Whether it’s by plane, train or automobile, traveling with kids of any age is hard. The work begins the minute you make the decision to go, especially when you decide to go by car. Planning a family road trip can be overwhelming, even for the seasoned traveler.
Deciding what to do and more importantly what not to do is an art, especially when you’re traveling with tweens and teens who’s road trip excitement levels can change faster than the song on the radio. Ciao Bambino’s teamed up with MetLife Auto & Home to offer tips to help your family get ready for a fun, successful adventure on the road.
Whether it’s going from the coast to the mountains, or Yosemite to Disneyland, working out the actual logistics takes research long before you hit the highway and buckle up. How much distance you can cover is very different from how much distance you should cover. Tweens and teens may not have classic meltdowns like toddlers, but don’t think that gives you any sort of vacation pass. They have their own way of making life on the road difficult. Add in a teenager that’s also a driver and things can get even more touchy.
You can spend months mapping out the perfect trip, get the family packed and ready, only to see all of your hard work sputter and stall if your car isn’t up for the trip. It seems obvious, but double checking your vehicle is just as important as double checking hotel reservations. Car trouble close to home is annoying and inconvenient. Car trouble hundreds of miles away from home can ruin a vacation.
Be proactive. Take your car into your mechanic for a check-up a couple weeks before your trip. That way, if there is anything that needs to be fixed, there’s plenty of time to order needed parts. I always have a stocked first aid kit in my car; you never know what your family will need.
The same goes for your car. Make sure your emergency kit is complete. A flash light, jumper cables, a jack and all the tools needed to change a flat tire. Your spare tire should be ready to roll and so should you. When’s the last time you changed a flat? Better to practice at home, than on the side of a busy road. Have your teen driver or soon to be driver keep you company.
It’s also the perfect time to dust off your car insurance policy and take another look. Life may have changed since you renewed your policy. Do you have any mileage limits? Driving less can sometimes mean lower premiums. Make sure your car has miles to spare. What happens if you leave the country and head south to Mexico or north to Canada?
Some policies also include roadside assistance, how about yours? Does it provide coverage when you are far away from home? If you have a teen driver, do you have the right coverage for him or her to take some shifts behind the wheel in dad’s new car?
If you’re renting a car for the trip, all the rules can change. Depending on your policy, you can make informed decisions about additional rental insurance. A quick call to your insurance agent can clear up any questions you may have about coverage and put your mind at ease. If you think a change may be in order, options along with price quotes are just keystrokes away at MetLife Auto & Home.
Hopping in the car and starting the engine is easier than schlepping through any airport, but just like flying, turbulence isn’t out of the ordinary.
Older kids jump in the car, typically with electronic gadgets in hand, and buckle up automatically. We’ve trained them well. But just like adults, they’re also good at seeing how far they can push the rules. When teens start slouching and stretching, adjusting and re-adjusting seat belts, that’s good sign it’s time to take a break, even if you haven’t made it as far as you’d hoped. With younger kids, scheduling drive time during nap time is a good bet. But teens like sleeping too. So getting them out of bed early, morning after morning to hit the road, isn’t probably going to go over so well.
What always seems to go over well is food. Grab and go snacks are nice to have, but the simplest stop can become the highlight of the day when you stumble across a frozen yogurt store or a diner with cinnamon rolls as big as your head. I’m not making that up. It’s been years since that trip to Colorado, but the memory of cinnamon rolls still dance in my family’s heads. All road trips should be so sweet.
If you want personalized help sorting through all the fabulous activity options, as well as selecting the perfect accommodations for your family, our Family Vacation Consulting Team is here to offer whatever help you need. Request assistance on our Connect with a Travel Advisor page.
Photos by Dana Rebmann
Dana is currently a member of the MetLife Auto & Home Insurance Blogger Program and this post is part of her involvement. While MetLife has provided Dana with materials and necessary resources to complete various activities, all thoughts and opinions are her own.
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This is a challenging time for our clients given the uncertainty around the spread of coronavirus, particularly for those with near-term travel plans in impacted areas. We’re working with our suppliers on being flexible with their booking conditions, and enabling families to postpone travel to a later date without a penalty, when possible. Likewise, given the unpredictability around destinations that may be impacted in the future, we’re helping clients planning new trips and understand ways that they can protect themselves until the situation improves. We are ready to help our clients work through questions and concerns.