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15 Awesome Road Trip Hacks for the Whole Family

15 Awesome Road Trip Hacks for the Whole Family

Road trip! What childhood memory comes to mind when you hear those words? Chances are your memories are either about great fun, or hours of misery fighting with your sibling in the back seat of the car. For me, it’s a little bit of both!

Now that I’m older and have learned a lot about traveling with kids of all ages, I realize as long as you take the time to plan ahead on some things, and are wide open to change on others, a road trip can be a fun part of the whole adventure. Here are some great road trip hacks for the whole family.

1. Make Behavior Expectations Clear Before Leaving

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    Image via Flickr by Kim Davies

    This often overlooked hack sets the tone for the whole trip. Talk to your family about trip rules and expectations before you leave. Print them out so you can refer back to the rules if necessary. The last thing you want to hear is, “You didn’t tell me that!”

    The rules should include things like, “Everyone uses the restroom when we stop, even if you don’t have to go,” and “When we stop, everyone stays together.” Also relay expectations about how often you will be stopping, when you will eat, what reward will be given for good behavior, and what is taken away if behavior is not up to par. By going over these simple rules and expectations beforehand, your family will know what to do.

    2. Hang a Backpack Full of Activities Over the Headrest of the Front Seat

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      Image via Flickr by MTSO fan

      This hack works for all ages and there’s nothing to buy since just about everyone owns a backpack. Items inside the pack can be customized based on age.

      Hang a backpack over the head rest of the front seat, then roll the flap of the backpack down and secure it with a binder clip. Once secure, fill the bag and mesh compartment inside with age-appropriate activities and snacks. This hack can be super simple or very creative. For little ones, you might want to wrap up a few dollar store toys and put them in the bag as a special surprise.

      3. Fill Fido’s Kong Toy with Peanut Butter

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        Image via Flickr by OakleyOriginals

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        Dogs get bored just like kids. When traveling with your four-legged kid, fill a Kong toy with a tasty treat such as peanut butter. I know, it sounds gross but it really does work! He will be able to smell the treat even after licking all he can out of the center. This keeps him busier than a normal toy would and it doesn’t splinter all over your car like a bone.

        Once you reach your destination, just rinse the toy thoroughly inside and out to remove any leftover treat still inside. Most of the Kong toys have a larger opening that makes cleaning easy.

        4. Play Games that Promote Working as a Team and Avoid Games with One Winner

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          Image via Flickr by Vastateparkstaff

          Face it! Kids are competitive at all ages, and they will fight if given the chance. A game that requires everyone to work as a team will help everyone get along better. You can play a game of scavenger hunt and offer a prize for everyone once all of the items are collected, say, “If you get everything on the list, we will stop and have ice cream!” That would work for me!

          It may be best to avoid some of the more traditional games like license plate bingo if you are traveling with competitive kids. Games like these can backfire and cause fights when someone doesn’t believe you actually saw that license plate from Ohio.

          5. Create a Moving Scrapbook

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            Image via Flickr by Bunches and Bits

            Assign everyone a different task. Someone can be in charge of pictures, someone items for the scrapbook, and someone keeps a journal. The idea is that each person works on their part while on the trip so that when you return home from your destination, you have everything for a scrapbook. The collaborative work becomes a meaningful souvenir everyone will appreciate.

            6. Stay Connected While On the Road

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              Image via Flickr by Sidartha Thota

              An easy solution for staying connected to the internet on larger devices such as a tablet is use your smartphone’s hot spot or tethering capabilities. This hack comes in handy for the whole family. Full views usually offer more information than a mobile view so it’s easier to find maps and other needed information faster.

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              Remember, if you don’t have unlimited data you will want to either purchase more data before you leave, or monitor the usage closely while on the road to avoid overage charges.

              7. Schedule Pit Stops Where Everyone Can Burn Off Excess Energy

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                Image via Flickr by lulginter

                Bring action items such as a football or Frisbee so that you can encourage everyone to burn off excess energy during pit stops. If you forget to bring something family members can chase, no worries, foot races or tag will get you the same result.

                This is a great family activity so Mom and Dad should be running too. Exercise helps release endorphins and that reduces stress. If you are less stressed, you will be better able to handle the hiccups that may happen along the way.

                8. Go Old School and Bring a Real Map and a Sharpie

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                  Image via Flickr by StefanAndrejShambora

                  There is just something about a traditional map that brings excitement to a trip. You can tell the kids this is how Mom and Dad traveled when we were your age. You will sound ancient but the kids usually think its cool!

                  Allow the kids to trace the route as you go. They will appreciate the visual of how far they have gone and how much further they have to travel to reach the destination. It adds a fun element that is missing in today’s travel.

