JB’s Organization Destination: Car Trip Tips and Tricks


JB’s Organization Destination: 

Car Trip Tips and Tricks

What to have in the car – Easy Access is Essential:


  • Bin or bag of necessities:  Bug spray, suntan lotion, band aids, Tylenol, feminine care products, wipes, tissues, paper towels, rag/towel.
  • Game bin or bag:  bingo cards, playing cards, car games, dry erase boards for tic tac toe, hangman etc., clipboard and coloring book and crayons.      (Don’t forgo these in lieu of electronics — make sure you still have these!)


  • Bag of easy access clothes:  Sweatshirts for each person, socks (for play-lands etc.), baseball hats, then add a blanket (those that fold into a bag are great!).  Be prepared for hot days and cool nights, and fun days of summer! Have fun whatever the day brings!
  1.  Snack bag:  

Keep these two things in mind when packing your snacks:  


  • Vacation is fun and food is often good entertainment and a great reward.  Make sure you pack fun things.
  • Car trips are long and often boring.  We often eat when we are bored, car trips can be boring – more eating will happen than normal.  Keep this in mind when packing and make sure there are nutritious things available too.  

Here are some categories of snacks to have on hand.


  • Fun Things:  Special Treats.  Vacations are the time to have the special treats on hand.  Candy, cookies, gum, chips — whatever is a special treat to your crew. Use these sparingly (as rewards, prizes, motivation 🙂
  • Nutritious Things:  Trail mix, graham crackers, fruit cups, peanut butter crackers, dried fruit, apple sauce, beef jerky, fresh fruit etc.
  • Things that crunch:  (Drivers will often eat to stay awake or stay occupied.  “Things that crunch” help in that area and are strangely satisfying 🙂  Carrots, apples, chips
  • Things that last a long time:  Hard Candy, lollipops, gum
  • Things that are easy to eat: (especially for drivers)  Licorice, Beef Jerky, Pringle Stix, small bags of chips -crackers etc.

What to do- How to keep busy:   

**Change it up!  Use technology to your advantage.  There is nothing wrong with letting the kids be plugged in some of the time (especially when everyone is tired and crabby 🙂 However, make sure to make some time Tech-free.  Get everyone looking outside, writing, ready, coloring or interacting with each other.**

Technology Free or Interactive:  (some involve technology, but are very interactive):

*** The key to some of these games being successful is to have a bag of prizes that you give out at certain times to keep them playing.  Have food and this works for teens too 🙂 ***

  1. Travel Bingo:  Buy the old fashioned travel bingo cards with the sliding doors that you close when you find the item. I found them at a toy store, but I am sure that they can also be found online.  **prize for when they finish their whole card, a row etc. **
  2. Dry erase boards to play hangman and tic tac toe.
  3. Coloring books – adult and kids
  4. Puzzle books **prize when they finish the puzzle**
  5. Audiobooks for the whole family
  6. Name that tune – play a small amount of a song and see who can name the song first or who can sing the next line. **prize for the winner**
  7. Head’s Up (guessing game played with the phone on one person’s head and the other people trying to get that person to guess the item without saying the name)
  8. Books (Make an effort to go to the Library before you leave. A new book can bring hours of enjoyment)
  9. License plate game (Whoever finds the most license plates wins or see if you can find all 50 states as a family.)
  10. Vanity license plate game (Write down or take pictures of the unusual license plates that you see or make it a contest:  Who finds the funniest or the most unique)
  11. Bring a paper map (Atlas) for each child and have them follow along as you drive the route.  They can mark interesting things that they see along the way.  It helps them see the passage of time and the route, decreasing the “Are we there yet?” inquiries.  

