Road Trip Rules 101

Road Trip Tips From Someone Who Loves to Travel by Car.

I have fond memories of summer when I was younger and we would go away for the weekend, or a week up along the North Shore of Lake Superior.  This always meant a road trip which I am positive now being a parent myself, made this type of 'vacation' a mixed blessing for my parents with three rambunctious children.  For me, it was like an exciting adventure - getting in the car and going someplace new!  Back then, I could just sit back, listen to the 8-track tape of Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash or maybe Meryl Haggard (the latter being my father's choice).  We would all pile into that 1978 Mercury Grand Marquis, with it's textured cloth seats and opera lights on the outside - truly luxurious travel in those days. Going over a bump on the  road in that car was like gliding over a cloud. 

It ultimately never really mattered where we were going because even as a small child, travel to me was thrilling!  I sometimes would pretend that my father was the chauffeur and I was his boss. I loved the ability to view the out-of-the way scenery, the antique shops and the diners or cafes - all so rich with history and interesting people to meet.

As an adult, I now get to take road trips with my own family and I like to sneak in an opportunity or two to tell my daughter what life was like when I was her age.

Planning for a road trip is just as important as flying in a jet plane - it starts with good planning and preparation. So to help get your summer car road trips start off on the right tire, I'm sharing a simple list of things that I do both before I leave and things I do along the way.

Before you leave:

Check your cell phone coverage (roaming fees are not fun).
Get maps, guides and travel brochures ahead. Surf the web for ideas and itineraries!
Memberships in automobile clubs and warehouse stores often have lodging and tourist discount privileges.
Be sure to have proper car seats for children. Make sure they're fasten properly.
If renting a vacation vechicle - ask for child car seats when making reservations.
Have your car well inspected and serviced to all manufacturers' recommendations.
Check your lights, signals, wiper blades (including the rear), horn, and radio.
Check fluid levels, belts, caps and hoses, and filters.
Check and adjust tire pressure (right tire pressure equals safer driving and better fuel consumption).
Make sure your spare tire is useable.
Have an emergency road kit packed with these and other items you may need:

1. Waterproof matches and candle. 2. Flashlight. 3. Road Flares 4. Whistle. 5. Blanket. 6. First Aid Kit. 7. Towel. 8. Collapsible Shovel. 9. Jumper Cables 10. Rope. 11. Cutting device (box cutter, pocket knife). 12. Duct tape. 13. Tool kit. 14. Gloves, hat and boots. 15. Chains or traction device. 16. Gallon of water. 17. Spare hoses or parts.

Comforts for the Car:

Bring a wide music selection to fit passengers tastes, singing is required on roadtrips
Have a cooler filled with beverages
Have plently of snack foods
Have surprise goodie packs with activity toys when the "are we there yet?" starts.
Remember motion sickness remedies.
Blankets and pillows for sleepy passengers.
Wear comfortable, light-colored, loose-fit clothing and shoes.
Take a comfort pack for each passenager - made-up of a damp washcloth, lemon twist, a couple of ice cubes tossed in a zip close bag. Great way to refresh after hours of driving.
Take along books on tape.
If you have a DVD player - find road trip or destination related movies.


Take the Scenic drives and turn outs. Get off the freeways and travel the back roads.
Arrange seating orders for children - switch along the way so everyone gets to see out a window.
Be sure to stop every couple of hours to stretch, re-fresh and take a break. Sitting for long periods can cause leg cramps or a condition known as DVT. Wearing specially designed socks for men and women help eliminate this condition.

If you haven't prearranged lodging be sure to start looking for your evening room around 3:00 p.m. Hotels and motels fill up later in the day, especially around heavy tourist areas. Use your cell phone to call ahead and reserve a room while still on en-route.

Hotel chains often have family discounts when lodging is pre-arranged. Ask for specials or upgrades.

Request hotel travel directories which list other facilities and plently of helpful information and maps.

Have fun and enjoy the summer - get out and "drive-the-land!" there's lots to see and it's always an adventure. Go out and make your own Road Trip Memories. I might just see you on the road!

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