With an end to the pandemic nowhere in sight, families are turning to road trips to give themselves a break from the stress of their daily lives. Vacations involving airports and hotels are not feasible, or even considered safe at the moment. So, families are deciding to pack up their car and drive to a vacation spot that is within reach.
If going on a road trip sounds like just what your stressed out, quarantined family needs, you are in luck. Below, we discuss, in detail, everything you need to do to prepare for a road trip. All you’ll have to do is pick where you want to go (if it’s not to visit family)!
Get Your Car Checked
The first thing you’ll have to do before your road trip, and perhaps the most important, is to take your car in to get checked. Whichever car you choose to take on the trip needs to be strong and reliable. Take your car in to a shop that you trust. Make sure they change your oil and top off your fluids, rotate your tires and check your brakes. Let the mechanic checking your car know that you are going on a road trip and ask him to do a diagnostic check to make sure everything else is running smoothly. If you’re sure your car is well serviced, consider calling a mobile inspection service, who can verify there isn’t anything wrong in a place you wouldn’t normally thing to check.
On your end, make sure to check the dates that your registration and inspection expire. If they are close, consider renewing your car registration papers and getting your car inspected while you are at the shop. Additionally, you will need to make sure your car insurance is updated and active. It may also be helpful to join a roadside assistance service like AAA before you leave in case something goes wrong on the road.
Clean Before and During Your Trip
Since you will be spending a lot of time in your car, it is necessary to clean it well before embarking on your adventure. Before leaving, complete a thorough clean on your whole vehicle, inside and out. Use proper cleaning fluids to wipe down the dashboard and console, removing any little crumbs as best as you can. A different cleaner can be used to wipe down the seats of your car. The right cleaner will both clean and condition the fabric. Driving in a clean car will improve your mental health and have you feeling less overwhelmed or claustrophobic.
Consider hiring a detailer. This sounds a bit much, but they’re not busy in the winter and might be surprisingly affordable. Think of it as a practical Christmas gift to yourself given the amount of time you’ll be inside your car.
Once you get driving, it is vital to try to maintain the cleanliness of your car as much as possible. A lot of people in a confined space tend to make a mess quickly. So, do a clean out of the trash every time you stop at a rest stop or get gas. Try to remind your kids to keep their personal space tidy. Seat back organizers are great for helping kids to keep their space organized. No matter how you figure it out, try your best to stay on top of the mess in your car. It will help keep you, and your family, sane.
Prepare A Loose Itinerary
Before leaving, take some time to come up with a loose itinerary for your trip. All of your stops do not have to be rest stops and fast-food restaurants. Take the time to do some research and find a few interesting places to stop along the way to your final destination. Beautiful scenic lookouts, delicious diners, and interesting museums my lie along your general route. Plan them into your trip to expand your experiences and give your family a more well-rounded trip.
It’s proven fact that incorporating these kinds of activities to break up the monotony of a drive can allow you to arrive fresher at your destination. As an added bonus, you can arrive at a good time instead of 10 o’clock at night when your in-laws thought you were going to make it for dinner. Just add a day to the itinerary and make each leg of the journey less hectic.
While planning can help your trip run smoothly and be more interesting, there is also a fine line between not enough planning and too much. No plan or itinerary will make your trip seem boring, but over planning and trying too hard to stick to a schedule makes your trip seem hectic and stressful. This is the opposite of what a vacation is supposed to do. So, do yourself a favor and only plan a few extra stops along the way. Keep in mind, if there are more places you’d like to stop, you can always add a few stops on your way home.
The Easiest and Most Common Mistakes
The key mistake most people make when they don’t road trip often, is planning around gas stations or not planning enough around gas stations. Figure out how far your car goes between fill-ups and locate places with gas stations near the road. Don’t plan on running your tank nearly dry because sometimes stations are closed for remodeling. No sense pushing your luck.
A road trip may be just the thing you and your family need to escape life for a few days. Often, when you live a ways from family you spend all your vacation time traveling to see them. Consider taking the scenic route to at least give yourself some time off in this high stress year.
While a road trip is less involved than flying or using other types of transportation, a little bit of planning can go a long way to make your trip a success. At the bare minimum, follow the steps above, and you will eliminate a lot of stress and anxiety from your trip to that you can enjoy yourself as much as possible.