Family road trips are akin to the American dream. They are an iconic way to explore the vast U.S. countryside. There is nothing quite as freeing as packing up your belongings, stuffing them into the trunk and heading out onto the open road. It feels as though the world is your oyster. You and the kids can go anywhere, do anything. You can change your mind at the last minute. You can stay at high-end hotels one night and a motor lodge the next or be surrounded by the bright lights of the big city followed by a day of hiking in the mountains. The U.S. is blessed with such a varied landscape that you never know what’s next.
While going on a long road trip is exciting, to avoid disappointment and enjoy the best trip possible, putting in some planning time for the journey should begin before you get in the car. So if you’re planning to take a road trip, consider the following ideas.
A budget will help you manage your expenses properly:
- Car maintenance. A qualified mechanic can check the condition of your brakes and tires. The mechanic can also tell you if you need any additional maintenance or parts replaced, and if the car is in its best condition for the trip.
- Fuel expenses. Gas prices tend to vary by location. Find out the actual price of gas and calculate how much you’ll spend during the trip. It’s a good idea to estimate a bit on the higher side in case there are any emergencies.
- Lodging, food and entertainment. Figure out your food and hotel expenses depending on how many people will be joining you on the trip. Remember to budget for family activities such as visiting a museum, a park or a fair.
Routes and Safe Driving
Before and during your trip it’s important to:
- Choose your destination before you head out for the day. Each state has tourist attractions that are open to the public. America’s Byways has a search engine that helps you find things to do depending on where you are.
- Drive with caution. Drive carefully when traveling on the road, this way you’ll avoid getting a ticket and you’ll be sure that the people on your trip are safe. Always make sure that your passengers have their seatbelts fastened.
- Make frequent stops. The car ride itself may be fun, but remember to make frequent stops to stretch your legs, use the restroom, have a meal or just enjoy the scenery.
On long trips, children have special needs. Remember to:
- Provide safety seats. There are many car seats and boosters specifically for children that can be placed in the back seat of your car. Find the appropriate seat for your child’s age or size and make sure it’s properly installed. Use the Car Seat Inspection Station Locator to find the nearest place where a technician can verify the seat is installed correctly and according to the law.
- Bring snacks. Pack a cooler with healthy snacks that are portioned appropriately for your child’s age. These snacks help ensure that children are getting enough to eat and drink on the trip.
- Immunize your children. All children under age six should receive their necessary vaccines (PDF) to avoid picking up illnesses or diseases that could be transmitted through direct contact, or by food and water. Also remember to pack cold, allergy, headache and stomach medications.
- To learn more about road trips and vacations, see USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov, the U.S. Government’s official web portals in English and Spanish, and part of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).
For more advice: www.usa.gov