How to Plan for a Family Road Trip

For many families, the road trip is a time-honored tradition. Memories that are made on a road trip last a lifetime.

What to Pack for a Road Trip

A successful road trip starts before you get on the road. Packing smart means bringing all of the essentials for the trip and some extras that can make the trip more enjoyable.

First, think about what you need for the car. You do not want to leave home without your license, registration, or insurance policy. Make sure that you have your car’s manual, a spare tire, and an emergency roadside kit.

It would not hurt to carry some spare cash, paper with a pen and pencil, a first-aid kit, large water bottles, and toilet paper. If you will be driving in an area that has inclement weather, don’t forget your ice scraper, umbrella, and snow shovel.

Keep yourself entertained and connected by having chargers for your phone or tablet and a nice list of road trip music, podcasts, and audiobooks.

Don’t forget the miscellaneous items, like garbage bags. Having a bunch of people in a car for 20 hours is bound to generate some trash, and you don’t your car to looking like a garbage bin.

Paper Map Versus GPS

Do you remember paper maps? They were those coffee stained, folded things that were thrust into the glove compartment. Along came GPS and touchscreen technology and paper maps disappeared. Although most people are comfortable using GPS, there is a benefit to having a paper map with you on a road trip.

Paper maps help you to see the big picture. They allow you to understand the scale and distance you are going to be traveling. Sure, you can zoom in on your phone, but all you get is a big image of a small geographic area.

When you use GPS, the computer calculates your route. It may be the fastest way to get from point A to point B, but it may also take you through an unsafe neighborhood. With a paper map, you’ll know your options. And you’ll be able to navigate if you’re out of range for your GPS or your device loses power.

Save for Your Trip before You Hit the Road

The amount of money you have saved in advance plays a role in determining whether your road trip is enjoyable or if it’s stressful. Unforeseen things happen on the road. A tire may blow, inclement weather may require an unexpected night stay in a hotel, or you may find the perfect trinket that you just have to buy at a little gas station off of a country road. If you save in advance, the “what-ifs” of road tripping become adventures as opposed to stresses.

Required Road Trip Snacking

A road trip is about the journey, not necessarily the destination. Having the right snacks can make or break your road trip. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a car and feeling hungry. Pretzels are a great option. They’re salty, crunchy, and go well with dip. Sour candies are always a hit. Fresh fruits, donuts, beef jerky, and cheese and crackers are must haves.

You should have a quality cooler for your snacks. If you’re bringing along bottles of water, freeze them the night before. That way, you’ll have cold water to drink, and the ice will help keep your cold snacks cool for the road.

Pillows, Blankets, and Comfy Clothing

Cross-country drives can take days. When it is not your turn behind the wheel, you owe it to yourself to be as comfortable as possible. This means bringing pillows, blankets, and even some pajamas for the long car ride.

If there are enough drivers, you may be able to work out a two rotation for each driver. With four drivers, that means you have six hours of downtime to listen to music, watch videos, and enjoy the scenery. You might as well be comfortable as you do it.

A good road trip is a safe road trip, and part of a safe road trip is planning for the unexpected. If you are out in the middle of nowhere and your car suddenly breaks down, it is a natural reaction to panic. You know your car is the key to getting your family home safely, but your savings are simply not enough to cover the unexpected repairs in one lump sum. In situations like this, you  may want to seek out installment loans online which, if approved, could have the funds in your account in as little as one business day. While these loans can come with hefty fees if not paid back on time, they can be a solution if faced with short-term financial troubles.

Family road trips are a great time to bond, enjoy each other’s company, and become more familiar with the country around you. By taking some practical steps and preparing in advance, you can see to it that your road trip is something your family will remember fondly.