8 Essential Tips to Make Your Summer Road Trip a Blast

"Are we there yet?" Your family road trip doesn't have to be a nightmare. Here are 8 great ways to keep your kids happy and your sanity intact.

Cheryl Butler
8-minute read
Episode #531

#2 - Plan before you hit the road, Jack!

You’re pumped up and ready to take your family on a road trip they’ll remember. Now, you need to decide where you'll go and for how long. Last year I took a 4-day road trip with two of my kids (that still counts, even though the other six were not able to come) along the coast of New England. The entire experience was near perfect from start to finish thanks to roadtrippers.com. It's an incredible resource! Visit the website and explore hundreds of options for designing a road trip that is unique to your family. Their phone app makes planning and traveling a breeze.

It’s also fun to engage your children in the decision making process when it comes to where you’ll go and what places you'll visit. Write a few suggestions on folded pieces of paper and have one of your kids choose one. Or, have a mystery destination. When my kids were really young, we took them on mystery road trips at least once a month. We visited amusement parks, zoos, the White Mountains, and even drove to New York City one weekend. We had a bag of clues we gave each child for each of these unknown destinations and let them try to guess where we were going before we arrived. My college kids still talk about those mystery road trips!

It’s fun to engage your children in the decision making process when it comes to where you’ll go and what places you'll visit. Write a few suggestions on folded pieces of paper and have one of your kids choose one.

#3 - Ready your car for the road trip.

Once you have a light and fluffy attitude for this summer (as best you can!), you can begin planning your summer road trip. Keep in mind that an adventure can be spontaneous or planned. Whether you decide on a whim to hit the road or you've been planning a getaway for some time, you need to make sure your car is ready for safe travel.

Here are a few key items to have in good working condition before you pull out of your driveway.

  • Spare tire, jack and proper tire-changing tools. If you're going to change your own tire should it get damaged, double check to make sure the necessary items are ready to go.
  • Roadside assistance plan. Be sure your identification card is packed. Is your membership current?
  • Emergency car kit. Jumper cables, flashlight, gas can, bottled water, paper towel, window cleaner, an extra $20 squirreled away. Here are some other recommended road trip essentials.
  • First aid kit. Band aids, antibiotic ointment, gauze, tape, pain relievers, antacids.  These are just a few of the essentials to include in your first aid kit
  • Phone and device charging cables. Essential to have, easy to forget.
  • Your car's owner’s manual. If you don't already have this in your glove compartment, make sure to bring it. It will provide peace of mind when that weird indicator light turns on. 
  • Something to hold trash. Road trips can be messy. Get your family in the habit of throwing out all their food wrappers, juice box containers, and everything in between immediately. Pack Ziploc baggies or plastic shopping bags for extra messy items.
  • Personal clean-up and grooming supplies. Even if your youngest child is 15, baby wipes are great for wiping sticky hands or refreshing everyone’s sweaty faces. They can even serve as an emergency toilet paper. On that note, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, actual toilet paper, and tissues are also must haves.
  • Snacks and drinks. Depending on the length of your road trip you’ll definitely want to prepare ahead with ample food and drink. For longer trips, be sure to plan ahead with snacks and staple meal items like protein bars and fruit so you don’t run out mid-journey. (Pro tip: It’s also super fun to discover new diners and other interesting eateries including new ice cream shops or take-out joints you normally wouldn’t stop and try.)
  • Extra outfits, towels, cozy blankets. Your child’s favorite stuffed animal, doll, or comfort toy can come along as well.

Now that you’re sporting a cheerful, positive frame of mind, have selected the perfect destination, and have the car equipped with safety gear and essentials, it’s time to prepare for some serious road trip fun!  Here are some elements of fun and whimsy as well as ideas to keep boredom at bay before you leave your driveway.


About the Author

Cheryl Butler

Cheryl L. Butler is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. Call the Mighty Mommy listener line at 401-284-7575 to ask a parenting question. Your call could be featured on the show!