8 Hacks for Your Next Big Roadtrip

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Living out of your car on a long trip can be a challenge, but with a few hacks and a couple of emergency tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be a bona fide road warrior.

1. Read exit signs the right way.

Have you ever been on the completely wrong side of the highway when you realized your exit was on the opposite side? Learn this trick and you’ll never have to abruptly cross four lanes of traffic again. If the exit number on the sign is lined up with the left edge of the sign, the exit is on the left. If it’s justified right, the exit is on the right.

2. Suitcase = dog bed.

Traveling with man’s best friend? Bring an extra suitcase and wedge a pillow inside to serve as a cozy dog bed in the car or hotel.

3. Don’t drive down the middle.

According to hypermiling fanatics-- the folks who are obsessed with juicing the most car mileage out of every gallon of gas, driving slightly off-center on well-worn roads makes your car more efficient. Because old roads tend to be worn and have ridges in the center, moving off the beaten path, even by just six inches, can make for a smoother ride and put less strain on your engine. That may sound inconsequential, but a little change in habit will end up putting more gas money in your pocket.

4. Make your own cheap GPS holder.

No need to buy an expensive GPS system. You can make a mount for your smartphone and use it to navigate instead - and it’s made with items you probably already have in your home office. Simply bend the legs of a 2” binder clip 90 degrees, then wrap them with a rubber band until the legs are compressed enough to tightly hold your phone. Clip the clamp part onto your car vent, stick your phone in, and get driving.

5. Maximize hanging storage.

If those two little hooks in the back aren’t enough, buy a mesh net and attach it to the four grab handles located above each door. Pull it taut, and you have a hammock to hold anything you don’t want floating around the car - coats, magazines, scarves, snacks.

6. Toothpaste cleans more than teeth.

To make sure your headlights are shining as brightly and effectively as they should be, shine up cloudy headlights with toothpaste. Just rub the paste (not gel) on with a rag, and rub it off with a clean, dry rag.

7. Temporarily fix a radiator leak with food.

Leaky radiator? Locate the leak, then crack an egg or two over it. The egg will cook in the hot water and plug the hole - if the leak is in the radiator and not the hoses, that is. No egg? Some roadsters swear by pouring black pepper, paprika, cornmeal, or mustard powder into the radiator. It’ll harden up and plug the hole long enough for you to take the car in to get fixed.

8. Nap in privacy.

If you need to pull over at a rest stop and take a 20-minute nap to keep going, do it in privacy. Get fabric screens that adhere to windows with suction cups or double-sided tape. Bonus: It keeps the contents of your car private, too.

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