Tips for Planning a Fun and Safe Family Road Trip

Whether you plan to walk the halls of history in Philadelphia or if your idea of the perfect family road trip involves beaches and copious amounts of sunscreen, planning ahead can make your road trip safer and more fun for everyone. These tips will help you plan a family road trip everyone in your clan can appreciate.

Choose Your Location

Before you begin making any plans, though, you must first choose your destination. We recommend that you research the region, finding fascinating stories to tell your children to help get them excited about the trip and the things they'll see and you'll do as a family. Not only do you want to choose your location, you also need to spend time planning little out of the way adventures to enjoy while you're there. For instance, on a trip to Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall may be no-brainers, but don't forget to include fun family side tours like the Amish country, buggy rides, or trips to the zoo.

Saving Money on the Road

There are many thing you can do to help cut down costs during your road trip. Start by saving on fuel with Gas Buddy. Expand your savings by packing a cooler filled with healthy snacks (low-fat string cheese, fresh fruit, sugar-free applesauce, shelled hard-boiled eggs, and Greek yogurt) and bottled water. This reduces the temptation to fill up on expensive, unhealthy snacks during fuel stops or bathroom breaks along the way.

Protect Home and Hearth

Simple pre-trip activities, such as stopping mail delivery to your home while you're away and resisting the urge to set garbage cans out ahead of your trip can help hide the fact that you're planning to be out of town for several days. Also, consider renting a safety deposit box for sensitive documents and valuables that might be tempting for thieves before you head out of town.

Safety First

Safety is important on road trips. Take your vehicle in for a full inspection in the days before your road trip. Make sure you check the oil, radiator fluid, windshield washer fluid, the tires for proper inflation, and even the spare tire for both proper inflation and easy access. Consider a full summer safety inspection from a trusted mechanic. For added safety, don't forget to pack plenty of sunscreen and a first aid kit for your car. While you're at it, make sure your auto insurance is up-to-date and adequate for your travel needs.

Boredom Busters

Boredom often sets in quickly on road trips -- especially among younger members of the family. You know what that means, right? An endless drone of "Are we there yet?" from the backseat.

Consider packing a "treasure bag" for each child before setting out on the road trip. Fill it with age appropriate, car-friendly (and quiet) games, toys and snacks. Don't forget to bring along travel-friendly tools like tablet computers, DVD players, Nintendo game systems, and mobile devices with trendy apps to keep them entertained as well. It can make a world of difference for your sanity on the long drive.

Planning your trip well in advance helps you find little byways and points of interest off the beaten path. Sometimes, getting there really can be half the fun of a family road trip. Following these suggestions helps ensure the journey home is safe as well.