The Ultimate Guide To Planning a Family Road Trip

So, you’re getting ready for that road trip you’ve been wanting to take for the longest time. You are excited but you’re not sure if you’re ready for it. A long road trip could be one of the best experiences you’ll ever have. But if you aren’t prepared, it can turn out to be stressful and not very enjoyable. Now let’s make sure you enjoy this one! Whether you’re going with friends or bringing the kids, taking the car or the RV, here are some of the best tips for planning a road trip:

Planning

map road trip

Planning is where everything starts; there are do’s and don’ts for planning a roadtrip. Sure, a spontaneous trip may be a lot of fun, but having a plan can save you a lot of time and money.

The first thing you should do is to figure out your route and how long it would take to reach your destination. Google Maps will come in handy at this point. It will show you everything you need to know, from the places you would pass through to where you’d find restaurants and gasoline stations in specific cities or towns.

Once you’ve decided on your route, you can start planning the rest of your trip. This includes where to spend the night, where to eat, when and where to fuel up, and places you could visit along the way.

Of course, anything can happen on a road trip, so don’t forget to make room for unexpected (mis)adventures. Have a plan B in case anything goes wrong. What’s a good backup hotel? What should you do in case your car breaks down? Likewise, make sure that your schedule has some flexibility. Just because something doesn’t go according to plan doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy your trip.

Lists

Now that you have a plan, you can now work on making lists. First, make a list of everything you need to do before you hit the road, like booking hotels or getting your car tuned up. Then, make a list of all the stuff you need to bring. You can also add another list of things you should buy, like snacks, a first-aid kit, and other necessities. All these should be made at least two weeks before your trip. That way, it’s impossible to forget anything.

Clothes

Breathable and loose clothes are what you need on a road trip. How much you take with you will depend on the number of days you are going to spend on the road. But remember, pack light! A few tops and maybe two pairs of pants or shorts would be enough. Go for shirts in darker shades to hide wrinkles and stains. Have a pair of flip-flops and hiking shoes just in case.

Food

A road trip isn’t a road trip at all without snacks. Sharing snacks is one of the most fun parts of traveling. If you’re bringing the kids, this is usually a lifesaver when it comes to keeping them occupied and entertained. Now, if you want to save some cash, bring snacks from home. It’s cheaper and way healthier. Bring energy and protein bars to fuel you up when you need it.

Buy yourself a cooler as well. That way, you can just buy your drinks on the way and make sure they’re kept cool. With a cooler, you can also pack some other tasty and healthy foods for the whole family like veggies and hummus, cheese, and fruit. Bread, a jar of peanut butter, canned tuna, and avocado are also a great choice.

Pendleton, Oregon - road trip

Now, let’s talk about real food. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One of the best things about travel is you get to eat somewhere you’ve never tried before. One tip is to ask a local about the best places in the area. You can try some of those restaurants and get a local experience. It’s all part of being on a legit road trip.

Disposables

Go for sustainable traveling. Get yourself collapsible cups, reusable spoons and forks, and metal straws to minimize trash. Bring a plastic bag to use for garbage. Wet wipes should also be on your list of things to buy before traveling.

Technology

road trip technology

A GPS unit should be one of your priorities when taking long trips. But if you don’t have one, your smartphone can do the job just as well, thanks to apps like Google Maps and Waze. The last thing you need is taking a wrong turn in the middle of nowhere. But it’s always a good idea to keep a good old-fashioned paper map.

Maximize your smartphone by downloading travel apps that could help you on the road. For instance, there’s an app called Roadtrippers, which features scenic spots, restaurants, and even roadside attractions that Google Maps might fail to show you.

Gas Buddy is another app you could have on your phone. If you’re going on a long trip, you’ll need plenty of fuel. Yes, you may have already planned your pit stops weeks before your trip, but just in case one of those gas stations is closed or out of fuel, you have an emergency app that could help you locate another one.

road trip

If you’re not the one driving, make sure you download games that will keep you preoccupied and entertained. But then again, it’s better to just look out the window and see what nature is trying to show you. Games that involve the whole family are a great way to pass the time as well – I Spy, 21 Questions, The Singing Game, and more.

Check twice if you’ve included a power bank, a phone charger, and a phone holder in your list because you will definitely need them.

Music

Imagine going on a road trip without music. It’s dreadful! Make yourself a playlist and hook up your phone or MP3 player to your car’s audio system. If you don’t have time to create your own, Spotify’s Epic Road Trip playlist has some great tunes. You can also bring a portable speaker, so you can take your music with you in case you want to hang out near a beach or do some camping.

Safety

road trip portland

The biggest reason why you need your smartphone during a long trip is for safety. Update a friend or a family member on your whereabouts every time you reach a new city or town. This is just for them to know where you are so that, in case something happens, they could easily find you when you need help.

Bring a first aid kit with you and keep it in the car for emergency purposes. You may not be a nurse or a doctor, but having some bandages for a simple wound is always a good idea.

And finally, bring a spare car key with you and keep it close at all times in case you get locked out of your car. Better safe than sorry!

Getting ready for a road trip can be overwhelming. But with a little help and advice from those who do it often, you are sure to enjoy the long trip with all of its ups and downs.


About The Author: Cal Bailey runs MountainLeon.com – a travel blog he started after two years of backpacking around the world.

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