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How to prepare for a road trip

Preparing for a road trip can sometimes feel stressful. Especially if you are traveling with children. There’s just so much to consider! Packing the essentials in your car relieves some of the stress of course.

However, there are many other things to take care of. After all, you don’t want to be half way thru your trip and realize that you forgot to do something.

The best way to avoid forgetting important steps is to work thru a list. Since we all have different lifestyles, I would’t dare try to make a list for you. It just wouldn’t be customized for your needs. However, I want to give you a guide so that you can craft your own to-do list.

How to prepare for a road trip

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Plan the trip

First things first. It is extremely important that you plan your trip as best as you can. To make things run smoothly, you want to pay close attention to several factors that will impact your whole trip experience, such as:

  • Destination. You will need to know where you are headed, and how long it will take to get there. Remember that you should not drive more than 8 hours per day, and you should take 10-15 minute breaks every 2 hours or so.
  • Length of trip. This refers to the amount of days you will be away. Make sure you factor in your travel time to and fro, as well as time spent at your destination into the length of the trip, plus add a couple extra hours for emergencies, or other unexpected situations.
  • Weather. The quality of the weather could really impact your trip. You want to make sure you are prepared for whatever conditions you might encounter, since this could add time, stress and maybe extra expenses to your trip.
  • Road conditions. Although it can be hard to plan for this, having an overall idea of big construction areas, horrible potholes, landslides, etc will give you the chance to find the best route to avoid as many hold ups are possible.
  • Lodging. Whether you are planning to make daily stops or not, being aware of possible lodging spots is very helpful. Plans can get derailed, big emergencies happen, and the more you know bout your options, the better you’ll pan out.
  • Gas stations. Plan on filling up the car’s gas tank prior to leaving town. Nevertheless, pinpointing where the nearest gas stations are on the way will help you plan your gas stops so you don’t run out before the next gas station.
  • Rest areas. Bathroom breaks, stretching your legs, and even coffee (some rest areas serve coffee and hot cocoa, for donations) are only a few things that rest areas are good for. Just like with gas stations, knowing where the rest areas are located will help you plan potty stops to avoid any “accidents” in between.
  • Activities. Depending on what type of road trip you are taking, you might want to plan a few small activities on the way to your destination. Stopping every now and then for a little while to do something fun will take away some of the monotony of a long drive.

Getting your car ready

This is non-negotiable. Since your car will be your traveling medium, it’s important to pay close attention to the details. There are quite a few things you need to pay close attention to in order to avoid as many inconveniences as possible.

  • Clean car. Take all unneeded items out of your car. You and your family will probably be stuck in the car for many hours, and the car will be packed full of what you actually need. Removing the unnecessary will make for a more comfortable trip. Also, wipe down, dust, and vacuum at least a bit. Although not necessary, taking your car to the car wash is a plus.
  • Check all fluids. This is something you can either do at home, or take your car to the shop. No matter what you decide, make sure all car fluids are topped, including coolant, motor oil, brake fluid, and wiper fluid.
  • Oil change. If you have recently taken your car in for an oil change, then you might be able to skip this. However, take the distance you’ll cover on your trip into consideration. If the miles to cover will make you go over the advised mileage for the next oil change, then take it in anyway. Better safe than sorry.
  • Check air in tires. One of the most common car trouble situations while on a road trip are flat tires. Mind you, that can happen anyway if something pokes a hole in a tire. Start out your trip with confidence by making sure they are topped. Or, if the tires need replacing, do it! No need to risk it.
  • Check your wipers. Although ideally nobody wants to travel in the rain, you might have to deal with it. Be on the safe side, and make sure your windshield wipers are in the best condition, just in case.

Preparing your home

  • Tidy up a bit. Nothing can be more of a buzz killer, than coming home to find a disaster zone. You will surely be tired, and want to relax after your trip. But if your house is a mess, you’ll find yourself with a lot more to do than just kicking back and relaxing.
  • Get caught up on laundry. Laundry is like taxes: you have to deal with it, no matter what. And after a long road trip, the amount of laundry will probably be huge. To avoid a bigger mess, do as much of your existing laundry beforehand. That way you will only have to wash the clothes from your trip.
  • Do dishes. It goes without saying, but dirty dishes attract all sorts of bugs, ants, and nasty things. Plus, no one wants to come home to a fowl-smelling sink.
  • Take the garbage out. Just like with dirty dishes, piles of garbage can cause all sorts of messes. Not to mention they smell bad, and can even make you sick. If at all possible, either take the garbage down to the curb, or arrange with a friendly neighbor to do it for you while you are away.
  • Shut off all but sensor-activated lights. Electrical malfunction is one of the biggest causes of fires. Make sure all your lights are off prior to leaving your house. A quick walk thru will give you the peace of mind you need to enjoy your road trip.
  • Unplug everything or turn off power strips. The only thing that needs to be plugged in constantly, is your fridge. And any additional freezers you might have. Unplug everything, even lamps, the microwave, TVs, and other small appliances. If you have things on power strips, shut them off as well. Not only is it safer that way, but it will also save you money on your electricity bill.
  • Lock & secure all doors, and windows. While you are doing your quick walk thru to check on plugs, and lights, verify that all your windows and doors are locked tight while you’re away. That should help keep unwanted visitors, like insects, thieves, and the heat.
  • Arrange boarding for pets, if needed. Unless you only have cats, AND are going away for just 1-2 days, you will need to arrange boarding for your pets. A friend, family member, or friendly neighbor would do. But if you can’t find anyone to help out, research safe places near you for the best prices, and conditions.

How to prepare for a road trip

Being spontaneous can be fun and adventurous. However, when traveling with family, it’s always best to be as prepared as possible. Not only by packing the things you might (will) need. But if you make sure that you have a good plan, travel in a safe vehicle, and that your home and pets are well taken care of, your road trip will be much more fun.

Hope you find this post helpful when you prepare for a road trip. Tell me, how do you prepare for a road trip? Please, share with us in the comment section below. Inquiring minds want to know.

How to prepare for a road trip


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