Last year I posted a picture of us starting out on our road trip on my personal Facebook page and a number of relatives and friends asked about something I hadn’t even thought of or noticed in the picture: our ceiling storage net! They asked what it was and if I liked it. I told them I loved the idea of it but was not particularly thrilled with the one we got last year.
This year we bought a new/different one and I am in love… This one seems much firmer for holding your things up over your head and doesn’t sag down nearly as much, which can block your view a bit. Also, the one we had last year had cords you could pull on to tighten it up to sag less. Not only did those not work well and were too spaced out, one attachment loop broke the first time we used it, which made one saggy space even bigger. We were still glad we had it, but this one is MUCH better (and priced very similarly.) It has a bigger zipper compartment if you want to keep things contained, and a small zipper pouch underneath (we keep spare face masks in there this year). We have a few packable/camping blankets, sweaters, hats, and visors up there this year and just stuck them on top instead of bothering with the big zipper pocket and it’s so solidly made and tight that they are staying up there just fine on top. Highly recommend. For soft items, you can save at least half of a carry-on suitcase by storing these things up here, where they are also more easily accessible when needed in the car.
Another new toy I’m experimenting with this year is this little cup holder tray. I admit, there’ve been a few frustrating moments getting used to it as we tested it for a few days before we left, but now that I’ve got it set up as I like it, I’m SO glad we have it. It goes in your cupholder but still offers you a cupholder that is even wider than the ones in most cars if you have a bigger water bottle, coffee mug, or whatever you use. It also has a small cupholder on the tray itself, though less practical as it is just a hole with no bottom. That said, yesterday I had a rare 20oz bottle of Coke, and it fit and held in there very well and was sturdy due to the slightly narrowed bottom. The tray has a rubber grip pad and a narrow little pocket/dip/slot for short pens or emory boards or other small/narrow items that are helpful to have in reach. The tray can spin around to make different configurations such as having it out over your lap, a second level over your center console, etc. When rotated, many positions, unfortunately, cover and block the big cupholder. That said, I rotated the cup insert in the cupholder so that the joint that attaches the tray faced forward and to the right, and now it is ideal. The cupholder insert has three gripper parts that can expand out to hold sturdy and fit any size cup holder. One thing to watch out for is that we have a double cupholder, so ours is not a complete circle but has an opening that bridges between the two cupholders. I did have to pay close attention to make sure none of the gripper/expanders came out to that part as there was nothing to grip and it was unstable. Also, when initially playing with this, I would try to rotate the cupholder (to rotate where the arm with the tray would face) and it would pull the grippers back in at times and become unstable. Once I finally got it set up and expanded in the direction I want though, I now love this and have many directions I can still rotate the tray, and can still use the cupholder with some of them, including the way I have it most commonly… with the tray leaning towards the passenger but just on the shorter side, not fully extended out. While I think this is a bit overpriced, I now am convinced it’s still worth it for me!
(That white charge cord winder storage organizer thing has also been amazing for helping with our charging cords!, as was this one for storing and organizing my MacBook charge cord)
I’d actually looked at and tried some of those side pockets that keep things from falling down between your seat and your center console. That happens to me all the time and I’ve tried a few but have yet to find any I actually like and can sit with so let me know if you have one you love! ANYWAY, this little organizer for the side of either of your front seat is great. Possibly a bit more expensive than I’d like, but then again, isn’t almost everything?! Seriously though, to have a place for our hand sanitizer was worth it alone. We got a cup holder back and never had to search the back seat abyss to find our hand sanitizer pump. Obviously use the pockets for whatever you like: spare change, pens, sunglasses, etc. Any smallish thing like that can fit in the top mesh pocket or bottom zippered pockets. We keep our hand sanitizer in the top pocket and our “just-in-case” emergency bathroom or vomit bags in the lower pocket. (Let me know if you want to hear more about these, they actually are super awesome.)
Our Car Seat Side Organizer in real use. Photo by Karen Boudreaux, May 30, 2022
One other bonus with the Car Ceiling Cargo Net is that I can hang S hooks through the net for the kids to hang things from. Obviously, you don’t want to do too much as those things will be hanging in your rearview, but some things are worth it. We were tired of digging through the back seat abyss for the kids’ flip flops every time we stopped to get out of the car, so now they have a place to hang them when they take them off. By the way, S hooks are something I’d never had or thought of before and I’m in love with those too… I’d bought them for our 2020 summer trip to hang masks from to dry after I’d hand washed them in our sink at the hotel. I hate balancing them on a towel bar, so I could hang S hooks from the shower curtain rod and hang each mask to dry on its own. And they hardly take up any space. Since then we’ve started using them for hanging things from the net, and Jude will use them to hang grilling tools off the side of our skottle (our amazing cooking, somewhat grill-like…. appliance/thing, we hope to do another post on this as people ask about it every time we use it, but if you use code #RTWK you can get 5% off,) other laundry, hanging a lantern, and a number of other creative and super-helpful uses.
Also, I mentioned the packable camping blankets we keep in the car up in the ceiling net. I’m a big fan of these. The kids like to use them for naps in the backseat, I use them rolled up as a lumbar pillow on the longer driving days, and I even brought one on an international flight recently and they are fantastic!
Now I’m brainstorming and coming up with more and more helpful little gadgets and such that could make this post endless, so I’ll make notes of those for a separate post and leave this already super long post as-is for now. Feel free to comment with any questions, and I’d LOVE to hear what you use in your own cars to help control the chaos.
(The links above are affiliate links that give us a very small percentage kickback of whatever you spend if you buy anything through them. My reviews are honest and I don’t recommend anything that I don’t personally really like, especially for just a few cents, but wanted to disclose that as I’m still learning about all of this.)