                  9. Go Off the Beaten Path

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                    Image via Flickr by Jimmy Emerson, DVM

                    Another fun activity for all ages is to follow a couple of those really weird billboards you see along the way or Google, “World’s Largest (you fill in the blank).” These little side adventures not only take you off the beaten path, but they add unexpected fun and memories to your trip.

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                    10. Take Advantage of Free and Reduced Price Days

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                      Image via Flickr by Scott Smith

                      If you want to see something particular in a town, research when they may have free or reduced pricing for that attraction. Many museums and theme parks reduce prices after a certain time of day. Some even offer free admission.

                      Disney is a great place to find these freebies. Many museums in the area offer free days and Downtown Disney is always free. You will find lots of things to do and see there for all ages.

                      11. Look into Coupon Books for a City Before you Travel There

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                        Image via Flickr by Schipul

                        This hack can save you hundreds when visiting a city far away from home. In the US, if I am traveling to a certain area for a few days, I often invest in an Entertainment Book for that area. They tend to be less touristy and using just a couple coupons inside more than pays for the price of the book.

                        If you want to do more of the touristy activities, many cities have coupon books available for attraction-heavy activities around town. Discounts in these books are usually not as good, but any discount is better than none.

                        12. Plan Your Trip to Avoid Detours and Rush Hours

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                          Image via Flickr by Derek Bruff

                          By leaving at a certain time of day, you can avoid rush hour in larger cities and get to your destination faster. If you do happen to hit a rush hour or traffic jam, there are some great apps out there now that can help you detour using alternative routes.

                          When researching a route, don’t forget to check for construction along the way. Sometimes the fastest route becomes the slowest once you hit construction delays.

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                          13. Use a Gas App to Save Money on the Road

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                            Image via Flickr by Andy Pixel

                            Sometimes just a few miles makes a big difference when it comes to gas prices. With a gas app, like GasBuddy, you can easily tell when it is a good time to fill up.

                            If you are taking a rental car on your road trip, beware of high gas prices near the rental facility. Your contract usually requires you bring the car back with a full tank. Recently, I dropped off a car to a rental facility where the gas at the station across the street was priced $1.50 more than I had paid elsewhere. The station was full of people filling up before dropping back their cars. Ouch!

                            14. Remember the Important Travel Essentials: Rubber Bands, Binder Clips and Duct Tape

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                              Image via Flickr by Lynn Friedman

                              Rubber bands and binder clips can secure cell phones, back packs, iPads, and many other items. Duct Tape, well, what can’t Duct Tape do? Use it for quick fixes of squeaks inside the car, securing luggage, and even arts and crafts. It is the universal travel essential you cannot leave home without.

                              Rubber bands and binder clips can be used to hold cell phones in air vents when a holder isn’t available. This is great hack when using a cell phone as a GPS.

                              15. Use the Coat Rack for Something Useful

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                                Image via Flickr by Josh Ferris

                                You can use an additional cargo net like the one pictured, but attach it to the clothes handles above the rear windows near the interior roof. This adds more space for storage and utilizes wasted space along the ceiling. For winter trips, this is an excellent place to put coats or other flat items that are needed, but bulky when left in the seat. It’s also a great place to put pillows.

                                This hack is great for everyday use.You can leave the net there and have an instant storage location to use year round.

                                If you have used any of these hacks, or have hacks of you own, please share your experience in the comment box below. Everyone loves a great hack! What’s yours?

                                Featured photo credit: by Massachusetts Office of Tourism via flickr.com

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                                Missy Yost

                                Missy is a business owner and writes about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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                                Last Updated on January 21, 2020

                                The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                                The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                                Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

                                your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

                                  Why You Need a Vision

                                  Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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                                  How to Create Your Life Vision

                                  Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

                                  What Do You Want?

                                  The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

                                  It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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                                  Some tips to guide you:

                                  • Remember to ask why you want certain things
                                  • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
                                  • Give yourself permission to dream.
                                  • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
                                  • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

                                  Some questions to start your exploration:

                                  • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
                                  • What would you like to have more of in your life?
                                  • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
                                  • What are your secret passions and dreams?
                                  • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
                                  • What do you want your relationships to be like?
                                  • What qualities would you like to develop?
                                  • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
                                  • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
                                  • What would you most like to accomplish?
                                  • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

                                  It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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                                  What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

                                  Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

                                  A few prompts to get you started:

                                  • What will you have accomplished already?
                                  • How will you feel about yourself?
                                  • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
                                  • What does your ideal day look like?
                                  • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
                                  • What would you be doing?
                                  • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
                                  • How are you dressed?
                                  • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
                                  • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
                                  • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

                                  It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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                                  Plan Backwards

                                  It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

                                  • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
                                  • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
                                  • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
                                  • What important actions would you have had to take?
                                  • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
                                  • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
                                  • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
                                  • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
                                  • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

                                  Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

                                  It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

                                  Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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