Best Way to Organize Car for Road Trip: 9 Easy Car Organizing Tips

If you want to know the best way to organize your car for a road trip, this article is for you. Below, you’ll discover 9 easy car organizing tips so that your car stays clean, what you need is within reach, and everything else is neatly stored away for the ride.

Keep reading to learn how to organize a car before you go on vacation.

organize car for road trip

CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn how to organize your car for a road trip, including:

Essential Road Trip Skills: Organize Car for Road Trip

Road trips are back on schedule. Or are they? 

For now, we can say that the pandemic has eased up, and even though we don’t know what shape or form the next wave is going to take, we can appreciate that things have been slightly better in the past few months. 

But the pandemic is one thing.

You need to figure out how to organize your car for a road trip if you are going to take advantage of this…let’s call it a reprieve. 

There are so many ways you can organize your car and keep everything intact and your car neat after the trip. You might even consider getting a car cover to protect your car paint on the road.

At minimum, here are some tips to keep your car organized when you travel.

1. Best Way to Organize Cords for Your Electronics

The best thing you can do before you go on a road trip is to organize all the cords for your electronics. 

You are probably going to bring your AirPods, smartphone, tablet, laptop, camera, and other electronics that will need charging on your trip. But try not to mess the center console with all those cords. 

Instead, store all cords in a small pouch or cable organizer for travel. That way, you’ll have easy access to them, but they’ll all be in one place.

That said, the same goes for your earphones and anything else that will be sure to tangle into a big mess. 

2. Keep the Command Center Mess-Free

Car organization road trip

Consider the front of the car your “command center” when you take a road trip. This is where all the action happens, from driving, to following directions, maybe even snacking. You want to avoid distractions as much as possible when you’re driving, because it’s dangerous. 

That means you want to keep the command center mess-free.

One way to ensure that your command center steers clear of any mess is to bring someone along on your road trip. (When we were growing up, mom was the ‘co-pilot.’) 

That person can hand you anything you need as you drive and check directions so you can safely remain focused.

Having a co-pilot also means you won’t have your snacks, drinks, and cords (as we have already seen) on your passenger seat, center console, or glove box. 

Instead, reserve the glove compartment for what actually needs to be there, like:

  • A pocket file or envelope to hold your car registration, insurance papers, roadside assistance info, emergency contacts and medical info, trip details, and receipts you want to keep
  • A small package of tissues
  • Extra masks and hand sanitizer
  • Pen and paper

You might want to keep your cord case in the glove compartment, along with a few first-aid items and a small flashlight. 

If you’re running short on room in the glove box, consider removing your car manual and bookmarking an online version to free up a bit of space.

Keep the floor space in front of the driver and the passenger seat free and clear to maximize safety and comfort.

3. Organizing Your Car’s Center Console

It’s important for you to take charge of the center console when you go on a road trip. The center console is the area between the two front seats, which often includes your climate and radio controls, gear shift, cup holders, charging ports, cigarette lighter, and sometimes extra storage compartments. 

Most drivers have no regard for the center console, and that’s where things get lost. This often happens because everything is just thrown in there, like loose change, trash, and odd items tossed somewhere with little thought. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Instead, opt for small containers to store the things you’ll need around the center console. For instance, a plastic cotton swab or mint tin works great for keeping track of small items in the car. In fact, you’ll want to use several to organize:

  • Change (important to have handy for tolls if you don’t have an EZ-Pass)
  • Earbuds
  • Hair ties
  • Extra batteries for your flashlight
  • SD cards for your camera
  • And of course, mints!

That way, you’ll avoid losing stuff into the corners and you’ll have easy access to any small items you might need. The good thing about plastic cotton swab containers is you can see the contents, but you can always label tins with a permanent marker.

If you wear reading or sunglasses, designate a certain space in the center console so they are handy. Better yet, clip them onto your visor with a car sunglass holder, along with a $20 bill for emergencies.

4. How to Keep Cup Holders Neat & Clean

car cup holders road trip

What about the cup holders for drinks? They are part of the center console, but can be especially troublesome on a road trip. So they need extra attention when you’re organizing your car for a road trip. 

It’s pretty much guaranteed that someone will spill a drink. You can do a few things to mitigate against that. 

The first thing you can do is use by lining the cup holders. A really convenient way to do that is to get car coasters that you place right in the cup holders. That will help minimize the mess and keep your car clean. Simply take them out and clean them when they get messy.

Another inexpensive way to line your cup holders is to use silicone baking cups. They may not be a perfect fit but can do the trick. Then, you can clean the liners at a stop along the way or replace them. 

