The Master List to Help Prepare You for Your Next Road Trip.
Ah, road trips! They are the best, aren’t they?
From the ‘are we there yet’ whines coming from the back seat to the flat tire on the freeway. No road trip is complete without these mishaps.
But road trips don’t have to be all bad.
Your daily work to home routine and the stress that comes along with it is a cycle that must be broken from time to time. A road trip is a perfect break away from the mundane.
Road trips are more flexible than flying. Not only can you bring more things along, but you can also bring more people along too.
While going on road trips, you can also get out of the car to stretch your legs, see the amazing landscapes, and explore new places.
This is the perfect time to plan a road trip. However, preparation is the key to a fun, hassle-free road trip.
Here are some things you should remember before venturing out on your amazing road trip adventure.
If you would like to print a FREE PDF of my road trip checklist, click here.
The Master List for Your Road Trip
Get the Kids Involved
There is nothing more memorable for a child than going on a road trip. So, if you are going to bring them along, get them involved with the process.
Have them sit down with you and plan the itinerary; they will learn how to be more organized.
Throw in little lessons for them to learn. Such as, practicing their writing skills, determining the distance and how far it is from place to place, or how to pack only what is necessary.
Even though I didn’t travel far when I was growing up, I still remember the short road trips my mom took us on.
Organize Your Car
In order to organize your car, first you need to clean everything out of it. Yes, everything! And since everything it out of it, you might as well get a dusting rag, Windex, the vacuum, and clean it out.
Now that everything is nice and sparkly clean, we can organize.
The best way to do this is to get organizers, especially if you have kids. Because it’s easiest when they have a spot to put everything and everything is in reach for them.
There are many organizers out there for vehicles, such as headrest hooks, between the seat organizers, and trunk organizers.
Another thing that you want in your vehicle would be a trash can. Whether you purchase a portable car trash can or make your own out of a garbage bag, it’s a good thing to have for a road trip.
TIP: If you do use just a garbage bag, be careful of liquids spilling that aren’t completely empty. Such as soda cans.
Also, you may want to have a folder organizer with all your necessary documents in it. Such as your itinerary, hotel numbers, emergency contacts, and insurance card, etc.
A major thing to take care of before a road trip is your car maintenance.
Make sure to do the whole run through so there are no surprises while on the road.
Nothing sucks more than being stuck on the side of the road because you have a flat tire and to find out your spare is flat.
This includes checking the following:
- Windshield wiper fluid/wipers need replacing
- Checking the battery
- Power steering fluid
- Checking the tire pressures, including the spare tire
- Check blinker fluid
- Make sure all lights are working, bright and dim
- Check oil
Tip: Some good things to pack in your car for the trip are: jumper cables, snowbrush/ice scraper (depending on weather), gallon of water (in case car overheats), tire pressure gauge, and an extra bottle of oil.
Bonus Tip: Blinker fluid isn’t a thing. Yes, I was checking to see if you were paying attention. It still cracks me up when you can get a new driver to fall for this joke.
If you haven’t heard the joke before, here it is: Teenager says their blinker doesn’t work, so you tell them they probably need blinker fluid. You don’t have any, so they go to the store and ask the clerk. Clerk looks at parent, while parent is laughing hysterically. Yep, I’m that parent.
Okay, moving on.
Healthy road trip snacks
Our road trips usually consist of stopping for gas before we leave town. But with this stop, we also stock up on soda, chips, and candy. I think to myself, we just left home!
I’m at fault, just as much as the next guy. My family is starting to get better at this though.
Packing healthy snacks before you go is better for your health and is a more budget friendly option.
Another way to save some money on your road trip is to pack a cooler with some beverages. You could also pack some sandwiches for a day or two for lunches.
Stocking up on healthy road trip snacks is a good habit to have.
If you do happen to stop along the way at fast food places, another organizational tip is to bring food caddies along. These will help with keeping your car clean.
Tip: Bring along a roll of paper towels for any mishaps that may happen.
Download Travel Apps
Before you go on your road trip make sure to download any travel apps that you will need. Because you never know if service will be available everywhere.
Nothing would suck worse than going on a trip and then going in the wrong direction for hours because your phone couldn’t get any internet service.
Something that I’m super excited to test out is Google offline maps. You can create your itinerary at home, save it, and then use it offline while on vacation. Read more on how to travel with google maps and not get lost.
Make Sure to Charge All Electronics
Getting in the car just to find that the kids’ tablets are dead, would not be a great start to your road trip.
Making sure that they are packed and charged, along with all extra chargers just to be on the safe side, is the best way to start a road trip with kids.
