An Organized Lifestyle

How To Organize for Your Family Road Trip

July 8, 2020

Hello, I'm Rachel
I’m a busy mom, entrepreneur, and an expert in organizing your home, office, and life. I believe in the profound impact of organizing on every aspect of life. 
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If the heat and humidity in the DC area tell us anything it is that summertime has arrived! Summertime is prime vacation season for most of us but this year looks a lot different. So, many of us are hitting the road vs. hopping on a plane. My family traveled down south to South Carolina for a little escape and let me tell you the prep for this trip was A LOT!

Road trips can be chaotic and stressful on the best of days but with the added complexity of COVID it can seem overwhelming. That said, I am here to tell you that just like with most things in life, a little planning and organization can make a world of difference! And the memories and change of scenery are well worth it!

Today I am breaking down my tips for getting organized and preparing for a family road trip. From snack accessibility (no hangry drivers here!) to preparing to sanitize as soon as you arrive follow these steps for a stress-free (or let’s be honest maybe stress-reduced) family adventure.

Tips and Tricks for an Organized Road Trip

  • Map out your route beforehand or at least use something like Waze to help with directions! In the days of corona, there is a little less flying by the seat of your pants – having the route on paper and an idea of where you may need to stop along the way will help eliminate some of that stress.

  • Pack in different smaller bags. I like to call these road trip kits – how you organize them will depend on your family and the age of your kids but having different kits in place will help speed up the process of locating things along the drive. For example, each of my kids gets a bag for their food (we use small personal coolers) and then a backpack filled with games, toys, etc. We also have a snack kit for me and Jon, a cleaning kit, a bathroom kit and a Poppy kit (more on that below). These bags are great for the non-perishable kits to get them organized but visible.

  • Create a COVID kit to use when you need to stop for gas or the bathroom. Make sure this bag is easily accessible (I kept mine in the front with me). This kit should include things like masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, hand wipes, extra Ziplocks to put used gloves in and another bag for used masks to be washed. It can even include face shields if you want it to! This year I combined the COVID kit with our standard bathroom kit – the bathroom kit should include: toilet paper (if you are using the side of the road like we did!), trash bag for any used items like toilet paper, hand sanitizer (is it even 2020 if hand sanitizer is not on the list twice), tissues (I love these cupholder canister tissues) and maybe even some toilet covers (like these here if you are using public restrooms).

  • Think through the organization of your trunk. Are you packing items in suitcases or perhaps plastic bins or coolers? This trunk organizer is a great way to keep your individual bags tidy and organized so you don’t have a mound toppling over when you open the trunk.

  • Spills are inevitable when you are doing everything in the car. A cleaning kit stocked with paper towels or napkins for any spills and trash bags is crucial. I also love this behind the seat trash bag to keep the car neat and tidy along the drive. For spills in the car (or when you get there or at home) I love the Force of Nature cleaner and I have a discount link for you all (here) for 20% off and free shipping on their starter kits.

  • Pack individual water bottles for everyone coming on the trip (these are our favorite reusable bottles) and always include few extras especially if you don’t plan on going into rest stops and your trip is a far one. Don’t forget about your four legged friends and include water for any pets (like we did for Poppy with this dog water bottle) that are traveling with you.

  • Have food for the driver accessible and easy to reach. Jon does the majority of the driving in our family so I typically help out with his snacks but we also have a little cooler that he can reach to grab a snack or drink if I am taking a little nap.

  • Organize and plan out your food into groups like snacks and meals and prepare to bring a few extra items for each category as riding in cars makes people hungry, at least in my family!

  • Double check all supplies you would need for your dog or cat and create a pet kit. Our Poppy kit includes items like dog waste bags, an extra leash, dishes for water and food, treats and toys. We keep the essentials close at hand and then pack a larger Poppy kit to use once we arrive.

  • Make sure you have cords for all the electronics and phones that will be used on the trip. We do try to have screen-free time when driving (and definitely once we arrive) but sometimes the screens help pass the time and keep everyone happy. Having the cords organized and all in one place will help keep the juice flowing throughout the drive. You can organize cords individually by family member or store them all together (this cord organizer is a game changer) but don’t forget the car or portable chargers (like this one here so you can charge multiple devices at once).

  • Consider your comfort! The girls and I do admittedly take advantage of Jon’s driving and relax a bit. A neck pillow is key in avoiding any pain once you step on solid ground again.

  • Think about purchasing a roof bag to give yourself more space inside your car and allow you to take more items on your road trip. Depending on the length of time you are going away, what you need and the size of your car there are so many options out there. We have this roof bag here and loved that it allowed us to bring along more items for more peace of mind on the trip.

  • Determine what items can go on the roof if you are using a roof bag and pack strategically. For example, we didn’t put anything that we truly valued (in case it flew off the roof!) on the top of the car or anything that was perishable. On our car we packed organized separate bags (here, here and here) that went into the roof bag to make it easier when we unpacked. We put sheets and blankets in one. Another one contained towels and outdoor activity items, blankets for the dog, etc.

  • When you pack the car, think about what you will want access to first upon arrival to your destination and pack that last. You will want to be able to grab those things first when you exit the car. For us, it was cleaning supplies, paper towels, extra masks, dinner ingredients and a pan.

  • Make sure items that aren’t possibly replaceable like medication, certain toiletries, jewelry, etc. are stored and organized in a spot that you remember and can easily double check.

TELL ME: I want to hear from you! What are your favorite road trip hacks? Does your family have any special routines or tricks to keep the drive enjoyable?

DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we receive a commission.

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hey there!

I'm Rachel, founder of Rachel & Company

I’m dedicated to helping you create a lifestyle that is more organized, sustainable, and joyously livable.

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