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How to Plan a Stress-Free Family Road Trip

MNStudio / Shutterstock
MNStudio / Shutterstock
Written by Chris Osburn

This blog post was updated on July 30, 2021.

While many families will be flying to a summer vacation, there’s no doubt that a road trip with the family can be a great experience too. With a bit of foresight and the right attitude, your time in the car can result in just as many happy memories as when you reach wherever it is you’re heading.

Here’s a brief guide with four basic considerations to keep in mind for your family road trip.

wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

Time for Tune Up?

Something you should do anytime you’re planning to hit the highway for long hours of driving is make sure your car is in good working order. Is it time for an oil change? How’s the air pressure in your tires? No weird clinking sounds? Is the AC working fine?

Unless you really know what you’re doing under the hood, consider visiting a trusted mechanic before your trip.

Before you and your brood pile in, remember to clean your car thoroughly and tidy up your trunk and glove box as well. Hiring a rental car for your trip might be a great way to enjoy the cost savings of driving, traveling at your own pace and enjoying the thrill of the open road without adding the extra wear and tear to your own vehicle.

RELATED: Will you and your family be visiting a big city this summer? Remember to stop by some of these fantastic parks in major cities where the kids can run around and you can take a breather!

wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

Pack for the Journey

As well as packing the things you’ll want to have once you reach your destination, be sure to pack for your drive as well. Moist wipes, pillows, plenty of reading material, chargers for gadgets and mobile devices, headphones … there are so many little things you can bring that will help keep everybody relaxed and comfortable while in the car. Think about the potential spills and avoidable tensions that could arise and pack preemptively. You’ll want to have such items within easy reach, so don’t stow these things away but place them safe and secure somewhere in the seating area of your car.

featherApps / Shutterstock

featherApps / Shutterstock

Road Food Rules

To cut down on time and expenses – and to eat and drink more healthily than otherwise – pack some food and drink. It might even make sense to bring a cooler and even basic cooking equipment and utensils, depending on the length of your journey and how keen everyone is to “rough it”.

Ample amounts of water, sugar-free snacks, and fresh fruits and veggies are your best bet.

Should you need to stock up while en route, it would make sense to venture into a town somewhere to shop at a supermarket or green grocer for cheaper prices and better selection than the fast food and limited choices you’re probably going to find along major highways.

RELATED: Don’t rule out New Orleans as a family road trip destination! There’s plenty to do for little ones in the Big Easy – just check out this article on some of the fun things kids can get up to.

Soloviova Liudmyla / Shutterstock

Soloviova Liudmyla / Shutterstock

Plot Your Points

Have you made note of the rest areas, nearby state and national parks, and other pleasant places where you can safely stop along your route? Plot as many of your bathroom breaks, meals, and sightseeing detours in advance as possible to reduce stress and monotony. Don’t go too long without stretching and never drive when you’re feeling tired! Reaching your destination in record time is an appealing goal but not at the expense of safety and the happiness of everybody who’s along for the ride.

What’s your secret to a successful family road trip? Please share your tips in the comments section below.

About the author

Chris Osburn

Chris Osburn is a freelance writer, photographer, consultant, and curator and the driving force behind the long running and award winning blog, Originally from the American Deep South, Chris has lived and worked all over the world and has called London home since 2001.

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