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Saturday, June 22, 2024

How To Prepare For A Road Trip

Road Trip

It’s all about how to prepare for a road trip today. Oh, my gosh, as soon as I typed the word road trip, I had a flashback of the 1970s. Mark and I had a 1965 Volkswagen Beetle without air conditioning or a radio. Those were the days of carefree living, and our hair blowing in the wind with the windows rolled down.

We drove that car all over the place, and when gas was like $.29 a gallon, as I remember. My dad always told me to drive with water in the car, so I knew we had some water in the car to put in the radiator if we needed it. Little did we know at the time that VW Bugs didn’t have a radiator.

We usually took a small cooler with sandwiches we could eat when we got hungry. We didn’t have much in the way of an emergency car kit because no one talked about them back then. Sure, we had a few tools and a jack, but that was about all. We were so young and carefree, and things have changed.

How To Prepare For A Road Trip

Road Trip Suggestions

Make a Budget/Plan Your Trip

It’s critical you have a budget before the trip starts or you may spend way more money than you had planned. Make a list of the things you need to budget for and write them down. Have a family meeting and go over the expenses. For instance here is a list to get you started:

  • Make a list for each vacation day (list expenses allotted for each day, which will keep you within your budget).
  • Gas mileage can vary depending on the hills you may have to climb with your car or if you run into a lot of wind or heavy traffic and are parked at a standstill for hours. We need to be flexible within reason and count on spending a fair amount on fuel. Consider putting GasBuddy on your phone so you can find less expensive gas.
  • Lodging: you may save money if you book your sleeping arrangements beforehand. On the other hand, it’s sometimes stressful if you want to stay longer in a city you were not planning on. Allow enough time to make life simple by making reservations with a bit of give and take if possible. If you like to book lodging when you make it to the city, hopefully, you can find a room or two. It would all depend on how popular that day of the week or time of the year is for traveling in that location. Look for lodging that offers a continental breakfast, which is one less meal you must purchase. We use Airbnb a lot and there are other options too.
  • Food/Snacks: Make a list of the restaurants you want to visit and check the menus online before you leave. Be sure to budget for food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and ice cream or other treats along the way.
  • Excursions/Admission Fees: Add the budget amount for each excursion or admission fee you plan to pay each day. Many amusement parks have increased their prices, so research and see if there are multi-day discounts, if your local store sells discount cards, if your hotel has an affiliated relationship, etc.
  • Rental Car: if you need to rent a car, look at all the scrapes and possible dents or chips on the vehicle BEFORE you drive off with a rental. Check with your insurance agent to see if buying additional insurance when you rent the car makes sense.
  • Totals: keep track of the total for each day and add all the days together to balance with your budget. If you use money envelopes (as I do), keep them in a safe and secure place.
  • Write a journal as you go, it’ll help you track expenses and also make for some fun memories. Thank you, Cheryl!

Car Maintenance

It’s a great idea to get your fluid levels checked in your car before you leave for any road trip. Have the car serviced if it’s time for new engine oil and a filter change. Many service facilities include a tire rotation if needed. At least have the tire pressure checked, and have them check the tire tread to see if they are safe enough to travel. If you get them rotated they’ll check the pressure which can help save gas in the long run.

A quality service facility will also check and replace air filters, check the transmission fluid level and condition, coolant level, car battery cables and fluid level, and wiper fluid level. It may be time to change those wiper blades, particularly the windshield wiper.

If it’s been a while since you’ve visited your favorite mechanic, plan ahead before that next road trip and have them do a thorough inspection of the car’s overall condition. That would include brake lining and/or pads, brake fluid, hoses, belts, and electrical system to check headlights, turn signals, backup and brake lights. Have them perform repairs and replacements as needed. Usually, you’ll pay more if you’re on the road, particularly if you’re on a long trip from home. This MAY prompt you to evaluate your trip budget and cut back on some planned activities. You could spend more time at the beach than at Disneyland, or change destinations to save money.

I was surprised to hear that many new cars are sold without a spare tire. That scares me! If your car has one, be sure it’s properly inflated and you know how to access it and the jack with the necessary tools.

Wash the Car

I LOVE a clean car, literally. I like the smell of a freshly washed car and the safe feeling from sparkling clean windows. Next, remove any trash that may be hiding in the car somewhere. Make sure you stash a few garbage bags in the car to keep the car clean while you travel. I know, the windows may get fingerprints as you travel, but hey, let’s start with a clean vehicle.

Emergency Car Kit

Emergencies or disasters/events can strike at any time, so having certain items in your vehicle can be lifesaving. Place items in a backpack, gym bag, or another container. Be careful about storing items that may be damaged or compromised in extreme heat or cold weather situations.

