Nothing beats a school vacation like a family road trip. Heading to the beach, visiting relatives, and experiencing new places is even more fun with the whole family, so why not take advantage of the season and enjoy it?
No matter where you decide to go, preparing for the road trip is essential. For many, the idea of packing for a whole family on an extended vacation can seem daunting – but don’t be afraid! Just follow this simple checklist while packing up for your family’s next big adventure, and you’re guaranteed to have one of the most stress-free vacations you’ve had in a lifetime!
Start the night before
Don’t wait until the last minute to pack; start preparing the day before. This is the best way to avoid forgetting anything during the rush out the door.
Before you even consider putting stuff in the car, clean it out from top to bottom. No one wants to sit amidst trash and the inevitable stickiness that comes from a family vehicle during a long trip. Everyone will be much happier with clean seats and a new air freshener on the mirror.
Make sure you pack your bags with all the every-day items that you’ll need on the trip. A packing tip to save space, is to roll your clothing rather than fold it. This allows more space to tuck smaller items, like lingerie and socks.
Start with the basics
Next, start planning. Create a road trip checklist to cover all your bases. You should refer to the list every time you load something up and make visible marks to check items off the list. This filing system can be a lifesaver when you misplace a favourite jacket or toy.
Begin by brainstorming everything you might need, starting from the very obvious and moving to the realm of possibility. You should start very basic like:
- Games and toys
After you get the basics, go back and get more specific. Maybe your daughter has a preferred pillow, or your diet is dictating your meals. Marking everything down will leave you less worried about leaving something behind or running out on the road.
While you create your official list, have the whole family pack what they want. Packing can be one of the most exciting parts of the trip for children, so make sure they have a fun bag to bring all of their favorite things.
After the family is done, cross reference their items with the list. If it’s not written down, leave it – no one wants to accidentally lose any items. And remember not to pack your car to the point of being unsafe to drive. You can always rent or buy a car-top cargo carrier if everything you need won’t fit inside your trunk.
Even with a game plan, it can be hard to decide and remember all the items you need to bring. So first, start with the essentials – what do you need to get where you’re going? Maps, phones, chargers, wallets, and sunglasses are some of the top things road trippers can’t do without. Be sure to have enough of each for every family member who may need something.
The most important items should always be within the reach of the driver. There is plenty of space for storage an arm’s length away between the center console, cup holders, glove box and door panels. Everything else that you may need immediately during the drive should be packed on the top of the trunk and around the passenger seats, all within easy reach.
The second most important thing to prepare is the entertainment. No one likes an upset family on a 9-hour car trip, so it’s best to keep everyone happy. Make sure to bring everyone’s favorite toy, some books, and plenty of charging devices for all of the electronics.
Of course, not all entertainment has to be for one. There are things the whole family can enjoy doing together, such as listening to an audiobook or podcast, having a carpool karaoke, or playing car games. Road trips are a great time to spend time with one another and grow closer as a family.
Comfort and Safety
Finally, the last area to cover is everyone’s comfort and safety. After boredom, the biggest enemy to a road trip is crankiness. And this can easily be defeated with a few easy items, including snacks, travel pillows, and blankets. Personal space is also important, so be sure to take or rent a comfortable car or SUV for the trip.
Accidents are always a possibility, so come prepared. Make sure to bring an emergency kit, spare tires, and anything else you may need in an accident. Spills seem to happen even more than usual on the road, so be sure to pack moistened wipes, paper towels and trash bags in the pocket behind the driver or passenger side seat.
Road trips are a time-honored summer tradition. Make sure to follow all of these steps to make sure you and your family are as prepared as possible for your upcoming adventure.
A guest publication from – Abigail Golder
Abby is a recent college graduate from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism with a strong passion for travel, fashion and wedding planning. She is a Freelance Content Writer who loves to share a great story. Originally from Colorado, Abigail grew up in a small town called Montrose and she still spends much of her free time in the mountains hiking and skiing.