When it comes to family memories, there is nothing quite like being packed into the family car like sardines, for hours, on the way to some amazing vacation spot. The well prepared family will get there in one piece, so plan ahead and make sure that your car is stocked and ready to go. Let the summer road trips begin!
Prep Your Car
If your car is older, schedule a maintenance check two months before your next road trip. That way, any problems requiring repairs can be detected well before you hit the road for a long haul. Drivers of newer cars should check off the following five points from your car-care to-do list:
- Check your coolant.
- Change your oil.
- Check your tires.
- Make sure your spare tire is ready to go in case of emergency.
- Check the air filter.
Plan a staycation to remember.
Stock Your Car Pantry
Keep it healthy on the road by packing your own protein-rich snacks. Bag them in small Ziploc bags that you can dole out at intervals. Avoid sugary snacks that can lead to sugar highs (not fun to deal with when trapped in a car for many hours at a time). Some snacks that work well for long car trips include unsalted pretzel sticks dipped in a single-serving of peanut butter, cheese sticks, and trail mix made up of a few raisins and a sugarless cereal. And don’t forget a bottle or two of water, which can be refilled along the way.
Ward Off Emergencies With A First Aid Kit
Preparation wards off emergencies, at least it feels that way. Keep a good first aid handbook on hand, as well as a list of medical emergency numbers. Here are the top-ten first aid items you should always keep in a secure case in the trunk of your car:
- Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes and butterfly bandages
- Sterile gauze pads, roller bandages, adhesive tape and a roll of absorbent cotton — for sprains and serious cuts
- Cotton swabs
- Antibiotic ointment
- Anti-itch lotion or cream for insect bites
- Chemical ice packs
- Fever reducer, such as acetaminophen, aspirin or ibuprofen
- Decongestant and cough medicine
- Stomach remedies (to treat indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation or upset stomach)
Let Off Steam At Rest Stops
Stretch your legs and expend some energy at rest stops: pull out a Frisbee or a jump rope if there’s room to play.
Discover fun car games for the road.
Pass The Time With Learning
Don’t count on video devices to keep your kids distracted. I’ve found that road-tripping tots can manage 15 minutes of cartoon watching at most. Books are better: bring along a selection of children’s books — some favorites and some new titles. Gather some road trip games (travel bingo, map puzzles). Host an in-car spelling bee or trivia competition. Keep a family travel journal: pass around a notebook from person to person, asking each to detail a highlight of the day’s fun.
Check out the Summer Guide at CBS Local.
Amy Bizzarri is a Chicago based-writer and mom of two kids. You’ll also find her at tiramisumom.com.