When you head out on a road trip with the family you likely have three primary goals: have fun, travel safely and arrive on schedule. This guide will help you prepare a checklist to accomplish all three objectives.
Seek balance: Plan your travel schedule with age appropriate distances in mind. Kids under 12 won't tolerate much more than about six hours of driving per day. Plan your schedule accordingly.
Identify fun stops: Before you hit the road, identify places to stop along the way for a real break. Be careful not to extend your trip too much without a lot of reward. You may be better off with little kids stopping at a McDonalds with a play place for an hour than driving an hour off your route to see something truly amazing - to the kids, it's just more driving.
Bring videos and audio books: Even if your car doesn't have a video player, a portable player is likely worth the investment to give your kids something to do during the long drive. If they are old enough, and close enough in age, they may enjoy an audio book.
Check the car: Before you hit the road, be sure to check tire pressure and make sure that the car has been serviced recently. If you are renting the car, at least be sure to check the tire pressure. The most likely problem on your trip is a flat tire.
Pack for emergencies: Be sure to carry water and food and in the winter be sure to have blankets. You'll also want to have a first aid kit and jumper cables.
Navigate carefully: Google Maps provides a navigation tool right on your phone to help you navigate unfamiliar trips. With most data plans and smart phones this is essentially free. Be sure to get a proper mount for your phone in the car so you can glance safely at the phone and not have to hold it in your hands while you are driving.
Arrive on schedule
See above: If you are on vacation, you'll find that you are likely to arrive on time if you are having fun along the way and traveling safely. Arriving on schedule is largely a result of doing everything else right.
Plan the route carefully: As you plan your trip, it is a good idea to not only check distances for each day's travel, but also estimated travel times. You may travel a bit faster or slower than the estimate, but if the computer says that one 300 mile stretch is a five hour drive and another is a seven hour drive, you know to expect a longer drive due to winding roads or traffic.
Leave on time: On a road trip, one of the keys to arriving on time is leaving on time. Without the press of an airplane leaving without you, it is tempting to let the departure time be flexible. Keep in mind that you can't get there until sometime after you leave. Prepare in advance to be ready to leave on time.
By following these simple tips to prepare your next road trip checklist, you'll ensure that your next road trip is fun, safe and right on schedule. Enjoy!