Looking for the best road trip hacks for your upcoming adventure? Road trips are immensely enjoyable, but they can quickly turn into a drag if you don’t get enough sleep, fail to pack the right snacks, encounter dirty restrooms, or lose network coverage. Proper planning and preparation are key to ensuring a successful journey.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 15 solid road trip hacks full of insider knowledge from seasoned travelers. These hacks cover everything from car organization and safety to sleep and restroom strategies, as well as ways to stay entertained on long drives. Dive into this power-packed guide for a smooth, hassle-free road trip experience.
Table of Contents
1. Freeze Water Bottles for a DIY Cooler
Instead of using ice packs in your cooler, freeze water bottles. Before starting your journey, freeze several water bottles and use them as makeshift ice packs in your cooler. This method is excellent because it not only saves space consumed by ice packs, but once the bottled ice starts melting, you also get cool water to keep you hydrated.
Pro Tip: Do not fill your bottles to the brim. Leave some space as water expands when it freezes.
2. Have Dual Cellular Carriers for Uninterrupted Connectivity
Ensure constant access to navigation and communication by having two different cellular carriers in your car. If one network has poor coverage, the other can fill the gap. This way, essential apps like CarPlay and Waze remain functional throughout your journey. For example, if both you and your travel partner use T-Mobile, get an additional AT&T connection for your drives. This simple strategy maximizes connectivity, keeping you on the right track and in touch, no matter where your road trip takes you.
3. Use Hotel Lobbies for Clean Bathroom Breaks
When in need of a restroom, don’t use the ones at gas stations. Instead, walk into the lobbies of mid-range or higher-end hotels. The bathrooms at these hotels are generally much cleaner than public restrooms. Walk in confidently and head straight to the restroom. Most likely, the hotel staff won’t question you at all. Sometimes, the staff may even point you in the direction of the restroom, especially if you are with young kids.
- Read More: 17 Ways to Find Public Showers on the Road
4. Use the restroom even if you don’t feel an immediate need
Whenever you stop for a break, use the restroom even if you don’t feel the need to. So whether you’re stopping for gas, for snacks, or because somebody else wants to use the restroom, make sure you and everyone else traveling with you visit the restroom. This simple hack helps increase the time until your next break. It also helps everyone in the car get fresh air and stretch. Allowing some fresh air in the car during your break time also reduces CO2 build-up in the car and prevents it from causing drowsiness.
5. Convert your shoe organizer into a car organizer
Before heading out on long drives, install a shoe organizer behind the front seat. Remove the headrest, attach the shoe organizer to the back of the front seat, and then reattach the headrest to secure the organizer. A shoe organizer lets you store road-trip essentials in a quick, accessible manner. It’s the best way to store tissues, snacks, chargers, hand sanitizers and other road-trip knick-knacks.
6. Sleep at a 24-hour restaurant
For a safe and convenient place to rest during your road trip, park at 24-hour restaurants. Establishments like Denny’s offer a secure environment for overnight stays in your vehicle. These locations are well-lit and also provide immediate access to food and beverages when you wake up. Additionally, having restroom facilities available is a significant convenience.
7. Secure Your Car While Sleeping with the Seat Belt Trick
Enhance your safety when sleeping in your car by using a seat belt for added security. Loop the seat belt through the car door handle and then fasten it. This simple yet effective method acts as a deterrent, as it makes it more difficult for the door to be opened from the outside. That means, you can sleep with absolute peace of mind!
8. Use Google My Maps or Furkot to create itineraries
Google has a tool called My Maps which can be used to create personalized itineraries. You should use it before you head out on your road trip and, ideally, operate it from a computer for better user-friendliness. Plot your route in advance, plan your stops, and then use it on the go. If downloaded, it can even in no network areas. You can even use the nearby attractions feature to make impromptu sightseeing stops close to your route. Yet another app that does an excellent job with itinerary planning for long-distance road trips is Furkot.
9. Use Podcasts and Audiobooks to make time fly
Listening to individual songs makes it easy to track the passing time. However, immersing yourself in podcasts or audiobooks can captivate you for hours, making time seem to fly by. This approach is particularly useful for long stretches of interstate driving where the journey can become monotonous, with little else to anticipate but reaching your destination
10. Create a Fun Road Trip Scavenger Hunt
Before embarking on your road trip, prepare a list of unique items to spot and share it with your kids or co-passengers. Your list could include quirky sightings like a purple car, a yellow truck, a bald driver, a flatbed truck, or a sports bike. As you travel, everyone can participate in spotting these items. Keep track of who finds the most and reward the winner with a small cash prize or a treat. This engaging game is a great way to stay entertained on long, monotonous stretches of road. It’s also an effective strategy to keep kids engaged and away from screens during the trip.
11. Carry enough chargers with long cables
Using navigation or streaming apps throughout the trip can drain your cell phone battery fairly quickly. To make sure passengers can keep their phones charged at all times, carry sufficient phone chargers with long cables to ensure they can easily reach the back of your vehicle. Simple way to stay connected at all times!
12. Use trash bags creatively
Always equip your vehicle with enough trash bags. Stash them in all the door pockets. They work well in case someone suddenly feels car sick and needs to throw up. But they can also be used to store wet clothes, dirty shoes, or laundry, and even as blackout curtains when someone in the back needs deep sleep.
13. Use iOverlander for convenient car camping
For car campers, the iOverlander app is an invaluable tool to locate safe and suitable places to stay overnight, beyond the usual rest areas and parking lots. This app provides a comprehensive database of camping spots, often with reviews and tips from other travelers. It helps you find locations that are welcoming to car campers, avoiding potentially unsafe spots. It can also guide you to scenic, off-the-beaten-path locations or convenient urban spots.
14. Save on Fuel with ‘Gas Buddy’
To ensure you’re getting the best deal on fuel during your road trip, make use of the ‘Gas Buddy’ app. This handy tool provides real-time information on gas prices at various stations along your route. ‘Gas Buddy’ also offers features like predicting when it’s worth stopping for gas, even if you’re not running low.
15. Cook Canned Food in Your Car’s Engine Bay
Utilize your car’s engine bay as an unconventional but effective way to heat canned food. After driving for a while, your engine will be hot enough to warm up a can of food. Simply place the unopened can in a secure spot within the engine bay. Avoid placing it close to any moving parts. After a short period, depending on the engine’s heat, you’ll have a warm meal ready to enjoy. This trick is helpful if you don’t want to stop at restaurants or set up a portable stove.
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