Fall Road Trip Tips for a Smooth Family Getaway
16 Sep 2019
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by OK Tire. All opinions are my own.
Going on a family road trip is not just about the destination. It’s about the journey, the fun, the adventure and the quality family time.
Fall is a beautiful time for road tripping. The changing of the colours, fewer crowds and usually less expensive for accommodations and activities than in the summer.
But getting ready for a road trip is so important. There are lots of things to do to be properly prepared for the journey ahead.
Here are some helpful fall road trip tips to help you have a smooth family getaway!
Get Your Vehicle Road Trip Ready
The main reason we want our vehicles running the best they possibly can is because they carry the most valuable cargo: you and your family. This is even more important when getting ready for a long family road trip.
Like anything that moves (including yourself), your car requires servicing to make it work properly. Think of it as a check-up at your doctor. They ensure everything in your body is running smoothly. If it is not, he/she prescribes you something that will help.
Preventative maintenance is regular maintenance performed on your vehicle, to lessen the likelihood of it breaking down. The idea is to maintain your vehicle while it is still working well so that you don’t have unexpected breakdowns.
Easy services like an oil-change allow the technician performing the service to see the underside of your vehicle. While performing the oil service, they can do a manual inspection of the rest of the underside to look for leaks, worn or broken parts, which if left untreated, can cause issues down the road. As well, they can inspect suspension, brakes, tires, exhaust, transmission, transfer case, differential and any rust/corrosion of parts.
A vehicle’s oil should be changed every 8,000 to 10,000 kms (4,970 to 6,213 mi), or every 6 months. If a proper maintenance schedule is followed for your vehicle, the technicians can often point out minor issues before they become major problems. Keeping up with your recommended maintenance schedule will also help keep your warranty intact. Think of preventative maintenance as the first line of defense. Did you know when your vehicle is serviced at any OK Tire store across Canada, they’ve got you covered with their 12 months/20,000 km North American warranty program, even if you’re travelling through the US? If something unexpected should happen, you can call the helpline and they will direct you to the closest authorized repair facility anywhere in North America.
• Oil, lube & filter
• Air & cabin filter
• Check and top up (if necessary): transmission fluid, engine coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, windshield washer fluid
• Check hoses and belts for wear
• Have battery checked to ensure it is providing proper amperage
• Check and clean the terminals of your battery
• Check tread depth and condition of tires – replace if worn or damaged
• Check tire pressure
• Ensure suspension systems are functioning efficiently and vehicle is aligned
• Makes sure your spare tire is filled and safe to use
• Check that your jack works, and any parts required to replace a tire are in your trunk
• Inspect wiper blades, and replace if necessary
• Check that all interior & exterior lights are functioning properly
You can have these and many other services performed on your vehicle at OK Tire. Knowing that there are over 300 locations across Canada, you are likely never far away in case of an emergency.
If you are heading out of the country, make sure you have proper travel insurance. We constantly cross the border into the USA to go on road trips to fun locations, and always make sure we are all covered.
Most credit major cards and employee benefit packages have travel insurance. Best to check what you are covered for, as it may be limited. You can also purchase third-party travel insurance from places like CAA, and select insurance companies. If you are not sure where to start, pop by a local travel agency, and they can lead you in the right direction.
Carry An Emergency Kit
Keeping a first-aid kit in your vehicle is essential to a safe road trip. Make sure your kit is stocked with:
• bandages in different sizes and shapes
• sterile gauze dressings
• sterile eye dressings
• alcohol-free cleansing wipes
• safety pins
• disposable sterile gloves
• digital thermometer
• anti-itch cream
• antiseptic cream
• painkillers (aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen)
• cough medicine
• antihistamine cream
Also consider keeping an emergency kit stocked with a jack and tool kit, jumper cables, non-perishable food and bottled water, warm clothes and/or a blanket, flashlight, candles, matches, tarp and rain jackets, along with a spare tire.
Have a Plan
Knowing where you’re going, how long you’re driving, and where you’re staying will help keep driver fatigue to a minimum. As a general rule, you should try to schedule breaks every couple of hours. This will give you an opportunity to stretch out those tired legs as well.
Furkot.com is a great website for planning your trip. You can enter the dates that you’ll be travelling and how many hours per day you want to drive. Initially, it will suggest hotels, motels or campgrounds along your route but you can customize it with your own chosen accommodations as well.
This free to use site is mobile-friendly and will show your location along your planned route. That is a fun feature for kids to minimize the “are we there yet?” because they can see where they are.
Make Sure You’re Connected
Even if the goal of your family road trip is to reconnect with your family and stay device-free, being able to make a phone call in an emergency or to a family member at home is still important. Also, to use the Furkot map and other travel apps, you’re going to need access to data on your mobile device.
Most major cell phone providers have travel packages that allow you to use your current cell phone package in the USA for just a few extra dollars per day. And since you only get charged if you use the phone or data, you can stay device-free but still have the peace of mind knowing you can make that phone call if needed.
There are also other companies who also offer SIM cards for travellers. Check out local providers for more information.
It’s always great to have music to choose from when you are driving. Between Sirius XM, the radio, and MP3s on an iPod, there is no shortage of sources for music. But when you are travelling with family, you have to ensure you have playlists prepared that are suitable for the whole family.
When we travel, I like to include music we all love, and make custom playlists on my iPod. As well, throwing in some songs that reflect where you are going, or places you are driving through, always add to the experience.
For instance… driving through the Rocky Mountains? Add in Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way. Going to California? The Mamas & The Papas “California Dreamin”, Tupac Shakur’s “California Love”, and The Eagles’ “Hotel California” are all great choices.
Spotify or other music streaming services are also great choices, especially if you already have a data plan. This will give you access to so much more music with choices for everyone! OK Tire has a number of family-friendly playlists for every road trip, including this upbeat playlist perfect for a fall drive.
Chill with Netflix
Do you want to ensure you don’t hear “are we there yet?” from the back seat? Download some of your kids favourite movies or shows on their iPads.
Streaming sites like Netflix allow you to download content to your device, making it easier for you to consume content from anywhere. That long drive just got more interesting for your kids.
Don’t Get Hangry!
Bring snacks and stay hydrated! Nothing is worse on a road trip than to have to stop because someone’s hungry. Preparing snacks in individual size bags or containers makes eating in the car much easier. Insulated water bottles will keep drinks colder longer. A small cooler will help keep fresh fruits and drinks cold.
There’s nothing like a fun game of I Spy to pass the time. But there are other time-tested road trip games that everyone loves: The Alphabet Game, Alphabet Categories, License Plates or, our girls’ favourite, Punch Buggies. There are so many more I could list! But have a few ready in case your passengers need to change things up.
Memories Are Made Of This
There will certainly be a lot of memories created on your road trip. Take lots and lots of pictures, on the drive, at stops and at your destination.
Collect all the movie stubs, amusement park admissions, sports tickets, brochures and any other memories from the road trip.
At the end of the trip, pool all of your pictures, sift through them and choose the best ones.
Now create a custom scrapbook / photo album from all of the best pics and memorabilia from your collection.
And Finally… Have Fun!
A family road trip needs to be fun for everyone.
To ensure your vehicle has been inspected and is good to go. Have all the necessary documentation with you, including passports, health cards, insurance papers, and photo IDs. Pack some healthy snacks for the kids, with plenty of napkins and paper towels in case they make a mess. Games and activities will keep the kids entertained on the long journey. Lastly, buckle up, and enjoy the journey.
Family road trips should be a great experience, and with a little planning, you can avoid a lot of unnecessary stress.