12 tips for your best road trip


Hit the road with confidence this summer – and it’s prime road trip season.


Shannon Hurst Lane, who founded, one of Nielsen’s 50 Top Power Mom sites, says the key to a successful vacation is being both prepared and spontaneous.

“You can’t plan every second,” said Lane, who has taken numerous road trips with her kids, now ages 15 and 14. “Give yourself some room to play with and stop at crazy odd roadside attractions.” When her family pulled over at Rock City in Chattanooga, Tenn., for example, her kids loved it, she said.

At the same time, it pays to be prepared, says Cindy Richards, editor, especially with little kiddies in the car.

With help from these two moms/travel experts, we compiled a list of the top tips for your best road trip yet. Try these and you’ll be ready to hit the road with confidence!

Pack healthy snacks

Before her trips, Lane gathers all kinds of goodies, including cereal, dried fruit, nuts and chocolate candies, and lets everyone make their own trail mix usingZiploc® brand Storage Bags. Richards, meanwhile, likes to serve frozen grapes on the road, which also can be stored in Ziploc® Brand Storage Bags. The grapes are like mini popsicles and keep other food cool, she said.

Make that a water

Stick to water for everyone. It’s healthy, you can refill bottles at rest stops and spills won’t stain the car, Richards notes.


Bring a piece of home

Packing blankets, pillows or favorite toys will help make the backseat cozy for kids.

Employ tour guides (your kids!)

Let your children in on the planning. Have them help research hotels and attractions along the way. They’ll be that much more excited.

Keep ’em busy

Go high tech and bring portable DVD players and smartphones with fun apps (see below), and go low tech with printable road trip games, and a deck of cards or the license plate game by Melissa & Doug, named best road trip game byManny Ruiz of the blog PapiBlogger.


Some parents stop at the dollar store or library pre-trip and surprise the kids with books or toys along the way.

Be prepared

Pack a first aid kit, car emergency kit with flashlight, blanket and jumper cables, and extra food and water in case you get stranded. (Traveler Tip: if your car overheats, turn off the air-conditioning and turn on the heater to take heat away from the engine.)

Sing a song

Lane says her family belts out “Holiday Road,” the theme song to National Lampoon’s Vacation at the beginning of every road trip.

Bag it!

Richards recommends packing one overnight bag with everyone’s essentials (toothbrushes, pajamas, swimsuits, underwear, etc.) so you don’t have to lug, unpack and repack multiple big suitcases at each overnight stop.

Take a dip

Stop at hotels with a pool. Plunging in the water after a long car ride helps everyone unwind, says Richards. If your hotel doesn’t have a pool, ask for directions to the nearest park and let everyone run around before you settle in for the night.

Don’t push it

Stop often. And don’t drive while tired. You’ll have a happier, healthier car ride if you stop regularly to let everyone move around. Lane loves to check out quirky tourist attractions and pack picnics for rest stops. Some moms pack Ziploc® brand Big Bags full of rest stop toys: a jump rope, balls and sidewalk chalk for a game of hopscotch or four square.

Embrace your inner tourist

“There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist,” said Lane, noting that some of the most touristy outings are a kid’s favorite. There’s no need to go off the beaten path because “the kids haven’t ever seen what’s on the path,” she joked.

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