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Surprising Checklist to Prepare for an Awesome Road Trip


A road trip checklist is essential to having your vacation run smoothly.  For those of you new here, my family and I are going on a short road trip to the beach in just under two weeks and then two weeks after that we are going on a longer road trip to Canada!  I’ve compiled a few things I need to do over the next couple of weeks before we leave for our road trips.

1.) Reprogram radio stations

When I bought my car 2 years ago, it came with 36 options to program different radio stations as Favorites.  I never did that, only using a a few of options.  However, I also have Sirius XM radio and there are a plethora of other radio stations that I think I would love, if I would only take the time to go through them and program them to my car.  So this is on the list of things to do before we spend approximately 20 hours in the car driving to and from our destinations.  Music is very important to my family which is why this is pretty high up on our pre-vacation checklist.

2.) Spotify Playlist

I also took advantage of a special Spotify is  running – $0.99 for 3 months of Premium service.  With Premium, I can make a playlist of fun road trip music and download it to my phone to listen to in case we find the radio doesn’t work.  When we are in Canada I’m assuming the regular ol’ radio won’t work up there.  I think there’s a good chance the Sirius XM will work but I don’t actually know as I haven’t looked in it.  So the playlist is a backup option.  Which means I need actually compose the playlist.  I know there are some other great features of the Premium service so we’ll see how those work out.

Edit: So I have since discovered Amazon Music Unlimited.  (You can click that link for a 30 day FREE trial.)  Which is pretty similar to Spotify.  AND if you are an Amazon Prime member, their monthly price is cheaper – only $7.99 (after the trial).  ANDPLUSALSO if you have an Echo or a Dot, it’s only $3.99! So what I’m saying is you should try Amazon Music Unlimited because I’m pretty sure I’m switching to that after my Spotify trial ends.  

And if you need a Prime Membership you can go ahead and get one here: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

3.) Get Car Inspected

Some states require a yearly inspection to ensure cars are not emitting too many dangerous emissions and they also check things like your brakes, tires, headlights, etc.  My yearly inspection is due on August but you are allowed to get it up to 2 months before your specified month.  I figured I might as well get it done before our road trips this year to make sure we don’t have any car troubles on the trip.

4.) Vacuum Car

There’s nothing like starting out your road trip with a nice clean car.  Will you need to do this again when you get home?  Probably.  But I’d rather do it before AND after because I don’t want to sit for that long in a dirty car.  Which brings me to my next point…

5.) Clean Dashboard/Console

This goes right along with vacuuming the car and I will do these at the same time.  I will also do it in the day or two before we leave to ensure that the car stays clean until we leave.

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6.) Get Gas/Wash Car

This one seems obvious.  You need gas to drive to where you are going and again with that clean car thing.  I’ll do this the night before we leave.

7.) Pack Clothing/Toiletries

We leave for the beach in 11 days but I’m going to start doing laundry and packing our clothing today.  I generally like to start packing in advance (as mentioned in my beach packing list post) because it helps to alleviate any last minute I-Forgot-Something! or rushing around.  As for toiletries, I keep a cosmetic bag with travel sized products ready to go at all times. Mostly for the sake of convenience.  I find if I replace things as I run out of them, it makes packing so much easier.  And I never forget anything.  I keep one for my daughter too.

8.) Decide on and Pack Snacks

Whenever we travel I always pack a ton of food and snacks.  In fact, I generally pack more than we will possibly eat.  Snacks always make a baby/toddler/preschooler/husband happy.  There are a ton of websites showing different options for what to snacks to pack.  I probably pack a lot of what they have but I mostly pack non-perishables.  We usually take a cooler with us and depending on where we are going might take things like string cheese, yogurt, grapes, and drinks.  Mostly I take those fruit pouches (like applesauce), goldfish, Cheez its, bagels and peanut butter.

9.) Organize and Put Together Children’s Road trip Entertainment Box

Over the past few months I have been making and purchasing things for my daughter to do while we are in the car to help keep her entertained.  I made a short YouTube video with a lot of the stuff I bought for it.  I have since purchased a few more items that aren’t shown but I might make an update to that video.

10.) Call Cell Phone Provider

We have Sprint and before we leave for our trip to Canada I need to call them to add the international plan to our phones.  I did this when I went to London and it was great.  It’s generally a pretty painless thing to do and I was pleasantly surprised by that, but it is necessary if you want your phones to work while traveling internationally.

What do you put on your pre-vacation checklist to do before you leave on your trips?  Did I forget anything important?

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11 thoughts on “Surprising Checklist to Prepare for an Awesome Road Trip

  1. Love the idea of starting the road trip with a clean vehicle! Spending long hours in a fresh space is much more relaxing and enjoyable. We have a road trip planned for august to Gaspe, Quebec. I will definitely use these tips.

  2. Great post. My wife also insists on cleaning the house thoroughly before we leave. It makes returning that much nicer. Satelite radio is a must as well as ways of keeping the little ones entertained. Enjoy Canada. A road trip from Ontario to Quebec is on my bucket list.

    1. Yes! Cleaning the house before we leave should definitely be on my list. I’m going to add it right now. Thanks! I also like to come home to a clean house.

  3. This is a good list, with a few things I wouldn’t think of. Making a Spotify playlist and a kid entertainment box is a must 🙂 What I learned from my last vacation, (was not a road trip) is to carry some cash, and if you’re going to leave your current state, call your bank and notify them! We made the mistake of not notifying them and they locked our card while we were in Hawaii!!

    1. Calling the bank should definitely be on the list! Especially when going to a different country (state too! We went to Maryland once and the bank put a block on my husband’s card!). Thanks for reminding me of that one.

  4. We are lucky to have Sirius radio, so the stations isn’t a problem. My big thing is to check out where we are going and any interesting things along the way. We find if there are any museums, tours, or thigns we really want to do before we go, check for any discounts, and I see if I know anyone in the area also.

    1. Karla, there is also an app called Along the Way that is supposed to be able to show you anything like museums and other interesting sightseeing places along your route. Something to look into. I agree to look into discounts for things before you go too. We are purchasing our City Pass for Toronto before we get there because it’s cheaper to buy it online! Conversely to that, our Discovery Pass for Niagara is cheaper to buy once we get there (no discount plus a service fee to buy online).

  5. We bring along audio books that are family friendly! And I always have lots of material free car game ideas in mind before leaving. And yes on snacks–kids whine when they’re tired and hungry, so we try to minimize that! Great post!

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