Summertime signifies sunshine, wonderful weather, a break from school and the opportunity to take a road trip. Whether you are travelling to see family for several weeks or taking a weekend trip to the beach with friends, it’s important to have a checklist of key items to pack.
When preparing for a road trip, one of the first and most important factors to consider is safety. No one plans on facing setbacks during a road trip, but being stranded roadside can be an especially unsettling experience if you are unprepared. Consider packing a car emergency kit consisting of a flashlight, jumper cables, a flat-head screwdriver, a Phillips-head screwdriver, a tire pressure gauge, electrical tape and a first aid kit.
Providing snacks for a road trip can make the experience much more pleasant and healthy for everyone involved, plus you will save time and money from stopping to buy fast food. Some easy ideas are sandwiches and granola bars, of course, but also throw in some baggies of popcorn, nuts, grapes, apple slices and trail mix with chocolate treats. For the cooler, yogurt is great for passengers as well as hard boiled eggs. Don’t forget small bottles of water, napkins, wipes, plastic spoons for yogurt and little trash bags for keeping the car tidy.
When starting a checklist for clothes, think of the events you will be attending and the adventures you will be going on during your vacation. Will you spend most of your time relaxing on the beaches of Charleston with a good book and a beach towel? Or will the days consist of adventurous hikes through the trails at Table Rock State Park? Think in terms of outfits as opposed to individual pieces of clothing. One thing that does not change depending on the length of a vacation is the importance of packing single, versatile pieces of clothing that can be used for several outfits.
When packing toiletries, a checklist is especially handy so that nothing will be forgotten. Many hotels provide basics such as mouthwash, shampoo, conditioner, soap and lotion. If these basics will be provided, don’t forget to pack other essentials, including dental care, hair necessities and toiletries.
Visiting friends or family? Make sure to bring a gift for your host or hostess. The cost of the gift should be reflective of how long you are going to be staying with them. Wine, nice bread, a dessert, fruit or a gourmet gift basket are all gifts that range in price and that everyone can enjoy together while on the trip.
As for entertainment, consider who will be traveling with you and where exactly you will be going. Magnetic board games, books on tape, a portable DVD player or even old fashioned “car games” (such as the Alphabet Game — won by the first to find each letter of the alphabet in succession on signs and license plates) are fun ways to entertain both adults and children alike while on the road. Make the ride educational with flash cards for the family to brush up on state capitals or some other subject of interest.
Another fun idea for young children over a long trip is to give them little inexpensive presents every two hours that they can either enjoy in the car or look forward to playing with at the vacation destination. Also think about bringing backup entertainment in case the weather doesn’t cooperate. Don’t forget extra batteries and chargers for electronics.
Miscellaneous items that can be easy to forget are: sunglasses; a hat; sunscreen; phone, computer, camera and chargers; exercise clothes; a robe and slippers; a sound machine (especially if your destination could be noisy); a water bottle; a day bag; a sweater or long-sleeve T-shirt for your arms at night; a book; cards; and glasses and extra contacts.
The most important thing to remember is that a vacation is an opportunity to sit back and enjoy life with friends and family. No matter what else you put on your checklist, make sure a good attitude and flexibility are two items at the top of the list!