When on vacation, driving a
car with the family requires good planning for best results.

Every year millions of people take to the roads driving a car to their vacation spots, holiday locations, their family gatherings and numerous special occasions. For some, traveling by car with their family will be a very enjoyable experience. For others a nightmare.

If you do a good job of planning your trip in advance, driving a car means enjoyable time together for the family. This article is designed to make your trip a great trip.

First, make a list of things that need to be accomplished. Then divide the list up among family members. This way, each member of the family will be responsible for a different aspect of the trip. When the whole family has a part in planning the trip, there will be more excitement watching the plan come together. It will also be a great learning experience for them.

Adults should plan which hotels/motels you will stay at and make the reservations. Teenagers could be responsible for getting maps and directions together and planning how far you will drive each day. They must allow enough time to get where you are going without being in a rush. (Don't forget to plan time to stop and relax, stretch your legs and get a breath of fresh air.) The teenagers can also prepare a trip budget for how much fuel the trip will need? As well as any special sights they would like to see en route.

Pre-teens can help get the luggage out, packed and ready to go. They can create checklists so nothing is forgotten. And small children can be in charge of marking the days off of the calendar before you leave.

As the trip approaches, have family meetings to discuss the progress of your plan.

When driving a car, here is an important step to take before the trip: Have your car dealer or your mechanic inspect the vehicle to make sure that it is in good condition for the up coming trip.

Here are some important items to have checked on your car:

  • Tires: Make sure the tires are inflated to the right pressure (helps with gas mileage and the ride). Checking your tire tread is also important.
  • Brakes: Rotors, pads and drums need to be in good condition with no signs of brake fluid leakage. When traveling by car, your safety and the safety of your family depend on your brakes.
  • Batteries: It's better to replace a battery than get stranded.
  • Belts: Belts should not be frayed or old with cracks in them. Murphy’s Law states that belt’s are only allowed to break when you are half way in between towns.
  • Lights: check headlights, tail lights, brake lights, turn signals and hazard flashers.
  • Fluids: Transmission, brake fluid, coolants, oil, and window washer cleaner.
  • Wiper blades: Good wiper blades will help you see the road better in case you run into a rain storm, have plenty window washer fluid.
When driving a car on vacation, here are items to have with you on your trip:
  1. Maps and directions: A good source is AAA or check online at www.mapquest.com .
  2. A cooler with drinks and snacks: Oranges, grapes and apples all keep well and are refreshing.
  3. A gallon zip lock bag filled with ice and a wash cloth. Once the ice starts to melt you will be able to wash your face with the cool damp wash cloth. This will help keep you from getting drowsy.
  4. Have Kleenex available along with a roll of paper towels for spills.
  5. Have a first-aid kit for any bumps or cuts you may get.
  6. A small sewing kit with safety pins, needle and thread, a variety of buttons and scissors are always handy.
  7. Take a plastic garbage bag for trash and one to put dirty or damp clothes in.
  8. A small tool kit with pliers, a screwdriver set containing both flat and Phillips head. Also a flashlight, crescent wrench and knife or box cutter.
  9. Reflectors and safety flairs may also come in handy when driving by car.
  10. Make sure you have your insurance cards, registration and driver’s license and that they are up to date.
  11. Have a list of contact phone numbers put them in an envelope in the console or glove box.
  12. It's also good to have a note book and pen with you.

Make a list of items you need for your vacation and check them off when you put them in the car.

Here are some items that sometimes get left behind. Why not make sure they you'll have them if you need them.

Cell phone_____ Camera____ Recharging cradles/ wires/ Adapters____ Glasses____ Sun glasses_____ Suntan lotion_____ Handi wipes____ Luggage____ Kids____ Pets____ Maps/ directions____ Small first aid kit_____ Paper towels_____ Plastic Bags CD’S/DVD’S_____ Kids favorite bedtime bear_____ Special blankets ____Pillows____ Medicines/ Prescription drugs_____ (prescription drugs should be in their original container).

Don't forget:

Make sure your mail is being picked up or held for you at the post office. If you have someone watching your pets and plants, write down detailed instructions on what you want them to do while your gone and give them numbers where they can reach you. Leave an itinerary with your planned stops. Also information about your vehicle, its color, license plate number, make and style.

Have hotel reservations with confirmation numbers with you. It’s a good idea to call several days before you leave to make sure you will have a place to stay when you get there.

An important consideration:

When driving a car on a trip, if you have an older model car or a leased vehicle, it may be to your advantage to rent a car for the vacation instead of taking your own. Car rentals companies have new vehicles that will be more comfortable, have more room and get better gas mileage. If you lease a car for your normal everyday use, renting a car for your vacation driving can save you the extra mileage charge you'll incur at the end of your lease. If you have an older car and it breaks down on the trip, you'll have those unexpected repair bills to pay for. As well as the aggravation.

When driving a car on a trip and it breaks down or you are involved in an accident you won’t miss the rest of your vacation waiting for your car to be repaired. Most rental car companies rent their cars on a daily fee with unlimited mileage; the additional charge for insurance is worth it for your safe state of mind. Check with your insurance agent to find out if your present coverage will cover a rental vehicle, some will, some may not. Better to be safe than sorry.

Having a good safe fun filled, relaxing vacation takes some planning. Each year you look forward to getting away from work and our daily routine make the best of it. We hope that all your vacations are exceptionally safe and that you enjoy as many as possible. Whether by driving a car, taking a plane or going on a cruise.

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