Not sure how you're gonna get through a 12-hour drive with your crew? We are. Keep reading. 

By Ana Connery
Updated April 19, 2018
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Road trips make great vacations, especially if you’ve got kids. The feeling of being on the open road, knowing that cool things to see and do may be around every bend, is all part of the fun. But road trips also can be, shall we say, challenging. Everyone usually starts out excited, with their patience tank full and their attitude chipper. But as the miles drag on, it’s easy for everyone to get cranky, especially when you’re confronted with road trip situations for which you’re not prepared. That's why we created this list of the best, most clever, useful road trip hacks we could find. These are the road trip tips that will take the ugh out of your next trip.

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When you're not in commuter mode, it can be easy to overlook the high-occupancy-vehicle lanes. But many HOV lanes are open to vehicles with two or more passengers—no matter where you're headed. Take advantage of them if you’re road-tripping during rush hour traffic.


For road trippers with allergies that require special meals, try packing food in a travel-friendly bento box. Bentgo designs sleek, colorful versions with multiple compartments, so snacks and even medicines don’t get mixed up during your trip. (Note: This is also good for picky road trippers who don't like their food touching, or for anyone who enjoys a more neat and organized way to snack on a looooong car ride. So, everyone.)


Few things are worse than locking yourself out of your car—or just losing your key altogether—when you’re in unfamiliar territory. The fix: Place an inexpensive magnetic key holder somewhere under your car and travel worry-free.


Use the iExit app to map out fun spots including parks, picture spots, restaurants, shops, and more. For bathroom breaks, the Sit or Squat app has a crowd-sourced rating system that helps you pinpoint which nearby restrooms are the cleanest. For the cheapest fuel on your route, try Gas Buddy.


Give everyone in the car 30 minutes to take photos and videos of their backseat experiences to turn into a funny movie everyone can watch together once you get back home.


The Realistic Mama had the right idea when she placed silicone cupcake liners inside her car’s cup holders. Whether you use them for drinks, coins, or trail mix, they can be easily rinsed out in your hotel room or at a rest stop to keep messy, sticky remnants to a minimum.


An empty tissue box is perfect for stashing plastic grocery bags. Pull one out when you need to corral wrappers and other garbage, or carry items in and out of the car.


If you’ve got young kids, hang a shoe organizer behind your seats and fill them with toys, crayons, or whatever will keep them entertained. (Suction cup bins also work nicely on windows, says Hayley of the Grey House Harbor blog.) Crafty kids will love the Journey Journal, which comes with fasteners and string that kids can use to route their trip on the front map. Inside, there are open pages for them to draw and write about their travel expectations as well as their experiences (it’s fun to compare them post-trip), and a handy compartment for storing keepsakes they collect.


It’s hard to remember where you left your car when you’re in an unfamiliar place, especially since rest stops and multi-acre parking lots tend to look the same. Use your smartphone to snap pics of your parking spot, including any signs or markers that might make it easier to find, or drop a pin on your map app so you can explore stress-free.