Are you a fan of family road trips? Me too. Yet perhaps the most difficult part of the journey is making sure you’ve packed everything you might need and the delicate balance of not overpacking. Read on for our guest author’s tips on things you might not think you need (but should have) on a family road trip.
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Things You Might Not Think You Need (But Should Have) on a Family Road Trip
Vacation season is right around the corner and road trips can be full of excitement. They do require a lot of planning, though. You’ve gone over your checklist a hundred times and believe you’re all set to hit the road. However, there are just a few things you’ve overlooked.
Here are 10 items you might not think you need but should have on your family road trip.
1. Grocery Store Bags
Grocery bags help you conveniently transport your items from the store to your home but too often do we throw them out as soon as we empty them.
Extend your plastic bags’ lifespan by bringing some for the car. They can efficiently serve as trash bags for wrappers, bottles, tissues, and other accumulated waste, or you might use them to hold wet or dirty clothes. You never know when you might need an extra bag, and reusing plastic bags is a great way to recycle.
2. Shower Wipes
Although you might already know to pack baby wipes and hand sanitizer for your road trip, shower wipes are also essential.
Imagine a cross-country trip where you’re sitting in the car all day. Perhaps, it’s the heat of the summer – or, worse, your car’s AC broke. You’ll likely find yourself sweaty and uncomfortable.
Shower wipes are essentially a shower on a damp cloth. They’re individually wrapped and much larger than your typical wet wipe, allowing you to cleanse, deodorize, and cool yourself down as needed.
Food and drinks are a given on any road trip. If you have kids, you especially don’t want to get caught with hungry bellies in the middle of a long drive.
Keep a cooler nearby in the back seat to store your snacks and beverages from the heat. Coolers are convenient for carrying healthier snacks that require refrigeration. They also allow you to bring meals or groceries from home if you plan to stay at a vacation rental. While you’ve probably packed a bag of chips, crackers, and other dry foods, be sure to have a nice supply of carrot sticks, fruit cups, and other snacks that require cooler temperatures.
4. First-Aid Kit
Sometimes the inevitable occurs and somebody gets hurt. Always remember to pack a first-aid kit during your family vacation.
Ensure your kit includes the essentials, such as bandages, first aid cream, allergy pills, cotton balls, q-tips, and gauze pads. You might also want to bring any prescriptions and sunscreen. Even the most careful family can never be too cautious.
5. Bug Spray
Mosquitoes are carriers of several vector-borne diseases, including the deadly West Nile virus, Zika, and malaria. From 1999 to 2019, there were 51,702 confirmed cases of West Nile virus in the United States.
Remember to pack plenty of insect repellent for your entire family, especially if you’re traveling during the summertime.
6. Spare Keys
It’s one thing to lose a set of keys in the house. You usually have a second set somewhere and are bound to come across the missing ones eventually.
If you’re road-tripping, however, you might not be as lucky. Always remember to pack a second car key and keep it on you. If you stop at a rest area and accidentally lock your keys in the car – or your pet stepped on the lock when you got out to pump gas—you want to be sure you can get back in without calling the police.
7. Roadside Assistance Kit
A flat tire or a dead battery will require roadside assistance. Make sure you pack a kit with booster cables, a tire pressure gauge, a window breaker, and a spare tire. You should also have some basic tools on hand to fix whatever problems arise.
For other hazards, keep a rain poncho, whistle, reflective vest, and light sticks in the car to flag down help.
Save time and order an already-prepared roadside assistance kit.
The worst possible scenario is getting stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire at night. Perhaps you and your family are camping or losing power during a storm somewhere. Pack a couple of flashlights with fully charged batteries.
Flashlights are also helpful if you’re looking for something in the car and don’t want to wake everyone up with the overhead lights. They can be easy to forget if you’ve become dependent on your phone’s flashlight. But if your phone dies, you’ll be glad to have the traditional option.
9. Paper Maps
Our cell phones can deliver accurate directions and alternate routes to our destinations. However, what happens if the battery drains or you hit an area without a signal?
It’s always good to bring a few printed maps or download maps to get you where you need to go. Printed maps can also be a great learning opportunity for your kids to follow along.
10. Multi-Tool With Knife
Multi-tools can solve any small problem you may run into on your road trip. Some multi-tools come with a sharp knife, tweezers, scissors, bottle openers, and more. You can purchase a variety of multi-tool designs online, ranging from basic to elaborate, including almost any tool or gadget you might need.
Always Travel Well-Prepared for the Unexpected
The best advice for a family road trip is to always travel well-prepared for the unexpected. Have a safe road trip with your family by remembering to pack the unlikely odds and ends for your car ride. Once you’ve finished packing your suitcase essentials, check this list of things you need on a family road trip to see if there’s anything else you can use. You never quite know when you’ll need that unexpected item.
Guest Author Bio: Cora Gold is the Editor-in-Chief of women’s lifestyle magazine, Revivalist. She loves writing about family, adventure, and living life to the fullest. Follow Cora on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.