8 Simple Tips to Plan Road Trip & Pack Smart

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Now that my kids are a bit older, we’ve been taking more road trips.  It’s great to get away, but the cost of travel can really add up.  Since gas prices are already sky high;  we all need to squeeze every penny out of the travel budget.  You need to plan ahead, so you can pack smart.

Plan Road Trip with 8 Simple Tips:

1.  Clean out the junk:  Before heading out on a road trip; clear out the trash, extra toys and junk from the trunk and backseat.  Not only will it make fitting in your travel gear easier, you’ll save money by not weighing down your vehicle with with unnecessary stuff!

2.  Give the car a check-up:  Make sure your tires have correct pressure, filters have been changed, and fluids are topped off.  A well maintained vehicle can help stretch a few more miles out of that tank of gas.  While you’re at it, grab a bucket of soap and water to start your trip off squeaky clean.

3.  Pack drinks and snacks:  Purchase bottled water, juice boxes, or sodas at the grocery store.   Keep a cooler handy for a few drinks during the trip and the rest can stay in the back to swap out later.

Bring  snacks that are easy to munch on such as pretzels or carrot sticks to keep the driver and passengers happy.  Also, consider packing a few special treats for the kids if they start getting moody. :-)  My kids rarely get fruit snacks, so getting that special snack sure puts a smile on their faces!

If you plan to take a long trip or you travel often, consider investing in an electric cooler that plugs into your cars cigarette lighter.  You won’t have to worry about replenishing the ice or dumping water during the trip.

4.  Pack lunch:  Avoid the drive-thru and pack lunch.  Sandwiches can be made ahead of time or pack all the fixings and assemble when it’s time to eat.  Most rest stops have picnic tables where your family can eat lunch and stretch their legs.

Bonus Tip – pack travel size food such as mustard and mayo, so you can save space and avoid waste.  Stocking up on packets from your local fast food joint prior to your trip will also come in handy.

5. Keep kids entertained:  Pack the kids travel size games, coloring books, small toys or books.  These items don’t have to be new, just not something they don’t play with everyday.  A portal DVD player could also be a good investment or let kids watch a show on your iPad or Kindle.  You can also play I-Spy, License Plates or 20 Questions to keep the kids from getting “bored” and to engage as a family.

Bonus Tip – grab all the brochures when you stop at rest stops and you can and play I-spy on signs or seeing landmarks from the brochures.

6.  Plan road trip route in advance:  Before you head out, make sure you at least have a basic idea of where you’re headed and how long it will take you to get there.  If you have AAA, get them to create a TripTik for you to use as a guide in your travels.   It’s always wise to know ahead of time if you’ll be passing through areas that don’t have convenient exits.  You don’t want to reach a point where you need gas or a bathroom break and next exit isn’t for another 50 miles.

Hubs & I were driving home from a short trip to Wilmington, NC about a year ago.  We needed gas but the station was busy, so we decided to continue on until we hit the next service station.   We drove on, and on, and ON!  Still nowhere to stop.  The few exits we did pass, didn’t have a gas station or anything for that matter – just another lonely stretch of road.

Just when we were starting to get desperate, we see a sign!  A beautiful blue sign telling us the next exit had a gas station just .5 mi off the exit!  RELIEF!  That was the last time we ever gambled with a fuel stop!

7.  Navigation:  Everyone seems to have a GPS, so skip the cost of buying your own and borrow a friends.  OR just use your cell phone.  You’re already paying for service and most likely it’s GPS enabled.  We use the navigation app on my phone.  I get step-by-step directions without making an additional purchase.  Just make sure you have a car charger!

Bonus Tip – I always make sure to have a good paper map in the car as well.  Occasionally, the GPS provides bad directions or you’ll lose service.  Having a back-up plan will save you a headache.  Trust me.  I’ve been there – in an RV in New York City!

8.  Have fun:  Remember to relax and have fun.  Enjoy the scenery and just being together.  That’s why you wanted to get away together in the first place, right?

Now that you’ve checked, plan road trip, off your to-do list.  You can starting thinking about more important things like what to wear!

What are your tips to plan a road trip?


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