Jen Charron: Control Freak


Planning for a Road Trip

Make The Most Of Your Driving Vacation

We love road trips. With a 4 year old who is vehicle CRAZY, travelling by car is the best way for us to get away. Most parents need to figure out what to do to keep their children entertained on the road. We have that built-in to the mode of transportation. The Kid will spend hours spotting different makes and models of cars as they pass by and enjoying the spectacle of every road construction site we encounter.

Planning for road trips takes a bit of work. As usual, Mr. Organized and I each have our roles in the situation and I rely on spreadsheets that get reused each time we head out of town. Here are some of the things we do – and our docs that you can download. Maybe they’ll help you on your next road trip!

What to Bring
I’m in charge of packing everything other than my husband’s personal stuff. I will admit that this job becomes easier as the Kid gets older. Travelling with a baby was infinitely trickier. Nowadays we just have to remember to bring enough Hot Wheels and we’re pretty much good to go.

Back in the day, I created a spreadsheet to help me remember everything that I needed to bring for him on a trip. Time and again I’ve revisited this list and edited it to reflect his current needs. Using this doc makes packing a breeze and if you bring along a printout, you can make sure that you leave with everything you came with.

Here’s a version from when we went to the cottage when he was 8 months: Baby Packing List

It’s All in the Timing
When going on a road trip with kids, planning how long you’re going to be in the car is key. No amount of love for vehicles is going to keep a kid happy strapped in a car seat for 9 hours. And factoring in breaks of a certain length and that allow for significant burning of energy is essential…especially if you are on a trip that involves several locations and days of driving. Plus every Mom knows that figuring out when your little ones are going to eat and nap is of utmost importance to keep everyone happy.

I have a spreadsheet itinerary for road trips that maps out what hours in each day of the trip are in the car, where and when we plan on eating and how napping is going to be accomplished. (We were blessed with a baby who would sleep in the car and a kid who still might nap there after a lot of running around or a swim in a hotel pool.) I also schedule in where we are staying each night, special events, etc.

Here’s the one from our trip south last spring: Road Trip Itinerary

Light blue cells = driving time
Yellow cells = where we spend the night (bright = hotel and light = with friends/family)
Red text = Kid sleeping

Vehicular Prep
Here’s where Mr. Organized takes over. Before we head out for a road trip, he likes to make sure that our Civic is in tip-top shape. I asked him what are the key things on his (mental) list:

1. Get any regular maintenance done before we go. If we’re due for an oil change, he makes sure that it’s taken care of.

2. Check tires and fluids. However he does this… (Yes. I’m that kind of girl. Speaking of which…)

3. Keep our roadside assistance numbers handy. He also asked me to point out that you should make sure your assistance hasn’t expired. Not something you want to find out when you need it.

4. Make sure we have our Emergency Kit stocked. Stuff like a very basic tool kit, a flashlight with fresh batteries, jumper cables, a tire iron, a jack, a blanket and candles, and also some water and snacks, just in case we get stranded.

5. Put our GPS and map in the car. If only we had a car with a GPS built in… oh well. And a map because you never know when technology can fail you.

6. Fill the tank and clean the car, inside and out. ‘Cause he’s just that kind of guy.

Happy road tripping!

Bonus: Looking to Buy a Vehicle?
If you’re looking to purchase a vehicle, Honda has helped me put together this downloadable doc to make sure that you’re asking the yourself the right questions, doing your homework, and are on top of all of the things you need to be aware of during the process: Vehicle Shopping Tips

And if you’re considering a Honda, like the Odyssey, they have some cool features on that can help you in your decision – like a Build and Price tool that allows you to check out what a vehicle costs when you customize it and a Compare tool that lets you see how the Honda models compare to each other and to competitors.

Thanks Honda!