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Since we can’t fly these school holidays, we’re spending a lot (and we mean, a LOT) of time in the car. Whether we’re driving to the shops, driving to another city or even driving interstate to see family and friends, the car has seen a lot of action this Easter.

Needless to say, it’s starting to feel claustrophobic.

No matter how long you spend in your car, it’s always a relief to finally get out of it – feel the fresh air (not air conditioner) on your skin, and solid ground (not scratchy carpet) beneath your feet. 

Add kids into the mix – with their constant chatter, perpetually sticky fingers and tiny feet clobbering the back of your seat – and a car ride becomes completely chaotic.

But it doesn’t have to! Sarah Shanahan is a professional organiser, decluttering expert and ‘tidy technician,’ with years of experience organising pantries, bedrooms and, in recent years, cars. 

She recently teamed up with Toyota to take the fuss out of family road trips, so we asked her how to ‘Marie Kondo’ the family car for a stress-free road trip. The secret? It’s all about having a place for everything – and keeping everything in its place.

“Have a designated ‘nonnegotiable’ spot for the pram in the boot to minimise stress when packing,” says Sarah, “and stick to one bag per family member to keep things minimal and organised in the boot.”

Sarah also suggests identifying the must-have items to keep close at hand before you depart, and storing them in environmentally-friendly bags. Don’t just think of water bottles and snacks – toys, a change of clothes and even books can all come in handy when you’re on the road.

“Before you even set off, invest in some packing cubes to help keep things organised in your suitcases and bags,” says Sarah. “They’re a perfect option for fast and easy access – just make sure to colour code them to each child to avoid any confusion on the trip!”

Think outside the box (or, rather, packing cube) and you’ll realise that they also make great activity packs for keeping the kids entertained in the car. 

“Again, ensure each child sticks to their colour – this way they are responsible for their cube and have the job of maintaining it,” says Sarah. “Let them choose a few favourites, then add extras to challenge them and keep them busy and occupied. Peace, at last!”

No fold-down tables in your car? No worries! Sarah suggests investing in a large baking or serving tray for each child to use as their ‘table’ for their activities on the road. They’re easy to stack and store away.

“I also recommend putting clear suction holders on the window – they’re great for storing toys, activities and snacks,” says Sarah. “Just make sure you stick them to the bottom of the windows to have a clear site when driving.

“And last but certainly not least, zip lock bags are your best friend on a road trip! They’ll store everything from snacks to wipes, medicine and soiled clothes. Get a range of sizes and store in the glove box.”

  1. Fluf Snack Sack reusable bags, $14.30, www.minihippo.com.au 
  2. Kmart serving tray, $12, www.kmart.com.au
  3. IKEA TISKEN four hooks with suction, $9.99, www.ikea.com.au
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haven is all about family, life and style in Brisbane's inner city suburbs, the Gold Coast, south to Byron Bay. We have been keeping parents in the know for over eight years, with fun, fresh and helpful stories that they can take tips from or treasure in their own library.