After two years of minimal travel due to the pandemic, isn’t it time for you to explore the world again? Certainly a family road trip is doable, right? Traveling hacks not only save you money — which is what KCL specializes in — but time and space too (we’ll get to that).
You may need a few items before you hit the road. After all, researching and planning make for a smoother vacation. Whether you’re flying, driving, or cruising, try these money-saving travel hacks:
- Household coupons (snacks, disinfecting wipes, napkins, facial tissue)
- 12+ ways to get free children’s books
- Tips to save on gas
- The best time to buy an airline ticket
1. Use a button as an easy travel hack to keep a pair of earrings together.
There’s nothing worse than losing your jewelry or finding it tangled to the point of no use. Using a button as a travel packing hack can solve this icy issue. It’s great for studs and dangling ones and can be stored in a zip top bag or in a travel jewelry case (here are some jewelry deals to check out).
Looking for more packing tricks? Here are 29 tips that every traveler should know.
2. Create a binder of printables and other games as hacks for kids who are restless.
Family road trips are often challenging with kids of any age. For younger ones, you’d better come armed with plenty of games or activities to keep their minds occupied so they don’t keep asking you, “Are we there yet?” Try these hacks for kids:
- Pack creative options like coloring books with crayons/markers, word searches, road trip scavenger hunts.
- Play games like bingo, tic-tac-toe, or ‘I Spy’ over and over by inserting copies into plastic sleeves and using dry erase markers.
- Download movies, apps on a tablet or other device.
- Create a custom binder with their name and interesting facts about their destination.
Interested in the best audiobooks for family road trips? Find out how to get free audiobooks here.
3. Reorganize bed pillows for a fun and creative hotel hack so kids can have their own spot.
Give kids their own spot to sleep in a hotel room by changing the direction of a bed’s pillows. Make this travel hack more special by having them bring a new or favorite pillow with a colorful pillowcase. Choosing a colorful option will also help them not forget it in the sea of white bedding.
Another useful traveling hack is to set an alarm reminder to re-pack special stuffed animals, cell phone chargers, and shoes.
4. Use the USB slot on the back of your hotel’s TV to charge your phone.
Without fail, I usually forget something when packing for a trip. Forgetting your phone charger has got to be the worst mistake, though. For a genius hotel hack, use the USB outlet on the back of the television to charge your devices. Hopefully, your hotel is modern enough where they have this option.
5. Roll your clothes (instead of folding) as a travel packing hack to make more room in your luggage.
This classic traveling hack saves space, and it’s the recommended packing method of flight attendants, so it must work well. It’s ideal for kids’ and adults’ clothes because you can actually see your contents, it maximizes space, and it feeds your inner OCD.
You might want to browse the KCL luggage deals page so you have enough room.
6. Save on snacks by creating your own travel-friendly portions.
Snacks are an absolute must for any family road trip. Making your own snacks saves money, lets you customize your treats, and allows the kids to have input. In fact, kids can make their own snack bag using a paper bag decorated with stickers.
Depending on where you’re traveling, a snack box (like a bento box) with items like string cheese, fruit, and veggies would make the perfect light lunch or snack for hungry kids. After all, room service is great but can be costly for a large family.
Need a few hotel cooking hacks? Here are some ideas:
- Use the coffee maker’s hot water function two ways — instant oatmeal and ramen noodle soup.
- Make breakfast using a mini waffle maker. Pack a waffle maker, store dry waffle mix in a zip top bag, stir in water, and cook.
- Mix and microwave your own mug cake dessert.
- Pack microwavable rice, fully cooked pasta pouches, or microwavable mac and cheese bowls.
Check out the KCL snack coupons page to download savings.
7. Store liquid cosmetics in a contact lens case so you don’t have to bring the entire container.
The dreaded 3.4 ounce travel-size container rule for flying makes packing stressful and challenging. No fear! Use a contact lens case as a traveling hack to store makeup or sunscreen.
Speaking of liquids, if you want to save on buying bottled water at the airport (which is $3 – 5), store a couple of empty bottles in your carry-on baggage and refill them after going through security.
Want to learn more about airline hacks for your next flight? We’ve got 19 tips for you to explore.
