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Road Trip Travel Tips


6. Pack a boredom buster bag.

Don’t forget to pack a boredom buster bag for the kids. One thing I've learned from producing for TV's "The Travel Mom" Emily Kaufman, is that if you’re traveling with kids, you need to make sure you have plenty to entertain them during your road trip. She calls this the boredom buster bag.

Don’t forget to pack some kid music your children like along with fun travel games that include magnetic board games. DVD players are an option for really long trips and as long as your child isn’t prone to car sickness. Of course, electronic games will keep your kids occupied but I would encourage you to limit the time on these toys especially if you’re traveling through some great scenic areas. It’s an excellent chance to bond as a family and your child’s memory of the trip will be lost if they’re lost in a Game Boy.

If you forget to pack a boredom buster bag, check out Five Top Road Trip Games for Kids that rely on mostly on imagination and the passing scenery to entertain the kids on the road.

7. A road trip is about the journey.

Remember, a road trip is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. One of my all time favorite road trips was the day my niece, Jessica, and I drove 52 enchanting miles on the “Road to Hana” on the island of Maui in Hawaii. I’ll never forget that the guide book said, “Remember, Hana is not a destination, it’s a journey.” Hana is located about 52 miles from Kahului, however a typical trip to Hana takes at least three hours, as the road is very winding with approximately 620 curves with over 59 bridges, 46 of which are only one-lane bridges. This amazing road trip is a memorable journey that winds through a lush, tropical rain forest that is laced with tumbling waterfalls, black sand beaches, scenic lava cliffs, fresh fruit stands, and tropical hillsides.

Jessica and I made good use of every stop and we stopped at least ten times including one stop to picnic on that black sand beach. We took photos by waterfalls, delicious fruit stands and even toured the The Garden of Eden, a botanical gardens arboretum with beautiful tropical flower gardens, exotic plants, nature trails and wildlife. You should treat your road trip vacation the same way we did our Road to Hana: Enjoy your road trip as a journey, not a destination. You never know what unique sites are awaiting you so take the time to stop and explore them. True, your final destination is where you want to end up but the sites along the way can make your trip much more enjoyable. Just think of all the travel stories you can share when you return home and here on my website.

8. Make good use of every stop.

I like to plan my stops for fuel, food, and restrooms so that I utilize my time efficiently and don't waste time making three stops instead of one. Probably the most important thing is that every time you do stop, make sure everyone in the car uses the restroom (even if they think they don't have to right then). This will cut down on the stops you’ll make only for that purpose. Also, if you’re traveling with kids, and you just need to stop for the restroom, I recommend stopping at a Starbucks. Parents can get a coffee or an ice tea, the restrooms are clean, and there are not a lot of distractions (like toys to buy) that a truck stop or gas station may have. You can use the Starbucks store locator to help you plan your stops before you go. Do be a "good egg" and make a purchase at Starbucks while you’re there.

9. Avoid trouble.

When you’re on a road trip, you need to be street wise and be aware of road trip safety. Don’t be a target for crime by leaving your valuables on the seat in your car (DVD players, Game Boys, etc.) and don’t advertise you’re on a road trip with pillows and blankets every where. When you park your car, hide your valuables and road trip creature comforts. If you are proactive at keeping your “I’m on a road trip clues” clearly hidden, any thief or troublemaker should just walk right by your car. Other street wise considerations is to always park where there is good light and foot traffic and make sure your windows are rolled up and the doors are locked whenever you leave your car. You may also want to purchase items like "the Club" if you like that extra insurance for safety.

Finally, when you're driving, watch your speed. Speeding gives you the chance to get a ticket and more importantly, it decreases your time to react if the need should arise. If you are the driver, you are responsible for your passengers. When you see signs that say, “Speed limits are photo enforced,” believe them.

Other good driving tips include avoiding rush hour, especially in bigger cities, and whenever possible take turns driving with other people in the car. You’ll also want to avoid driving at night if you are not familiar with your surroundings.

10. Get a Go City Card.

Get a Go City Card and save up to 55% on attractions and theme parks at your destination. Last year, I flew my 8-year-old niece, Alexis, and 10-year-old nephew, Tyler, out to Los Angeles for their spring break (using Southwest Airlines Reward Miles, of course) and that's when I discovered the money saving Go City Card for San Diego and I saved hundreds of dollars in admissions to Legoland, the Wild Animal Park, the San Diego Zoo and other attractions including a Whale Watch on the Pacific Ocean just by purchasing a Go San Diego Card: Now including admission to SeaWorld San Diego!.

These discount cards can save you hundreds of dollars (up to 55% on theme park admissions and much more). You pay one price for up to 40 attractions (depending on the city you're visiting) and you get to create your own experience, tailoring your activities based on what you like to do, while also enjoying tremendous savings. For example, with the Go Los Angeles Card, you can choose one, two, three, five, or seven day cards at a low, pre-paid price to gain access to 40 included attractions, saving up to 55% compared to buying tickets directly at Universal Studios Hollywood, LEGOLAND California, Knott's Berry Farm, Paramount Studios, the Queen Mary, and many more attractions.

Go City Cards are available in many cities and vacation destinations in the U.S. including Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Las Vegas, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco, Maui, Oahu, Orlando, Miami, Seattle, Blue Ridge, and even Toronto. You also get a FREE full-color guidebook with the purchase of a Go City Card or Explorer Pass.The Go City Card is valid for 14 days from first use-your days do NOT need to be used consecutively. The first attraction visited will activate the days purchased on your Go City Card. For instance, a 3-day card activated on a Monday would be valid for Monday and 2 other days of your choice within 2 weeks. Complete details are available at their website so Get your Go City Card: Top Attractions & Tours for 1 Low Price! Boston, San Fran, Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, LA, NYC, Florida and Hawaii.

Final Tips: Make sure you start early in the day to avoid rush hour. This can save you so much time on the road especially in crowded metropolitan cities. There's nothing more frustrating for me than the first one hour portion of my trip taking three hours because I started my road trip in the middle of rush hour. Also, don’t forget your cell phone and make sure you’re "hands free" when you do use it while driving.

In many states, it’s the law, but it’s also down right dangerous. Always use your cell phone "hands free" when you drive. Don't forget to update your software on your mobile phone before you leave because you don't want to be charged higher rates for roaming charges. Finally, it's a real good idea to email a copy of your itinerary to other family members or friends in case of an emergency - this is really a good idea for women traveling together.

Now don't forget to record your road trip vacation adventures with photographic evidence of your good times. Your vacation photos are the best souvenir of any trip. I don't know about you, but I used to come back from trips with terrible photos so don't let this happen to you. Check out 10 Tips to Take Better Photos on Vacation. I have advice on not only how to take better photos, but also what's the best camera to buy, too.

For more great road trip advice, check out my colleague's travel tips from Discover Northern California. Now, drive safe and have fun!

Have a great road trip travel tip, photo or road trip adventure? Then definitely share it with me!

You know, your vacation can take over a year to save up for and only a second to ruin. Before you go, you may want to purchase travel insurance through Travel Guard. Starting at $30.

By Marianne Schwab | Best Travel Deals Tips Blog

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