This is what my kids start singing every few minutes during any trip by car that is longer than 45 mins. This, I am sure, is the story of most people who travel with children.
I really love traveling, visiting new places and most of all road trips. So, I also wanted to make sure that we continue them even with the kids. And I realized, after a couple of trips, that the key to a good enjoyable one is “being prepared”. So here is a checklist to make sure you (and your car) is prepared to have a fun and memorable road trip.
Checklist for your car
Before going on a long road trip, it is advisable to get a regular maintenance of the car done to make sure it is in good shape for the distance you are traveling. Here are some pointers that you should check for
- Make sure to check all fluid levels are optimal – oil, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid etc.
- Check the tires for wear & tear and required pressure including your spare tire. Also get the wheel alignment and balance checked.
- Get your car battery, seat belts and airbags checked during car maintenance.
- Check your air-conditioning for gas levels and proper cooling.
- Wiper blades should be in good condition. Often in dry weather or when not used, they become hard. So if you don’t normally use them often, getting new ones would be a good idea.
- Check all your lights – the headlights, indicator lights, fog lamps and internal lights of the cars.
- Make sure you have your maintenance toolkit with essential tools as well as your tire changing kit and jumper cables.
- Study the route and figure out the locations and distances between the stops available for refueling. Make sure you start with enough fuel to last till your first stop.
Checklist for essentials
Here are some essentials that you would need to carry for any long road trip. These would help make your trip clean, comfortable and safe and you would not need to stop every time you need something.
- Make sure you have a small first aid kit in the car just in case of any emergencies. Ensure that it contains antiseptic, band-aids, bandages, cotton swabs and some painkillers
- Carry enough water for at least the duration that you plan to go without stopping. It is preferable to carry sippers and flip-top bottles since they are convenient and help avoid spillage.
- Make sure you have tissues, wet wipes, hand towels and sanitizers since they would be needed throughout the trip
- If you intend to eat and snack in the car, the car tends to get messy with crumbs. So having a small USB powered car vacuum cleaner would be a good idea.
- Kids tend to get messy during road trips, so having washable seat covers would protect the seats. Also lining the coffee cup slot, water bottle slot and other storage areas with paper/ towels will help cleaning up at stops easily. Also, read some tips to help manage a messy car.
- Make sure you carry a car charger for your devices (phone, tab etc). These devices typically draw more power when you are on the road looking for network or for GPS navigation.
Checklist for kids
We all know about the short attention span of kids and so having some special activities and essentials planned for them will definitely help in making the trip more fun
- Keep an extra set of clothes handy especially if the drive is long. Often kids drop water, juice etc and having a fresh set will help keep them comfortable. Carry sufficient diapers and their changing mat if they are of the diapering age.
- Having some picture books, sticker and activity books, books with riddles and puzzles are a good way to keep the kids occupied as well as they can involve some good family fun as well.
- You could carry travel game sets too to have added variety.
- There are many car games too that can be played like – I spy, ten questions, guess the movie name etc that could involve everyone in the car.
- Keep a playlist ready with their favorite music so that you could all sing along and have fun.
- If they have a favorite toy or some special things that they carry with them always, make sure you carry that as well.
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