Tutorial: DIY Mess-Free Road Trip Binder

Hey Everyone!

We will be leaving shortly for our family vacation this year to Colorado, and while driving and seeing the sights can be fun, with kids in the car they need things to do!  We have a minivan that comes with a DVD player and both older kids have a Kindle, but I really wanted them to have some things to do on this trip that didn’t involve electronics all the time.  So I’m back this week to show you my first tutorial about DIY Mess-Free Road Trip Binders!  While these binders are super fun, a lot of time can be spent picking things up off the van floor, generally making a mess.  I’m going to show you how to create these binders to allow your kids to have electronic-free things to do, mess-free!  So let’s get started:

Things you’ll need:

To Get You Started

Avery Slant-Ring White Binder

Avery Secure Sheet Protectors

Mead Five-Star Large Storage Pouch

Mechanical Pencils

Crayola Twistable Colored Pencils

6″ Chenille Craft Stems

Expo Multi-Colored Dry Erase Marker 10-pack

Blank Printer Paper

Blank College Ruled Filler Paper

3-Hole Punch

Computer & Printer


1.  First things first:  Purchase your binder.  I chose the Avery Slant-Ring White Binder.  I liked this one because the binder can fold over on itself to make a flat surface for working on.  Then, you’ll want to go online and find all the age-appropriate, free printable worksheets that you’ll want to fill your binder with.  I went to Pinterest for this.  Here are some websites I found: Educational SheetsCar Games .  I also decided to make use of the current coloring books my kids already have, instead of printing out so many sheets.  I sat them down with their coloring books and they decided which ones they wanted in their binders.

2.  Organization:  I started to organize their binders by section.  I have all of the daily traveling days up front, including maps they can trace with dry-erase markers.  For sectioning off the binder I used these Avery Sheet Protectors, which have a secure top, so papers won’t fall out of them if the binder gets flipped over!  They are more expensive, but worth it since no one will be picking up a mess of papers in the car, on hour six of a road trip.  The next sections are labeled as Games to Pass the Time, Road Trip Memories, Drawing, and Coloring.  With each section, I would punch the printables/coloring sheets with the 3-hole punch, and place put them into the binder.  See below:

***On the maps:  I used Google Maps and took a screen shot, then uploaded the shot to PicMonkey so I could add the stars.  I also did this with the Binder Cover Photos.  You could also use Photoshop for this as well.  Once you’re happy with it, save and print!


3.  Pencil Pouch:  Towards the end I loaded up  these Mead Five-Star Large Storage Pouches with anything they would need for writing, drawing, and coloring.  I decided on using mechanical pencils and twistable colored pencils because we wouldn’t need a sharpener on the trip (no messy shavings and/or losing it along the way).  Each kid got their own set of colored pencils, but will have to share the multi-color dry erase marker set because it was expensive.  I also included some chenille stems for creative construction.  Pipe cleaners would work just as well, but you’ll have to make sure they fit into the storage pouch.

4.  I also threw in a couple stickers sheets as well since the older two kids can handle these in the car without putting them on windows, seat upholstery, each other…

I didn’t want to overthink these binders, or add too much into them because I didn’t want the kids overwhelmed.  Finding the right balance of things for them to do has been hard.  I am glad I asked them what things they wanted in their binders.  We will also be packing chapter books for them to read along the way.  I chose The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart to read with my older kids on the trip.  I have heard this is a great book, and am looking forward to it on the road!

The Mysterious Benedict Society
The kids’ picks for the road

Thanks for being patient with me on my first tutorial!  I hope this helped you and gave you some great ideas for your road trips this summer.  My kids are really excited about using their binders and I do hope they don’t get bored too quickly!  If you want to follow along with our trip to Colorado, follow me over on Instagram, theshelvedlifeblog.  I hope you have a wonderful summer, and I want to know:  what are you summer plans?

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