“Road Trip!” 5 Tips for Organized Summer Travel

Are you hitting the highway this summer for a family vacation? I highly recommend it! Last year my family and I took an amazing road trip in the western United States, visiting National Parks from Utah to Montana. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we will never forget.

If you followed along with us on social media you know that we spent a lot of time in the car in between parks, so this summer I want you to be as prepared as possible should you be doing the same. Use these tips and product suggestions to keep your road trip organized, your family prepared, and your vacation fun!

Tip #1: Plan Your Route and Itinerary

Before you hit the road, take some time to plan your route and create a rough itinerary. Identify the destinations you want to visit, estimate travel times, and decide on any must-see attractions along the way. This will give you a clear roadmap to follow and help you make the most efficient use of your time.

Get the kids involved: Have each person in your family do their own research and come up with one activity to try and one place to eat along your planned route. It will save you some research time and give everyone a sense of ownership of the trip. It’s nice to have something for each person to look forward to!

Pro-tip: Try using AI to help with this part. See my blog on Summer AI Hacks for more details. We used a wonderful travel planner named Andrea to help us plan our trip. Get her details and our full itinerary here.

Tip #2: Pack Smart

Pack strategically by making a checklist of essential items. Here’s one I put together for kids. Click on the image to open the full-size version. (You can even laminate this and keep it in a travel bin for reuse!):

Part of summer for my family is taking time to teach the kids new skills. All of them involve a little hand holding in the beginning, and checklists like this one are a great way to do that while still freeing yourself up.

(So many great packing lists exist for adults, too. I love this comprehensive one from Frommer’s.)

Besides the obvious necessities like clothes and toiletries, don’t forget important documents (driver’s license, registration, insurance), a first aid kit, a spare tire, and any roadside emergency supplies. Additionally, pack entertainment options like books, games, or playlists to keep everyone entertained during the journey.

Here are a few items that I find extremely helpful when traveling with my family:

  1. Portable Charger – These are a must have when traveling. Can’t find an outlet? No worries! Just remember to give it some juice each night so you always have a backup power source with you.
  2. Retractable Charger – These are great because they don’t get tangled up in your bag or in the car/on the plane.
  3. Cord Organizer – Keeps all those pesky tech cords and supplies neatly organized. This is another item that you can pack duplicates in so you never have to worry about forgetting something!
  4. Toiletry Bag – This thing is huge! You can fit your toiletries and your kids’, too! It will hold full size options, but if you can find travel size minis it will go even further. No unpacking needed when you arrive, either. Just unzip and hang on the door hook for easy access to all of your items. Keep those counters clear! 🙂
  5. Zipper Pouches – We organize playrooms with these all the time. They are perfect for games! The best part? When you’re ready to travel, just grab and go! You’ve got everything you need.
  6. Photo Box – Not just for photos; this set is perfect for card games. Same concept as above. When traveling, quickly pull out the games you want, throw them in your backpack and go. (Bonus: You can also use the individual boxes to create airplane kits with headphones, gum, and sanitizing wipes!)
  7. Trtl Neck Pillow – This is hands down the most comfortable neck pillow I’ve tried. It comes in a Plus adjustable version, several colors, and a kids version.
  8. Packing Cubes – You will be shocked at how much you can get into one of these. Get a different color for each family member so you can share suitcases and cut down on the number you need to bring.
  9. Carry-on Toiletry Bags – If you’re taking to the skies instead of the roads this summer, it’s a good idea to keep some essentials on hand at all times. You never know when you’re going to get stuck somewhere unexpectedly overnight. And you may not have access to your checked luggage. Pop some basics in here (like deodorant, medicines, a toothbrush and toothpaste) and get through security like a pro!

Be sure to check out the special travel section of my Amazon Storefront. You can shop for all of the items included in this list there.

Tip #3: Schedule a Check-up

For your car that is! Ensure your vehicle is in good condition before hitting the road. Schedule an oil change and tire rotation, and check fluid levels. It’s also a good idea to carry a spare tire (or repair kit), jumper cables, and basic tools in case of any breakdowns.

Organization pro-tip: Vehicle maintenance is a good item to set on a recurring schedule on your virtual calendar. You’ll never forget!

Tip #4: Make Reservations

To avoid last-minute stress (as much as you can during travel), make reservations for accommodations, campsites, and popular attractions well in advance. During peak travel seasons (like summertime), availability can be limited, so securing your bookings early will ensure a smoother trip.

Pre-booking also allows for better budgeting and can save you from the hassle of searching for a place to stay on the spot. (So stressful with kids!)

Tip #5: Stay Flexible

While planning is essential, don’t forget to leave room for spontaneity and flexibility. Road trips are about the freedom to explore, so allow yourself to take detours, discover hidden gems, and adapt your plans as you go. Sometimes, the most memorable experiences are the ones you stumble upon unexpectedly, so be open to new adventures along the way.

Light-weight duffle bags, travel cubes, and travel-sized toiletry bar in a client’s home.

I’m looking forward to hearing all about your summer plans! Be sure to share them with me, along with photos of your organization hacks over on Instagram @systemsbysusie!

And if you really want to make the most of your summer, or the travel bug bites you and you need a travel closet like this one we prepared for a client last year, get on our schedule! Summer is a great time to implement new systems and work out all the kinks before the new school year starts. You can fill out the form on my contact page to get the process started.

We just love this trip closet we set up for a client whose family travels often.

Go out there, create unforgettable memories, and make this summer the best one yet! Safe travels!

Happy Organizing!




Each of my career choices-wedding coordinator, event planner, and teacher — gave me the creative freedom to organize everyone and everything. I have always thrived on to-do lists, planners, and systems! Now, I lead a team of organizers to help me on my mission. Read more…

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