parasitically Pack the car, grab the kids (and the dog)—it’s time for an adventure!

Summer! It’s almost here! The time for lazy days by the pool, picnics at the beach and the ultimate road trip! While many people fly off to faraway places on their summer vacations, the family road trip is still alive and kicking and those folks who plan ahead fare way better than those who fly by the seat of their pants. To help you make yours the best it can be, take a look at these tips:

Jamaica Plain  1. Map it out!

While you may know exactly where you’re going, getting there is a whole other story. And while half the fun of a road trip is the journey itself, you do want to make sure you plan out your route ahead of time. Because taking the long way or the scenic route is not always the top choice, especially if you have younger kids.

Once you’ve decided on a destination (or if you have more than one), take the time to research the highways, back roads and all the routes to get there. Then, see what attractions, restaurants and points of interest are within close proximity; that way, you have not only planned out how you’re going, but where you will stop along the way. Some apps that can help you are:

  • Roadtrippers: This app uses Google Maps to help you plan your route and lets you calculate fuel costs, tolls and more.
  • OnTheWay: This app helps you find restaurants, shops, museums, parks and roadside attractions.

 2. Make a budget

While a road trip is usually less expensive than flying, it can get costly if you’re not careful. The best thing to do is to sit down and figure out your budget. You’ll need to include costs for fuel, tolls, parking,

overnight lodging (on the way and once you arrive at your destination) and food, of course. People often forget to factor in the cost of attractions, tours and souvenirs—so be sure to include them. It’s always a good idea to estimate high, that way the only surprise will be NOT spending as much as you originally planned.

 3. Give your car a check up

Nothing sucks the fun out of a road trip faster than getting stuck on the side of the road. And while it may seem obvious, most folks don’t think to have everything checked when their vehicle is running fine. But it’s a smart idea to get all your belts and fluids inspected and topped off as well as to have your tires rotated and your oil changed. Also, be sure you have a working jack and your spare tire is in decent shape.

 4. Get charged

If you and your kids are anything like the rest of the world, you have devices…and lots of them. And as entertaining as iPods, smartphones, tablets and laptops are, they need juice to work. So to avoid any loss of power (or distraction for the kids), be sure everything’s charged up and ready to roll. You may also want to invest in a cup holder dock or some of the cool car charging gadgets on the market—it’s a lifesaver for many parents because a peaceful ride is worth a lot!

 5. Stay loose and keep it fun

Although it’s advisable to make a plan, some of the most unforgettable memories of a road trip end up being the unexpected encounters and unplanned detours. So make your plan, but then be willing to stray off the beaten path along the way—you never know what you’ll discover, a hidden gem is often just around the corner from a popular tourist trap.

And as hard as it may be, keep in mind that if you’re traveling with kids, things will happen that may slow you down, get on your nerves and make you want to turn that car around. But that’s all a part of the journey—learn to enjoy it!

 6. Check your insurance

Before you head out on the road, make sure your homeowner’s insurance is up to date and your house is locked up and secure. Put your lights on a timer and let your neighbors know that you’ll be gone so they can keep an eye on everything.

Also check your auto policy to make sure you’re covered for roadside assistance wherever you go and that all your coverage is up to date.

As the school days start to dwindle and the days get warmer, you and your family will be ready to cut loose and hit the road. Take the time to plan and budget so you can have a safe, enjoyable and unforgettable family vacation. Remember, if you need coverage for your car, RV, boat, motorcycle or home, we’re ready to help with a customized solution.