Planning Guide

Every Dad's Guide to the Great American Road Trip

Eagle CarLooking forward to hitting the road with the kids on the back seat every dad wants confidence that no unpredictable circumstance is going to spoil such a coveted vacation. In order to feel safe on the road and enjoy your vacation, a thorough planning plus making the most of modern technology are required. We offer you road trip planning tips that will help you have a perfect classical family vacation.

1. Prepare a Car for a Trip.

At least a week before your road trip, take your car to the mechanic for a full-service. Make sure that the mechanic checks tire pressure and tread depth, including on the spare, and change the oil if necessary. If your kids are teens you may engage them in assisting your with that. The sooner they will learn the responsibility of taking care of a car the better. And don’t forget to clean the car and vacuum it, especially if you are getting ready for a long trip with many kids. Of course, if your car suddenly breaks down on the road there is not much you can fix immediately. But still it would be wise to have a basic tool kit and some emergency items such as flares and flashlights with you. And finally, if you are not a member of AAA or Hagerty Insurance join it in order to be eligible for roadside assistance.

2. Gearing up.

Planning the trip be sure to check against the following list of the road trip essentials.

To ensure safety you will need:

-    signal flares or flashy LED light;

-    LED flashlight;

-    reflective road triangle;

-    first-aid kit;

-    empty gas can;

-    distilled water;

-    emergency food;

-    emergency cell phone.

To repair your car you will need:

-    screwdrivers;

-    pliers;

-    spare fuses;

-    funnel;

-    duct tape;

-    tire gauge;

-    wrench set;

-    knife;

-    jumper cables.

Miscellaneous items to take with you are:

-    phone charger;

-    sanitary wipes;

-    reusable water bottle;

-    12-volt Y-splitter;

-    power inverter;

-    travel pillows;

-    sunglasses

-    beach towel or blanket.

3. Keep Tech in Perspective.

Nowadays it is more common to see the car packed with kids wearing headphones emerged in a movie or a game than reading a book or just looking out of the car window. Of course, DVD players and game devices are very effective means to make a long trip easier, but don’t let this kind of entertainment to be used as a universal kid silencer. Negotiate with the kids the time limit on movies and video games in advance and don’t forget to prepare some entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. For example, you can listen to kid-friendly music or audio books. Most kids do enjoy listening to “Harry Potter” or “Lord of the Rings” series as well as “Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd” or “Stuff to Blow Your Mind”. Listening to the books instead of watching the movies will enlarge the kids’ vocabulary and will give a family an opportunity to discuss the story together. Another option to keep kids busy is to give them comic books and magazines to read in the car. Let your kids choose for themselves what they would like to read.

4. Embrace Connectivity.

Older children would rather use their phones to keep in touch with their social networks and instead of stifling their activity embrace it. Let setting up a trip blog be your pre-vacation rite and appoint your kid to be trip historian responsible for writing updates and loading pictures along the way or ask the youngster to document your road trip adventures on Twitter.

Parents aren’t going to be bored either as smartphones and tablets made a new style of travel possible. Today there is no need to worry where to stop for a snack or where to spend a night. Modern technologies make booking hotel accommodation or ordering food as easy as pulling out a tablet in the late afternoon, selecting your destination and securing the reservation online.

You can also engage older kids in searching the Web for exciting roadside attractions and quirky restaurants. You can find offbeat recommendations at roadfood.com and apps like Yelp and Urbanspoon will quickly find places to eat in your vicinity. And above all, be inquisitive about the history of places you are driving past and don’t miss a chance to enhance your knowledge about the history, geography, geology, wildlife and more looking for facts in Wikipedia. You may also find lots of interesting information at the websites of national parks and monuments. With Internet access any family cross-country road trip will turn into a visit to an open-air museum.

5. Lead, Don’t Follow.

Of course, GPS will be of great assistance when planning a driving route, but it won’t be able to show you all the surrounding terrain. Unlike GPS help, paper maps will provide you with more detailed information about your route. A 50-state road atlas is a must-have for long road trips, but if you plan to spend much time on back roads or off road, you had better opt for DeLorme’s state-by-state atlases with detailed topographical maps.

Engage your kids in map reading and let them pick routes and plan an itinerary. Having selected the right side road GPS will help you find it. Also use navigation apps such as the crowdsourced Waze app for iOS and Android to get up-to-the minute information concerning traffic alerts, road hazards, traffic jams and accidents.

6. Think Local.

Travelling far from home keep an eye for what is different around you and try as much as possible of local specialties. Listen to local radio and try local food, but first of all, buy small local souvenirs that would remind you about your road adventure after your vacation is over.