Packing for the Family Road Trip

Summer is the time when many families go on road trips. Traveling by car, you avoid the hassles, delays, and high cost of airplane travel. Besides, it’s liberating to just jump in the car and go!

Road Trip with the Family

My family has gone on several road trips over the years. We just got back from a trip driving up the coast through northern California and Oregon, then over to Ashland and back down I-5 through central California. We’re pretty organized, and it was a great trip, but there are always a few lessons to be learned! Here are some of them:

  • Print out a checklist before you go, and think about what you’ll need for this particular trip. I have many checklists I’ve used over the years, but for some reason didn’t bother this time around. And sure enough, the first night staying near the Eel River we found ourselves without an essential… bug spray! (Luckily the motel had some for sale, but at an exorbitant price!)
  • Check the weather forecast before you go! In hindsight, I should have done this closer to the time we left. We ended up sitting in the rain trying to enjoy the Oregon Kite Festival, while our raincoats and umbrellas were safely stowed away at home! (Only our daughter was prepared. In her words “Duh, it’s Oregon…”)
  • Pack some food and drinks for your trip, but don’t overdo it. We brought along all kinds of cold cuts, chips, snacks, fruit, and drinks. Traveling through the Avenue of the Giants, this stash came in handy when we came across a great picnic area and had everything we needed. The chips and other snacks also were nice to have. But you know what… towards the end of the trip we ended up eating out more. Much of what we brought didn’t get eaten and some of it had to be thrown out.
  • Bring a GPS if you have one, and before you leave home program in all the addresses of the motels you’ll be staying at or sights you intend to visit. (You might want to bring some real maps too, just in case something happens to the GPS.) I’m absolutely addicted to our Garmin, and never leave home without it!
  • For entertainment, bring your own music. When you’re out in the boonies, it’s hard to find a radio station that comes in without static. My daughter brought her CD collection, and when we tired of that, we hooked up my iPhone with an auxiliary cable and listened to Pandora radio… loved it!
  • The iPhone provided more entertainment when I found an App called “Roadside America.” This gives you a list of all the cheesy tourist attractions that are near you. We had a blast stopping at many of these and it became a game to check them off the list!
  • O.k., it appears I’ve gotten so carried away talking about the fun stuff that I’ve forgotten some of the basics of road trip travel. You’ll also want to bring the proper clothes, shoes, and jackets, a trash bag and paper towels for the car, and definitely some games and other diversions to keep the kids happy. We brought our dog with us, so we also needed to bring her bed, some doggie pick-up bags, as well as her food and bowls.

You get the picture… when you’re going on a family road trip it pays to be prepared. Make your checklist before you go. You’ll likely still forget a thing or two, but look at it as a learning experience and add those things to your checklist for next time!




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