Keeping the Car Clean during Road Trips
Fourth of July is next weekend and this week is going to be filled with last minute running around to pick up essentials for the road trip. A smooth sailing road trip never happens by accident. It's through careful, thorough planning. No detail is too small. I grew up taking plenty of road trips, and no matter the distance there was always a plan. I want to focus on the most amazing part, whenever we got to the destination--our car was never a mess. Ever.
Keeping the car clean has obvious benefits, being able to easily find stuff, less projectiles flying around in the unfortunate event of an accident, but so many hidden ones that make the trip more fun.
1. Clear boundaries. I mostly remember this in regards to spacing between me and my siblings. My parents made sure everyone understood what belonged to whom. This helped build accountability, forced us to be responsible, and led to less arguing.
2. No trash anywhere other than in the designated trash bag. We were prohibited from stuffing trash in the pockets behind seats or under a seat or in the panel in the door. Every stop for fuel, my father would throw out the trash bag and my mother would set the new one up. This system prevented the obvious: trash everywhere and also resulted in the major benefit of keeping the car smelling fresh.
3. Everything has a place. Everything in its place. Once we got to select the toys we wanted to pick and they were approved for the journey, we were then charged with how we were going to organize them. My father is notorious for inspecting work areas. Well the same was true for us during road trips. We needed to make sure everything was organized as agreed prior to leaving home. No one, but especially my dad, likes looking at mess. Figuring out where everything was supposed to go before the trip started helped us by making it easier to keep everything organized.
4. Accidents happen. Be prepared. Kids get car sick (my sister especially) and accidents happen. We'd have a bag or basket with wipes, paper towels, bags if feeling sick, along with other over the counter medicines. This would in addition to whatever you had in your first aid kit. I realized how much I missed this when I recently went with a friend and didn't have enough Advil!
A sick person can be a grumpy person--which can ruin a trip or at least a good few hours.
5. If you're going to eat. Eat mess free! My family loves food. So the no food in the car is never going to happen. We are always going to snack, but to this day, we do not pack messy snacks. Mostly apples, nuts, bars, etc. Each time it has its own bag or basket to make passing around easy or for easy reaching. Super smelly snacks are also good to avoid to help people who get carsick -- pungent smells never help nausea.
Biggest thing would be to start with a clean car. My father would have the Mystery Machine (which he affectionally called our 1994 GMC custom van) completely detailed before every single trip. It would be freshly washed, shampooed and detailed. I always thought it was because he wanted to start off the trip fresh. But only as I got older I realized when he'd call out -- pick up all your stuff, this needs to look like how it did before we left-- I knew it was a trick! We could never argue because we all knew how clean the car was to begin with!
Rules and boundaries help everyone have fun and provides valuable lessons on sustaining.
One of the biggest things I've noticed in the automotive industry lately is, people do not know how to sustain ANYTHING. Give your family the upper hand: small lessons can prove to be life changing habits as they grow up.