Prepare for a Long Car Trip

One day your friend calls you up and asks if you want to take a trip with them. You say yes, pack excitedly, and then ask your friend how you're getting there. If they say you're going by car, you'd better be ready.


Getting Ready Ahead of the Trip

  1. Make lists a week or two before the trip. List what will go in your suitcase and make another list of things you need to do before the trip. This can include getting a car tune-up, or washing/waxing/cleaning the car. This will help you be less stressed since everything is written on paper, and you will be less likely to forget something.
  2. Make sure you have every thing you need, including things to entertain you or young children. If you have a portable DVD player, make sure everything is set up in the car the night before, as it will save time later.
  3. Charge your electronics. Even if you have a car charger, it will be easier to sit back with your phone than being tangled with a cord.
    • Download what you need. Want the hottest new songs to listen to during the car ride? Download it. Want to get the new game that just came out? Download it. Want to watch the movie your friends say is awesome? Download it. Don't wait for the last minute to download new songs, apps, and movies.
  4. Talk to people going on the trip beforehand. If you have people going with you on the trip, make sure you have everything planned out. Set a time for rest stops and when to switch turns in driving.
    • If you are one of several who drives, create a schedule to figure out who drives when and where.
    • Plan when you will take rest stops and when you will get food.
  5. Be sure you have booked your hotel two or three days before you reach your destination to ensure availability.


  1. Bring a large enough bag. You don't want to be cramming all your hand luggage into your handbag.
  2. Pack your suitcase a few days before the trip. This gives you time to think about adding things in or taking things out and will generally make you less stressed before the trip.
    • Pack comfortably.
  3. Pack an additional "carry-on" bag. This could include some books, electronic entertainment (handheld games, mp3 players, laptops, DVDs if the car has a DVD player, etc.), non-perishable snacks (such as granola bars and cookies), and drinks if you have a cooler. Remember that if you bring carbonated drinks, they may go flat.
    • Pack a pillow to sleep well.
    • You could go to your local library and check out books. Or get new books on your Kindle. Books are a good and easy way to pass time in the car. You could also get magazines or newspaper articles.
    • Talk to your family. Find out who wants to watch which movie at what time. It can become a big problem when you all want to watch a different movie or listen to different music.
  4. Prepare your snacks. It's better to prepare your snacks beforehand than be scrambling to fill resealable bags at the last second. If your whole family is sharing a snack, don't bring the whole bag. Then you have to pass the bag around the car. It's easier to separate servings into resealable bags or plastic food containers so each family member can their own snack. Some good snacks to take might be:
    • Pretzels, chips
    • Cheese sticks
    • Veggies such as celery bite-sized pieces, carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes
    • Fruit such as mandarins and apple slices.
  5. Pack some stomach soothers. Bring gum, peppermints and ginger on your trip. These foods can help ease queasiness on the trip and can help calm down the person eating or chewing them.

On the Day of the Trip

  1. Wear something comfortable. Under your regular clothes, wear something comfortable (maybe even pajamas). Wear a pair of sweatpants, a light t-shirt, and a hoodie. You don't want to be uncomfortable for the entire length of a long car trip.
  2. Check everything one last time before you leave. Make sure everyone has used the bathroom, that you have money for gas, that there is entertainment in the car, and that nothing was left on in your house.
  3. Choose your seat once you get in the car, if permitted. Try not to sit behind someone who is notorious for pulling their seat back. Sitting by the window is generally a good choice, as you can open it if you need air and you can view the sights that you pass by.
    • Don't fight over seating. Switch around and share the different places.
    • Be considerate of anyone who gets very sick in the back seat––let them sit in the front.
  4. Drive to your destination. Punch the location in on your GPS system if you have one. Go to rest stops on the way there to get meals and use the bathroom.


  • Make sure to charge your iPads, iPhones, DS, Game Boy, and any other electronic devices before your trip.
  • If you are traveling for a long time, bring a bottle of water to keep you hydrated.
  • If you aren't driving, bring lots of extra pillows and blankets. They make an excellent nest for you to sleep or read in privacy.
  • Remember to bring a large grocery bag or two for trash and/or laundry.
  • Healthy food is key, but that doesn't mean no sweets. Bring a few candies or a tupperware of cookies, or make a special stop for sweets. This stop gives you something to look forward to besides arriving at your destination
  • If the car is full, try not to sit by someone who annoys you.
  • In case there's a breakdown or accident, pack blankets, torches, a first aid kit including painkillers, and drinking water.
  • If you are bringing movies, bring ones that everyone will like to watch.
  • If you are driving, bring another adult and take turns driving.
  • Consider conversation with other passengers as a means of entertainment, instead or as well as electronic devices.
  • Play some fun games in the car.
  • It might be wise to bring an energy drink along.
  • Bring snacks and water so that you don't have to stop on the way.
  • Always bring extra food for when you get hungry and make sure to get enough sleep.


  • If you're prone to travel sickness, take a travel sickness tablet before leaving, and take the packet in your bag just in case. Even those who aren't sensitive to travel sickness can get queasy at times.
  • Check your car a couple days before hand so you don't have to worry about it breaking down on your trip.

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