What’s better than cruising across the country, windows down, music up, taking in the scenery across the great United States? When you’re road tripping with family in tow, there’s a lot that can turn the trip of your dreams into a nightmare adventure. Here’s how you can prepare for everything the open road throws at you before heading out on a summer road trip.
Before you start your trip, make sure your car is 100 percent roadworthy. Tackle any upcoming or past-due maintenance tasks like oil changes and fluid top-offs, ensure the tires are fully inflated and have plenty of tread, and test the air conditioning to make sure it’s working like it should. The last thing you want is for the whole family to end up stranded or uncomfortable over something preventable.
Despite your best efforts, accidents can still happen. When they do, you want to be prepared. After all, jumping the battery is a lot more stressful when you have to wait for roadside assistance to show up — especially if you’re in an area without reliable cell service. Pack a roadside emergency kit with a first aid kit, jumper cables, a spare tire and the tools to change it, and plenty of water. With the right tools, you can get out of most roadside mishaps without losing more than an hour.
However, sometimes roadside emergencies are beyond the scope of a DIY job. That’s why you should enroll in a roadside assistance program before going on a road trip. You can find assistance programs from independent agencies like AAA, car insurance companies, and even cell phone service providers. Shop around to find the best price and service plan for your needs. Don’t forget to prepare for the worst at home too by making sure your humble abode is protected while you are away. You can’t predict everything, but you can put safeguards in place to ensure you and your family stay safe on the road and at home.
Whether you’re traveling with little ones, senior family members, or sporting a multigenerational carload, there’s more to a pleasant trip than making sure the car runs smoothly. You need to keep everyone entertained and happy, which is easier said than done in a packed car.
Come prepared with entertainment for younger children. If you have TVs mounted in the passenger compartment of your vehicle, line up a few favorite movies for kids to pick from. Pack some handheld games and plan a few car games to keep the gang amused as restlessness kicks in.
For the adults, download podcasts, audiobooks, and music so you don’t have to hunt down a new radio station every time you cross a county line. Look for roadside attractions along the route for when you need a break from staring at the open road.
If you’re traveling with the elderly, comfort is priority number one. If you drive a compact car or sedan, consider renting a minivan or SUV to give backseat passengers more space. Larger cars are also easier to get in and out of, so grandma and grandpa won’t have to stoop and bend every time they need a bathroom break.
Speaking of bathroom breaks, plan for plenty of them. Kids and the elderly alike need to visit the restroom more frequently, and regular breaks let older adults stretch their legs so they don’t end up sore and stiff. Add a couple of extra hours to your travel time so you can make pit stops without stressing over your timeline.
You should also pack plenty of snacks so you don’t have to resort to fast food and gas station junk food, especially for older family members who may have particular dietary needs. Stock a cooler with healthy finger foods like cut vegetables and hummus, grapes, bananas, apples, and whole grain crackers. If you have the space, include sandwich fixings for a quick, affordable lunch on the go.
Taking a big summer trip with your family is a wonderful way to make memories that will last a lifetime. With these tips, you can make sure those memories are good ones.