A vacation that involves driving the family to Florida requires more than getting a map and piling the kids in the car. Taking time to attend to a few things before you pack can insure that you get to your destination safely.
The most important thing is to have your car checked and have any necessary repairs made before you venture on your trip.
Be sure you have an emergency kit with you. It should include:
The thought of the price of gas keeping you awake at nights? Check on www.gasbuddy.com for the best spots to fill the tank along the way.
A cell phone is a necessity. Keep it properly charged. If you don't have a car adaptor for your phone, now is the time to invest in one as well as a hands free headset. Make yourself familiar with the laws of each state that you're traveling through regarding its use. The same holds true of radar detectors. Some states prohibit them.
If you can splurge a bit, consider investing in a mobile GPS system. This is especially helpful if you run into traffic and want to find the best way around it. it can also help you to locate area restaurants, gas stations and hotels. You can also get a GPS app for most smartphones.
Consider joining an Auto Club. They can provide roadside assistance as well as help with planning your route.
It's smart to bring spare keys that are kept separate from the ones you are using. Important documents to bring includes your driver's license, insurance cards (auto and medical), emergency phone numbers, travel itinerary (including your hotel confirmation numbers), maps, and trip directions.
If you purchased tires at a chain store, bring the paperwork. We bought ours from Sam's Club and we had a tire go flat while spending the night at a hotel. It saved us from having to purchase a new tire at full price. The same holds true for any repairs that come with guarantees. Bring the proof with you.
Summer driving in Florida offers some unique challenges. Many breakdowns are caused by the intense heat. The sudden rainstorms create road hazards that can cause an accident.
Keeping one eye on the weather as you drive is very important to safe travel. Thunderstorms come up suddenly and while often brief, can be intense. I'll never forget the time we drove to Orlando and saw a bolt of lightning set the ground around a tree on fire. If you lose visibility, slow down, head for the nearest exit ramp and find a place to park and wait out the storm.
If you are considering bringing a pet with you, think twice. Leaving your pet at home with a pet sitter or boarding it in a kennel is the kindest thing you can do. Florida heat can be deadly, and a pet left in a car for only a few minutes could suffer. If you can't leave the pooch behind, bring its inoculation records and a current photo.
Are we there yet?? The words that every parent dreads. With a little planning you can help make the drive as enjoyable as possible. The secret is to get the kids involved in planning what to do during the trip, plus you can plan a few extra surprises to spring on them.
Whoever invented the portable DVD player must have driven with a little one. These units are godsends and well worth purchasing. Naturally, you'll want to bring your collection of Disney DVDs.
There's no end to handheld electronic games you can bring. Just be sure to have adaptors and/or spare batteries. You can get a car cigarette lighter adaptor that can accommodate two plug-ins.
If you want to involve the family in a game, there's always the fun of looking for out of state license plates or the "Disney Guessing Game." You think of something associated with Disney World and the others each take a turn asking one question until they correctly guess what it is.
A few other ideas:
1. You should pack a goody bag for each child. Include small surprises, easy to eat snacks, stickers, etc.
2. Bring lots of water
3. Lock the doors of the car at all times when traveling
4. Bring pillows for the kids and their favorite stuffed toy
5. Keep an umbrella in the car
6. Carry a notebook and jot down where a favorite roadside restaurant was located or where you found a restroom when those immortal words were uttered "I'VE GOTTA GO NOW!!"
7. Keep a trash bag in the car
8. Get a container of wet wipes and keep it handy
9. Take breaks. Sure, you want to get to Mickey, but everyone needs a chance to stop and stretch their legs
10. Reserve hotel rooms in advance for stops along the route
Planning ahead is the most important element of a fun and stress free auto trip.