17 Road Trip Hacks for a More Enjoyable Trip

From making the most of tech to bringing a portable trash can, these road trip hacks will help keep your car clean and your family happy.
Written by Hillary Kobayashi
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
From making the most out of technology to bringing a portable trash can in the car, it’s often the little things that determine whether a road trip is fun or stressful.
If you want to make the most of your time on the open road, it’s important to keep your car tidy, your family entertained, and any hangry feelings under control.
And before you head out, you’ll definitely want to ensure you have car insurance that has you covered. If you want
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Summertime is here, and so is Jerry. Keep reading to learn 17 road trip hacks to help make your vacation fun and memorable!
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Download podcasts and audiobooks

Podcasts and audiobooks are some of the most entertaining ways to help pass the time during a road trip. Podcasts have become immensely popular over the past few years and there’s something out there for everyone. Look for a podcast that discusses a new hobby or interest.
Audiobooks have also taken off in popularity. There are lots of apps out there that sell audiobooks and your local library might even subscribe to an app so you can download and listen to library books for free.
Be sure to download podcasts and audiobooks before you leave for your trip. You might lose cell service or run out of data, and you don’t want to get stuck without any entertainment!
Key Takeaway Podcasts and audiobooks can provide hours of affordable entertainment during your road trip.

Use an iPad as a portable TV

iPads and tablets make it easy to watch TV on the go. Download your Netflix faves before you head out and hang your device from the sun visor to create a makeshift TV. Of course, make sure it’s not distracting to the driver—safety first!

Pack coloring books for the kids

If you’re taking a road trip with children, you’ll definitely want to bring some special activities for them. Coloring books and crayons will keep them entertained for hours!
And if you are worried about the kids not having a hard surface to draw on, pack a couple of cookie sheets to use as backseat desks. Bonus: the raised edges of the cookie sheets prevent crayons from rolling off onto the floor.
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Make bingo cards for the kids

Before leaving for your trip, print off bingo cards for your kids. The bingo cards can include images or words associated with things they might see through their window during the trip—think cows, police cars, bicycles, airplanes, and more.
Print multiple cards or make them reusable so the kids can play more than once during the trip!

Bring a portable trash can

Having a trash can makes road trip life easier—and using a plastic cereal container as a trash can is an especially useful hack. Cereal containers are reusable, so you can hang onto it for the next road trip. And thanks to their useful caps, they’re a great no-spill (and no-smell!) option.
To keep things even tidier, put a mini trash bag inside the cereal container. This makes emptying the garbage at rest stops a cinch.

Use muffin cups to prevent spills

Muffin cups are a great hack for keeping your car clean. Line your cup holders with paper muffin cups to catch any spills. And if your kids are enjoying popsicles to cool down, poke a hole through the muffin cup with the popsicle stick and slip it under the popsicle to catch drips.

Hang a shoe organizer to keep things tidy

Shoe organizers can help keep the backseat of your car neatly organized. Just hang the shoe organizer over the back of one of the front seats and fill the pockets with items you’d like easy access to—snacks, tissues, and electronic devices are always good!

Make a DIY car cleaning bag

Even if you follow all of these hacks, it is still possible that you might end up with a mess in your car—which is why we love the idea of packing a car cleaning bag. Pack some tissues, car wipes, and anything else that might help you out in a sticky situation. Following this trick will help keep your car clean and tidy!
Key Takeaway Keeping the car clean and organized during a road trip requires a little prepping in advance so you don’t get caught off guard.

Make a DIY car sickness and medicine bag

You never know what medicine you and your family might need on your road trip, and putting together a car sickness and medicine bag ensures you have everything you might need on hand.
Grab a plastic bag or an old makeup pouch and toss in some medicine for headaches, nausea, and stomach aches. Be sure to also pack bandages, antibiotic ointment, and hand sanitizer.
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Bring toilet paper — just in case!

