Thursday, March 4

Family Road Trip 101

Now that covid is on the wane - or maybe people are just tired of being at home - travel is starting to pick up again.  Maybe your family has spent the last year planning out a dream trip?  We want to set you up for your best family road trip ever!

Once upon a time, our family lived on the road.  We traveled to as many at thirty-five states each year, while hubby performed contract jobs and the boys and I explored everything this amazing country has to offer!  

We drove EVERYWHERE!  I think the only place we actually flew to was Cabo San Lucas, and that wasn't even for work...but for family vacation.  Along the way, as we drove back and forth across our nations highways and byways, we learned quite a bit about minimalistic travel and what we really needed to bring and do...especially for long travel days.

Before you hit the road...

Clean Out the Car

It may seem counterintuitive to do a deep clean BEFORE the road trip, but this will give you a clean slate and make your ride more comfortable.  Clean out doors, any trash or food, and vacuum the inside of the car.  Wash the windows, and make sure you can see well.  Headlights will emphasize anything that is obstructing your view, no matter how small!  And above all, make sure the car isn't smelly....


Check the weather reports for your trip -- this may be the weekend, the ten-day, or the extended forecast for the area.  If you know what to expect, you can pack appropriately (rather than bringing a lot of unnecessary clothing).  It's also a good idea to research your route ahead of time.

Pack Early

To the newbie, it might seem odd to pack up the entire car a few days early, but seasoned travelers know this will give you a day or two to fix any minor issues...forgotten items, last-minute errands, etc...without stressing. 

Pack with a Plan

Using your information, pack according to weather, but minimally.  Unless you're headed to the big city or a family event, you probably won't need dress clothes.  Your overnight bag should be toward the back of the car, and your cooler and snacks should be accessible from the seats (if possible).

Stow an Overnight Kit

Multi-day trips mean hotel stops.  If it's just a one-night stop, and not your destination, you don't want to be pulling everything out of the car for that overnight!  Back your car into the hotel spot, against the building, for a bit of added security, and leave everything in the car except for an overnight bag.  This should have a change of clothes and your toiletry kit...the rest can wait until you get where you're going!

You may also like....

Don't forget to pack these must-have items!

Paper / Offline Maps've got your GPS and your phone, and you might think that's enough...but it's not.  Signals can drop or (in rural areas) disappear completely.  You need a paper map, even if it's a rudimentary one, with directions.  Remember MapQuesting for directions?  At the very least, do that and write down some basics.  We like to keep a road atlas in the car...if nothing else, when the kids get bored, they explore.  Geography lesson!

Road Snacks
Fast-food take-out and gas station gourmet won't get you very far on the road (unless you were heading toward digestive which case, eat away)!  A good stash of chopped veggies, fresh fruit, and protein snacks - such as trail mix - will keep your family nourished and at their best.  Keep them handy, because you never know when road construction will pop up, leaving you with a lunch from your snack bag!

Power Converter
No one plays the license plate game anymore...they all want tablets and digital goodies.  And mom needs to get some work done on the laptop while dad drives.  It's a brave new world of family that requires more power than when we were kids.  Having a power converter that will charge multiple devices at once can be a blessing...

By far our favorite cooler - and well worth the space it takes up in the car - is this electric one.  It plugs into your car to keep items cool, and then you can take it into the hotel and plug it in at night, too.  The money you'll save in food costs - by being able to save leftovers from takeout and from shopping at grocery stores - more than makes up for the space used!

Expect the unexpected.  Whether it's a flat tire, a loose belt, or weather disaster, you want to be prepared!  This AAA one contains a snow shovel, flash lamp, a reflective warning triangle, jumper cable, strong tow ropes, a safety hammer and seat belt cutter, adhesive tape, a rain coat, a compass and more!

Travel Pillow
Have you ever watched kids sleep on an airplane or road trip?  It's excruciating!  And as an adult, falling asleep in that position is no picnic either...takes us a bit longer to recover.  This small travel pillow will help you keep from waking up in pain with a crick on your neck...which just ruins everyone's day.

Drinking Water
I don't like plastic bottles, and you want to bring your reusable cup.  That's great!  I encourage you to do so, and refill it as often as possible.  How-ev-er.  You don't know what lies down the road, or how long it might be before you get another refill.  We like these bottles, in particular, because they're squarish and easier to pack.  As an added bonus, once they're empty, they can double for a water refill....or other purposes.

The kids want to watch a movie or play their music.  You and your spouse want to listen to an audiobook or the radio as you head down the road.  While family time (that's when we listen to an audiobook together, or just chat) is wonderful, alone time is necessary, too, on long travel days.  A good set of headphones will provide some separation and peace at this time...

All-in-One Tool
Really....if you don't already have a multi-tool in your car, now is the time to stick one in the glove compartment.  These things come in handy for all sorts of sticky situations!

We like this one, but if you're heading to a really rural location, this one might be a better never know what might crop up.

Spare Tire and Tools
Each car has its own set of spare tire and tool kit, so you'll need to find the one that works with your car.  If you've never changed a tire before, too, it might be a good idea to practice ahead of time...just in case!  And, it's always a good idea to pack Fix-a-Flat in your emergency kit.

You can find Spare Tire Kits here.

Want to teach your children how to change a tire and other life skills?  Check out Skill Trek.

1 comment:

  1. I'll have to come back to this perhaps next year. I want to travel out east with my lad, and then hopefully travel out west as well. Hopefully we'll have time before he gets too far outside of the house! :)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.