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Road Trip Time! 5 Car Vacation Hacks

It's summertime! School is out and leave is in danger of “use-or-lose.” It is time for a vacation, but flying is expensive and have you seen the news lately? No thanks. Go old fashioned and plan a driving trip.

Road trips can be extra fun because you are not dependent on an airport, pilot or plane. You can pack as much as you want and there will be tons of room for souvenirs if you have your own car. But when you plan a driving trip you also should plan a way to make it as fun as possible by making your car experience road trip friendly. 

1. Plan a Driving Trip: Get a Luggage Rack

You need to get a luggage rack. You will be in your car for most of the day, being stuffed into your seats, surrounded by suitcases and bags, which also means you will be so uncomfortable. They make soft and hard shelled racks and can be used on a variety of roofs. Once you put your luggage rack on your car, put all your big suitcases on top. This frees up trunk space for souvenirs, snacks, water, your go bag or a stroller if you need one.

2.Plan a Driving Trip: Make a Go Bag

Since your luggage is in a luggage rack on your roof, you will need a go bag. If your destination is more than one night away, having a go back will make your night in the hotel easier. So what is a go bag anyway? It is a carry-on sized suitcase with pajamas and toiletries. When you check into the hotel for the evening, all you need to do is grab your go bag. You will not have to worry about pulling suitcases off your roof in the dark and then trying to put it back on top the next morning. It is a win for everyone!

3. Plan a Driving Trip: Pack Snacks and Water

Snacks at gas stations and roadside stops are expensive. They raise the prices because they know there are not many options along the highway. You can avoid this by packing up snacks for the drive. Chips, nuts, fresh fruit and some candies are perfect for when you need a little bite to eat but you do not want to stop. Having snacks on hand also means that when you stop at the hotel for the night, you will have something to munch on as you unwind for the night. Of course food is not the only thing you should have in the car -- having a case of water in the car will help you all stay hydrated. 

4. Plan a Driving Trip: Buy Some Cheap Tricks

We all love the dollar spot. Admit it. It is okay, I love it, too. Before you head out on a road trip, stock up on some cheap toys and activities. Some fun things to pick up are crayons, coloring books, window clings, small dolls or action figures. I also like to pick up some socks. Even though it is summer, driving in the car with the air conditioner on means those toes get chilly. Picking up a pair of funky “driving socks” is a great way to solve that cold toe problem.

I also like to make sure the kids have a blanket and small pillow or stuffed animal that can double as a pillow in their area. It is nice to tell them to snuggle up and take a break when they start to get restless. Once you pick out all the things, do not just give them out all at once. I like to give each kid a small backpack filled with activities but also keep some surprises up near me for when kids get antsy. Of course do not let analog toys be the only option. If your car has an entertainment center like mine, be sure to pack some movies. Maybe the only way to get them to stop complaining is to get them to sing along to Moana.

5. Plan a Driving Trip: Adults Need Fun on the Road, Too

Of course, keeping the kids entertained is not the only thing you need to worry about. Keeping yourself and your fellow adults entertained is important, too. Especially if you are driving alone, no one wants to be so bored they get highway hypnosis. I like to load my phone up with podcasts and an audio book or two. You can listen to these with your spouse and then after every few chapters or after each podcast, take some time to talk about the content, what you learned, and how it made you feel. I love podcasts because they are 30-60 minutes long so you can plan out your playlist based on how far you will be driving that day. Six hours, 6 podcasts and you will be at your location. It is a great way to make time fly.

Prior planning and hacking your road trip will make the trip to your final destination just as fun as the vacation itself. Remember, you want to arrive at your vacation spot as relaxed as possible so you can enjoy your vacation as much as possible. These hacks are tried and true ways to make even the longest road trip an enjoyable one.

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