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Preparing for the Trip

  Tips Home >> Travelling Tips >> Preparing for the Trip


What should I do if I’m taking a road trip?
Look at maps and plan your route.
Research the roads you’ll take. You’ll especially want to know if you’ll be traveling through areas of major road construction.
Make estimates of travel times along the route, so you’ll have an idea when you’ll be at certain points on your trip. This will help you to plan rest and meal stops. It will also help you plan to avoid traveling through a major city or area of road construction during rush hour.
Get the car checked, especially the filters, belts, fluid levels and have the oil changed. Don’t wait until the last minute, it may take time to get an appointment and parts may need to be ordered. You also want some time to drive around town and make sure that whatever they fixed stays fixed.
Check the condition of your wiper blades.
Check the operation of your turn signals, brake lights as well as the high and low beams.
Examine the tread on your tires.
Make sure your car is prepared for the weather it will encounter on your trip. You might need more antifreeze, snow tires or recharged air-conditioning.
Today, many cars have fancy wheels instead of hubcaps. These wheels usually have a lock to prevent them from being stolen. If you have a car with wheel locks, make sure you know where the key is stored (often with the jack). Otherwise, a flat tire will become a major problem since you won't be able to get the wheel off the car.
Get your car cleaned. You’ll feel better in a clean car.
Pack an emergency kit in your car. Include motion sickness medication if anyone in your group suffers from it. Remove any items from the car that you won’t need on your trip.
Prepare some on road entertainment for your trip. Include games and CDs of music and/or audio books.
Check your plates, registration and insurance information to make sure they are all valid. Be sure to place your insurance company’s emergency contact number in your car.
Check with all the drivers in your party to make sure their driver’s licenses haven’t expired.
Check your insurance for expiration dates and coverage for your automobile.
Arrange for someone to start your other car, if you leave one home, during very cold or very hot weather.
Fill the car with gas before you pack the car so all the fumes won't bother your passengers. Check the fluid levels and tire pressure, your tire pressure will effect the ride and gas mileage you get on your trip.
Pack the car inside the garage, with the door down, so people driving by won’t find out you’re leaving.
How can I find information on road conditions, construction and rest areas?
Go to: Department of Transportation Links
Check out the roads before you go. This page contains links to the Departments of Transportation for all 50 States. Each state’s site is different, but most sites contain detailed information on highway construction, road closings, rest areas and maps. Many of the sites also contain links to major cities within their own state.
How can I make our time together in the car more enjoyable for everyone?
Buy some new music or interesting audio books to listen to while on the trip.
If your music interests are vastly different than your children’s, you might consider getting them a portable CD or tape player and bring lots of batteries. But, agree in advance about its usage times.
Take advantage of this time together and talk.
Play games in the car to help shorten the trip. Hunt for different license plate numbers, see who can add up license plate numbers of the cars that pass you the quickest. Kids get a head start since they are in the backseat. Play "I spy". See who can find the most out of state license plates. See who can find the most models of cars.
Play "once upon a time". One person starts a story with the setting and a character. Then they pass to the next person in the car who embellishes the story and passes it on. See how long you can keep the story going before someone finishes with "the end".
Bring along games or toys to help shorten the ride. Avoid items with lots of small pieces. You might also consider small prizes or presents at regular intervals along the trip. New toys often receive the most interest and will help keep your child occupied.
If your children are old enough, give them a map of their own. Have them keep track of your progress by making them the navigator.
Schedule a quiet time for everyone in the car to enjoy. But, enforce the rules so adults are included and must also obey this rule.
Wake up sleepers a few minutes before you arrive at stops. This will give them time to adjust and be ready to get out as soon as the car stops.
What snacks should I bring for the road trip?
Bring along plenty of water and munchies in the car. It will be much cheaper to buy these at the grocery store than pay the convenience store prices. It might also save you some extra stops.
Sticking to water will be much easier on your body than drinking lots of cola. Remember to avoid large amounts of caffeine. Caffeine can wear on your nerves. If the driver needs large amounts of caffeine to stay awake then it’s time to pull over for the night.
Have the adults keep control of the munchies so mealtimes aren’t ruined.
You don’t want to get yourself sick with all the junk food along the roadside, so you might want to consider eating a healthy meal or at least bring some healthy snacks.
If it has ever made them sick at home, there seems to be a guarantee that it will make them sick on the road.
Where is a good place to take a break on a road trip?
Now, after talking about eating healthy, remember that some of the fast-food restaurants now have play areas. McDonald’s and Burger King both are offering free play areas at many of their restaurants. These can be a good place to stretch those legs and burn off some energy along the road. The adults can take their time eating without the little ones getting fidgety at the table.
Be careful when using rest stops along the road. Pass them up if they aren’t well-lit or seem unsafe. Remember to lock your car doors when you go inside. Since many rest stops suffer from criminal activity, you should always accompany your children into the restroom at a rest stop.
Well-lit, busy gas stations can provide a safe place to take a quick break.
Truck stops are designed to provide a safe place to take a break. Just be warned that you can run into some inappropriate adult items in their gift shops.


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