Be Ready for that Next Road Trip

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This post has been sponsored by Allstate.

Rincon, one of my favorite parts of the 101

Our family hasn’t flown on a plane in about six years. But, we get in the car almost every day. And with the grandparents living two and three hours away, road trips are a frequent occurrence.

“Have car big enough to fit us all, will travel,” is our motto. Last year for our first two real live vacations in years, we put a lot of miles on the good old Scourge by driving to Monterey in Fall and to Mammoth Lakes in Winter.

Traveling with six children is no small feat, let me tell you. There’s a huge amount of packing and rearranging — and rearranging again. It’s a task that I tackle instead of hubs, mainly because I want to make sure everything gets to come.

On our last trip to Santa Barbara, I was surprised to see that everything fit in the back without too much hassle.

Turns out, I forgot the toothbrushes!

No, seriously, it was because FishChick2 no longer needs the Pack-n-Play or the travel booster seat or even a stroller on some trips. It’s amazing to me how the seasons change — and how much space you gain as your babies grow up!

Good Planning = Good Trip

Over the years I’m learning to be better prepared on our trips away from home. Good planning helps a good vacation happen. Good vacations encourage us to do it again. It’s a win-win all the way around.

I take mental notes on each trip and try to scheme how to do it better the next time.

Here’s how you can be ready for your next road trip:

Get a GPS AND print directions.

We bought a GPS awhile back. We chose a squirrel voice and named it Squirrely. While it has been really helpful, it is not infallible. In fact, the satellite connection has dropped at very crucial moments in the trip, leaving me with no clue where to go. So, I’ve learned to print directions off Google maps as well as let Squirrely be our guide.

Pack a car sick kit.

After a few too many times of delaying or canceling an excursion due to carsickness, I’ve learned to keep an emergency kit in the back of the car. Readers had some great suggestions (that you should read), so I’m adding ziploc bags to my kit. Being prepared for upset tummies doesn’t take much, but it’s totally worth it!

Bring a family playlist.

The other day our regular CD was missing so I popped in an old one that was in the car. Turns out it was a walk down memory lane! This CD was one that I had burned eight years ago when FishBoy14 was really into Davy Crockett and Roy Rogers. The CD reflected those interests of his. It was so fun to listen to — and made our car ride so much more enjoyable.

Pack snacks (and a picnic kit).

Since we bought our new-to-us vehicle early last year, we made it a family rule not to eat or drink anything messy in the car. We’ve only broken it once — on our way back from Mammoth in our efforts to get home before the Storm of the Century hit — FishPapa conceded to eating burgers and fries in the car. Since it poured rain for four days straight after we got home, we had no opportunity to go clean out the vehicle. And did we rue the day we allowed burgers and fries in the car!

Keep a picnic bag ready to go in the back of the car so you can have an impromptu picnic when the mood strikes.

Be prepared for emergencies.

We have been stuck on the side of the road a handful of times. Thankfully, nothing has ever been serious, but the time we blew out our car’s engine in 118 degree heat taught us a very expensive lesson: to always check the fluids before you go and make sure that we have some kind of road side assistance plan — just in case.

If you don’t already have some type of assistance available, then you might want to consider pre-registering for the Good Hands Roadside Assistance program from Allstate.

  • You do not need to have Allstate insurance to use this service.
  • You only pay when you use it, there are no monthly fees.
  • Pre-registering for Good Hands Roadside Assistance provides faster service at time of need on the road. Those that pre-register will also receive a welcome kit in the mail containing a wallet card, key fob and window cling with the phone number for roadside help.
  • You can have a total of 5 drivers on your account.

You can sign in through the widget below or visit the website for more details.

What do YOU do to get ready for a road trip?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Allstate. I have been compensated for my time writing. My opinions are my own.

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  1. We are just back from a month long cross-Canada roadtrip – from Quebec to Vancouver Island & I second the gps!! She kept us on track all the way + I had maps & printed itinerary from caa. My tip would be to bring along your own drinks. Water, juice, pop – it probably saved us hundreds of dollars. We have 4 kids & drinks are so expensive at restaurants & attractions. Plus, it was so easy for them to just reach in the cooler – especially on those long days of driving. Kept everyone happy!

  2. Thanks for this post! I’m leaving tomorrow with some friends and my 14-month-old for a destination 2.5 hours away. I’ll keep these things in mind as we pack today!

  3. We always back snacks and drinks. Also it’s a good idea to keep a few paper plates around for meals. Oh and I second the cd’s makes the trip that much more enjoyable. On our last 18 hour road trip we my hubby streamed podcasts from his iphone….helped keep up the conversation!

  4. Fantastic tips! I like to make sure I have a current road map, too. Just in case. It once saved me from sitting on the beltway during rush hour.

  5. Before we go on a trip, I plan out all the expenses and make it fit into the budget we have allowed. I also write a list as I think of things I need to remember to bring. It really helps because you can’t remember all the details at the last minute!

  6. We tend to do day trips locally, and I find food and drink indispensable. I always try to bring reusable items like cloth napkins, otherwise we try to make sure whatever we use gets recycled.

    Another thing I do is make sure there are wipes, kleenex, and plastic bags in the car just in case anything happens. Cloth bags are great for shopping, but can’t contain messes.

    I signed up for AAA this spring after a flat tire. Fortunately, my bil was able to help me with the flat, but he’s not going to be there every time. AAA will be. 🙂

  7. Second the GPS! My mom and I were driving from Portland, OR to Vancouver, BC and got a flat in Bellingham, WA. Triple A put the spare on. I used the GPS to get us to Les Shwabb and they got us back on the road within an hour.

    When we moved out here and drove from Michigan to Oregon, we found it best to start early (around 7 AM) before the heat of the day hits. We would get to our destination for that day around 3ish and have plenty of time to relax. That way you avoid evening rush hour if you’re going through a big city.

  8. When we were planning our first real trip to Memphis, we checked out local Girl Scout councils en route to find out ideas for age-appropriate activities for our “Daisy” age daughter. I posted additional ideas here.