There’s nothing better than being on the open road on a summer’s day. Well, provided you have air conditioning of course 😂. Planning a road trip in the summer is an excellent way of spending a few days, or even weeks if you are brave.

In many ways, it is easier than planning a road trip at any other time of the year, when you are likely to need more clothes and equipment to cope with the weather. However, there are still a number of things that you should do to prepare for a summer road trip.road trip outfit

Pick a route

In some ways, the benefit of a road trip is that you can go wherever you want; if you suddenly decide you want to go north when you were planning on heading south, you can.

However, it is a good idea to have an idea of where you want to go, just so that you can prepare what you need. If you’re heading somewhere with the aim of doing water sports, for example, you will need to ensure that you have the relevant clothing and equipment. Then again, that could take up a lot of space if you eventually change your mind. It will also help you to research where you want to go and give other people an idea of where you are heading.

Route Tip: Use the RoadTrippers app to find things to see and do along your route.

Have a first aid kit and sunscreen

When the weather is good, people tend to neglect first aid issues. However, even if you are in the car a lot of the time, you will be getting out and about in the great outdoors too and will need a good first aid kit, as well as plenty of sunscreen. At the least, ensure that you have ointment for cuts, grazes and bites; plasters; bandages; lotion for sunburn; pain killers; diarrhea tablets and any other form of medication that you and your family normally use in the summer months. Hopefully, you won’t need any of it, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

Ensure you have ready supplies of food and water

Particularly if you are heading out into the wilds, you will need to think about food and drink. There may well be rest places along the way where you can stock up, but don’t rely on them; consider what would happen, for example, if the car broke down and you were stuck somewhere for a few hours. Access to liquids is particularly important in hot weather and should not be neglected, especially if you have children. Take more than you think you will need; it is far better to err on the safe side.

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With regard to food, taking a few tins and other items that won’t go off or be affected by the food is a good idea and will probably save you some money too.

11 Must Have Emergency Travel Foods

Work out how to keep the children entertained

Road trips for children can be a superb way of showing them a country and educating them on the various places that you visit. However, long drives can be tedious for children, particularly if it is hot – and when they start whining, you will start to find the process tedious too. Make sure you take plenty with you to keep them entertained. If they refuse to leave electronic games behind, make sure you work out how to keep them fully charged.

However, a much better idea is to take plenty of card games or ideas for games that don’t need much in the way of equipment. Here are some games you can play 11 Road Trip Games to Play in the Car. If you are Disney fans here are some 8 Disney Games and Activities for Kids on a Road Trip.

Here are a few more resources to help you plan a road trip with kids. 

Summer Journal for Kids Kid's Summer Journal and Fun Guide

Before you head out on your summer adventures download our Kid’s Summer Journal and Fun Guide.

This Summer Journal & Fun Guide will give your kid’s motivation for filling their summer with new activities and ways to challenge themselves. It also serves as a keepsake journal to help them record their favorite memories with their own drawings, photos, and writing.

In this journal there are 22 pages of summer bucket lists, reading scavenger hunts and reading logs, reward charts, summer fun challenges, calendars, journal pages, and more!

Check and double-check the car

If your car breaks down, your road trip could be ruined. Before you go, get an oil change and make sure that the car is running as smoothly as it possibly can. During an oil change, they will check the basics for you, including the tires, brakes, hoses, and belts under the hood, fluid levels, windscreen wipers, and of course, the air conditioning.

If you don’t know what you are doing, it is vital that you get someone else, preferably a mechanic, to check that everything is working and is not likely to break down any time soon. Ask around for a good mechanic instead of taking it to the dealership. It will save you a lot of money.

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In the case of fluids, if you have an older car make sure you take water and oil with you to top up as necessary.

Road Trip Safety Tips

Emergency car repair tips

Hopefully, if you drive on a regular basis, you will already have picked up some emergency car repair tips. However, it is a good idea to have a refresher course so that you can deal with any issues quickly and easily. The air conditioning is particularly vital when driving in the summer; find out how to deal with any basic repairs.

