Don’t Make Me Turn the Car Around: 9 Planning Tips for Road Trips

feet on car dashboard

A road trip can be the most exciting time for you and your family. The freedom of the open road and the sense of adventure you can only get when you travel cross-country. 

But for a lot of Americans, a vacation is actually more stressful than relaxing. In fact, 67% of people said that planning a vacation causes them stress. 

Does that sound familiar?

Well, fear not! There are loads of road trips hacks that can turn your vacation from a headache into heaven.  

Want to find out more? Then check out these nine tips for road trips.

1. Plan Your Journey

Preparing for a road trip does not have to be stressful. So, before you even start the engine, you need to plan your journey. 

For each stage of your road trip, you should know:

  • Your destination
  • The route you will take
  • What the terrain will be like
  • What weather conditions you might encounter
  • How long the journey will take

You can involve the whole family in this planning stage. It can be fun to let the kids help you plot your route on a map, and it’s a great learning exercise for them too. 

Make sure you check the weather forecasts for the areas you’ll be traveling as well. You might think you know what the climate will be like, but even California can get hit by heavy rain and floods. You can read more here about what to do if that happens. 

2. Check Your Vehicle 

The next thing you need to do when you are preparing for a road trip is to check your vehicle. 

As well as being important for safety, you do not want the hassle of having mechanical issues when you are on the road, especially if they are avoidable.

So, before heading out on your road trip always check the following:

  • Tires
  • Gas
  • Windshield wiper fluid
  • Lights
  • Water 
  • Oil

If you are are not confident checking these things for yourself, it is advisable to get a mechanic to check your vehicle before any long journey.

3. Pack Like a Pro

Even if you are hitting the road in a state-of-the-art RV, you will still feel like you don’t have enough space. A family of four sure can take up some room when they have packed all their stuff!

You can help yourself out here by making sure you all only take what you are going to need for the trip. Try not to double-up on items, so if one of you takes a big bottle of shampoo – you don’t all need to pack your own.

There are loads of cool tricks and tips to help you pack like a pro and make the best use of the space you have. 

4. Take Snacks and Drinks

You will plan for meal times in your road trip, but we all get hungry between meals. The last thing you want is your kids complaining that they’re hungry or thirsty when you still have a few hours until your next stop. You also never know when you might hit delays or have any technical issues. 

Therefore you should never set off without packing plenty of bottled water, and some snacks to eat. You don’t need your kids to have sugar highs (or crashes) on the road, so make sure you pack some healthy snacks for the whole family. 

5. Choose Your Music Carefully

There’s nothing better than having a big old sing-along when you are on a road trip. So never leave home without a selection of music and something to play it on.

Make sure all members of your family get to pick the music. While it won’t be to everyone’s taste, it could avoid arguments down the road.

Also, think about how long you are on the road for. If you only take a few CDs and you have 50 hours of driving to do, you’re going to get sick of them. So why not take a mobile device and speaker so you can take loads of tracks in one go, and never get bored of the same tunes. 

6. Fun and Games

Boredom can be the enemy of a happy road trip. When kids get bored, they start to complain and fight with each other, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep them entertained. 

Always make sure you pack books, tablets, and other fun things for them to do that don’t take up much space.

One of our top tips for road trips is to devise some fun travel games to keep everyone entertained. you can count vehicles of certain colors, or try and spot plates from different states. Anything with a competitive element tends to go down well!

7. Take a First Aid Kit

Unfortunately, accidents do happen, but they don’t have to be the end of the world (or your vacation). So always pack a first aid kit when you go on a road trip.

As well as bandages and Band-Aids, also take some antiseptic cream, painkillers, and insect repellant. And if any of your family has any medical issues, like asthma or diabetes, make sure their medication is accessible and not in the trunk.

8. Reward Your Kids

Going on a long trip can be quite a big ask for small kids. It can be quite hard for them to stay focussed and not get bored. 

So one way to make the trip even more fun, and keep those arguments at bay, is to implement a reward scheme for them. For example, for each hour that they don’t squabble or complain they can get a cool treat.

9. Take It Easy!

Finally, one of the best tips for road trips that you can have: enjoy it!

This is your vacation, and it will be amazing. So even with all the packing and planning and looking after your family, don’t forget to chill out and relax. 

If your schedule slides a bit… so what? Don’t get too caught up in a strict timetable, just enjoy each moment.

Tips for Road Trips… and So Much More!

So those are nine top tips for road trips.

Remember: do your planning before you set off, keep the troops entertained, and don’t forget to enjoy yourself.

If you found this guide useful, then why not check out loads more great tips and hacks for family life right here?

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