Unless you take long trips by car very frequently, you probably don’t have road trip routines. But you totally should! Every just like in every other area of life routines have a magical power to keep things simple and on track – exactly what you need for a road trip!
Here are four road trip routines that make everything easier:
(There are affiliate links in this post, meaning we may get a small commission from any purchases you make. . Click here to read our full disclosure policy.)
1. Try these road trip routines before you head out:
Create a routine for what needs to be done before you head out for the day. On shorter day trips this might just be something that you do once but for longer trips it’s so helpful to start every morning on the road in the same way.
Here are some ideas for what to put on your “Before Heading Out” road trip routine:
- When you’re loading up, make sure to load frequently used items last so that they are easy to access if needed throughout your day. (Think: coolers, snacks, diaper bag, extra blanket.)
- Start each road trip day with an empty trash container/bag in an easy to reach spot.
- Make sure each person in the car has a beverage and/or snack, activity and extra clothing layer within reach.
- Check tire pressure, fluids and fuel levels before you go.
2. Create a road trip routine for stops along the way.
When traveling on US Interstates we try to stop no more than every two hours. What this looks like for us is that every other stop will fuel up our vehicle and on the other stops we try if it all possible to use a rest stop instead of a gas station or convenience stores. This saves us money and makes getting in and out much quicker. Also rest stops usually have more room to walk around and stretch your legs.
Here’s the routine we use for each and every road trip stop:
- Every person in the car uses the bathroom whether they “need” to or not. Click here to read our simple trick for keeping everyone hydrated without having to make extra bathroom stops.
- Do a quick trash pick up and toss in the public trash can on your way into the restroom.
- Clean up any toys/activities/etc. Tuck things away and just take a minute to generally tidy everything.
- Just like when you started out for the morning, make sure each person has an activity/snack/beverage/extra layer handy.
3. Set up road trip routines for when you stop for the night:
Stopping for the night is the biggest reset of all, especially when you’re on a longer trip. As tempting as it is to pile into the hotel room and crash in the bed, or hot tub, what will help the most is to make sure you’re set for the morning before you relax for the night.
- Empty all of the trash out of the car. Clean up toys and activities, and make sure that you’re grabbing everything you need for your stay for the night.
- Don’t forget to grab water bottles and snacks for while you’re in your hotel room, plus any activities or books to read while you’re winding down for the evening.
- Last but not least, reset all of your luggage so that it will be easy to pack up again in the morning when you’re headed up out of your hotel. The more organizing you do as you go the easier it will be to get in and out without too much hassle.
4. Start an end of road trip routine:
Debrief with your crew. Ask questions as you’re get close to home. Find out what everyone’s favorite parts of the trip were. What wasn’t great? What would we like to do more of next time?
Take note of these mental notes, but write them down of course! Along your trip make note of inexpensive stops, great restaurants, and hotels that have pet friendly policies, if that applies to you. What are things that you wish you had brought along on this trip? Write these down so you’ll remember them for future road trips.
Save all your receipts.
This may sound like a weird tip, but saving all of our receipts has been so helpful in planning future road trips! Not only do you have hard copy records in case there are any credit card disputes, but you also have a to the penny record of how much your trip cost. This data is so helpful for budgeting future trips.
Reset right away.
Unpack and do laundry as soon as you can once you’re home. Quick clean the car. Restock toiletry bags and other travel essentials before packing your luggage away.
Routines are the saving grace of a busy life, and our road trip routines have made travel so much easier for our family. Is there anything you would add? Please comment! Was this post helpful? Please spread the love by sharing the link with your friends!
Jamie writes about living intentionally and finding beauty and perspective in the adventures of everyday life. When she’s not writing, she’s living her own adventures – working full time at an ER registration desk, parenting two spicy girls, and collaborating with her husband on the remodel of a former one-room schoolhouse on their homestead in rural Wisconsin.