  • Names and phone numbers of who to contact in an emergency.
  • Pictures of family members (2 sets) one for an emergency board and one picture to keep in your possession.
  • Pictures of pets (2 sets), one for an emergency board, and one picture to keep in your possession.
  • Medical records of your pets are critical if you find a shelter that will accept pets; many will not (unless you have a pet for medical reasons/service animals).
  • Pet 72-hour kit with an extra leash, water/food dishes, and food.
  • Pet crate or cat litter box with extra bags to dispose of waste.
  • Emergency toilet with toilet paper, 10-gallon bags, and kitty litter.
  • Battery/crank-powered portable radio/extra batteries.
  • Flashlight, preferably one with solar, crank, and LED.
  • Compass and maps not everyone has GPS in their car or on their phones.
  • Can of motor oil.
  • Fire Extinguisher (5-pound ABC type).
  • Flares or orange cones.
  • Jumper cables.
  • Rags/paper towels.
  • Shovel.
  • Pocketknife.
  • Tire gauge.
  • Toolbox.
  • Window scraper for ice.
  • 12 Volt compressor

Necessities for car survival:

  • Water (rotate water often as heat will affect the safety of drinking it- thank you, Judy (you could use it to pour on your head to cool you down if overheated).
  • Food
  • Blankets
  • Jackets/sweaters
  • Emergency cash: approximately $200.00 in small bills
  • First Aid Kit
  • Baby Wipes
  • Hand Sanitizer/bars of hand soap
  • Toothbrushes, deodorant (non-meltable type)
  • Scissors/pens/pencils (not crayons-they melt)
  • Emergency snack food and/or MRE meals (items may need to be replaced more frequently if stored in extreme heat conditions).
  • Whistles
  • Umbrella
  • Hand warmers
  • Extra blankets

Emergency Car Kits by Food Storage Moms (Printable)

What You Need in Your Car for Winter

Pack Fewer Clothes

If you can pack lightly, do it. I use these when traveling because it organizes my suitcase and I pack less stuff. Luggage Organizers

You can fill these with the items you travel with most and keep them packed in your luggage ready to go for any road trip. Once you buy them you can pick them up and go on any trip in a car or plane by just adding clothes and sweaters.

If you think back on trips you’ve taken, you probably didn’t wear all the clothes you took. Pack less and wash some clothes if you have to along the way in your hotel or motel room.

Road Maps

I know we have GPS in our cars and on our phones. But, what if it doesn’t work because of a cell outage or whatever?I highly suggest some road maps. It would be awesome to teach your family how to use them. Rand McNally East Coast and Rand McNally West Coast

Make Room In The Car

If you have a Suburban or a minivan you may have some extra room in your vehicle. It’s a little harder to pack “stuff” in a small sedan or even some small SUVs. Mark and I have a Honda CRV, it’s a small car, but there’s just the two of us. Sometimes I wish I had a bigger car or road safety, but this car works for how many road trips we take.

Stop Often/Frequent Stops

Plan a few stops here and there for stretching and some bathroom breaks. It’s great for your legs to stretch to ward off possible blood clots in your legs. Plus getting out of the car is awesome for short periods so you’re not as likely to get drowsy.

Stay Entertained On The Road

Plan a few movies for the car, some car games, and books for the family to use while on the road. If you have audible books, those are awesome. It’s nice to have the family interact, but it’s also nice to have some quiet time while on the road.

Healthy Snacks

Remember we all have to live with one another on long road trips. If all we are eating is licorice and doughnuts, we may get cranky. I love both of these, but sometimes packing healthy snacks will make life a little smoother compared to all sugar-coated snacks.

Kids and Cash

If you have the budget to give your kids a little cash, do it. It doesn’t have to be $100.00. It’s a good experience to help them learn to budget with “their money.” They don’t have to ask Mom or Dad what they can spend it on. It’s all about teaching them to make wise decisions on their own.

Splurge If It Works

Sometimes you can’t always stay exactly on your budget, remember to be careful, but realistic. You may never see this city or river again. Stop and enjoy that Gooseberry ice cream.

Safety First

If you have young children, be sure each one has a safe car seat and that it’s installed properly. All family members should be buckled with their seat belts AT ALL TIMES. Sometimes we’re tempted to lay down for a nap and do so by unbuckling our seat belt.

Final Word

I hope my road trip ideas help you get ready to make memories with your family. When I see trailers, motor homes, and cars packed with luggage I always smile because I know those families are having fun together. They will always remember the memories of traveling together. Thanks for being prepared for the unexpected, even in your car. May God bless this world. Linda

This is where I purchase all my garden seeds: SeedsNow

Copyright Images: Car with Luggage AdobeStock_72028504 By Africa Studio

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