With spring break upon us and the high cost of flying with a family, you may be considering a road trip in the near future. Planning a road trip can be more time-intensive than you think. Whether the plan is to embark on a cross country adventure, a coastal tour, or a journey to Grandma’s house, there are a few important things to consider before you hit the open road with your family.
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Preparation for a road trip should begin weeks in advance. 1) Begin by saving up your money for the trip. Create a budget to know how much you’ll need. Calculate costs for fuel (check out this website), lodging, food, and entertainment/attractions. 2) Manage things at home. Bills must be paid and plants and animals much be taken care of while you are gone. 3) If desired, book a house-sitters well in advance, especially if you are planning to take your trip during vacation season. 4) Arrange for someone to pick up your mail or have it stopped while you are gone.
Make sure that your car is in good working order. 1) Consider a trip check from a local service station that includes brakes, tires, transmission, belts and hoses – all of the things that could leave you stranded if something were to go wrong. Change the oil and fill up all of your fluids to prepare your car for putting on a lot of mileage. 2) Be sure you have an up-to-date copy of your insurance card in the glove box, and make sure your registration sticker is current and properly placed on your windshield. 3) Bring an extra set of keys in your wallet or purse just in case you accidentally lock them in your car.
Plan your route. There is a lot of flexibility in this step. This is one of the beautiful things about a road trip. 1) If you are adventurous, you could just get in your car and start driving wherever the road takes you. Just be sure to bring a good map in case you want to find your way back. 2) If you are a planner by nature, you might want to plot your route out on a map. Consider how long you’d like to be gone and what you would like to see, and you can use mileage charts to figure out how long it takes to get from one place to another.
Start packing. 1) Map or GPS. 2) Wallet with cash or credit cards and a driver’s license that won’t expire while you are away. 3) Passport: if you are crossing a border. 4) Clothing: If you are not sure where you are heading, it would be wise to bring a variety of clothing choices, both for hot and cold weather. That way, you won’t end up in a snow storm with only Bermuda shorts to wear. However, if you know you are driving to the desert or the beach, be sure to plan accordingly. 5) Toiletries: Remember to pack sunscreen and medication. Don’t go overboard. You can always buy what you need from the road. 3) Water and snacks: You need to eat and drink and stopping at fast food or conveniences stores can be costly and unhealthy. 6) Camera: Don’t forget batteries, charger, a memory stick (if you take a lot of pictures). Once you are back in the real world, you may only have photographs and memories to remind you of your trip. 7) Entertainment for kids: Bring along a wide variety of music, as even your favorite tunes can start to get old after several hours of driving. Bring books, puzzle books, notebooks for drawing or journaling, and maybe even a deck of cards or two (Solitaire anyone?).
Are you planning a road trip this spring break? What about this summer? What are your tips for making a family road trip as smooth as possible?