BW Travel Zone | 10 Things to Pack for Your Family Road Trip

10 Things to Pack for Your Family Road Trip

By Juan Alanis
  • Open brown leather suitcase with camera and clothes packed

It’s not really a road trip until somebody’s getting uncomfortable. Or in our case, until someone in the vehicle is left with no other recourse than to yell: “I have to go to the restroom… can you stop somewhere please!?” After our more than 3,200-mile adventure from Houston to New York City and then back, that is the story that, to this day, gets told the most about the time my nephews both tagged along for our first cross country family vacation.

They were all pretty young. None of them were even teenagers back then. We were worried that Edgar might not enjoy the long-haul trek across multiple states because he was so young, so we invited my nephews to come along for the family fun. All three of them are only a year or two apart. In a lot of ways, I guess you could tell it was our very first road trip too.

We hauled all five of us around in a four-door sedan that also contained all of our luggage, the fajitas and tamales my mom had packed for us in a cooler with a block of ice to take to my sister, and our stock pile of snacks and drinks for the road. It was pretty packed everywhere in that car, but we were on a mission. Our destination was the Washington, D.C.-Virginia-Maryland area where my sister was living, and why not, maybe even the Big Apple too.

It would be the first time Anjelica, Edgar and I visited New York City together.

Those memories are truly some of my favorites.

It’s been close to a decade since that trip, and we’ve learned quite a bit in our subsequent travels on highways and roadways. For one thing, we make sure everyone in the car knows to speak up when they feel nature calling. I know my nephew Tavo is much more aware of every pit stop along the road ever since. We’ve also learned to time our gas-restroom-break-and-snack-time-stops much better now. Let me tell you, it makes for a much more pleasant experience for everyone.

One of the other things we have learned is what to make sure we bring along with us for the ride. In fact, our top 10 must haves include:

  1. Ear phones.
  2. Pillows and blankets.
  3. Electronic devices.
  4. A cooler and plenty of ice.
  5. Healthy snacks and water.
  6. Vehicle emergency kit.
  7. Downloaded movies and music.
  8. Napkins and plastic cutlery.
  9. Cash
  10. As many car chargers as you can get your hands on.

Some of these are no brainers. Others are deal breakers in our SUVs or minivans when we hit the road. Yes, we learned our lesson about traveling in cramped cars. You can’t ever have too much space when you are traveling days at a time.

I’m what you would call a karaoke driver. A competitive one at that. In my mind, I am always right there with any artist playing on the radio, hitting the same notes almost simultaneously. What my passengers hear, well that’s a different story. That’s why Edgar and Anjelica are always haggling with each other for the best pair of ear phones in the car. The same goes for the car charger(s). We can’t ever seem to keep our devices charged for some reason? But we make do, and everyone gets a turn to charge their devices… and to sing a little too. On the more mundane side, I now eat a lot more blueberries and grapes along the road instead of French fries and potato chips. I don’t get as sleepy when driving afterwards either. For me, it’s kind of like an energy boost of fresh fruits.

Where we stay also makes a big difference. Best Western Hotels & Resorts is always our hotel of choice if we can help it. For one thing, the breakfast included with the cost of a night’s stay is very good for our overall travel expenses. It means we don’t have to pay for another meal for our party, and we can all get in a hot meal before hitting the road again in the morning. The Wi-Fi is always included too and that makes catching up on work emails and asignments a breeze. It’s one of the main reasons we opted to become Best Western Rewards members a long time ago.

Anjelica keeps track of all her rewards and saves all the special discounts and offers we get as members. Usually those perks add up and they mean we only end up paying a fraction of the cost of what we would normally pay were we not Best Western Rewards members.

Before we head out for the day, I also like to stock up on napkins, plastic cutlery, and other little things that really make a big difference when it comes to comfort. Anjelica got me used to bringing a little cash in my pocket just in case as well. You never know when you might find yourself in a situation where plastic isn’t accepted. And a vehicle emergency kit just gives me peace of mind.

Comfort and safety are the biggest things for us. You can go the extra thousands of miles when everyone in your vehicle is happy and excited about the adventure ahead.

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