Prepare for your road trip with these travel tips and checklists

Getting ready for the open road

The open road — adventure, excitement, and fun — is just around the next bend. Traveling can be stressful, but with the right preparation, your next trip will be a breeze. Get organized with these simple Grinnell Mutual checklists and look through our tips and tricks before heading out.

Car maintenance checklist

Before setting out on any road trip, it’s a good idea to get your vehicle into a mechanic. Schedule a checkup two weeks in advance to allow time for any repairs needed. If you are under-the-hood savvy, we have a checklist to help you DIY.

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"Are we there yet?": Traveling with kids

We’ve all heard those infernal words. Even on short trips kids can get antsy. We have a few tips to help the whole family have a fun and safe trip with fewer tears, bruises, and nagging.

Prevent car sickness. If your child gets car sick easily, take the right steps to help them feel better and reduce the chance of vomiting. Have them sit where they can get the best air ventilation or take a long nap. Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) can also help with motion sickness in children 2 and older — but as always, talk to your doctor to see if it’s right for them.

Pick the right car seat for your child. Proper car seats are the most important protection for children riding in a vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your child’s car seat is the right fit for them and accommodates their weight. All car seats come with installation instructions that should be followed. If you have questions, often local police or fire stations can do spot checks. You can find more information about proper car seat regulations on NHTSA’s website.

Grab the snacks. Pack your kids’ favorite snacks to ensure they’re chewing more than they’re screaming. Think nutritious and non-perishable things like trail mix and juice boxes. Don’t bring snacks that may be potential choking hazards such as whole grapes or uncut hot dogs (but don’t forget that all snacks, no matter how small, are hazards). You know your kids best, so choose snacks you know they’ll like and can easily handle.

Set up your car theatre. What’s dinner without a show? Nowadays, you can plug in movies and shows right from your iPad, laptop, or portable DVD player. Pack your kids’ favorite DVDs or download the movies and episodes at home before you disconnect from the Internet. If you have multiple kids watching, make sure they all have headphones, or ways to see and hear the screen.

Get back to the classics. If your electronic devices die and you have no way to charge them while the rubber meets the road, then never forget the power of “I spy,” “Would you rather,” and “20 questions.” Interactive games are a great way to bond.

Light reading. Swing by your local library and check out some new books to help entertain the kids through the daylight hours. And if you expect a lot of nighttime driving, booklights run under $10. Audiobooks are also a great way to keep them entertained without resorting to TV.

Plan stops along the way. Let the kids get out, stretch, use the bathroom, and run off some of their pent-up energy. A stop every two hours or so can go a looooong way toward making the whole family’s trip more fun.

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When your pet comes along for the ride

If your furry friends are lucky enough to go along for the ride, make sure you think about making their road trip safe and comfy.

Keep ‘em contained. Pet seatbelt harnesses are a comfy way to let your pets have a little freedom while keeping them safe. A car crate is also a good option, but make sure it’s secured and can’t slide around.

Keep ‘em fed and watered. Have plenty of bottled water and kibble for your pet. However, if your pet gets sick easily, it may be best to feed them early in advance of the trip, so they have time to digest. And for very long trips where they need to eat, downsize the portions of food so they don’t regurgitate it. Some animals may even need anti-anxiety and/or motion sickness medicine before the ride; talk to your vet about what’s best for your pet. Pet Health Network has some example questions you can ask.

Keep 'em entertained. Take your pets’ favorite toys and blankets to help ease their anxiety and create a more familiar and comfortable spot.

Don’t leave Fido in the car. Temperatures can soar above 100 degrees inside a vehicle in no time. According to the Humane Society, 72 degrees outside is over 100 degrees inside the car. So, where you go, your critter goes.

Road-trip essentials

We’ve got some last minute gear addition ideas that could save the day!

Always have an emergency kit on hand. A definite must if doing any extended driving. Especially if you are in and out of cell reception. Build your own kit with our handy list.

Arm yourself with analog (gasp!) maps. Siri and Google can’t help if you can’t reach them, so go old-school and take along ye olde paper maps.

Perfect your packing. But what, oh what, will you need? Use our packing checklist to help remind you about all the stuff you should take along.

Auto insurance must-haves

The last piece to double-check is your auto insurance policy. Call your Grinnell Mutual agent today to make sure you’re ready to hit the road! And most importantly, have a blast!

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The information included in this publication and program was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however Grinnell Mutual makes no guarantee of results and assumes no liability in connection with its use. It is the user’s responsibility to comply with any applicable regulations or laws. Information obtained from or via Grinnell Mutual should not be used as the basis for legal advice, but should be confirmed with alternative sources.