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I have always been a fan of road trips. In fact, some of my favorite vacations I took as a kid with my parents involved long car rides all over the Northeast. Now as a mom, I still love taking my family on road trips. There’s something special about hitting the open road and going on an adventure together. However, don’t leave unprepared- here is my list of essential things to keep in mind before embarking on a long car ride.
Bring snacks for the kids!
When kids get hungry or thirsty, they tend to get restless and cranky. Keep their moods lifted by packing a wide variety of snacks and drinks for the road. Some options we like to have on hand include pretzels, dried fruit, nuts and other non-perishable items.
Perform routine car maintenance!
Before road trips, it’s imperative to make sure the car is operating in peak condition. Check all fluids and top them off, if necessary- this includes engine oil, steering fluid, transmission fluid, windshield washer fluid and antifreeze. Replace windshield washers if they regularly leave streaks on the windshield. Make sure the vehicle batteries are in good condition and free of corrosion. Check that all lights are in working order. Be sure that tires are properly inflated and are displaying the correct tread depth. With the right preparation ahead of time, you can keep your vehicle running throughout your road trip.
Pack a first aid kit!
Road trips can sometimes cause unexpected injuries. However, with a first aid kit on hand, that small cut can be handled in no time. You can purchase a pre-assembled first aid kit from the store –like this one– or you can create your own version. If you are going the DIY route, some must-have items to include are: bandages, antiseptic ointment, ibuprofen, gauze and paper tape.
Don’t forget the camera!
You don’t want to forget any of the destinations or memorable moments from your trip. Bring along a camera, along with a spacious storage drive & backup batteries, so you can capture plenty of images from your road trip adventures. In my opinion, looking back at all the pictures is one of the most exciting parts of getting back home!
Rely on a GPS system!
Getting lost is never fun, so it’s important to bring along maps or a GPS system. Sure, you could try to memorize directions and/or ask for help along the way. However, what happens if the map gets soaked by an accidental spill of soda? Or what if you can’t find someone to ask for directions? By having your own GPS system in the car, you can be self-reliant and still get to your destination easily. Our current vehicle has navigation built in, but we used to have this model.
Bring activities for the kids!
I never leave for a road trip with the kids without activities for the little ones. Last summer, I made this DIY Activity Tray for the kids to take on road trips. I used a pillow and picture frame to create the perfect surface for road trip snacks or road trip drawings. Here’s another idea for a portable activity for kids – simply use an old DVD case to store papers & colored pencils. Easy peasy!
Be prepared for the unexpected!
In case the car does break down, you want to have certain essentials on hand. Here are some items to keep in your trunk in case you are dealing with a vehicle breakdown: blanket, flashlight, car manual, roadside assistance information, hazard lights and orange safety cone.
I hope these tips have inspired you to go on more road trips with the family this year. By making sure you have certain essentials on hand, you can enjoy the trip and make wonderful memories.