1. Get pre-trip car maintenance
Before setting off on the long drive, give your personal vehicle a checkup to avoid any preventable problems. Take your car to a trusted mechanic for a tune-up or follow our car maintenance checklist to handle the tasks yourself.
2. Map your route
The last thing you want to do is waste time or fuel getting lost. Check out our cross-country road trip routes for ideas or use your favorite map website or app (Like Google Maps or RoadTrippers.com) to plan the best trip. Look for sightseeing opportunities your family will enjoy along the way and don’t forget to include any admission fees when planning a travel budget.
Here are some family-friendly attraction suggestions to get you started:
- State parks (many are pet-friendly!)
- Zoos and aquariums
- Amusement parks
Pro tip: It’s helpful to have cash in small bills handy for any toll roads along your route.
3. Schedule overnight stops
Once you have your sightseeing stops planned, check out places to stay along the route. U-Pack® moving experts recommend limiting driving to no more than 500 miles per day, so look for stops within that range (or lower).
It’s helpful to make reservations ahead of time to avoid any last-minute struggles to find somewhere to sleep. Planning ahead is especially helpful if you’re traveling with pets to make sure the rental can accommodate your furry friend.
If you’re traveling with moving equipment like a rental truck, make sure there’s enough room to park and secure it for the night. Moving with U-Pack means that we handle driving your things to the new place. Then you and your family can travel without having to worry about the security of your entire household of belongings.
4. Review state laws
It’s also important to follow car seat and booster laws if you’re traveling with kids. Make sure each child has a properly installed seat. Your local police or fire station can help with installation questions.
Suggested reading: Are car seats allowed in rental trucks?
5. Plan fun activities for the long car ride
Let’s face it, it’s easy to get bored during a long drive if you don’t have something to do besides stare out the window. Keeping kids and other passengers entertained is a must!
Try some of the following suggestions for the ride:
- Listen to audio books or podcasts
- Sing along to a road trip playlist
- Equip the kids with tablets and headphones (download content before the trip)
- Lose yourself in a good read (for passengers only)
- Break out the crayons and coloring books (use a travel lap desk or a clipboard)
- Play some engaging road trip games
6. Pack some trip-worthy snacks
The only thing worse than a bored passenger is a hungry one. Keep some car-friendly snacks on-hand to keep everyone from getting hungry before the next meal stop. A cooler stocked with bottled water, juice, and sandwiches is great for the road. Kid-friendly snacks like dry cereal, trail mix, raisins, granola bars and cheese crackers are easy to eat on the go and won’t make too big of a mess in the car.
7. Check the weather
Keep a close eye on weather conditions to avoid danger ahead. With each fuel and rest stop, check a reliable weather site or app like The Weather Channel to view your upcoming travel areas. If bad weather is in the forecast, you might need to wait it out by extending one of your stops.
Make sure you’re familiar with how to drive on snow and ice if the timing of your trip might take you through winter conditions.
8. Be prepared for the unexpected
Even the most carefully planned road trip can have challenges. Before you head out, have a plan in place to deal with any issues that might arise.
Contact information for a road-side assistance program is essential for long drives. Many car insurance policies offer these services, so check with your provider. If you don’t have coverage, consider a company like AAA in case of a vehicle problem during your trip.
Lost debit or credit cards
Keep a copy of the last 4 digits of your card along with customer service phone numbers in a safe place in case you need to report a loss. It’s also a good idea to have some cash on hand in case of emergencies.
Road tripping your next move?
We’d love to hear about it! Let us know your favorite road trip plans in the comments!
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