Make the start and finish of your road trip less stressful with these 14 road trip tips that keep you on-task in packing and planning both before and after.
It can be very exciting to take a road trip or vacation. On the other hand, getting yourself and your family ready, packed, and out the door on the day of the trip can be daunting if you don’t plan well. I have started off on many a vacation frazzled and at my wits end by the time we walk out the door because I didn’t strategize a “get ready” plan.
I finally tackled the beast and came up with a schedule of sorts, that helps Ken and I pack and prepare in advance; so that the day of the trip, we are free of the added stress we’ve often experienced by being so unprepared.
Additionally, this plan helps you transition back to work or school following your vacation without feeling that dreaded need for a “vacation from your vacation”.
Here are 14 road trip tips that should make the start (and finish) of your vacation a little less stressful and a lot more relaxing:
1) Make Several Lists
Start out by making several lists. Make one list for everything you need to bring on the trip. Make another list for everything you need to do to get ready for the trip and don’t stop there!! Make a list of items or tasks for each little traveler so that they can participate in getting ready. You can remind them that planning is half the fun!
2) Take 10 minutes
Starting one or two weeks in advance, take 10 minutes each day to tackle something on one or more of your lists.
- Monday: locate and pull down the luggage
- Tuesday: locate and clean cooler
This step, above all else, will make the day of the trip much less stressful.
3) Stage Your Luggage
Designate a staging area for your luggage and all other items that you are planning to bring with for the trip. This way everything is in one spot, making it less likely that you will forget something.
4) Pre-pack a Necessities Kit
Pre-pack toiletries and other personal necessities into a travel kit.
- If you take a prescription medication, count, and store the meds in a travel case.
- If you have contact lenses, make sure you pack a small bottle of contact solution.
5) Do Laundry and Pack Clothes In Advance
Launder and pack the clothes you plan to bring, several days to a week in advance.
Decide on everyone wearing their “second favorite” clothing choices to work or school the week before the trip so that you won’t have to be rushing around doing laundry just before the trip.
6) Be Snack Ready
Stock up and pack plenty of snacks. This will save time and money because you won’t have to make as many pit stops on the road or spend as much money on snacks at the airport.
I usually store all the non-perishable snacks in a large cardboard box and put it in the staging area for our road trips.
7) Car Maintenance
Give your car a quick but thorough maintenance check.
For example, oil change, tire pressure, top off fluids, fill the gas tank
This is a great preventative measure for your car, as well as for your peace of mind when on the road.
8) Map Out Your Route
GPS and all those new gadgets work great but dare I suggest, you take a moment to document your route on paper? Google Maps makes it very easy to create and print a route, and then there is always an actual road map if you’re feeling nostalgic.
9) Arrange Pet Care (and Plant Care)
Although you may only be gone a few days, if you have any pets (or plants), you want to be sure that you have some plan for their care.
10) Check the Weather Forecast
Start to follow the weather forecast for your travel destination at least a week in advance.
My dad used to do this at least two weeks before our vacation, and quite honestly I thought he was going overboard, but I have since realized that he knew exactly what he was doing. Just because it is sunny and 60 where you live does not mean it is going to be sunny and 60 where you are going.
11) Go to the Bank
If you are planning to use cash, stop by an ATM a day or two in advance of your trip. For one, you will save on ATM charges, but taking your cash out a few days before the trip will help avoid the stress of arriving at the bank only to realize the ATM’s are being serviced or any of those kinds of inconveniences that can be frustrating when you’re in a hurry.
12) Plan for the return home by staging a “Designated Dirty Laundry Area”
Stage your laundry area so that when you return from the trip, everyone can easily unpack their dirty clothes into the appropriate piles upon bringing the luggage in from the car.
13) Pre-plan your “Back-Home-Safely” Meal
Pre-Plan the meal that you will have when you return home from your trip.
- Buy frozen pizzas in advance, so that when you return, you have an easy meal that is ready to go. Everyone can unpack and sort dirty laundry while the pizzas are in the oven.
- Do take-out. My husband’s favorite memory from his childhood road trips was the take-out pizza night they would have upon return from their trip.
14) Pre-plan one back-to-work-or-school outfit
Finally, make sure that everyone involved has at least one clean outfit for returning back to work or school on the day following the end of your trip.
Ken and I have been following these steps for years now. And I can attest that since we have been using this planning schedule it has made a BIG difference in our stress level both before a trip and after.
Obviously some tips apply more for road trips then vacations that require you to fly, but the same idea of prepping in advance as much as you can apply.
If you can’t do all of these road trip tips, I think you’ll find that even doing some of them will help make your trip less stressful before, during, and after.
Ken and I are heading out to Tacoma, Washington (see the Washington Coast, here) in a few days and I think we are just about ready to go, thanks to following this schedule.
Enjoy your day ~ Amy