The family road trip is a time-honored American tradition of family bonding. You visit relatives, go to amusement parks, and form timeless memories. But sometimes those timeless memories are of boredom and breakdowns. To keep things fun, follow these nine steps.
#1) Get The Family Vehicle an Inspection
Now would be the time to find out about mechanical problems. Take the car in for an oil change and a general check-up. This is especially true if you’ve been putting off minor repairs; now would be the time to get them fixed.
#2) Get Your Emergency Kit in Place
Make sure you’ve got a full emergency kit ready. Have a first-aid kit, a spare tire and tire-changing equipment, jumper cables, a gas can, spare oil and other fluids that you might need to change, batteries, and a phone charging kit that uses solar power, a hand crank, and other equipment you might need. If something goes wrong, you want to be prepared. Also make sure you have a phone charger that connects to your 12-volt DC outlet.
#3) Plan Your Route, With Back-Ups
Most people have GPS, but sometimes you lose signal. So be sure you’ve got maps or directions saved on your phone, and also have a good old paper map on hand.
#4) Plan Alternate Routes
There’s nothing worse than being trapped in a car for hours because you decided to just go down the highway and hit a major city right at rush hour. So while you’ve got your main route planned, also have some back-up routes on hand, just in case.
#5) Research Any Traffic Problems
Traffic can be created by all sorts of problems you might not be aware of: road construction, city-wide events, traffic problems etc… So, plan accordingly. Ask friends who live in the area about problem roads or other traffic snarls and problems that aren’t immediately clear to tourists.
#6) Make Hotel or Motel Reservations
Since nobody wants to sleep in the car, make sure you’ve got lodging arrangements. Never leave these to the last minute; even seemingly sleepy places can have family reunions, conventions, and other events that eat up hotel rooms. You’ll want reservations in place, and be sure you’ve got the confirmation available in case of issues.
#7) Stock Up on Snacks
Focus on stuff that isn’t perishable, but is healthy. Dried fruit and baked chips are two examples. Also make sure that you’ve got plenty of clean-up materials — like paper towels and wet naps — to take care of messes.
#8) Get Your Paperwork in Order
Make sure that your license, registration, and insurance are up to date. Also put any tickets, confirmations, or other paperwork you might need in a folder so you can easily access them.
#9) Make Sure the Kids Are Amused
As we all know, kids get bored easily. Take care of this with lots of games and amusements. You can find these all over the internet, but we particularly like Mom’s Minivan, which has dozens of travel games and other things to keep little minds interested and little feet from kicking the back of your seat.