And I’ll say it again, don’t forget the extra chargers.
Depending on how many things you will need charged every night, it might not hurt to pack a multi-charger.
Create a Playlist
A week or so before you leave, create a playlist that everyone would love. Especially if traveling with friends.
It really sucks when you are cruising down the road listening to an amazing song and you lose the radio station.
Check with everyone on what they want to listen to and create an amazing mix.
Pack an Emergency Kit
Pack an emergency kit for your road trip. This is something that I have in my car at all times. But it’s something that should be in the car for a road trip.
Some things to include would be:
- Warm blanket
- Hats/mittens/boots (depending on weather)
- Trash bags
- Fold-up shovel (weather)
- Small sewing kit
There is nothing worse than being away from home without some of these items. You never know when you will need them.
Assign personal space and responsibilities
If you have kids, one of the most annoying things that you could hear on a road trip is ‘he/she’s on my side’. So, with that said, assigning them their own personal space is a must.
You could even put a small organizer on the seat in between them. And have each child bring a backpack with their own activities. This also teaches them how to pack and minimize what is most important.
A way to give them responsibility on the trip is to assign each of them some to dos. Such as, taking out the trash at the gas stations, passing out the snacks, refilling water bottles, and keeping their areas clean.
Tip: Make sure the kids and you have things to do during the trip besides playing on electronics the whole time. For instance, bring a travel journal to write in, books or magazines to read, coloring activities, road trip activities, and small travel games.
Bonus Tip: A great place to get some cheap activities for kids is from the dollar store.
Plan Your Route in Advance
Unless you like ‘going on adventures’, this is what my husband and I call ‘getting lost’, then make sure you plan your route out.
Especially if you are bringing young kids. Because they tend to need the potty more often.
Planning out your route will help with not getting lost and staying on roads that you know have gas stations or stops along the way.
You want to plan the route but keep the itinerary loose just in case of any mishaps along the way. Or, if you see something along the way that interests you, you will have time to stop and take a look.
Plan for stops along the way. Because breaking up the drive to get out and stretch is good not only for your joints but also good to keep your blood moving.
Another great idea to look into is, checking out Google Maps and what all the Google Local Guides have to say. You can even work for Google by becoming a Google Local Guide yourself. Read here on how to join. There is nothing better than reading reviews from locals, gaining points and receiving benefits.
Choose the Best Time to Start the Trip
After you plan the route that you decided to take, make a plan for when the best time to start the trip is.
For some, it’s early in the morning and for others, it’s later in the morning. Of course, this all depends on how early of a riser everyone is and how far you are traveling.
But make sure that everyone is on the same page with what time the car is leaving the driveway.
Stretch Before You Start Traveling
Stretching before you even get into the car is a good thing to do. It will help maintain a range of motion in your joints and help them from getting sore as fast.
It will also help decrease back pain and improve your posture.
If you would like to learn more on how to stay healthy while traveling, click here.
Prepare Packing List
It’s always good to prepare a packing list at least a week before the trip. This is so no one forgets anything.
With any packing list, having everyone contribute to the list is a big help. Because some people may think of things that you haven’t.
If you would like to check out my road trip checklist, click here. It’s free!
Pack for the Trip
I like packing the night before the trip, if possible. This is so I don’t forget anything. If I do, I put a notepad next to my bed that night or keep a note in my phone, so I can easily jot it down.
There is no way I’ll remember it in the morning. Or I’ll stay awake for the next hour thinking about.
Tips for Packing the Car
Don’t place any essentials that you are going to need to get to right away, or throughout your trip, on the bottom.
Place the cooler and snacks within arm’s reach of someone, so they can easily be handed out.
Color code each person’s bags so that you know who’s is who’s.
Ditch the hard-sided suitcases. These are great for flights because nothing gets smushed while being handled by the ever-so-gentle baggage people, but they are not ideal for road trips. Because, like I said, they can’t be smushed. (You’re on a road trip, don’t pack breakables.)
Place the largest and heaviest items on the bottom.
If you are worried about things shifting in transit, use a bungee cord to keep them in place.
Travel minimally by packing light.
The car is all ready to go, you are now prepared better than you have ever been with knowledge galore.
Now you can finally relax and remember why you planned your road trip to start with. It is always good to try to enjoy the road as much as the destination.
Your road trip can be an unforgettable journey for you and your family, but it can also be a stressful experience if you don’t take the time to plan.
What are you waiting for? The open road awaits.
Or maybe, you would like to learn more about how to stay healthy while traveling.
Better yet, are you seeking out the benefits of travel and why it’s good for you?
Leave a comment and let me know what you would like to learn about next.