Ensure that you have access to a breakdown service on the off-chance that your car does break down, even if this means having to fork out money for a new policy. It will be well worth the money if anything does go wrong. Sometimes your car insurance includes towing and there are many credit cards with some coverage. I carry the American Express Platinum and it covers roadside assistance up to four times a year which includes towing. Alternatively, ROLLiN’ Insurance is a great alternative with monthly car insurance, with no additional fees for extra drivers. 

Don’t run out of gas! I ran out of gas once and felt like such an idiot. Nowadays you don’t have to worry so much about it. You can use the Gas Buddy app to locate the nearest gas station. It will also tell you how much the gas costs. 

Consider renting a car. If your car is a bit too old for a road trip, consider renting a car instead. Car Rental Hacks

Keep abreast of traffic issues

As soon as the sun is out, everyone wants to get out and about. If you’re heading for tourist destinations in particular, you will want to keep abreast of any traffic issues; if there is a festival in the area to which you’re heading, for example, you may want to try and avoid it for the duration so that you don’t end up caught up in traffic. Sitting in a traffic jam in the roasting heat can be unbearable, even if your air conditioning is adequate. You will also want to avoid accidents and road repairs as much as possible.

The radio is a good source of information, or you could arrange to get someone back home to check for you.

Traffic Tip – Waze is a great GPS app that will reroute you as you drive to avoid traffic. It will also alert you about police traps. 

Road Trip Gadgets Not to Forget

There once was a time when road trips were made in vehicles without air conditioning, let alone a GPS and a DVD player. Technology has advanced so quickly that there is now a plethora of portable gadgets available to provide the modern comforts of home while on the road. The amount and types of gadgets that you bring on your road trip will affect the tone of your trip, so be sure to pick and choose which gadgets are right for you.

Cell Phone – Most highways have roadside phones, but you will feel more comfortable with your cell phone.
Car Outlet Converters – These can convert your vehicle’s cigarette lighter outlet into a regular household outlet to charge things like your laptop. You could even use it to plug in a hairdryer if you needed it! Just please, don’t style your hair while driving.
Entertainment – Use your cell phone with iTunes (and a transmitter if needed) instead of your entire CD collection. It will save space but still supplies you with something to listen to when you can’t find a radio station.
Do bring a few favorite CD’s if you are using a transmitter, in case you are unable to find an empty signal in some areas. If you are not bringing a laptop, consider packing a portable DVD player to watch movies. Handheld video games may also help to entertain children on long drives. Spotify is my preferred music app. You can create a playlist to listen to along the way. 
Computer with Internet Access – Many rest stops, hotels, and campgrounds have free Wi-Fi. Even if you are trying to stay away from email and social networking sites, having Internet access can help you find out information about attractions that you can’t find on the GPS, such as hours and pricing. If you are bringing a computer, store some of your movies on it to watch while you unwind at night.
GPS – Even if you are an expert map navigator, a GPS can come in handy in ways other than getting you to your destination. You can search for restaurants, attractions, hotels, and stores along the route or in specific cities. 
Crank Flashlight – Getting a flat tire on a deserted country highway at night is not the best time to be fumbling for batteries. A crank flashlight is inexpensive, and only takes a little bit of manpower to provide a lot of light. 
Solar Powered Chargers – If your road trip isn’t complete without your computer, cell phone, digital music player, and handheld video game; you may want to consider one of the many available solar powered chargers. Depending on the model, you can find chargers equipped with everything from a flashlight and radio to an emergency siren.

When preparing to take a road trip, there are a number of things that you may think that you need and ultimately overpack. But after many days of traveling and digging through mounds of unused items, you will wish that you had just left it all at home. When bringing gadgets, bring the things that you feel will enhance your safety and your comfort without distracting you from the sights. You can play Nintendo at home, but you probably can’t hike in desert canyons or see the Milky Way.

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Summer road trips can be great fun, and are extremely cheap if you prepare properly. Make the most of the good weather and get out onto the open road.