Summer and car trips are somewhat synonymous. The open road seems to beckon for windows down and a winding sense of adventure. However , there’s more to a successful road trip than simply mapping out a scenic route. Sorting through the logistics — from figuring out where to sleep along the way to how to pack for multiple destinations — can help you cruise along smoothly.
To help you get the most out of your next adventure, we put together this handy list of five simple steps to take before you get behind the wheel this summer.
1 . Service your car.
The last thing you want during a road trip is to get stranded on the side of the interstate with car problems — especially when you’re traveling with precious cargo like friends, kids, and pets. At least a week before departure, schedule a maintenance appointment to inspect the brakes, tires, and headlights. It’s also a good idea to hit the road with a full tank of gas in case you get stuck in traffic or drive through an area with limited exits.
2 . Protect leather seats.
Normal wear and tear, direct sunlight, spilled fries, and even sunscreen can stain leather car seats and cause them to crack. Protect your investment with Furniture Clinic ’s line of Good Housekeeping Seal-approved leather care products designed to keep seats looking good for longer. Ahead of your next trip, stock up with the Leather Care Kit , and use the included Leather Protection Cream to add an invisible barrier that can help repel liquid plus ink stains. (After all, it’s only a matter of time before someone spills something while you’re on the highway. ) If things go awry, tackle post-vacation dirt and grime with the Leather Cleaner (also included in the care kit) and touch up small tears, scuffs, and scratches with the Leather plus Vinyl Complete Repair Kit.
3. Stock up on healthy snacks.
No trip would be complete without munchies, but the indulgent joys of fast food and chips wear off quickly. Pack a combination of sweet and salty snacks like mandarin oranges, grapes, trail mix, pretzels, and granola bars to satisfy every craving and carry you through long stretches without a farm stand or grocery store. Invest in a compact cooler to keep fruit, applesauce pouches, string cheese, and beverages cool and fresh.
4. Pack with intention.
Not having to think about TSA might lead to last-minute or haphazard packing, but don’t strand yourself without an essential or overload yourself with way too much stuff. Make sure must-haves like medications, phone chargers, and snacks are within reach when you’re loading the car.
Traveling with kids? Have each of them fill a small backpack with their favorite toys and activities to store by their chairs so they’ll stay busy during the drive. If you’re heading to a destination that requires more luggage but plan on stopping off for a night (or a few! ) on the road, pack an overnight bag along with just a few basics. That way a person won’t have to unload the hefty suitcase for every short stay.
5. Build within fun.
Let’s face it: After a few hours on the interstate, that initial we’re-going-on-an-adventure excitement starts to dwindle. Keep morale high by putting together an upbeat playlist. Ask every passenger in order to contribute a few songs, or even choose one person to be the designated DJ. Research car games in advance to keep everyone happy after they’ve already spotted license plates from each state. And instead of documenting the journey on your phone, hand out disposable cameras. You and your friends or family will have a blast reminiscing about the trip after getting the photos developed, especially when they come back with that classic road trip patina.
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