Happy Travels! Auto Organization

Just like all of our organizing systems, how we travel as a family has changed and evolved over time.  It has been long time since I have done a post on the subject, yet it always seems to be a hot topic.

Some of the things we have done in the past is hang items from the backs of the seats and give our kiddos each individual travel bags.  Both systems have worked OK, but have always left excess unwanted clutter.  When each kiddo would bring their own bag on a car ride, the bags would instantly take up a lot of space and end up on the floor under their dirty feet.  It also meant that they were carrying things to and from the car each time we travel and potentially leaving it spread all over the car when we return home.  It also meant that we were always having to remember to grab special items each time we left home, when my organizing gut would tell me that a prepared mommy would just have all that stuff in the car, all the time.  I don’t know about you, but I have an aversion to clutter, so when I open the door to the backseat and see things spread out all over and basic chaos, I get a little whiny.

Awhile back, one of my super sweet sponsors, sugarSNAP, kindly gifted me some of their organizing pouches, and I knew it was the perfect excuse to kick my rear in gear and take back control of our car.

I retired the boy’s travel car bags to be used as their sleepover bags instead.  From now on, I wanted most items to live right in the car so we are always prepared or ready, whether taking a long drive across state or a twenty minute ride to pick up some groceries.

The first order of business was to find some sort of trunk organizer or caddy to hold all of our goodies.  I looked at traditional organizers, but they were all either too small or too flimsy.  Some were even quite expensive.  Since I wanted each boy to have their own blanket, I also wanted something that came with a lid, to avoid dust, dirt and dog hair from getting in the bin.  It is also nice to have a lid so that everything stays nice and contained, and because it is a woven material, it doesn’t seem to slide around at all.  I found the basket at HomeGoods.

Inside the basket we have so many items, I can barely wrap my head around it.  Here is what you will find inside:

  • Three trays for snacking and drawing
  • Notebooks, activity books and coloring pads
  • A blanket for each boy
  • Movie case
  • Wipes
  • First aid supplies
  • Snacks
  • Picnic items
  • Outdoor lotions and potions
  • Markers

Each one of the individual pouches holds oodles of items.  The pouches can either all be clipped together on a larger ring, or removed to be used individually.

A few reasons why these work so great for car organization:

  • They are mesh so you can see the contents
  • They are heavy duty so they will withstand constant moving around and everyday wear and tear
  • They have durable plastic tabs so everything can be “filed” and labeled
  • They are sleek and compact
  • They have the ability of being left in the back of the car or brought to the front during travel.  They can also be easily transported inside between trips.  You can select which items need to come in, and which can stay in the car.
  • They can easily tuck within a diaper bag, baseball bag, picnic basket, purse or tote.

Let’s take a closer look at how I used each pouch.

The first pouch received a bunch of snacks.  It never fails that when we get in the car, 10 minutes in, someone is hungry.  Again, this pouch can either stay in the car, or come inside, weather and time depending.

For the next pouch, I took cue from my bloggy buddy, Courtney, and packed up some picnicking essentials so that they can either eat lunch on the road or at a park, without too much extra thought.

By keeping the plastic trays in the car {which I originally found at Target last year}, the kids have a solid surface to eat.

I decided that two pouches with first aid items would be best.  One with everything we may need while traveling, and another to easily take out of the car at baseball games and at parks.  First up, the larger set of first aid supplies.

In this pouch, we have band-aids, anti-nausea medication, Tylenol, hand sanitizer, thermometer, ointments and cotton.  Enough to get us by if someone has a fall at the park or gets wheezy in the car.  Again, the pouch can stay in the car, or, if it gets too hot, can easily be stored in the garage or inside the home on a hook in-between trips.

The smaller pouch holds all the other outdoor lotions and potions.

Tissues, sunscreen, bug spray, hand sanitizer and stain removal wipes.

Just when you thought we couldn’t fit any more into a single basket, I still pull out two more pouches.  These are my sanity saver bags.  They hold the secret to quieter car rides.

The first is a pouch with different travel games; dry-erase brain games, Go-Fish, United States flash cards and facts, Fun Things to do in the Car Cards, and a Rubik cube.

The other pouch holds a rainbow of markers.

Again, the tray comes in for the win to give the kids a surface for coloring, writing and playing games.

All nice and compact in individual pouches to keep all the different items and categories separate and easy to grab from.

The basket also holds a movie case, which just contains some of the kiddos movies that are rotated out from the collection in the house.

And a large tub of wipes for quick cleanups.  Because when you travel with kids, wipes always need to be in the car.  Always.

Everything files away nice and neat inside of the basket!  I never knew I would swoon at car organization!

The basket sits in the back of our SUV, but can also easily be moved the to trunk of our car, depending on which vehicle we are traveling in.

For us, this is much better than having all sorts of random things floating around the interior of the auto, and keeps floors virtually clear.  We can select what items we want in the main portion of the car before we take off, and easily stop to grab out something if necessary.  That basket sure packs a lot of punch!  No more whiny mom here!

My next step is to make sure I have all of the other important travel necessities.  You know, the not as fun things like umbrellas and scrapers and flares, oh my….

What items do you find essential when traveling with kids?  Is there something you would never leave the house without?  How do you keep the inside of your car, calm and clutter free?