Make sure you line all cup holders with coasters or silicone baking cups—even the door ones.

The other thing you can do is to use only travel cups that fit your car’s cup-holders. That’s a given with disposable drive-through cups, but ceramic coffee cups and even some water bottles are just too big to fit. In that case, you’re just asking for a spill to happen.

So, do yourself a favor and commit to only bringing containers that actually fit into your cup holders on the ride.

5. Storing Snacks on a Road Trip

Snacks are essential for your travels, but you have to find a place to keep them. 

You can remove any packaging and portion snacks into zip-top bags. This is a good way to save space and also helps make sure you don’t overdo your snacks when you make individual serving sizes. (The last thing you need on your trip is a bloated tummy.) 

Not only that, but you will eliminate unnecessary trash when you remove the extra packaging. 

Plus, if you opt for reusable food storage bags, you can easily clean and re-use them for leftovers or to collect seashells or other mementos of your road trip.

You will want to keep your snacks in the car’s interior in a travel pouch (insulated, if you want to keep fruit or drinks cool). That means either up front with the passenger or just behind the center console in the back.

TIP: If you’re bringing a lot of food that needs to stay cool until you arrive at your destination, your best bet is to put them in a deep-freeze cooler in the trunk.

Related Article: Find out what are the best snacks to bring on a road trip.

6. What to Put Behind Your Car’s Front Seats

car organizers behind seat

The space behind your seats varies by car, but it comes in handy when you need it. Some have an organizing pocket where you can store paper maps or a road atlas (check out The Next Exit Highway Guide), a rain poncho, and an umbrella.

If yours doesn’t have pockets, you can hang a backseat organizer or even a plastic shoe organizer over the back for extra storage.

You can also hang your trash bags over the head rest here as well, or add headrest hooks to hold your jacket, purse, or other bags off the floor. 

The key is to use that space efficiently to keep the things you need at arm’s reach but out of the way.

7. Organize the Backseat Floor

You see that space on the floor behind your front seats? You can use it creatively to hold your items off the floor and save space. 

Shower caddies are the perfect helper with this. They have multiple compartments and handles. 

You can use them to keep and organize anything, from drinks, books, tissues, snacks, cleaning supplies, and other essentials. 

8. Keep Things Upright in the Back & Organize Car Trunk

Finally, let’s consider the back of your car. You may have a lift back, hatchback, or traditional trunk. Either way, if you have a travel bag or backpacks with you (as most people do on road trips), you’ll want to keep them from jostling around. 

Try using bungee cords. That way, you can secure the bags or backpacks to the back seats or each other. If you have a first aid kit and roadside emergency car kit in the trunk, bungee cords can help keep those in place, too.

Bringing boots and other outdoor gear? Use a rubber tote or a simple cardboard box to contain it and keep it in place while you travel. The same goes for tools – containerize them so they store neatly.

Another clever way to organize the back of an SUV or hatch-back car is to pack it with a 3-drawer organizer (remove the wheels). The draws allow you a good level of organization as well as easy access.

Related Article: What should you pack for a family road trip?

9. Keep Your Car Tidy

keep car tidy road trip

There’s no avoiding the fact that we generate trash when we travel, whether it’s snack packaging, napkins, coffee cups, or food waste.

So you’ll want to make sure everyone in the car has some kind of receptacle for trash. It can be as simple as a resealable bag by each seat used as a personal trash can, or a common-use, leak-proof trash can for your car.

Just be sure to keep things tidy and empty them out at each stop. Otherwise, the car might get a little ripe.

You’ll also want to have cleaning wipes, glass cleaner, and paper towels on hand to wipe things down. Cars get stale quickly on long rides, so it’s not a bad idea to bring along some air freshener if you can’t air it out. A few quick sprays overnight should do it.

And if you have car mats, remember to shake them out from time to time

If you’re a real cleaning machine, you may even invest in a high-power car vacuum. This comes in especially handy if you’ll be at the beach or hiking outdoors. Remember, every time you step back in the car, you bring bits of your travels into the car with you.

Final Thoughts on Best Way to Organize Your Car for Road Trip

You’ll have many things to take into account before you hit the road. To ensure things go smoothly, start by ensuring your car is well-organized.

Regardless of what kind of car you’ll use for your road trip, these tips will save you a lot of trouble. 

Happy travels!

Still got questions? Continue reading more tips about planning your road trip.


Author Bio: Justin Osborne is a writer for an essay writing service. He loves to share his thoughts and opinions about education, writing and blogging with other people on different blogs and forums. Currently, he is working as a content marketer at bestessays.com.

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

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