The Road without Rage: Preparing for a Family Road Trip

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By Susan Heckler

It’s summertime and you are reminiscing back to the days when you were a child and your family piled into the station wagon and headed out for a road trip. Here is where your age tells all.

Did you play games like Pink Sink? Did you bring along a book of Mad Libs or a comic book? A string for Cat’s Cradle? Did you each have your own Game Boy? Did you sing along to the AM radio, 8 tracks tapes, have a Walkman, MP3 player or did your parents bring a stack of DVD’s to play on your car video system or laptop? Did you share the back bench seat with your sibling who tortured you with pinches and shoves or did you have your own captain’s chair?

Times have changed. With airfare prices going up and up and the economy pinching our belts down and down, more families are hitting the road for vacations. The digital age has allowed us to be more spontaneous. You don’t need to have a set itinerary with reservations booked in advance from home. You can set off in a general direction and use your smart phone or GPS to tell you what accommodations are available and even book through them. Hotels and motels have been popping up all over, leaving a wider variety.
Spontaneity aside, a little prep work is prudent. Make sure your car is in tip top shape for the season before you assault the asphalt. Getting stranded or side lined for car repair probably isn’t in your itinerary. Make sure your bills are paid and your mail and newspaper is stopped. If Fido doesn’t travel well, leave him with someone you trust so you have one less concern. Prep your house for some alone time and you are good to go.

Make sure to pack the following:
• Maps, TripTik or GPS
• Wallets for all with cash or credit cards
• A driver’s license or two forms of ID that won’t expire during the trip
• Passports if you are leaving the country
• Clothing: Not sure where you are heading? Layers will usually do well. Choose shoes for a variety of reasons (hiking, walking, dancing, etc.).
If you will be somewhere with laundry facilities, pack light.
• Toiletries: If you have a brand preference, bring you own or make a pit stop along the way to pick up what you need
• Don’t forget prescription medication with a few days to spare in case of emergencies
• Water and snacks
• Camera
• Batteries, chargers for phones and electronics, and a flash drive if you take a lot of pictures
• Passenger pleasers, a.k.a. entertainment for the kids
• Ear plugs, duct tape and assorted parental preferences based on your child’s anticipated behavior

Buckle up and hang on for an adventure!