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Is Your Family Road-Trip Ready?

By Family Life Publications Staff

With spring break coming up (and summer break hot on its heels), many families will be hitting the road to travel to fun vacation destinations. To help make sure your brood is road-trip ready, the Family Life fam would like to share some valuable packing, prepping, and travel tips we’ve learned along our way.

Protect Your Finances
Mandy Marger, Graphic Artist

•    To prevent overspending, save money and make a budget for your trip in the months prior to your departure.
•    Arrange for regular bills to be paid in advance of your vacation to avoid late-payment fees.
•    Contact your bank and credit card issuers to notify them of your travel plans to avoid potential alerts and account suspensions associated with cards being used far from home.
•    Using a major credit card – but NOT a debit card (even with a credit logo) – will protect you with zero-liability policies that prevent unauthorized charges if your card is lost or stolen.  
•Bring two cards: one you carry daily, and one you leave securely behind in case your primary card is compromised.
•    Use the hotel safe to store extra cash, credit cards, and important travel documents.
•    Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially if there is an increased risk of the trip being disrupted by weather, health issues, or other uncontrollable circumstances.
•    If using an ATM, be sure it is in a safe location and is associated with a reputable financial institution.

Protect Your Vehicle
(and its Precious Cargo!)
Jack Tuszynski, Publisher/Photographer

While it’s a great idea to have a tune-up and get your tires checked, balanced, and rotated before you get on the road, mechanics are often fully booked during popular travel times like spring break and holidays. Here are a few things you can check yourself as well as maintenance items/tools you should have in your vehicle in case you need them:

• Check all fluids – Make sure you have the proper amount of oil, brake, power steering, transmission, and washer fluid.
• Check tire pressure – The proper weight should be labeled on the side of the tire. Be careful not to overinflate. Check your spare tire, too, and make sure you pack the necessary tools to change it.
• Purchase spare bulbs and fuses – Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual or go online for a listing of these basic small parts to have on hand.
• Pack a small first-aid kit – Be sure it contains assorted bandages, gauze, and antiseptic.
• Bring a blanket/towels – These can be used for extra warmth if travelling in colder months or for spills/roadside cleanup.
• Additional considerations – It’s a great idea to also have LED safety flares, a tire plug kit/fix-a-flat, an extra quart of oil, a bottle of mixed antifreeze, and duct tape (because it’s an awesome multitasking tool).

When Packing the Car…
Janet Ponichtera, Director of Sales and Marketing

Don’t forget to bring these often-overlooked items, which will save you time and money if you should need them while on the road:

•    Maps/Atlas – Not everywhere you travel will have cell phone service. Be prepared in case you must find the route to your destination the “old school” way.
•    Cash/Spare Change – While most of us use debit/credit cards or phone apps to pay for things, there are some instances where only cash will be accepted (older parking meters, tollbooths, rural mom-and-pop establishments, etc.).
•    Toilet Paper – If junior can’t make it to the next public restroom, or if that restroom is out of this necessity, you’ll be glad you have this.
•    Bug Spray – This is particularly important in spring and summer when annoying mosquitoes are out for blood.
•    Sunscreen/Lip Balm – Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. No one wants to be sunburned or risk getting skin cancer.
•    Painkiller/Anti-Inflammatory/Allergy Medication – Being in the car with motion sickness, a headache, or other painful injury/swelling can make a long drive seem even longer.  
•    Baby Wipes/Hand Sanitizer – In case someone makes a mess, or you need to freshen up on the go, these items are nice to have on hand.

“Are We There Yet?!” Beat Backseat Boredom
Laurie Litke, Graphic Artist

Have children pack their own bag of toys, games, books, or craft supplies. But also bring a special surprise activity, perhaps a toy they haven’t seen in a while. Here are a few other suggestions:

• Toys/Games – Etch A Sketch, magnets with a cookie sheet, Mad Libs, and travel board games are great options to get your children to work on dexterity skills or interact as a family.
• Craft Supplies – Pipe cleaners to make jewelry, stick figures, etc.; coloring books and colored pencils; scratch art notepad; and dry-erase board and markers are creative ways to pass the time.
• Books – There’s no better way to pass the travel time than by getting lost in the world of a great book. Audio books are another great option for children and adults.
• Electronics – Load a laptop or smartphone with some of your child’s favorite music or download movies ahead of time from your favorite online digital movie source. Make sure the devices are fully charged the night before. Educational video games can keep children entertained for hours.
For Older Children – Play these interactive car games that don’t require any game pieces or other materials:

• Alphabet Game  
Go through the alphabet starting with the letter “A,” and find the letters on signs.

• “I Spy”
One person selects an item and says, “I spy something (insert color of the item),” while everyone else tries to guess the object.

• License Plate Game
Family members try to spot license tags from all 50 states. Be sure to keep track of the states that have been found in your smartphone or on a piece of paper that you brought in your craft supplies.

“I’m Hungry!”
Julie Senger, Editor

If your family is like most, you won’t be on the road long before you hear someone whine this phrase. To avoid making unnecessary stops, or in case you end up on a desolate stretch of road where there are no food options, be sure to bring lots of healthy snacks and beverages. Here are a few suggestions that are less likely to ruin your bikini/swim-trunk bod:

• Fruits and raw veggies
• Low-fat cheese
• Low-fat baked crackers
• Bottled water
• Low-sodium deli meat
• Hard-boiled eggs
• Greek yogurt
• Prepackaged meal replacement bars/smoothies (Be sure to read the ingredients, some are loaded with unhealthy amounts of sugar, fat, and artificial chemicals.)