As a dad of three, anytime my family and I get into the car we tend to bring a lot with us. It is certainly no different when we go on a road trip, and I understand how people might feel stressed while planning for one. To ensure you don’t forget anything on your next family road trip, I’ve teamed up with Liberty Mutual Insurance to break down the most common mistakes and how to avoid them to ensure a smooth ride.

Car Check – Checking if your car is in the proper condition before embarking on a road trip may come off as an obvious step. However, there are certain precautions that should be prioritized before heading out on the road. If your road trip is planned far in advance, it’s advised to make an auto body shop appointment for a full inspection and fluid top off. Take care of this a couple weeks beforehand, leaving ample time in case a part needs to be ordered or a repair needs to be made. If you don’t have time to make it to the auto shop, DIY maintenance is still a good alternative. A tire check is a must. If you need air, most local gas stations have an air pressure gauge. You might also be surprised to find out most auto body shops will also check your brakes and oil level for no cost. In addition, you should manually add windshield wiper fluid to your car while also bringing it along for the trip, and ensure your windshield wiper blades are still in good condition.

Roadside Kit – According to a recent survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance, only 29% of Americans check to make sure that they have an emergency kit before embarking on a road trip. You don’t want to be one of these people, and what most people don’t realize is many of the necessary items are already in their house. For example, I like to keep my emergency items in a milk crate because it’s sturdy and keeps all of the items in one place with minimal shuffle. I fill the crate with other household items like a small flashlight, water bottles for the family, alcohol swabs, band aids, duct tape, a cell phone charger, and other common household items we need and just make a pile for the car. Jumper cables and a multipurpose tool are also a must.  I also recommend keeping a towel that you don’t care about in your trunk, this way if you ever have to look under the car you’ll have something to lay on.

Cell Phone Charger – According to another Liberty Mutual report, 1/3 of Americans admitted to not keeping a cell phone charger in the car. Are you one of these people? Along with a car charger, a portable USB charger can also be helpful if there are multiple people in need of charging their phone or other electronic devices you’ve packed for the trip. No one wants a fight to break out in the car over a dead tablet battery or who gets to charge their cell phone first.

Map It Out – Everyone has a GPS nowadays whether it be on their phone or a separate device for the car. However, like any electronic device, sometimes they can fail without warning. It’s important to bring a map and plot out your road trip on a piece of paper in case your car ends up in a bad service area or your GPS device stops working. Even if you don’t map out step by step directions, it’s still important to have a good sense of where you are at all times. Before embarking on a road trip, I like to go over my route and write down mental notes on my map that come to mind while looking at the route. This way if something goes wrong I can look at my notes and be reminded if I’m driving in the right direction or not. I also recommend to program your GPS before starting you trip to avoid any distractions that it may cause while driving.

Emergency Contact Sheet – Going along with your mapped out directions, it’s important to keep emergency numbers on a piece of paper in your glove compartment as well as in your cell phone. It’s important to have a roadside assistance number on hand before leaving for a road trip. If you’re unsure what the best number to use in, get in touch with your insurance provider to see if they have a program such as Liberty Mutual’s 24 hour Roadside Assistance. Other important numbers to have in print and in your cell phone are your neighbors in case of a home emergency while away, a family member at home who is easily accessible should an emergency come up, local gas station numbers along your route in case you need help with directions, and any emergency number in the different states you’re planning on traveling in.

Travelling with Children – Many think because they travel with their children in the car all of the time that they already have the necessities on hand in order to keep them busy or safe in the car. However, a lengthy road trip is much different than running a few errands in one day. Think of what works for your children in the case or restlessness or temper tantrums and bring those items along in the car. Make sure you have a bag handy with snacks, wet wipes, tissues, etc. In our family, we like to keep a bag with an extra set of clothes for all the kids so we don’t have to worry about them getting dirty or wet if we see a fun opportunity.

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