Indispensible Tips for Planning A Long Road Trip

August 16, 2011 · 0 comments

in Road Trip Ideas

There’s an old adage. Plan your work and work your plan. If you want a successful trip you need to at least know what constitutes a successful trip. Here are a few pointers.

Do we have everything? 

There’s lots to think about when you get ready to go on a long America Road Trip. A good way to begin road trip planning is to think ahead about places you want to go and ask questions about what you may need when you are there. Two heads are better than one as you do this!

Let’s begin with basics. Make a list of personal items you need for traveling. For instance, long trips require clothing changes. Some destinations call for special clothing. Is it formal, casual, bathing suit, how cold will it be, will you do much walking (footwear) or if you need hiking boots or shoes.  If you need extra clothing and space doesn’t permit, plan to stay where they offer laundry facilities. Toiletries fall into the same category as clothing. Just ask how good you want to look and smell and maybe your sense of fair play will guide you with this one. You can include carry along snacks, bottle water and soft drinks in this category. I carry a coffee thermos because that’s my favorite drink.

Check prescription medicine carefully to be sure you have enough for the trip. If you need medical or prosthetic devices for routine care, pack them. A friend of mine left an attachment he needed for Kidney Dialysis and had to cut a trip short.

Cash and credit cards are the next category. You won’t get very far if you leave these behind. Cash is helpful for small purchases and quick stop items. We carry credit or debit cards for larger purchases since this helps us keep track of expenses. It is difficult to say which is safer, but I think a debit card works best for all around use. Plus (for some people)  this way you won’t spend more money than you have. If you can pay off credit card balances and not incur interest, they work well as a tool for money management.

A cell phone and laptop computer are essential when we travel. Cell phones keeps us in touch with friends and family. I update blogs and check emails with my laptop. Try to stay in a motel with free wi-fi and you can book rooms and plan the following day. No laptop? Some motels provide a computer and online service in the lobby. Be sure to clear out personal information when you log off these machines.

Some new smart phones serve as a replacement for a laptop. They communicate, take pictures and get you online using an air-card. These hand devices use an air card which even works while you are driving down the highway. All you need is a cell signal to be in business. The drawback for these devices is … they  have small screens. I’m not complaining, but the older I get, the smaller the screens get.

Are you a card-carrying Road Tripper?

Several types of cards are useful on road trips. Carry your insurance cards for auto and health. If you cross the border you may need a US Passport. Vehicle registration papers are helpful when purchasing International Auto Insurance for trips into Mexico and Canada. Travel cards such as AAA or AARP and other membership cards sometimes get you discounts. Carry identifying cards for health conditions such as diabetes. If an accident should happen (God Forbid), these should be on your person where Med Techs can locate them.

A Travel Road Atlas is essential unless you are know the route from previous trips. Many travelers carry GPS devices and/or mobile telephones to help them stay on track, locate food, gas or lodging. Use what suits you, but be sure you can find your way there and back.

Let’s have fun while we travel

Our favorite entertainment is Audio Books. You may be able to check out an audio book from your local library. Some people rent them while others prefer to buy them. There are books that entertain children or adults, or both. Audio books can be educational or entertaining. All these electronic gadgets use batteries. Take a large supply of batteries, or take rechargeable batteries and a battery charger.

Some people like to read magazines as they ride, but please don’t do this if you are the driver. If these suggestions don’t fill the bill for you think about  playing games, or sing songs or count VW’s. But you will want something to fill time while you take in the scenery along the way. There are places where the byways are all the entertainment anyone could want … but there are also Interstates. These are great roads to get you there faster, but you miss most of what you went on this America Road Trip to see. Secondary roads and old highways may slow you down but people with a “need-for-speed” avoid them and there are fewer 18-Wheelers. Sometime the trade-off makes it worth the time.

Honey, we forgot the kids!

Don’t for get the young’uns. Children are an entire category of things to plan.  They need some of the things you packed for yourself and the same essential checklist applies. But many children do not travel well. Some need motion-sickness tablets to keep them from getting car-sick. Others need motion-prevention distractions to keep you from going out of your ever-loving mind. It is not nice to hog-tie a child, so mark that one off your list. Thankfully there are effective ways to distract and calm the little darlings.

Take along a portable DVD player. Portable DVDs have small screens, run on batteries and with ear-plugs can be unheard by adults. Children also love to play electronic games and small games are so sophisticated that they will occupy a child for hours. Not all movies and games are suitable for children. Ask for help on what you permit if you are in the dark about what kids like.

When we are at home we have our contact information in convenient places. But on the road you can easily be out of touch. Leave your cell phone or other contact information with someone. Carry a small index of important numbers with you. You might be able to solve this problem by filing information into your cell phone.

This above all … 

There’s an old joke told about a preacher speeding who lost control of his car. He lost control of his car and crashed into a tall Pine Tree. It was an awful mess and he didn’t look very good. As things happened, the very first person who happened upon the wreck was the local town drunk. He staggered over to the preacher’s car and in very slurred speech asked the driver if he was doing alright. The preacher replied with bravado, “I’m doing OK, because I have the Lord riding with me.” To which the old drunk answered: “Then you’d better let Him ride with me, you’re going to kill Him.”

Here is one plain fact: accidents happen to all kinds of people. Jesus said God makes the rain to fall and the Sun to shine on the just and the unjust. Since we live in a world where bad things happen I offer this bit of advice. Before all things, during all things and after all things … pray. I don’t want to go anywhere without acknowledging God. Before we pull away from our home or the place we parked for the night, we pray. We pray a special road trip prayer; we ask God for travelling mercies and forgiveness for our sins. We ask Him to protect our loved ones and possessions while we are away. I ask God to use us as we travel. We are always just pilgrims in this life and we need God. Don’t copy my prayer, just pray the prayer God has placed in your heart. If you need a model to follow turn in the Bible, to Matthew Chapter 6:9-13.

Until next time, keep rolling up miles and dialing up smiles.

Bill Taylor


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