With summer weather comes exciting adventures, and many families pile into their car and hit the road, ready for some fun in the sun. A road trip is a wonderful way to spend time together as a family, explore new places, and make all sorts of awesome memories. Yes, even the chaotic moments when you're pulling your hair out will be something to chuckle about... eventually.
The best way to ensure that you have a positive, fun experience out on the road is to make sure that you pack all the essentials for your trip. Road trips require a little bit of extra planning, especially if you are traveling with children, because the travel part of it is longer and at times more arduous. Here are 10 things that everyone forgets to pack for a road trip.
10 Spare Money
You set off on your trip with your finances in order, of course, making sure you have your bank cards and credit cards. But did you remember to pack some extra cash as well? Many people don't carry cash on them anymore, as the convenience of using bank cards has become increasingly popular.
However, not all places accept bank cards. If you're planning a road trip through some less-populated areas, there might not be the same access to bank machines, and small roadside stops might only take cash. Carry some extra money with you on your trip, including some extra coins for those unexpected tolls!
9 Items For The Weather
You never know what kind of weather you're going to encounter on your trip, so it's best to be prepared. It's not necessary to pack winter gear if you're traveling through the United States in the middle of summer. Chances are you're not going to hit any major snowstorms! But you might run into some rain or cooler weather, and you'll want to pack accordingly.
Keep an umbrella and some rain gear within easy reach in case you happen to hit some stormy weather. Also keep some extra sweaters in the car, as the weather might dip down. Yes, you can always put the heat on in the car, but if you stop somewhere, you'll want to be dressed warmly.
8 Device Chargers
Those tablets aren't going to bring you much peace and quiet if the batteries die within the first leg of your journey. Keep device chargers handy, and have one that can plug into your car's power outlets. Rotate the various devices to keep all of them charged up throughout the journey.
Some vehicles have USB outlets in the backseats as well, so you could always pack an extra charger for the kiddies to use if they need to charge their tablets or phones. While playing "I Spy" can be fun for a while, sometimes it's nice to just have some quiet time in the car, where they can play happily on their devices and you can get a little shut-eye in the passenger seat.
7 Snacks... And Then More Snacks
You won't want to be relying completely on gas stop snacks for your journey. They're junky and unhealthy, and while it's nice to have a treat every now and again, you won't want to be filling up on them the whole time or you'll reach your destination with a bellyache.
Pack a small cooler of healthier snacks from home, including some fruit, cheese strings, granola bars (homemade if you're really ambitious!), and of course some little treats. You'll save a ton of money by doing this, and your belly will thank you.
Ok, not all parents think this way. But, when we think of a road trip, we immediately think, "Where's my Advil?" Road trips can be stressful and noisy at times, and sometimes you just need some headache relief. The last thing you want is to be on your trip and not enjoying yourself because of a pesky headache. Make sure you have some painkillers within easy reach.
Other medications to keep handy would be anti-nausea medication if you (or those you're traveling with) tend to get car sick, and allergy medicine if you're prone to allergy symptoms throughout the summer months.
5 Pillows & Blankets
You want to make your road trip as comfortable as possible, and pillows are often something that people don't think to pack. When we travel somewhere, we don't usually pack pillows because the hotels we stay at will have them there. But, when you're getting to your destination via a road trip, you want that car to be your portable hotel.
Pack some pillows and blankets so that anyone can have a little nap. Let your kids bring a stuffy or two to keep them company in the back seat, and when they start to get sleepy, they'll likely snuggle down with their stuffy and pillow and have a snooze.
4 Paper Maps
Wait, did we just flash back to the 1980s? It might seem archaic to think of bringing a paper map with you, but believe it or not, there are places in the world where your GPS or phone won't work and you won't get cell service. You don't want to be out in the middle of nowhere with no cell service and no idea where you're going.
Whatever your route is and wherever you're traveling to, make sure you have a paper map of that area with you on your journey. Just in case you hit one of those rare spots in the world where there is no cell service, and you need to figure out whether you turn left or right!
3 Emergency Car Kit
This is something that you should really have in your car at all times, as it's just a good safety measure. In the case of long road trips, it's especially important to have this in your car. Emergency car kits can be easily purchased at your local hardware store or ordered online, or you can simply put together your own kit.
An emergency car kit should have things like jumper cables, bungee cords, flares, gloves, rope, tools, a warning triangle, a reflective vest, and a flashlight. It is also a good idea to have your own emergency first aid kit as well, including bandages, ointment, medical tape, bug bite treatment, and anything else you think you might need.
2 Fluids... For You AND Your Car
Again, you don't want to be relying on the fizzy, sugary drinks and overpriced water bottles that you can get at gas stops. Bring your reusable water bottles with you, and have them filled with water and ice before you leave home. Top them up in the morning from wherever you've spent the night so you've got fresh water each day to drink.
The same goes for your car! In the summer months, it's especially important to pack some extra fluids for your car. Have a backup gallon of water for your car in case it overheats, and pack some extra transmission fluid, windshield washer fluid, brake fluid, and oil.
1 Toilet Paper & Tissues
You just never know when you'll have to go, and the roadside stop might be one of those that are fresh out of toilet paper. Or you might be miles from the nearest town when the need hits you, and you might be braving a "nature pee."
Pack a few rolls of toilet paper and some packages of tissues, just in case. Another good item to bring along is a pack of baby wipes, as these are moist toilettes and are great for sticky fingers after eating, cleaning up spills in the car, and as a replacement for toilet paper, should you run out.