When a family decides to gas up the tank and head out on an adventure, you know that some serious planning and preparation is going to take place. After all, it’s one thing to leave the kids with the grandparents and take your significant other on a chill vacation somewhere far away, but taking your kids is a completely different challenge few parents manage to handle successfully.

No matter how stressful and resource-consuming it may be, though, traveling with kids is extremely important for the entire family, as it allows you to bond but also instill a sense of wonder and intellectual curiosity in your young ones. With that in mind, here are the four things you need to consider in order to organize the best family road trip you ever had.

Assess the condition of your car.

First things first, determining the roadworthiness of your vehicle should be the first thing on your to-do list. You can’t embark on your grand adventure if you’re not sure if your car will be able to handle a lengthy cross-country ride. After all, just imagine getting stranded in the middle of nowhere with a couple of fidgety kids growing increasingly restless in the back seat.

This is not a scenario you want to be in. To prevent this, make sure you:

  • Check the tires. Assess the tire pressure and change your tires according to the season. Rotate if needed.
  • Check the braking system. Brakes, they are important, make sure they cannot give out.
  • Pop the hood and assess the state of the engine. This will require a professional approach, so have a mechanic help you out.
  • Check the fluids. These are oil, transmission fluid, radiator fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, air conditioning coolant and washer fluid.
  • Inspect the battery. Make sure it’s charged.
  • Scrutinize every part of the windshield. Don’t tackle the road if it has chips, cracks or worse, holes.

Ask yourself: do you have enough space?

Comfort is another crucial factor that will determine the success of a family road trip. Remember, you’ll have kids in the back, and kids tend to respond badly to cramped quarters. Not only that, but you can bet that your kids are going to start nagging you at some point if they are not comfortable and warm. You can prevent this by determining the level of comfort your car can offer on extended road trips.

If the score is “not so much”, consider using a different vehicle. Renting a capacious vehicle through kid-friendly companies is a sound way of ensuring a comfortable journey, so consider affordable options such as Avis car rental and the likes in order to find reliable vehicles without busting the bank. As a general rule of thumb, any SUV class would work better than a hatchback or a sedan, as SUVs provide plenty of flexibility when it comes to seating and storage.

Make a family-oriented itinerary.

The places you and your better half want to visit might not rank high on your kids’ list of favorite road trip destinations, so there is a need to include your kids in the planning phase and make a compromise. In fact, better make the majority of the locations kid-friendly if you want to have a peaceful road trip.

Before you start marking the points of interest on the map, decide on the region or state(s) you’re going to visit. Kids are not that great at putting distances into perspective, so it will be up to you to limit their choices to the things you can manage in a specified timeframe. Research the area and give them a choice of destinations ranging from national parks, exciting towns and cities, and specific destinations such as theme parks.

Pacify the kids with engaging content.

One of the most important parts of the planning phase is figuring out how to keep the kids calm and satisfied during those long hours on the road. This is another area where modern cars such as SUVs come in handy, as they usually come with at least one TV screen that will allow you to play movies and videos in general.

Be sure to give your kids plenty of choices. Stock the USB drive with their favorite cartoons and shows and plenty of road trip music. Give them a chance to keep their hands busy as well, so don’t forget their coloring books and toys. When they finally get sleepy, you want to have their favorite blankets and pillows at the ready!

There is no denying that traveling with kids is not inherently easy, but the good thing is that you can make the process as smooth and enjoyable as possible if you know how to prep your car organize your itinerary, and keep your kids busy. Consider these essential challenges, and use the tried-and-tested solutions to organize yourself a road trip of a lifetime.