Road trips can be incredibly fun and challenging at the same time. While a part of the beauty is all of the unexpected (mis)fortunes you may encounter on your way, it’s a good idea to come slightly prepared – or, at least, keep an open mind about the journey ahead. From what you should pack for your next big road trip and how you should take care of your pets to what you should do to make a road trip with children bearable; here is everything you need to know.
Almost everything, that is. It is, after all, the freedom and adventure that we tend to love about road trips and no amount of packing or planning can prepare you for this kind of holiday and all the hiccups it may bring with it.
Just remember to buckle up and keep a positive attitude and you should be good to go.
First: Make sure your vehicle is up to date
It’s understandable that you might not want to buy a brand new car just for the sake of a road trip, but it’s still important that your car can handle the trip. Plus, some of them are much lighter on fuel as well which will save you a lot of money, in the long run. Safety, comfort, and fuel efficiency are the three major components of the ultimate car so keep this in mind for your ride however old it may be.
It’s also good to remember that your road trip might be very different from that of your neighbor – and you may be in need of different vehicles, depending on what kind of trip you have in mind. If you’re going off-road, for example, you’d want a car that can handle these types of challenges while a cross-country trek to visit the grandparents would benefit from a car with a lot of space for luggage.
Again, we’re not saying you should spend all your money on a new car for the occasion but it’s good to keep this in mind in case your household has multiple vehicles – or maybe you can borrow the right kind from a family member or similar. No matter how you go about with it, make sure it’s serviced and fully up to date before you head off.
That way, you avoid being stranded in the middle of the road when your old ride decides to throw in the towel. Have a look at this excellent article for the most road trip-worthy vehicles out there, by the way, so that you at least know what you’re getting yourself into.
Next: Are you traveling with kids?
A road trip with kids is very different than a trip with only yourself and your SO. That’s why you need to be extra prepared for the worst kind of situations; the hour-long whining about being bored, the sudden stops due to motion sickness, the inevitable quarreling that comes with being stuck with your siblings for too long in one car, etc. The list is long and terrifying, but don’t worry – a bit of preparation and a positive mindset can take care of everything.
Manage the motion sickness by, first of all, having a lot of plastic bags handy in the car in case of an emergency. You certainly don’t want to pull over to clean out your car when you’re not even halfway. If you have children that are guaranteed to get sick during the trip, you should consider giving them a pill for the motion sickness half an hour before you leave.
Follow the instructions on the package, though, and remember that young children should usually not drink an entire pill.
As a parent of children with motion sickness, you’re probably all too aware of what they can and cannot do in the car. Reading is, for most of us, difficult in the car without feeling queasy and the same goes for most games and other activities where your eyes are off the road. Play a game with each other instead that requires talking rather than looking down; the Internet has a lot of good tips to keep your potentially travel sick child entertained.
Audiobooks are great alternatives to regular books as your children can keep their eyes on the road at the same time and avoid queasiness. A portable lego kit is also a genius option if you have a tiny bit of money to spare; that way, they get to play their favorite games without making an absolute mess in the car.
Depending on how young your child is, you should also think about investing in an extra comfortable car seat in case the trip is rather long. Safety is, of course, the main priority but comfort is also important; have a look at these Graco car seats and you should be able to find a proper one that works for your child’s age.
Next, you should think about how you organize your car while traveling with the little ones. They get restless and will doubtlessly need some things to avoid boredom so consider investing in an affordable seat back organizer. That way, you’ll be able to keep all of those toys and games in one place – and, best of all, they won’t fiddle around in the car and luggage while you’re driving in order to get ahold of whatever they need.
An over-the-door shoe organizer may work just as well, by the way, in case you’re leaving tomorrow and don’t have time to buy an actual back seat one. Just hang it as you would over the door and voilà! Everything your child needs is within easy reach.
What about your furry children?
All tail-waggers will make a road trip a lot more fun but you should make sure that the trip is just as fun for your pet as it is for you. As with children, you should think safety first and then comfort; while your dog or pet should be happy and content, it’s vital that you remember all the safety precautions.
For example, it’s a bad idea to keep your nervous cat or dog out of the kennel as the sudden sound of a moving car could scare them to make a leap towards the closed or opened window. A kennel gives them a space of their own where they can relax and find a sense of security in the middle of all this motion. Plus, a freely roaming cat or dog will not do well in case of an accident.
Always think about safety first before trying to make them as comfortable as possible. One way to do this is to make sure they have their favorite pillow or blanket in the kennel as well as their toys – but you can also add one of your old t-shirts or similar to give them that added sense of security with your very own scent.
Another point to ensuring that your pet is safe while driving is to keep those heads and paws inside of the vehicle. A furry head and its long tongue sticking out the window may look cute but it increases the chances of accidents and you certainly don’t want your pet to get hurt. Pack a first-aid kit for your pet as well, by the way, and ask your veterinarian about things you should equip it with to be the best kind of responsible pet parent.
Did you know that you can also download a first aid app for pets? Download the American Red Cross Pet First Aid App right away and you’ll have access to great advice even before you head off on that road trip.
Next, it’s a good idea to make sure the place you are visiting is pet-friendly. Simply check the website or look up a few parks you can stop at along the way so that your pet is able to stretch his or her legs in nature instead of just around the gas station.
In terms of things to pack for your pet, you should remember all the basics such as food, water, bowls, leash, tags, medications, favorite toys, poop bags, grooming equipment – and consider to also take a photo of them before you leave so that you have something to show people in case they should go missing.
It’s a lot more likely that your pet will return home if they wander off for a day or two in your own neighborhood, but in a new and foreign location, they might get just as lost as any other child. Don’t worry, though, they’re smart creatures and will probably stay close to you so just remember to keep an extra eye out for them and consider bringing a dog whistle if he or she should run a bit too far off while exploring their new surroundings.
Now that you’ve taken care of your vehicle, your children, and your pet it’s time to finally take a breath and look forward to the trip ahead.