If you're planning a family road trip with kids, Pinterest is a fantastic place to find clever tips on how to reduce car-trip mess and stress.
From a BuzzFeed roundup of simple road trip hacks, inexpensive dime-store shower caddies can come in handy when you hit the fast-food drive-through.
So smart! From Kids Activities Blog comes an easy and oh-so-simple way to keep your car's cup holders clean and gunk-free.
If your kid is prone to getting car sick, you need to be prepared for the occasional mess. Cul-de-sac Cool shows you how to create a DIY ready-to-go car sickness kit containing everything you'll need when the "uh-oh"s strike.
Recharge Your Phone From the Hotel Room TV
Forgot your device recharger? The Krazy Coupon Lady suggests using the USB port in the back of your hotel room TV.
Use a Shoe Organizer to Corral Baby Essentials
Just one of several good hacks on PopSugar Mom: Use a shoe organizer to keep baby care essentials handy. You could steal this idea for toddler toys and just about any kind of backseat flotsam and jetsam.
Turn a Cereal Container Into a No-Spill Trash Can
Who knew? Those plastic cereal containers can be turned into perfect no-spill trash cans for your car. Thanks again, BuzzFeed.
Look at Your Rental Car's Fuel Gauge to Find the Gas Tank
Renting a car? PopSugar Smart Living says to look at the fuel gauge to quickly determine which side of the car the gas tank is on.
Make a Travel Game From an Altoids Tin
Inventive folks find all sorts of clever uses for empty Altoids tins. Here, Melissa's Bargains shares a tutorial for how to make a magnetic travel-sized tic-tac-toe game that would be perfect for family car rides. It's small enough to be popped into your purse and played just about anywhere.
Use Suction Shower Organizers to Hold Kids' Art Supplies
Do your kids love to draw and color in the car? Moser Moments recommends using inexpensive suction shower organizers on car windows to hold kids' crayons, markers, and other gear.
Hang Bags With Carabiners
Want to keep your handbag within easy reach? HGTV has an inexpensive DIY solution. Use carabiners as hooks for tote bags, umbrellas, and other hangables to keep necessities accessible.
Catch Popsicle Drips With a Cupcake Liner
Yet another ingenious use for cupcake liners! Keep little kids and your car cleaner by using liners to catch popsicle drips on summer vacations, recommends Mommy Shorts.
Let Your Map App Lead You Back to Your Parked Car
Among the awesome travel hacks in this story on Mashable, number 9 solves the problem of how to find your car in an unfamiliar city. Just drop a pin on your map app and the GPS will lead you right back to it like a homing pigeon.
Pack Solar Lights for Evening Picnics
As noted on the Starling Travel blog, cheap and cheerful solar lights are a handy take-along item on a family road trip, Even when you're not camping, you can use them for dinnertime picnics and all sorts of evening outings.
Use Cookie Trays as Backseat Desks
Cookie sheets make awesome backseat desks for kids. The raised edges keep crayons from rolling off and the metallic surface is super for playing magnetic games and puzzles of all kinds. In this pin, Cultivated Lives shares how cookie-tray desks are great for coloring and sticker play.
Build a Makeshift Toddler Bed in Your Hotel Room
Sick of cramped hotel rooms when you're on the road? Walking on Travels suggests six different ways to create more beds in a hotel room, including pushing chairs together to create a toddler bed.
Keep Behavior in Check With a Visual Reminder
How did one family manage to drive 16 hours with four kids on their best behavior? Less-than-Perfect Life of Bliss swears by "kids clips" made with scraps of paper and some stickers. Each kid gets his own clip on Mom's visor as a reminder to be kind and nice.
"The rule was simple: as long as they were doing well, the clip stayed up. But, if anyone made a bad choice & decided to be ugly or whiny, their clip came down. And if the clip came down, they would miss out on the next fun thing, whether it be a pack of gum at the next gas stop, an ice cream cone, getting to choose the next movie or having extra time on the iPad."
Create a Road-Trip Countdown for Kids
This fun hack from Suitcases & Sippy Cups is guaranteed to stop the "are we there yets" in their tracks. Create a road-trip countdown using a string and some cards listing cities or towns you'll pass on your route. Every time you hit a milestone, a card comes down.
Tether a Sippy Cup to the Car Seat
Little kids just love tossing their sippy cups on the ground, and if you've repeatedly scrounged around the car floor in search of one (and what parent hasn't?), you'll appreciate the genius in this tip from Swifty.com. A short tether tied around the cup keeps just-tossed drinks within reach. For safety, make the sippy lasso just long enough for your child to comfortably get a drink.
Roll Dice in a Transparent Container
Leave it to an elementary school teacher to come up with this smart tip. If your family likes to play board games on the road, keep the dice in a small transparent Tupperware-like container to keep them from getting lost, as recommended on Cardigans and Curriculum.
Get a Heads-Up on Your Exit Lane
Driving in unfamiliar territory? Don't stress about whether your exit will be to the left or right. Simply look at the top of the highway signs for an early heads-up. If the exit number is pushed flush left, your off-ramp will be to the left. And vice versa.
Store a Stash of Quarters in an M&Ms Minis Tube
Turns out that an empty M&Ms Minis tube is the perfect size for a roll of quarters. And as Mashable points out, those coins can come in mighty handy at toll booths and rest area vending machines.
Change Your Phone's Lock Screen
If you lose your phone while you're on the road, how could a Good Samaritan return it to you quickly? SmarterTravel recommends changing your phone's lock screen to an image that displays your emergency contact information, including your email address and an alternate phone number.
Use Post-It Tabs to Break up the Trip
Do you break up the monotony of road trips with dollar-store surprises? Neat Nest Organizing suggests using mini Post-Its to let kids know when the next treat is coming.
Let Young Artists Use the Car Window as a Canvas
Let the Sun Charge Your Phone Through the Car Window
Since the XD Design Solar Window Charger sticks to glass, it's an obvious boon to summer vacationers everywhere. But, as Cool Mom Tech points out, "Personally, I think this is genius for the car, where you may have more passengers in need of charging than actual outlets." Stroke of genius.
Stick a Straw Into a Go-Gurt Tube for Less Mess
If your toddler loves Go-Gurt, stick a straw in the tube for mess-free snacking. This trick also works great with foiled-topped mini containers of smooth yogurt and applesauce, too. Here's the original pin from Over the Sun blog.
Silence the "Are we there yet?" Chorus
If your kids keep asking how much longer until you get to your destination, it's time for this nifty trick from Creekside Learning. Simply laminate a map (or pop it into a transparent binder sleeve) and trace your route using dry erase markers. Even young school-age kids can see how far you've come and how far you've still got left.