There's more to planning a camping trip than packing your gear and making reservations for your campgrounds. You should be just as concerned about how you will get to your destination and whether or not it's a pleasant experience. Of course, experience helps but if you're a beginner, it's not so easy, especially if you're riding with children or pets. The following travel tips will help you prepare for the time spent inside of your vehicle or RV, and having an overall, safe trip.
The most important thing for safe travel is to have your vehicle in good working condition. Prior to your trip, give it an inspection (if you can do it yourself) or take it to the shop and have a mechanic look at it. Ask for a tune-up and have him check the oil, transmission and washer fluid. The water level in the radiator should be checked and anti-freeze added if there's any chance you'll be traveling in cold temperatures.
Make sure that your tires have the proper air pressure and ensure that you have a spare that's ready to go. It's a good idea to pack a small, portable air compressor and a couple cans of Fix-a-Flat just in case you get a flat tire in the middle of nowhere.
Always take along a toolbox and some flashlights for nighttime mishaps. If you're taking a camper or RV, some orange cones will help alert other drivers of your stalled vehicle. You should also have gloves and extra blankets handy if you're traveling in a cooler climate.
Nobody wants delays, but the longer distance there is to travel, the more likely you are to get detoured. You can get organized by packing all that you can and loading the vehicle the night before. Get a good night's sleep and set your alarm for at least a half hour earlier than what you planned. Usually, it takes longer than you think to get everyone ready to go and into the vehicle. If you leave early, you're better prepared for bathroom breaks, motion sickness and road construction.
Anticipate problems that can occur and bring a small tote bag packed with a compass, map, acetaminophen, bottled water, tissues, paper, pen, fingernail clippers, tweezers, and moist wipes for hands. Take along some munchies to get you by when it's past mealtime. Have a bags ready for trash and when they're full, dump them in garbage receptacles along the way.
The heater in your vehicle will have a quick drying affect on skin and lips. A good hand lotion and lip balm are essential for quick relief. Almost everyone has a cell phone but if you don't, consider getting one before you travel. If you don't want a monthly bill, you can purchase a quality phone with prepaid minutes for emergencies. Don't forget to bring a list of phone numbers for calling family members and preferred contacts.
Finally, don't take along unnecessary items. You probably have a good idea what you'll need while traveling, but the kids will need help. Give them each a small tote bag and tell them that they can't take anything that doesn't fit. This will get them to lighten up and pack only what they really want to take. A lighter load is easier on your vehicle and helps conserve gas as well.
We all know that children are not the best travelers. Depending on their age, expect them to be bored and impatient. When they get fidgety, they're more likely to pick on each other and get into fights. There are many activities and games available that will keep them occupied. Buy some simple games, reading material and coloring books. If you can, buy a portable DVD player and movies to make their time pass quickly. Don't forget that kids enjoy car games such as looking for out of state license plates and counting vehicles of a specific color.