If you’re like me, the first thing that comes to mind when you think about holiday road trips is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. While the Griswolds don’t travel in this installment of the franchise, their cousins show up to their well-decorated home with their camper which they proceed to live in through the holiday period. Even though we don’t see Cousin Eddie and his family’s road trip to the Griswolds, it’s pretty safe to say it was not a luxury RV situation. When the kids and rottweiler come spilling out upon arrival, it’s pretty reminiscent of past family holiday road trips.
Since many holiday traditions center around family, and most Americans don’t live in their hometowns, there is usually some travel involved around Thanksgiving and the holidays. What’s more American than a good old-fashioned road trip? When a road trip is done right, it can be a rewarding bonding experience with a little sightseeing thrown in, but when you’re not prepared, you’ll probably wish the trip would just wrap up. That said, there are things you can do to make your family holiday road trip the best it can be.
Here are seven ways AAA recommends to prepare for your holiday road trip.
Take Your Car in for a Checkup
Regardless of your vehicle’s age, when you’re preparing to put a good number of miles on it, you should consider taking a trip to your mechanic first. Things like your oil and coolant levels should be checked as well as your tires and battery. While it can be a pain to squeeze one more thing in before the trip, you’ll be thankful when you’re not one of those cars stranded on the side of the road.
Pack an Emergency Kit
Emergencies happen, and sometimes, you can handle them yourself if you’re properly prepared. AAA recommends filling your emergency kit with bottled water, a first aid kit, and some more mechanical supplies like flares, jumper cables, batteries, and a flashlight. With your emergency kit, you can start meeting needs while you wait for help to come.
Stay Stocked Up on Fuel
Road trips sometimes mean traveling through uncharted territory. Rather than get stranded in the middle of nowhere without gas, AAA recommends keeping your gas tank higher than one-quarter full at all times. Not only will it give you peace of mind, your legs will appreciate the extra stop.
Bring the Right Entertainment
Road trips can be long, and without the right entertainment, it can mean a lot of togetherness, too. There is a time for talking and a time for quiet. Bring some books, download a podcast, build a playlist, or bring some games to help make the time go by faster for you and everyone else.
Bring Information on Your Destination
Holiday road trips often mean traveling to a familiar family location, but sometimes they can serve as an excuse to travel somewhere new. If that’s the case, packing some information on your destination will help you hit the ground running once you arrive. Vacation time goes by quickly. Make the most of it!
Reserve Accommodations in Advance
Holidays are a popular travel time, so if you’re used to winging it—don’t. AAA recommends reserving accommodations in advance, so you won’t get stuck driving way into the night. Factor in an extra night just in case you get too worn out to drive safely.
Play it safe
If you’re traveling in a large vehicle, it may be tempting to travel without your seatbelt properly secured. Not only is it illegal to be unbuckled, but it’s also incredibly unsafe. Before you travel, make sure any children’s car seats you might need are in good shape, and on the big day, make everyone show you their fastened seatbelts.