Due to the flexibility of travel times and routes, a road trip can be a rewarding way for a family to travel on weekends or holidays. Although driving your own car allows you to stop whenever needed, and the fact that the kids are familiar with the family car, pardon the pun, sometimes long hours make small problems look big. In order to avoid them altogether, it’s essential to prepare your every road trip from the bottom up and leave nothing to chance.
Pack the car essentials
Traveling with all the gear you might need helps lower stress and save money on vacation activities. Your car inventory should include travel maps, flashlights, an emergency blanket, rain ponchos, hand warmers, and three days’ worth of water and food, preferably nutritious grain bars or trail mix. The emergency kit must be the No.1 item in your car, whether you bought it pre-packaged or made your own. It should include bandages, gauze, ointment for cuts and stings, aspirin for adults and children, a pair of trauma scissors, and a thermometer. Other items that come in handy on longer tours are antibacterial wipes, umbrellas, and charging cables, and USB plugs for devices you’re taking with you.
Choose the road food
Low blood sugar and thirst can make even the most easy-going people cranky on long tours, so make sure you pack your own snacks, including your children’s favorites, when the hunger strikes, and there’s no roadside stop in sight. However, the road snack choice doesn’t have to boil down to unhealthy and saturated crunchies. Durable fruit and vegetables, such as apples, oranges, carrots, grapes, cucumbers, and strawberries packed in a cooler are an excellent source of nutrients between meals and a supplement for multi-grain bars. Fill reusable bottles halfway with water and let them freeze overnight, so you have ice-cold water for the whole day’s drive.
Secure your home
Before leaving on the trip, make sure you’ve done everything to discourage thieves and trespassers. Arrange for lawn care, connect interior lights to timers, and leave the patio lights on. Suspend your mail and newspaper delivery, and ask the closest neighbor to monitor your front door for any deliveries that might arrive, so it looks as if you’re at home. You can even “enlist” one of the neighborhood kids to check your front door daily for a small fee. Wi-Fi-enabled home security cameras are widely available today, so you can easily monitor what’s happening around your home even hundreds of miles away.
Get familiar with the destination
While “are we there yet?” questions are often impossible to eliminate, providing kids with an idea of where are you headed might keep them interested and engaged for a while. Younger kids who still lack the understanding of elapsed time would benefit from recognizing the landmarks along the route so they can better understand how far it is. For older kids, you can turn your road trip into a geography lesson, with you pointing out major roads you’re taking, things you might be seeing along the way, photos of the area, and if possible some books about your destination, especially if you haven’t visited it before.
Get your car road-worthy
While scheduling an appointment at the nearest garage for checking your brakes, AC, tires, and everything else that needs checking is always a smart move, in many cases, you can’t afford to leave the car at the mechanics, or you’re given a schedule that goes beyond your vacation date. What’s more, 73% of Americans think repair shops are overcharging for their services. In Australia, for example, even 80% of drivers are wary of being ripped off by a mechanic, with most of them choosing to delay or even completely skip a service check just to avoid fishy deals. This is where mobile mechanics jump in. Instead of you leaving your car at the garage, a mobile service team like this mechanic in Hunter Valley comes to your driveway with their mobile repair shop and services your car right there at your doorstep.
Map your route
Whenever you’re planning a trip, first decide on the farthest point you want to go. This way you can plot the alternatives and return routes to fully enjoy the flavor of the geography and the people. Once you have decided on your trip’s farthest point, you can use a route planning tool like Route4Me to create a customized itinerary that includes all of the stops along the way. Next, decide how many miles you want to cover each day and plot the route accordingly for each section. If you’re a member of the AAA (American Automobile Association) consult your state department of transportation site or use a 511 number to get the information on what you can expect on the road; this way, you can avoid major road construction or traffic jams. If driving through large cities, plan your route as not to drive 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. or 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and use bypass routes.
Save money on gas
Saving whatever you can on gas leaves you with more mileage for day trips and excursions. Use services like gasbuddy.com to look up the best prices of gas while on your trip. It allows you to enter the city and the state, or just a ZIP code, in a search box and it tells you the gas price for the chosen location. In addition, you can use some of the tips for getting the most mileage like packing as light as you can, following the speed limit, and avoiding aggressive driving like rapid acceleration and braking. You should also have the tires inflated to the correct pressure. If you’re renting a road trip vehicle, opt for a fuel-efficient car like Toyota Prius Hybrid or Nissan Altima.
Whether you’re planning a long-distance road trip or just a weekend escape with your family, it’s important to prepare effectively so that you ensure that the journey goes smoothly for both your kids and your car.
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