We are avid travelers. In the last year, we have spent more than 3 months on the road. I have learned a lot over the years and various travels that I thought you might find interesting.
When considering road tripping there are a few ESSENTIALS that are necessary to make it happen and then some WANTS that make it much more pleasurable. Note: bear in mind that my road tripping over the last 6 years has always involved two little ones and that definitely plays a part in this.
First, of course, you must have a RELIABLE and COMFORTABLE car for whatever your situation is. We travel in a toaster oven! I have had this phenomenal car for 4 years now and LOVE it. When the thought of having to get another car comes up, I get extremely sad!
Not only do you have to factor the cost of fuel into your trip budget, but car maintenance. Obviously, if you are putting thousands of miles on your car every year with roadtrips, you have additional maintenance or at least it significantly speeds on your maintenance rotation. Instead of changing your oil every 3-5 months on day to day driving, you are having to change your oil every month for those months you are traveling. So don”t forget this step it’s CRITICAL!
Second, a map is certainly a necessity for any roadtrip. Even if you are only going an hour away for a weekend getaway, you need direction. We”ve all heard the stereotypes on men and women drivers and asking for drivers. Well, I recommend avoiding all that and planning in advance. While for the most part I”m a laid back traveller in that I don”t plan my overnight stops or even the date of arrival, I just take it as it comes. I do plan my route and over plan my route and have alternate routes just in case. Back in the day, this was done with AAA TripTik and I still use those today.
BUT, as I mentioned earlier, there are some “luxury” items that I highly recommend, one of those is a GPS. I finally broke down and purchased a year ago for our trip to Colorado. It is FABULOUS! Not only am I guided step by step or rather turn by turn on my route and given advance warning of traffic (and re-routed when possible,) it also makes finding food, lodging and fun stuff soo, soo easy. Definitely worth the $200 investment.
Third, if you are like me, you would much rather spend your $$$ on experiences than fast food on the trip and especially when you are traveling with kids. They are ALWAYS hungry, which means you should keep snacks and if you can meal type food in the car and handy. I keep a crate of food in the front seat next to me so I can grab and keep going literally.
While everyone’s staples may be different, for me and my two munchkins here are our must haves: bread and peanut butter for sandwiches, chips (that I limit to meals only,) granola bars for snack time (and I keep three types of granola bars handy, one including chocolate chips for when one of us gets a sweet tooth,) and cereal for breakfast and/or snack time. Before every long trip, each child also gets to choose one package of cookies, one package of juice boxes and one other snacky item that is NOT candy.
You will notice that none of our food must be kept cold. While we do keep a small cooler in the car for some occasional specialty items and drinks, I personally HATE having to deal with cooler maintenance so if I have time at a stop I will feel it with ice and put some of our drinks in it, but mostly it is stocked on the first day and then I ignore it until I think about getting it ready again. (As a side note, my grandmother blessed me with a container of homemade pimento cheese for some of our trips, so I have been very vigilant on maintaining my cooler in order to take advantage of the yumminess!)
So these are my TOP THREE must haves for a successful road trip. I will speak more of some more luxury items and recommended items as we continue our travels.