Momma Told Me: Life Hacks To Make Your Car Feel More Like Home While On A Road Trip

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Life Hacks To Make Your Car Feel More Like Home While On A Road Trip

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RoadTripOil #CollectiveBias
10 Genius Car Hacks For Road Trips- #RoadTripOil #AD
Today I'd like to revisit a recurring theme this, and every, Summer break- road trips.

It's no secret that we have been, and will be continuing, exploring the state of California in our series of mini Road Trip Vacations. Typically our Summers wrap with a 2 week long trek up the Pacific Coast to visit Momma in Oregon, but we're having to miss out on that this year due to the entire state being shut down for the upcoming lunar eclipse. Yea, it's kind of bananas.

But I digress, we actually have a road trip up to the darling dutch town, Solvang, CA, coming up next week. It's a place I've been visiting since childhood and this will actually be my first time staying as a full blown tourist, hotel room and all. But, before we hit the road in that Southern California traffic there are a few housekeeping things I needed to attend to this week.
We have a small car.

Sure, it's just the 2 of us plus the 2 small dogs, but a convertible can start to feel cramped really quick when you consider minimal trunk space, luggage, and anything one tends to buy/accumulate while traveling. As a result I've become hyper-aware of how to make our car feel a little more like home, to avoid stir crazy moments reminiscent of a National Lampoon's scene. The very first, and most important, tip I have is to ensure that your car is running at it's most optimal prior to pulling out of the driveway on your journey.
#1: Get in working order, without wasting time.

For us this has always meant a special stop at our local Walmart's Automotive Care Center- the friendly associates work on a first come, first served, basis to get your car in and out (and on the road) as fast as possible. Best of all, no matter how much time my car's necessary services take I can enjoy the convenience of shopping and preparing for my road trip while I wait. Some services I especially like to check off my list include tire pressure check/alignment, fluid top off, and oil change.

In fact Walmart currently has a special on their Pennzoil® High Mileage Vehicle® motor oil change, which helps clean out the sludge lesser oils leave behind, while helping to reduce leaks and oil consumption in worn or higher mileage engines. It’s a motor oil specifically designed for new or late model vehicles with over 75,000 miles, with the mission of keeping engines running clean and going strong. You can visit your local Walmart Auto Care Center (ACC) now to take advantage of the special rollback pricing from $39.88 to $35.88- that's a $4 dollar savings!

When you stop in to the ACC be sure to let your customer service representative know that you're preparing for a road trip- they'll be happy to suggest any check-ups or maintenance services your car may need before heading out!
#2: Start squeaky clean.

Whether you're the cleanest creature on the planet and plan on doing all of your living outside your car on your road trip you're still going to accumulate unexpected messes. We always plan on tossing out our trash at every rest stop, and only eating at sit down restaurants but by the return trip we're munching on snacks while driving and somehow have trash from inside our hotel room that's migrated into the car with us.

Hitting the road with a dirty car will only contribute to that grungy feeling when you've been sitting in the same seat for 6+ hours and you're starting to wonder if that funky smell is coming from yesterdays breakfast wrappers or you. If you start clean you are more likely to keep and maintain a clean car while on the road. More importantly, take everything out of your car that isn't needed for the road trip itself. Keep your road maps and emergency roadside gear in the car, of course, but pull out those extra scrunchies, the fries you've been saving for 2 months under the seat, and that old concert ticket from 2007. Why? Because living out of a car is rough and hunting for pieces of your life in between migrating from one campsite or hotel to the next can be frustrating enough without rediscovering the past 10 years of your life in the progress.
Car Hack: D.I.Y. Wax Jar Air Freshener #RoadTripOil #AD
#3: Keep it smelling fresh.

My next tip is an actual life hack.

We've used plenty of things to help fight odors while on the road but this is my absolute favorite for warm weather travel. I have hundreds, yes hundreds, of wax cubes at home I'll never possibly get through. Toss 1-2 cubes in a stubby mason jar with some holes punched in the lid and toss it in a free cup holder or under the passenger seat. As your car heats up in parking lots on your trip your favorite fragrance will fill your car!

Find the fragrance a little too strong? Use previously melted wax chunks which tend to have less 'throw' to the fragrance after having been melted prior.
Car Hack: D.I.Y. Emoji Antenna Toppers #RoadTripOil #AD
#4: Put a little personality into it.

I'll admit, as expensive as motor vehicles are I still cringe at the thought of putting a sticker on the back of my bumper. It's not the end of the world, really, but to me I simply can't come around to the idea.