8. Use a binder clip as a travel packing hack to protect your razor (and your fingers).
A binder clip is a great travel hack to cover a razor, because if you can’t locate the cover, you could get cut badly. You could also store it in a Ziploc bag and pack it with your toiletries. FYI, if you’re flying, razors aren’t permitted in carry-on bags, but they’re okay in checked luggage.
9. Put breakables, glasses, and/or jewelry in your shoes so they don’t get lost or damaged in your luggage.
Whether you’re headed on a family road trip or flying, you’ve got to use space-saving tips to protect your fragile belongings like sunglasses, perfume bottles, and watches. If they’re securely packed in your shoes, they won’t slide around and get broken.
10. Create a backseat hack for kids — a shoe organizer for long car rides.
Over-the-door shoe organizers can be a lifesaver for trips, and they’re inexpensive. You can stash a variety of items:
11. Keep toys close by filling a suctioned shower caddy during family road trips.
A shower caddy with suction cups makes for a smart idea for kids to store their favorite small toys and even some snacks. Just don’t roll the window down!
You could even create a family road trip game using construction paper — a paper-chain activity list. Make the chain by cutting brightly-colored paper into strips, curling it until the ends meet and taping it. Then, add/tape more strips until you have a necklace.
Here’s where you insert the game portion. On each chain — before you roll and tape — write a fun activity or task, like watching a movie, singing your favorite song, playing Uno, or drawing a picture.
Related: Start making your travel bucket list with these 23 cheap places to travel in 2023.
12. Have kids make their own edible snack necklaces before the big family road trip.
Who doesn’t love a good craft that you can build and eat. Use dental floss or elastic jewelry string to add dry snacks with holes such as pretzels and cereal. This travel hack is fun, but it can get messy. Use a lint roller to pick up crumbs from your seat, or suck up spills with a mini travel handheld vacuum cleaner.
You can never have too many tricks to deep clean your car, especially on a family road trip.
13. Place jewelry in between two sheets of Glad Press’n Seal to avoid tangles and breaks.
You already know Glad Press’n Seal is great for protecting food, but it also makes for an excellent travel packing hack for your necklaces. Just place the jewelry in between two sheets and pack them (perhaps in a Ziploc bag for added protection). Aren’t you glad you discovered this tip? Ha, ha.
14. Use a dryer sheet in your luggage as a travel hack to keep your clothes smelling fresh.
I love traveling, but the thought of lugging around dirty clothes (with my clean clothes) kinda grosses me out. You can separate them into plastic bags to avoid germ cross-contamination, but for smells, toss in a fragrant dryer sheet to absorb funky odors. Another idea is to bring a travel laundry bag.
15. Turn a shower cap into a traveling hack to store your dirty shoes.
To piggyback on traveling with dirty clothes, shoes aren’t to be skipped either. Store your kicks in a disposable and cheap solution — a plastic shower cap. Bringing your own shower cap is a great hotel hack too, because some establishments don’t offer them anymore. Why get your beautiful new hairdo wet on your vacation?
16. Place a cotton ball or pad over your powdered makeup to keep it from breaking.
Unless you pack your powdered makeup in your purse, you never know how it will end up in your luggage. A round cotton pad is the perfect solution and size to fit over the makeup so it doesn’t break into pieces. Here are a few makeup traveling hacks to try:
- How to Rehydrate Dried Out Makeup
- 8 Surprising Ways to Use an Old Mascara Wand
- Want Free (Or Mostly Free) Makeup Samples? Try These 6 Easy Ways!
- 14 Clever Beauty Hacks You’ll Actually Use
Do you need to stock up on foundation before your big trip? Visit the KCL makeup coupons page.
17. Screenshot travel directions, then turn off location services to save battery.
When you’re driving, the last thing you want is a low battery. Yes, you can charge it as you go, but if your kid is watching TikTok or someone else is using the USB outlet, it can drain easily. Taking a screenshot of the directions can help so you don’t have to use up the battery.
A related road trip hack is plugging in your phone and showing the map on your car’s display monitor. My 7-year-old son loves to follow the map, and since he can read, he knows how many miles and how long it will take for us to arrive. It’s the little things, folks!