If your family is like most, “road trip” are the most exciting and beloved words in the English language. The freedom. The fun. The adventure. The great outdoors. The togetherness. What’s not to love?
Before you take off on your marvelous vacation, however, spend a while planning ahead to ensure that your trip lives up to everyone’s expectations. This includes taking care of your car, gathering up your supplies, and attempting to foresee what might keep your kids occupied while on a long drive.
Hot weather driving puts extra stain on your car, so make sure you get it in tiptop shape beforehand. Since comfort is one of the top priorities for you and your passengers, start by testing the air conditioning. Put it on its lowest setting and turn it on full blast. If the air flow seems weak or the car takes more than a few minutes to cool down, you may need to change your passenger compartment air filter. Check your owner’s manual to see if you can easily do this yourself or if you need to take your car in for service.
Check all your tires for signs of excessive wear, and make sure each one has the proper air pressure. Next check all your car’s fluid levels, including gas, oil, antifreeze, and transmission, steering and windshield washing fluids. While you’re at it, examine your windshield wipers to make sure their blades are still smooth and make full contact with your windshield. Test all your lights, including your blinker signals, to assure yourself that all of them work properly.
Taking along the proper supplies can make the difference between a great trip and one fraught with irritations and stress. No family should travel without a good first aid kit on board to take care of the little emergencies that are sure to crop up. Your kit need not be huge, but it should contain Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, sunscreen, anti-itch lotions or sprays, bug repellant, OTC pain relievers, and anything else you think you might need. You’ll also need a small bag or box containing all prescription medications anyone takes. Be sure you keep this in your locked glove box or console safely out of your kids’ reach.
Lay in a supply of bottled water and your kids’ favorite snacks. Try to get snacks that won’t melt if they’re left in a hot car while you’re out sightseeing and exploring. And speaking of hot cars, take along a fold-up windshield screen to keep your car as cool as possible while parked.
Even if your car has a GPS system, taking along a good road atlas is always a great idea. So is a can of “fix-a-tire” spray that will get you to the next rest stop or gas station in the event of a flat. Jumper cables can likewise come in handy. And don’t forget the cellphone charger(s).
The last thing you need on a major road trip is constant laments of “Are we there yet?” from your kids in the back seat. Coloring books make a great activity for your younger kids, assuming they use colored pencils, felt-tipped pens or markers to color with rather than crayons that easily melt. Or buy or make your own Travel Bingo cards that your kids can mark off as they spy the requisite cars, license plates, signs, animals, or other travel-related items. Your older kids likely will prefer video games or the other electronic pastimes. Remember, quiet kids make for safe and pleasant driving
If the worst happens and you or your child is injured while on vacation through someone else’s negligence, please call Richard A. Dubi toll-free at 833-FOR-DUBI (833-367-3824).