Regardless, I fully support adding one or more personal elements to your car. Personalizing your car with a simple decal, funny sun window sun shade, or antenna topper will not only help you carry a bit of you and your personality on the road but could save some headaches as well. The last thing you want to be doing in a strange town or new state is trying to remember where you parked your vehicle. One of the easiest things to scan in an overcrowded parking lot is antenna toppers, with windshield shade screens being next.

If you really want to get into the spirit of expressing yourself through your car you can even make custom antenna toppers out of foam practice golf balls, which happen to be permanent marker friendly and the perfect size. They even come in a variety of fun bright colors!
Car Hack: Reusable Bags For Wet And Dirty Clothes #RoadTripOil #AD
#5: Prepare to get dirty.

Traveling in Southern California in the Summer we never expect to encounter inclement weather on the road. However it seems like every single road trip we wind up with stained, wet, or just plain funky clothing and no where practical to put them.

Keep several reusable shopping bags in your car specifically for wet clothing (sudden downpour, wet ride at the amusement park, quick tide at the beach, pool clothes, etc) and emergency dirty laundry. Trust me you'll thank me later when your dog gets carsick on you and you're 25 miles from the next road stop!

PRO TIP: Keep disposable shower caps in your car to work as makeshift shoe covers for dirty shoes!
Car Hack: Fast Food Organization #RoadTripOil #AD
#6: Stay organized- especially when eating inside the car.

Hands down the biggest threat to my rolling sanctuary, while on the road, is food. When Jay and I swap off driving we may go over 20 hours without really stopping for more than 5-10 minutes  at a time. And when we add children, such as nieces and nephews, into the mix that's plenty of time spent munching on snacks and gulping down fast food trying to keep everyone full and satisfied.

If you have passenger or back seat eaters then you NEED to have some sort of structured system for eating. The above craft organizer bins are the perfect size for just about any meal and will accommodate most size beverages. I especially appreciate the tall walls, which help prevent tipping of drinks and french fries. If you really want to have eating in the car under control then toss a few small cookie sheets into the back seat before you hit the road- they make great meal and doodle trays for kids!
Road Trip Hack: D.I.Y. I-Spy Game #RoadTripOil #AD
#7: Keep back seat passengers engaged.

While we usually put this tip to good use with the dogs (a good chew toy does wonders to a dog mom's mentality on hour 10 of road trip driving) it's just as much a great idea to keep small minds and hands busy while on a road trip.We find that minds actively engaged in a task tend to wear out, and allow time to pass, much faster than those aimlessly staring out the window.
For just a couple of bucks, and an hour's worth of time, you can actually turn an old liter sized plastic water bottle into a one-of-a-kind 'I-Spy' style backseat car game. Toss uncooked rice with a few drops of food coloring then allow the rice to air dry on some baking sheets out in the open for 24-48 hours. Next layer the colored rice and 15-20 small trinkets from colored beads and charms to pennies and more.

Make a list of all the things 'hidden' inside and hand it to a child in the back seat when you head out on the road. A free magnifier application on your smartphone or tablet can double as a real time magnifier if you want to earn 'cool' points for including technology.
#8: Find your soundtrack.

Every great adventure in life should be marked by amazing sights, unforgettable memories, fascinating new smells, and addictive beats.

In my book it's not a road trip if I'm not screaming along to the stereo with the windows (or the top) down, messing up all the words and turning every song into my personal life's story. If you're traveling with someone a 'Killer Roadtrip Playlist' can be a fun way to get to know the person you're traveling with, and a surefire way to make new memories. If you're traveling solo a great playlist is a lifesaver when the radio station inevitably cuts out on mile 98.

What should you put on your Killer Roadtrip Soundtrack?

It may seems second nature to fill your playlist with all your favorite songs but I'd advise against that. Songs you know by heart are already a little overplayed in your mind and you won't find the tunes very inspiring the 8th time you hear that song on your drive. Instead include a few favorites you haven't heard in years, include some classic tongue in cheek 'road trip' themed songs for campy humor injections, and take a moment to explore some music by artists you enjoy on the radio but have never taken the time to really explore before.
#9: Bring the outdoors in.

It may seem illogical to want to bring the outdoors into your car when you're about to spend hours a day driving through the outdoors IN your car. And, as someone who owns a convertible it might seem even more illogical- but this simple and fun D.I.Y. Car Vent Clip Vase is the perfect way to brighten up the inside of your car in both sight and smell while road-tripping. First you'll need to gather:

12-14 Gauge Colored Copper wire
Wire Style Clothespin Clips
Single Floral Bud Vials
Needle Nosed Pliers
(Optional Hot Glue Gun To Cover Any Wire End Edges)
Start by cutting approximately 10" of wire.

