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Organizing for a Road Trip

Published On: May 15, 2015By

shutterstock_254706451It’s May, and for many families, that means the kids will soon be out of school for the summer. In my family, summer meant road trips! Here’s the part where I show my age: Road trips in my day were made without iPads or built-in DVD players. We had books, travel-size versions of games like Connect Four and then one summer, a Walkman (but without a few pounds of extra batteries, it didn’t last long). We played games like “Slug Bug” and “White Horse Cemetery.” But one thing that hasn’t changed: The near-disaster a car becomes after a few hundred miles of a family being cooped up together.

Yep, fast food containers, junk food snack wrappers, kicked off shoes and socks, dropped crayons and pens… It all ended up in the floorboards or thrown on top of the luggage in the way-back of our old Mercury station wagon. And now, as a mom with my own vehicle to clean, I understand what had to have been the worst part of a road trip – cleaning up after. The key to making it a little less painful? Being organized and prepared straight from the driveway. To get started, let’s dive into a number of great hacks and tips for this month’s Resolution: Organization installment.


Road trips always mean lots of extra stuff to load in the family car, but it’s keeping your vehicle organized and prepared beforehand that’s key. Take a few minutes to sit in your car and just look around. Take a notepad and pen with you. What is all in there, anyway? Do you really need all that stuff? Write down what you see. Then organize your list by what you must have handy and what you need but that could be stored elsewhere. For example, do you have a pick-up truck with a couple extra tires in the bed? Then maybe it’s time for seasonal tire storage, a very inexpensive program offered at several Guardian stores. (Or rent a slightly larger space to get those extra tools out of the way, too.)

And now, it’s the fun part. Check out some of our favorite tips for organizing your car on our Pinterest board, and decide which systems will work best for you. If you remember to sort things based on how often you might need the item, it’s pretty easy to find a place for everything. From there, it’s about deciding if you like plastic totes, truck organizers or a more specialized set-up. One very affordable organization idea: A small moving box. Pair one with a dish cell kit and you suddenly have an easy-to-move container that has a spot for everything. You can find small boxes and kits at all our Guardian Storage locations.


Prepping for a road trip is something else entirely. You might have to consolidate some of the things you normally keep in your vehicle. (For example, when we’re headed out for a long trip, we pack a larger diaper bag so there’s no need to keep my backup stash of diapers and wipes.)

Getting ready means knowing where you’re going, too. If you’ll spend lots of time on the mostly-empty highway, you might want extra snacks and bottled water. DVDs and crayons should be handy so it’s easy to switch them out. (Not sure where you’re going this summer? Check out this fantastic map of the “Optimal US Road Trip.”)

Traveling with kids is a whole other ballgame, too. Even with all sorts of tablets, e-readers and other gaming devices, you’re bound to hear, “But I’m BORED!” at some point. “Natural Family Today” is penned by a mom of four, so she shares some great ideas for activity kits. The cool thing about these? Neat, organized pouches that keep everything in one place.

Want to skip the, “But how much longer??” questions? Then check out this super easy idea from “Neat Nest Organizing.” (This is really great if you’re teaching kids about time, too.)

Finally, since we all know Murphy’s Law often comes in to play on road trips, don’t forget to be prepared for the not-so-fun stuff. has a great blog post on what to keep in an emergency car kit. It’s above-and-beyond the obvious “check the spare tire,” but it’s often those little things that can make a bad situation a little better.