Seven Creative Essentials for an Enjoyable Road Trip

Any family heading out on a road trip of any length knows it’s not just a matter of reaching your intended destination safely—it’s also about doing so sanely and peacefully! Here are some items to pack that you might not have thought of, which will help your trip go even more smoothly:

1.   Energy to Go: Consider purchasing a car power inverter. A power inverter converts DC power or direct current to standard AC power or alternating current, which allows you to run electrical equipment off your car or marine battery. This ensures whatever devices you and your kids rely on can keep on running—in the car and at your destination! Plug one into your cigarette lighter, and you can power just about anything you might bring (e.g., laptops, portable DVD players, etc.). They’re slim and easy to store under the passenger seat or in the glove box.

2.   Seasonal Gear Pack: Especially in warm weather, you’ll want to take a break from the car at some point. Make sure you’re ready to enjoy whatever terrain you happen upon along the way. Perhaps you’ll pass a lake: take water-appropriate footwear and towels, throw in a bathing suit for everyone, and you’ve got a mini-vacation in a backpack. Stop by a forest preserve to take a hike or even enjoy your lunch outside as a picnic. The kids will love the surprise adventure, especially if they thought they’d be strapped in for the whole trip!

3.   Fresh Entertainment: Check out movie rental kiosk websites to find spots where you can gas up and get new movies at the same time. Plan your route accordingly! Be sure to check out some books on tape from your library prior to departure, too.

4.   Wet Wipes: Whether you’re traveling with kids or other adults, spills and sticky fingers do happen. Carrying a container (or two, even three!) of dispensable wet wipes is a smart idea. You’ll be surprised how often they’ll come in handy: cleaning up before and after pit stops, keeping small hands germ-free for restaurant visits, and even wiping down the dash or console.

5.   Sanitation Stations: Hang plastic shopping bags from the backs of the driver and passenger seats. Voilà! No trash to remove on arrival. Traveling with a toddler? A little potty lined with a plastic grocery bag and a roll of toilet paper can be your best friend.

6.   Swiss Army Knife: Even if you don’t carry one regularly, you’ll be amazed at how handy it can be on a road trip! Trying to eat healthy while you travel? Use it to slice apples, bananas or even a melon—things you probably wouldn’t have packed otherwise. Snacks you’d buy on the road are usually not only unhealthy, but also expensive. Check out this article for more ideas on saving money along your way.

7.    Fun Bag: If you’re traveling with kids, there’s going to be a time when they’ll need to be entertained. Pack a special bag for use at restaurants along the way—then you can enjoy your meal and rest a bit without having to withstand any possible whining. Some things to include: crayons and paper, of course, as well as a toy car (have them play out your journey on their placemats), some stickers, a magnetic game and crossword puzzles—anything quiet and age-appropriate for your kids. Throw in something wrapped as a gift, and enjoy hearing squeals of glee instead of the standard “are we there yet?”

Wherever your destination, remember that the journey can be part of the fun, too, if you plan ahead!