Getting on a plane is fast and convenient, but in truth there is nothing more American than a good, old-fashioned road trip. While being in a car on the wide open road might sound daunting to the uninitiated, a road trip is something every family should experience together at least once in their lives. Of course, all journeys are going to have a few bumps in the road (so to speak), so here are 5 simple tips to make sure that getting there is indeed half the fun.
1. Plan ahead.
Whether you’re traveling to your family’s old beach house, or a new and exciting resort a few states away, it’s always a good idea to roughly plan your route ahead of time. Research your journey before you hit the road so you can map out stops and sites along the way. As tempting as ultimate spontaneity may seem, this will help you stay organized and on schedule while still allowing you to account for things like traffic, bathroom breaks and even the occasional fun detour.
2. Clean your car before and during your trip.
Family vehicles get messy from every day use, that’s just a fact of life. But on a road trip, things will get messier. There will be napkins and sticky fingers, melted crayons, bread crumbs and toys to add to the equation too. If your car is already looking a little cluttered, you might want to purge it of any extra trash before you leave. To minimize mess while driving, have designated trash bags available at all times and dispose of them every time you stop. This will keep your car clean, and your sanity intact.
3. Pack a car kit for each kid.
This is a great idea for parents with young kids. Buy a dollar store backpack and stuff it full of fun things like crayons, coloring books and their favorite toys. For the children who are old enough to read, a map of your journey is also smart thing to pack. It’ll help your child learn to navigate and hopefully quell the ‘are we there yets?’ for as long as possible. Some other suggested items include: a gift shop allowance, travel pillows and a few treats. Tell your child they’ll receive their pack on the day of the trip to give them something to look forward to, as well as boost the adventure factor.
4. Pack Good Snacks
Staying nourished is an important part of a great road trip, as there’s no greater killjoy than being hungry. Just because you’re on the road, it doesn’t mean you have to forgo decent nutrition. Skip the fast food exits and fill a cooler box with fresh fruit and sandwiches. Also make sure that everybody drinks twice as much water as they would at home. If you get tired of eating on the go, consider packing one family picnic basket to share at a stop on the way. This will make a great road trip memory (and keep the car crumb free).
5.Power Up Before You Go
This goes for your car and your gadgets. Gas prices always trend to hike up a little higher over a holiday weekend, so to save yourself time and money, fill up your tank a few days before you’re due to leave. As far as gadgets go, make sure everything you need is fully charged the night before, and pack as many spare charging cables and batteries as you can fit. We all know that there’s nothing worse than an iPod running out of juice an hour into your drive and being stuck with whatever is on the radio until you reach your destination.
Road trips are a wonderful way to connect with each other as a family. Be grateful and take advantage of the time you all have together on the road and do your best not to sweat the small stuff. Life is all about the journey after all.
By Matt Stewart