose change for tolls or just stay organized—whatever floats your boat… er, car!
16. Coffee filter cleaner: Since packs of coffee filters contain, like, 1,000 individual filters, you can use some spares to clean the dust from your dashboard. You’ll save tons of money on moist towelettes!
17. Bait-and-tackle lunchbox: If you have kids (aka messy little monsters), try loading up a tackle box with snacks of any kind to keep food in one tidy place.
18. Dryer sheets for bugs: Doing a lot of driving can lead to a lot of dead buggage on your bumper and windshield, but fear not: there’s a road-trip hack for that, too! Dryer sheets will cut right through those blasted bugs and have your car looking good as new!
19. Wax melt deodorizer: Place a wax melt cube in a jar, put the jar under a car seat, and as it gets hot, the wax will—duh!—melt, making your car smell great. You’re almost ready to hit the road!
20. Hubcap and tire cleaning: Again, you don’t have to splurge on fancy-schmancy wipes. Dawn dish soap, a sponge, and little elbow grease can abolish just about any exterior grease stain just as well! Hey, even on road trips you want your car looking shiny.
Those are some handy tips. Which ones are you planning to use on your next road trip?
Share these smart car hacks with your friends below!