Technology/Screens:  (There is a time and a place for plugging in and using technology to our advantage 🙂

  1. Movies
  2. Music
  3. Taking pictures
  4. Social Media Posting
  5. GPS – to follow the route.

How to save money:

  1. Find a hotel with a free continental breakfast
  2. Ask if they have a microwave and refrigerator in the room.
  3. Go on-line and print out coupons for area restaurants and attractions before you leave.
  4. Cut down on fast food purchases and be prepared for unexpected changes in schedule, by keeping a stocked snack bin in your car.
  5. Bring fixings for easy lunches, instead of going out to lunch every day.  PB&J, lunch meat, bread and some fruit for a cheap portable lunch.  Even bring zip lock bags from home to put the sandwiches in.
  6. Pick up quick Breakfast items (good for all day snacking too :):  granola bars,  small cereal boxes, bags of cereal, cereal bars, fruit etc.
  7. Pack a medicine bag and keep it packed during the busy summer travel season.  (Consider how often you end up buying Tylenol at an expensive hotel store, because your head is pounding or your child has a fever.)  It just makes it so much cheaper and easier if you have a medicine bag with you.  Include:  pain relievers (Ibuprofen, Tylenol etc.), Upset stomach meds (Tums, Immodium etc.), cough and cold meds (Nyquil and Sudafed type products), Allergy meds (Benadryl, Claritin etc.), Ointments (Anti-itch cream, first aid cream), Band Aids and a thermometer, Sunburn care (Aloe etc.).  Believe it or not this stuff does not take up much room and can save you a lot of money!! You can often buy small versions of these in the travel sized section or if you have lots of kids like me, just buy a regular size and keep it in the medicine bag during your crazy travel time and put it back in the cabinet during the rest of the year.
  1.  Look online for free events and outings at your vacation destination or on the route to it.
    1.  State/National Parks
    2.  Festivals
    3.  Concerts
    4.  Beaches
    5.  Museums
    6.  Historical Sites
    7. Playgrounds
    8.  Spray parks

Packing Tips:

  1. Rolling clothes when you pack them in suitcases can definitely help keep them from getting as wrinkly.
  2. Put them in the plastic bags that you take the air out of …..such bags will give you more space and keep the clothes from moving around and getting wrinkled.
  3. If you travel frequently, whether for fun or business, take the time to pack a complete travel toiletry case and keep it packed. It is worth the time and money to buy duplicate items, so that you do not have to repack each time you leave.
  4. If you pack several people’s clothes into one suitcase, put each person’s clothes into a separate plastic bag and then put them into the suitcase.  
  5. Always put toiletries in a sealed plastic bag and then in your suitcase (just in case they spill)
  6. Type up a general packing list.  Have sections for the kids, Mom, Dad, car, and other. Each time you have a trip, print it out and just fill in the details (i.e. Number of shirts etc.).
  7. If you are stopping at several different locations for short periods of time, consider packing several smaller bags (One for each stop.) so you don’t have to bring everything in at every stop.

Take Time To:

  1. Talk to each other
  2. Take a family picture
  3. Enjoy the scenery live (Put the camera down and look up!)
  4. Relax (You don’t want to need a vacation from your vacation.)
  5. Enjoy the moment (Just Be Where You Are)
  6. Do something that each person wants to do.  
  7. Put suntan lotion on!  (kids and adults!!)   Skin cancer is one of the most preventable diseases….the extra time is well worth it!!!!

You Don’t Do It All Yourself:  (You shouldn’t have to and getting ready for a trip is full of great lessons for kids)

  1. Your kids can pack their activity bags (If they are younger, give them a list and check it when they are done)
  2. Kid’s can pack their suitcases:  Print a copy of the packing list for them and have them pack!  (You can always check their suitcases when they are done).
  3. Give a teen your shopping list and have them go to the store and get the snacks.
  4. Have the kids clean out the car (vacuum etc.).  There is nothing like starting out a trip in a freshly cleaned car.  
  5. Have each person carry a drawstring bag or small backpack with their own water bottle, small snack etc.  (Mom and Dad shouldn’t have to carry it all and we often do just out of habit.  Even preschool kids can carry a small bag.)
  6. Teach the kids how to put on their own suntan lotion.  (Obviously age appropriate, because you want it to be applied correctly.  Just a reminder because we often do this out of habit and fail to teach them how to do it themselves.)

Souvenir Ideas:  Building Memories Not Clutter

  1. A Christmas ornament from each destination. The clutter is put away most of the year and it is fun to walk down memory lane as you bring each ornament out and place it on the tree.
  2. Playing cards – can be found everywhere, stored in one bin and even used:)
  3. Have your souvenir be a digital photo book — can be stored online (and printed) — keeping it safely preserved and clutter free.
  4. Finally, the memories that you make are the most important souvenirs, and they don’t take up any room at all  Happy Summer!


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