Gently bend one end of the wire parallel to the top of the vial and wind the wire around the vial 3 times tightly. The wire will spring back with a little space between the vial and wire wrapping, this is fine.

Next bend the lengthy end of the wire down 1/4 inch inward from where the original bent wire end rests.

Using needle nosed pliers bend the original (wrapped) wire ending inward across the remaining wire rod length as to create a hook that holds the straight wire line in place.
Feed your remaining straight wire end through the side of the clothespin slip and bend it out and around the bottom middle of the vial.

Clip the wire end, leaving 1/4" of length and use the needle nosed pliers to bend the wire end inward against the clothespin frame.

Cap any sharp wire edges you are concerned about with a dot of hot glue to create a smooth round edge.

Repeat with a second vial, along the first, to create a 2 flower vase setup.

when the clip on vase is complete you should be able to remove the vials from their tracks with a little effort (to fill and clean) and replace them securely as you wish.

If you want a more organic look and feel to your clip on vases you can also use wrapped 'floral stem' guide wire for your wire wrapping technique. These come in muted green colors that resemble flower stems and will offer a more rustic look for your car. I've included another set of images showing the wrapping process above, as the green wire is a little easier to read on camera.

Depending on the type of flowers you wish to put in your mini vent clip vases, and the weather where you are traveling, you an expect to get 2-3 days of fresh life out of a single bud. I've had some tolerant flowers, such as daises, lost a week with a water change in the middle. Here, in hot weather the flowers tend to suck up the water fact and do require a refill every few days.

A vent clip vase like this would be especially fun to include and feature flowers found on road trip travels, while on the road!
Car Hack: D.I.Y. Vent Clip Vase #RoadTripOil #AD
#10: Don't sweat the small stuff- A.K.A: Have fun!

If you've prepared for your road trip using our tips above you're on the right path to a simply smashing road trip. Of course bumps are bound to come up, much like on any road in life, but the important thing is that you always take a deep breath before giving in to worry or panic. One of the most beautiful things about road trips are the options for varied paths and open itineraries. It's never just about getting from point A to point B. Remember that and you're sure to have a blast!

If you're looking to start your road trip off right be sure to check out the Walmart Automotive Care Center and their special Summer Pennzoil rollback deal. Find a Walmart ACC near you with the easy to use store finder here. Now, tell me where you are heading out to this Summer!


  1. These are such cute ideas! I don't think I've ever seen such colorful suggestions for my car's interior. I love it!

  2. Oh my gosh you have such good ideas! I love the I spy by game. I would never thought about doing that one, but the next time we go on a road trip I am totally doing that. I love those flowers too. You are so creative!

  3. I love this so much!! As someone who is in her car all day, I will have to try this.

  4. The fast food holder and the emoji antenna toppers are awesome! I love antenna toppers, are car usually has a Disney one of some sort on it, but I'll have to try making an emoji one (or two, or three, laugh).

    1. We have a rainbow mickey head right now, too :) Unfortunately the Disney ones aren't cheap and they get stolen quick around here :(

  5. I am in love with the DIY I Spy Car Game idea! That is so easy to make and I know my kids would love it! Brilliant!

  6. Great tips! We just got home from a road trip and could have used some of these. I totally spaced and we didn't have any music, that just meant we listened to public radio for a while when no other stations came in. Actually learned quite a bit.

  7. These are great, we do allot of road trips as a family. The getting messy and dirty part is tough. lol..Like how?!

  8. You have such great tips here. I love the idea of the wax cubes in the car. I have a million to use up also! Your DIY clip vase is super cute too! I love an easy but fun craft.

  9. These are all great tips. I will have to try the wax cube air freshener. It will definitely last longer than the store bought ones.

  10. Using a craft organizer as a food tray is a smart idea. Trying to balance your food on your lap without it spilling can get tricky.

  11. What a fun idea! We are planning on hitting the road here for a late summer roadtrip soon, and I'm totally going to use several of these tips. Thanks so much for sharing, and thanks for the heads up on the Pennzoil rollback pricing right now! #client

  12. We always use the provided laundry bags in hotels to place our dirty clothes in before putting them in the suitcase with our clean clothes. Traps odors and helps you remember what is what after several days. Also make sure to ask for a bag when stopping for those snacks no matter how few you buy. Then you have a place to put your trash for easy throw away at next stop. We always take a cooler with our favorite soft drinks and waters. Cheaper than buying from from convenience stores and eliminates unnecessary stops.

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