You never know when you might need toilet paper on the road. From a rest stop that receives little maintenance to a pit stop at the side of a quiet road, having some extra toilet paper on hand can be handy in a pinch!

Bring food and drinks

Packing food and drinks can save you lots of time and money. Load an ice chest filled with healthy goodies to ensure they stay fresh longer. Better yet, you can even purchase a mini-refrigerator for your car if you have space!
Packing your own food and drinks is an especially great hack for family members with dietary restrictions.

Bring bag clips

Bag clips help keep road-trip snacks fresh and tidy, so pack a handful on your next trip to seal up unfinished opened snacks. This hack will help keep your snacks fresh and prevent them from spilling in the car — a win-win!
Key Takeaway Bag clips can keep snacks fresh over a long journey

Pack utensils

It’s a good idea to bring some utensils with you on the road. If you’ve ever tried to cut meat with a plastic fork and knife, you understand why! Pack forks, dinner knives, spoons, a sharp kitchen knife, and maybe even chopsticks.
If you plan on having a drink after you arrive at your destination, you’ll also need a bottle opener. And don’t forget the napkins!

Bring reusable snack containers

You can never have enough containers. But don’t head to the store to buy a new set—you probably have plenty of reusable containers hanging around your house. Coffee creamer containers, yogurt containers, and peanut butter jars all make great options for storing snacks.
Key Takeaway Reusing old items is good for the environment and your pocketbook!

Download some helpful apps

Sit or Squat

The Sit or Squat app helps you find the best location for your bathroom stop. This useful app lets you know where you and your loved ones can access the cleanest, most hygienic bathrooms.

Refuge Restrooms

If you or someone who is accompanying you on your road trip is a member of the transgender community, try the app Refuge Restrooms. It offers an index of transgender-friendly and gender-neutral bathrooms.

Gas Buddy

Gas prices can be unpredictable, but Gas Buddy helps you find the most affordable gas stations. Download the app before you leave for your trip and you won’t have to worry about being hit with unexpectedly high gas prices when your tank is low.


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Key Takeaway There are lots of apps to make your road trip easier. Download a few before heading out the door!
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Keep cash and change on you

If you’re heading out on a road trip, make sure you have both cash and coins. Some toll booths and parking meters don’t take credit cards, and nothing will ruin a good time on the road like a ticket.
Many ATMs charge high service fees, so stop at the bank before you leave to save time, money, and hassle.

Drop a pin when you park your car

Ever spent time wandering around a parking lot to find your car? It’s no fun. Dropping a pin where you park will help you easily find your way back.
To do this, open the Google Maps app on your phone and tap the blue dot that shows your current location. Choose "Set as parking location" and the app will remember where you left your vehicle.

Make sure you have affordable car insurance

The most important road trip hack of all is having good,
affordable car insurance
If you’re looking for insurance savings,
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And to make sure you always have the lowest rate, Jerry sends you new quotes each time your policy is up for renewal. With all those savings, you’ll be able to have even more fun on your road trips!
When I first saw this app, it seemed too good to be true. I was already paying a little over $200 a month for my car insurance and thought it wouldn’t hurt to see what Jerry could save me. To my shock, they found another reputable company that would save me $116-ish and was the same coverage I had on my previous policy" —Satisfied Jerry customer


How do you kill time on a road trip?

Download podcasts and audiobooks, bring bingo cards and coloring books for the kids, and don’t forget to charge the iPad so you don’t run out of battery mid-way through your drive!

What should you not forget on a road trip?

If you forget everything else, do not forget your driver’s license and proof of
car insurance
. You should also ensure you have a map and a cellphone (don’t forget the charger!).

How can I keep my car organized on a road trip?

Hanging a shoe organizer from the back of the front seat is a great way to organize items and keep the inside of your car tidy.

What food items should I bring with me on a road trip?

Bring your favorite drinks and snacks—but make sure you have space for a cooler if the items need to be kept cold. If you have any dietary restrictions, bringing special items you might need is also a good idea.
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