Road trips are as much a part of summer as ice cream cones and miniature golf – and in some places visiting the boardwalk or boating at the lake.
In fact, nearly two-thirds of Americans planning a trip this year will be driving, AAA estimates.
But planning ahead for your road trip can make a big difference in whether you merely endure hours in a crowded vehicle and suffer in the hotter temperatures you’re likely to encounter along the way or actually enjoy the ride and arrive at your destination with a sunny disposition.
To help with your road trip planning, we’ve put together a checklist, “Summer Road Trip – A dozen great ways to prepare for an automobile adventure,” that captures some of the best advice available on ensuring that your summer road trip doesn’t turn into an ordeal.
With a little preparation, you can leave the stress at home and enjoy your summer road trip (or trips), whichever direction you’re traveling.
PREPARE YOUR VEHICLE
Have your car and tires inspected before you head out. Don’t forget to check tire pressures, fluids and air filter. And make sure you have a spare tire.
THINK LIKE A SCOUT
You have to be prepared, so keep a cache of emergency supplies in your vehicle, especially if you’re traveling off the beaten path.
MAP YOUR ROUTE
Be prepared for busy roads during the most popular times of the year. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.
Have roadside assistance contact information on hand, in case an incident occurs on the road. Keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times.
CLEAN OUT YOUR CAR
The more stuff you haul, the more fuel you burn. This also will make your traveling environment more pleasant. If in doubt, take it out.
DRIVE AT NIGHT
If you have young children, this might be something to consider.
KEEP THE KIDS BUSY
Bring along travel-size games and toys, crayons and coloring books, favorite story books (real or audio). Maybe some electronic games or an iPad with engaging apps and movies. Or play some old-fashioned games like I Spy, Car Bingo and others.
PACK SOME SNACKS
Some nutritious and minimally messy snacks are sandwich-sized Ziplock plastic bags filled with family favorites. And water in individual bottles.
BABY WIPES FOR EVERYONE
These premoistened towelettes are excellent for quick cleanups, from faces to spills. And plastic grocery bags make great garbage containers.
STOP TO STRETCH
Stretch everyone’s legs at least once every three hours. Fitting in a meal or a fueling station during these times is a good idea.
In case of emergencies, the glove compartment is the best place to store a copy of insurance cards and registration, a list of important phone numbers, some extra cash or a credit card.
PROTECT YOUR VALUABLES
Keep anything of value in the trunk or covered storage area.