No matter how much planning one does, there is no way to control everything that can happen once a trip is underway. However, planning increases the chances of enjoying travel whether it be just a few, or thousands of miles away from home. When it comes to certain items, it’s better to have them and not need them, than to need them and not have them. Travelers, especially those traveling with children, may reduce their stress level significantly by making preparations.
Have the following items on-hand for short and long trips:
- Tissue (for nose blowing and wiping)
- Antibacterial wipes (for cleaning soiled hands and faces)
- Disposable plastic bags (for wet items, soiled items, or diaper disposal)
- An umbrella (for rain or to provide shade on extra sunny days)
- A sweater or jacket (appropriate for the season)
- Plastic rain ponchos (in case of an unexpected shower)
- A first aid kit (band aids, cotton swabs, cotton balls, antibacterial ointment, etc.)
- Treatments for common ailments (headaches, upset stomachs, car sickness, etc.)
- A flashlight (with fresh batteries)
Have these items on-hand for longer trips:
- Age appropriate drinks (in an insulated bag or travel cooler)
- Nonperishable (or properly stored) snacks
- Disposable spoons, forks, napkins, and straws (and in some cases plates)
- A complete change of clothes for babies and smaller children (including extra socks and shoes)
- Age appropriate books and/or magazines
- Portable games and toys
- A travel pillow (video demonstration)
- A travel blanket
- A map or printed directions (Google Maps)
Road Trip Tips:
- A purse sized spray bottle filled with alcohol can be used for: sanitizing hands, spraying and wiping down surfaces before eating, and even for cleaning public toilets before using them.
- Frozen drink pouches can be used to keep refrigerated items cold in a cooler or insulated bag. When the drink pouches thaw they’re ice cold and ready to drink.
- Placing ice cubes in a resealable plastic bag for a trip makes them more useful. The ice is kept cleaner that way. The bag could also be used as an ice pack in case of an injury.
- Books on CD played on the car stereo keep younger kids entertained on long trips; they can follow along with the book while it is read to them.
- A metal baking sheet taken along on a car trip allows children to play with magnetic toys during the ride.
- Word search puzzles are good for keeping older kids occupied on long trips.
- The removable plastic receptacle from most potty chairs can be cleaned up and taken along in a plastic bag; kids can sit directly on their own potty receptacle in emergency bathroom situations. In a real emergency situation with a small child a large Ziploc bag can be used in place of a toilet.
- Keep a flashlight or touch light in the car. If the car battery goes dead, the lights on the car will not work.
- Always have a list of emergency contact numbers (pediatricians, relatives, roadside assistance, etc.) on-hand in case of an accident.
- Print out a map and the text directions to have in the car. GPS devices fail sometimes during extreme weather. Write contact numbers (hotel, family member, etc.) on the map. This information might prove invaluable, especially in the event of an accident.
Don’t make the mistake of being so focused on reaching the destination that the enjoyment of the journey is lost. Plan to stop and take in interesting attractions and sights along the way. It will reduce boredom and add to the enjoyment of the trip. Take pictures and/or film videos to preserve the memories.