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8 Steps to a Better Road Trip

8 Steps to a Better Road Trip

Whether you're driving across town or across the nation, a road trip is always in style. This year, take time to plan and prepare a stress-free road trip with these simple steps.

Schedule an Inspection

Before leaving on a big trip, schedule a quick visit to have your car inspected. Have the oil changed and other routine maintenance performed at the same time — it's an easy way to make sure your vehicle is operating at its best. Plus, a well-maintained car gets better gas mileage.


Be prepared for any type of weather, especially during seasonal road trips. If you aren’t sure how to weatherize your car, ask your mechanic.

Communicate and Coordinate

Map out your route before leaving, and be sure to leave a copy of the itinerary with family or friends. Bring along a copy of your car insurance, emergency phone numbers and other important contact information. Consider buying a prepaid credit or gift card for emergency funds, and carry a cell phone and charger to call for help. Store all your information in the glove compartment or another easy-to-locate place.

Entertainment and Relaxation

Bring your favorite music, movies or games for the kids. Other popular favorites include travel-size board games, cards and books or magazines. Not only does it break the monotony of a long trip, it can help reduce bickering.

Clean & Fresh

Pack a supply of wet wipes, disposable trash bags and extra clothing for young children to help keep the car and kids clean and fresh throughout the trip.

Medications and Other Needs

It's a good idea to bring an extra supply of urgent medications before taking a long trip. Especially if you will be flying and driving or crossing a border, be sure to bring proof of the prescription. Other essentials include:

  • Prescription eyeglasses or spare set of contact lenses and cleaner
  • Physician contact information and health insurance card
  • Allergy or asthma medication
  • Other infrequently used medications, medical devices or accessories

If you're traveling with a pet, bring along necessary supplies for feeding and providing water during the trip, as well as cleaning up after “potty breaks.” It's also a good idea to bring an extra leash and dog tags. Don’t forget to include emergency identification on your pet's carrier and collar.

Emergency Kit

Before setting out on a long road trip, purchase or put together your own emergency kit. It should include basic car-care items as well as essential first-aid supplies. If you already have an emergency kit, take time to inspect it before leaving to make sure everything is in proper operating order and fully functional.

Memory Makers

No road trip is complete without a few accessories designed to make the trip more memorable; a disposable camera, journal, camcorder and even flash voice recorder can transform an ordinary dull drive into hours of memories the entire family will cherish for years to come. Schedule family interviews, make a scrapbook of the journey with pictures along the way, and allow everyone to write down their thoughts and memories to be sealed in a time capsule and opened years later. It doesn’t have to be expensive; in fact, sometimes the most ordinary things make the best memories.

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