Your Roadmap to a Great Road Trip

Road trip planning

Flip flops—check. Sun block—check. Bug repellent—check. Lists are a great way to keep you organized and get you on the road quicker when headed off on a road trip. A week or two before the big day arrives, make a list of everything you need to do and pack (and be sure you leave enough room so you can see out of your rear-view mirror). Here are some ideas to help:

Plan the route
Construction can strike anywhere, anytime during the summer. Check out dmv.org for tips on avoiding these areas, or know where congestion is possible and plan extra time to travel through the area.

Budget right
It’s easy to plan the hotel cost, but be sure to budget accurately for meals (or grocery shopping, if you like to grill) and gas costs. Go to fueleconomy.gov for a handy calculator to figure out gas costs before you hit the road.

Pick up traveler’s checks or prepaid credit cards
Everyone is going green these days, but when you travel, leave the green at home and pack traveler’s checks or purchase prepaid credit cards instead. It’s a safer and smarter way to travel.

Check the glove box and toss in a disposable camera
Among the salt and ketchup packets, napkins and those impossible to fold maps, check the glove box for a few other travel essentials like your insurance card and any cards or numbers for emergency road service. Also, toss in a disposable camera in case of a fender bender. While most travelers have cell phones with cameras now, it’s good to have a backup in case your cell phone becomes too full with other precious pics you haven’t had a chance yet to download.

Make room for a pet carrier
Are Fido and his Frisbee® headed to the beach with you? Use a pet carrier or other pet-buckling devices to keep him safe for the ride. In the event of an accident, ERIE provides Pet Insurance Coverage (as part of your auto insurance) for your four-legged furry friends, but why ruin a getaway with trips to the vet? It’s better to keep him safe right off the bat. Oh, and don’t forget to pack a portable water bowl and some extra kibbles for rest stops.

Stack up on smart snacks
Chips, chocolate and pop. Every kid’s dream meal. To avoid the sugar highs after every rest stop and gas fill-up, pack a small cooler filled with bottled water, cereal bars, crackers and fruit. Avoid salty foods or sodas that may actually make you thirsty, or heavy foods that can make you tired.

Know your GPS
Whether it’s a TomTom®, Magellan®, Garmin® or a GPS system through your smart phone, be sure to have navigation systems that you can plug into your vehicle. They’ll keep you from spacing out while on the road and prevent those “Which way do I turn?” arguments. Now you can pay attention to the road instead of listening to back seat drivers yelling about which way to go.

Take techno-entertainment for the road

“On my summer vacation I packed …” or “I spy an Ohio license plate.” Remember these? Kids used to play travel games to pass the time. Nowadays, though, many won’t leave home without their iPods, DVD players and PS2s. These nifty electronic devices help to prevent the repetitive, “Are we there yet?”

Remember an emergency travel kit
Have bug bites, splinters, a flat tire or a dead battery? An emergency travel kit can save the day. Be sure to pack a flashlight, flares, first-aid kit, jumper cables, a blanket, gloves, paper towels and basic tools.

To-Do: Get the Car Checked Out

Check all fluid levels, belts and tires before hitting the road to prevent any mishaps that might keep your family stranded roadside—instead of beachside.

And last but not least, drive safely!

This has been updated from a previous version, originally published in June 2009

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